Transportugal 2017

Braganca to Tavira to Braganca Total: 2028Km

We heard about the TransPortugal roughly a year ago.

After researching it for a bit we came across a few routes online, all more or less using the same tracks. Researching on ADV Rider brought up a couple of other routes that were ridden within the last 5 years and some vital pointers in regards to Access issues and Accommodation.

After gathering all this information we sat down and created our own route, researched and marked camping facilities and Petrol Stations and for worst case KTM Workshops.

We planned to take our two 450s (KTM EXC & Husky FE) in the back of the T5, go to Braganca in the north of Portugal and leave the van there. We prepared for Camping and Hotel Accommodation along the way, using the amazing Enduristan Luggage Solutions to carry our gear on the bikes.

We also wanted to check out what is better, Tubes or Mousses. So my bike was equipped with Mousses Front and Rear while Donna’s bike was equipped with tubes.

My EXC was on the OEM Maxxis Maxxcross 7314/7315 and Donna had the Maxxis Pro IT 7304 on the front and a Pirelli Scorpion XC on the back. My tires had 150 miles on it, Donna’s were brand new. Brake Pads were almost new on both bikes and Chain and sprockets were new on Donna’s and 150 miles old on mine. Technically the two bike are based around the same engine and most parts would fit either bike. Donna’s bike had seen some previous action on a couple of Rallies and mine was just bought in August last year and only used for a couple green laneing trips. Both bikes had a fresh oil change and valve check. All good.

TP17 -3 First Day of Travel

UK to Abbeville France

Due to personal responsibilities we couldn’t be 100% sure when we would actually start, so booking a ferry in advance to the Iberian Peninsula was not an option at the time.

On the 3rd of April we decided to leave and due to the Ferry Prices being ridiculous, we decided to go via the Tunnel and through France.

In retrospect I wouldn’t want to do it again this way, as France in a Van is not very exciting. At this moment in time it was a good option giving us the chance to get into travel mode ;-)

We left Stevenage late Afternoon and caught the Tunnel Shuttle at 20:00.

As we booked as freight, a more flexible option, we had to wait for just under an hour to get on the train.

Once in France we set off on the A16 to Abbeville to call it a night in the F1-Hotel there.

For the readers not familiar with the F1 Hotels, it is a basic 3 Bed Room with no bath or toilet but cheap as chips.

TP17-2 Second Day of Travel

Abbeville to Bordeaux

Quite unspectacular journey from Abbeville to Bordeaux via the A16 and A10.

In Bordeaux we stopped at the B&B Hotel Bordeaux Est, a brand new Hotel of the B&B Chain opened just 3 days before we arrived.

The B&B Hotels are as cheap as the F1 Hotels but all have a small bathroom with Shower. The receptionist recommended the Bistro Regent next door for dinner, a Restaurant specialised on Steak with chips and their famous sauce. Well worth trying out!!

TP17-1 Third Day of Travel

Travel Day 1 / TP -3 UK to Abbeville France

Another day on the motorways from Bordeaux to Braganca Portugal.

We stopped for a lovely Coffee and Sandwich in rural France before crossing the Border to Spain.

The drive over the Pyrenees and northern Spain displayed the variances of the landscapes.

We need to go back exploring there, for sure.

We arrived in Braganca late afternoon and pitched on the Parque de Campismo Inatel Braganca.

Only thing there is that they don’t speak English or German but as long as we have working hands and feet the communication worked

We unloaded the bikes and started preparing bikes and luggage for the next day.

We agreed with the Manager of the campsite to leave the Van there for the next 10-12 days had a light dinner and went to sleep in the Van.

Day 1 of the Transportugal 2017

Travel Day 4 / TP 1 Braganca to Sendim 95% Off Road 117Km

We got up fairly early and loaded the luggage on the bikes.

The bags we used were the Blizzard Saddle Bags from Enduristan, founded by a good friend of mine in Switzerland and we used them together with their Tornado 2 Pack Roll. We decided on the Large Saddle bags as the footprint is the same for the S, the M and the L but the width slightly differs and if the full size isn’t needed you can strap them smaller.

I used the Tornado 2 Size L and Donna the Size M.

In mine I had the tent, Sleeping bag, Rain Jacket and most important my Camping Ground Chair.

I’m old and like my creature comforts.

My packlist:

  • Enduristan Tornado 2-L Pack Roll:
  • Quechua Quickhiker Ultralight 3 Hiking Tent - 3 Man, Grey 2.6Kg, 40cm*20cm
  • OEX 900 Down Sleeping Bag
  • Exped UL9 Mattress
  • Blow Up Pillow
  • Helinox Ground Chair
  • Rain Jacket & Pants
  • Air Pump for tires.
  • In the Enduristan Blizzard L
  • 4x T-Shirt, 4x underpants
  • Casual Trousers
  • Spare Base Layer Set
  • Spare Gloves, Woolly Hat, Pair of trainers and Socks
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Jetboil Flash with spare Gas canister (100g)
  • Camping Mug, Cutlery and Travel Wash for me and clothes.
  • Toiletries and Chargers and Cables for Phone, GoPro and Photo Camera
  • GoPro Adapters and spare batteries
  • Specialities on the bike
  • USB Charger Socket with Switch and Fuse
  • Garmin Montana powered mount
  • Leatherman Wave
  • Ram Mount for GoPro
  • Hardcase for Photo camera
  • Wire Padlock
  • Toolroll
  • Enduristan Fender bag with Enduristan ToolRoll inside
  • Kriega Backpack with 3L Bladder
  • Passport, Headtorch, Snacks, Cable ties, Knife and spare Glasses

As we planned on sharing Washbag and Jetboil .. Donna had plenty of space in her bags so we moved my Exped and the Jetboil over to her.

Donna had the A-Lite Ground Chair and the Exped UL6 both smaller in packsize and weight but personally I prefer the Helinox Chair. Bit sturdier and much easier to put together. PackSize differs just a tiny bit, so Helinox is highly recommended.

The Exped UL6 compared to the UL9 is far smaller packed up and lighter.

Comfort is equally good, so here I would recommend to go for the 6 instead of the 9.

The tent

I was looking into tents which were spacious, small pack size lightweight and not as expensive as a small car.

I was close to giving up when I stumbled upon the Quickhiker Range at Decathlon/Quechua. I must say this is the bees knees. Roomy when up, two lightweight poles and setup in a couple minutes. The inner tent is fixed to the out so even if it rains the inner stays dry during setup. And it cost only half of any alternative out there in the same pack size and weight range.

The OEX Sleeping bags were new arrivals at GoOutdoors just a week before we planned to leave.

I popped down to the branch in Swansea and checked them out to see if they were smaller than my Cathyntia and result! They were.

They are good and marked as 4 Season and performed very well.

Tip for the next trip I will pack a cotton or silk Sleeping Bag Liner to put over the Exped when using the sleeping back as duvet.

Once we had everything tied down and stowed away we could park up the Van and set off.

By then it was almost Noon …. Doh!

So off we went to the petrol station and 10 minutes later we hit the first trail out of Braganca

The trails were great, the vistas amazing and all in all it was a smooth practise ride preparing us for the next days of riding on unpaved roads with luggage on the back of our bikes. Something I hadn’t done in a long time and Donna never ever.

We had the odd collapsed bridge but mostly smooth tracks

We reached the little town of Sendim early evening.

I had marked it with a petrol station at roughly 115Km, Tracklog stated 117Km confirming that my calculations via Google Earth weren’t far off.

We stayed at Hotel Gabriella oposite the Church and had dinner in their Restaurant.

We had the most amazing BBQ Pork with baked potatoes and home pickled peppers and olives … Yumm!

The one thing we would learn over the next few days was that never order two mains for two people.

Even with trying there was no chance of finishing the meal …!

The room was a bit rustic the telly (old tiny analog thing) only working after me reprogramming the Topbox and only one channel had english language at least for a bit.

Travel Day 5 / TP 2 Sendim to Castelo Rodrigo

95% Off Road 124Km

We had arranged Breakfast for 9am

Not realising that our watches were still on Spanish CET Time due to the close proximity to the border we were ready for Breakfast at 8am, Only to find the Restaurant still close. At 8:30 (or 9:30 as we thought) a quite sleepy Landlady opened the door and greeted us warm and friendly.

We took our time to have a nice breakfast and prepared for the day.

Rule No.1: we are on holiday

Rule No.2: see Rule No.1

By 11-ish (so we thought) we were ready to set off. Down to the petrol station and onto the trails with the intention of doing a bit more than the day before.

The trails started off easy as the day before and the countryside varied after every bend while we were heading further up into the mountains.

At one point we came off the wide tracks and had to follow a mountain path with loads of stone steps through a rocky valley.

After this bit, which I wouldn’t recommend to do with a larger bike and luggage, as it had a few nasty switchbacks, we reached a bit of road into a village to get a cold drink. Desperately needed!

After that a few more smooth tracks and water crossings before we reached Castelo Rodrigo.

We stayed in a little Hotel along the main road run by an old couple. The plumbing in need of repair and telly not working at all.

It was here where we first realized that our watches were not on the correct time as the restaurants open at 7 pm and upon entering we were informed that it only was 6 pm.

We had dinner in a little restaurant in one of the back streets. The waitress spoke perfect English and the food was outstandingly good. Even the Black Pig I ordered not knowing that this means, quite fatty ribs, was very tasty. So all good.

Travel Day 6 / TP 3 Castelo Rodrigo to Monfortinho

90% Off Road 157Km

After Breakfast at 9pm, now actually able to tell the time properly :-), we packed the bikes filled up and set off for Day No.3.

The Trails were smooth all day. We had wide swooping Tracks well graded and smaller trails with Stone walls each side.

Sometimes around and over smooth but huge granite boulders and through what looked like petrified trees.

At one point in the last third of the track we rode on the actual border between Spain and Portugal on a wide fire break.

The going was so good and fun that we didn’t realize that we were slightly off track. Up and down the hills making good progress up to the one point where the track just dropped down a fairly steep hillside.

Here we realised that we were ever so slightly of the track and had to go back a mile to rejoin the track which then was going down the hill on switch backs.

But too late I had my brown stain already in my pants.

During the day we saw that Donna’s bike had sprung a leak at the Outputshaft. So we got a bit of Oil and kept an eye on the levels.

In Monfortinho we found a little Hotel with an English speaking Landlady and good showers. We had Dinner in the restaurant of the hotel, bit pricey and the steak was a bit tough but all in all recommended to stay there for a night.