The inGamba season opener is officially underway. The first 24 hours in Portugal involved new and old friends, 160km on the bike with 2400m of climbing, a 15th century palace-turned-hotel, a 12th century monastery, midnight mass, a lot of sangria, some unsuccessful attempts to leave the wine alone and go to bed early – and one successful marriage proposal. It seems inGamba does romance just as well as we do riding.
Beginning under blue skies on the beach in Cascais, the first stage of the Donkey Week Randonee rolled north along the Atlantic coast, past the birthplace of Portugal’s legendary cyclist Joaquim Agostinho and the medieval walled town of Óbidos towards the finish line in Alcobaça, where the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, founded the town’s famous Gothic monastery in 1153. There, once massages had been taken care of, a long and lively dinner of traditionally prepared seafood was followed by some team-building beers in the town square. Because it would have been rude not to.
Next up, a 120km Easter Sunday pilgrimage to the holy city of Fatima and on through the mountains towards the Portuguese interior and the idyllic town of Sertã. There are worse ways to spend the weekend.