1800 Miles No-Destination Adv Bike Style on a Benelli 400 – Part 2
Departure time for us. All in all, an adv bike trip with 1800 miles with no destination. With no pressure to have a set finish point there was nothing left to do, but to enjoy the ride and the opportunity of riding together. Finally!
The motorcycles? A Benelli 400 Imperiale and the Royal Enfield Bullet 500, this last one being the longest unchanged production run of any motorcycle, continuously in production since 1948. The Bullet brand is even older and dates back to 1931. Out of curiosity, this tour happened right on the 90th anniversary of the brand.
Two classic cruisers turned adventure bikes to test and prove the theory that adventure motorcycle travel can be done with any motorcycle, providing you have the proper motorcycle gear, preparation, and above all, the right mindset.
If you haven’t already, check out this adventure how’s and why’s on Part 1 – 1800 Miles No-Destination Adv Bike Style on a Benelli 400.
I think I might have said it before, but the route simply did not exist. It was made based on the decisions we took every morning, on the night before, or as we felt on the road. So the actual route we are about to share with you is not what it could be, but what turned out to be. To be honest, there were some parts we weren’t counting on, but we simply kept on riding along and pushing forward with the Benelli 400 and the Royal Enfield.
The result of this No-Destination Aventure Motorcycle Style Ride?
A mix of road, gravel, dirt, shallow river crossings, sun, rain, snow, awesome landscapes, and above all an experience of friendship that exceeds all obstacles.
Benelli 400 Imperiale No destination Adv Tour – Departure Time
There is a Portuguese saying, that reads “Abril águas mil”. It translates roughly into something like April’s thousand gallons of water, simply meaning that rainy days in April are more frequent than in other months.
Although I think this belief in the “pouring rains of April ” is a far-out exaggeration, we left under a mantle of grey clouds and the customary rain showers. One of the clouds must have been listening, for it would come back to haunt me later on.
The goal of the day on our no-destination adventure motorcycle tour? To head south to the Algarve, reaching Aljezur in time to spend the night there. We kept the route options flexible enough to accommodate any last-minute detours and ended up stopping at a few noteworthy route points.
If we were going to head south, we might as well do it riding along the western coast and enjoy some of the quality riding routes it has to offer.
Southwest Alentejo and the Vicentine Coast apart from great routes and wonderful scenery has plenty of noteworthy stopping points. Worth mentioning that a lot of them are part of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park.
Leaving Lisbon under a refreshingly annoying spring rain, we prepped up for a loaded workout day. Nobody needs a gym membership when you can practice until perfection that intense calorie burning exercise – Rain suit on, rain suit off – repeat.
S. Torpes, our first stop, is a beautiful beach known among the Portuguese for the higher water temperatures. With usually calm waters and few high-quality restaurants nested on the beach-facing road, S. Torpes makes a great stopping point.
From there, we headed to Porto Covo and Pessegueiro Island, driving south on the M1109.
With Aljezur as the goal for the night, we aimed for Cape Sardão lighthouse, riding through Vila Nova de Mil Fontes which is also a great stopping place.
After that Odeceixe and finally Aljezur where we set up camp, motorcycle camping style, under the rain.
Before returning to our “mobile villas” we still had time to visit Aljezur Castle.
We woke up under the rain showers and with the visit of a friend who convinced us that the only raincloud of the entire region was on top of our tents.
Having a cloud stalking us was not on our plans, so it was time to break camp and ride on. Now with 3 riders making up the group, we rode a few miles to Loulé where Fernanda, our friend, presented us with a fine lunch at her restaurant – Coreto Loulé Restaurante
On our way we stopped in Sagres, Salema, Burgau, Lagos, Alvor, Carvoeiro…
Now with the energy levels up again, we entered the Ria Formosa Nature Park heading to Monte Gordo but not without stopping at the wonderful village of Cacela Velha
Day for landscape change. Trading the sea for the river and riding as close as possible to the border with Spain.
Every seasoned motorcycle rider knows that having a map of the areas you are riding through is an important backup if they are relying on navigation systems. We did exactly the opposite and used the map as the primary means of navigation, the old-fashioned way.
So, if the road was on the map it was a clear sign that it existed and that it was there to be used.
Well… it’s not always the case. The lesson of the day? Don’t always trust maps. Sometimes they want their adventure too, and they find it by sending trusting unaware bike riders to imaginary places.
So we left from Monte Gordo, heading north always along the borderline and riding along the Guadiana River. Passed on through Alcoutim, Mértola, and from then on forward we would ride off-road, with our adventure motorcycles (not really all that adventure capable).
With the untrustworthy map packed safely out of reach, GPS became our next best friend. Over the next few days help us navigate through forest roads, hills, and even river crossings. GPS Rules!!!
Not all was bad or difficult on day 3. The proof was the sleeping spot for that night. Near Viegas Dam, close by to Vila Verde de Ficalho.
Scenery like this one is what we dream about when we think of motorcycle camping. Not a room with a view. A room with “The” view! And what a view it was!
The best night so far… 100% silence and nature in its most pure state.
Best wake-up view, even the soluble coffee tastes better.
On this fourth day, we decided to go to the largest artificial lake in Europe. The Alqueva Dam.
When I say it like this, it looks like a simple straightforward ride. It was anything but. It turned out to be a long but fun day. With the GPS guiding us through the roads or the absence of them.
After that, there was still time to visit Aldeia da Luz. The rebuilt Aldeia da Luz, because the old one is submerged under the Alqueva waters, and it would be hard to get there even with our powerful adventure machines.
And time for stops in Mourão, Alandroal, Vila Viçosa and Estremoz.
The sleeping arrangements for that night were in the wonderful camping grounds of Camping Puro Alentejo, near the small town of Barbacena.
The fifth day of this No Destination Adv Bike Style tour. More rain, and more GPS traps. The roads were just imaginary lines on Google Maps. We were beginning to get used to the GPS sending us to more hill and river crossings, one after the other.
We left the camping site headed to the Serra de S. Mamede Nature Park, where we visited Castelo de Marvão. Nestled upon a hill, the castle has a breathtaking view of that landscape that extends for miles. If you find yourself touring this area, don’t forget to ride through the N246-1 8 or Alameda dos Freixos, one of the most beautiful roads in Portugal.
From there we went on to Nisa and Vila Velha de Ródão. We recommend a stop at Ródão to enjoy the landscape from the castle’s viewpoint.
With the viewpoint checked we toured to Castelo Branco with a thought in mind. Why not aim the Benelli and the Royal Enfield towards Serra da Estrela? Off we went, passing through Fundão, Covilhã, and sleeping on the camping grounds of Parque de Campismo do Pião.
Another quick recommendation. Don’t forget to stop and try the local cheese. Queijo da Serra da Estrela. Smelly, buttery, but with a taste out of this world. Bad for cholesterol, good for everything else.
The next day would be reserved for the mountain roads of Serra da Estrela.
We decided to go out in search of snow. At this time of the year, we could only hope to find snow in the highest point of continental Portugal. Torre in Serra da Estrela.
Yet there she was, accompanied by a strange cold breeze.
A quick stop to take some touristy pictures in the snow and down we went riding a very popular road amongst motorcyclists. The N230 that connects Covilhã to Vila Pouca da Beira. This road never lets you down.
Down we went through Unhais da Serra and entered the N230 heading Vide, Ponte das 3 Entradas, Avô, Coja, and from there heading south looking to find a weather opening … more pleasant weather.
The route led us to Arganil, Góis, Pedrogão Grande, Sertã and Vila de Rei. This last small town is the geodetic center of Portugal.
Curiosity – Try and fold symmetrically in 4 parts a map of Portugal: The union point of the 4 folds will reveal Vila de Rei.
With the pictures taken, time to keep on heading south after the sun.
Passed near the Montargil Dam, a popular spot for water sports, and headed to Montemor for one more motorcycle camping night.
We had finally left the rain to the north and needed to decide where to go next on our adv journey.
We decided to take upon the invitation of a series of friends to do a “Dam Route” in the next couple of days.
That was in line with the thought of the moment: “Dam! We have no route!” We took them up on the offer.
From Montemor we headed to the Santa Susana Dam, Vale do Gaio Dam, Odivelas Dam, Roxo Dam, Pedrógão Dam and finally the Alqueva Dam.
Lots of dams… so to recover from the dam ride nothing better than to sleep in Évora, a city classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Eight days on our no destination motorcycle adventure. At this moment we had no destination but also no new ideas for the route… fortunately Portugal has plenty of dams, so “The Route of the Dams” was the gift that keeps on giving.
From Évora to the Maranhão Dam, Castelo de Bode Dam, and Cabril Dam.
Day 9 was the day to return home, but not without stopping at Aguieira Dam as we made our way towards the coast.
There is nothing better than to return to the seaside on our way back home and ride down the famous Atlantic road. Ending this trip with the Bombarral road swirls immediately before arriving home.
See you on our next adventure!
Plan, Ride, Live, Repeat! (or in this case, just Ride, Live and Repeat)