“Fuck look at the rays! This is why we got up so early!” exclaimed João as the sun pushed its way through the clouds on the Atlantic horizon. Half an hour earlier we had been in the WERIDE van, wondering why it was that we were all awake at that time. Now we were no longer regretting the dark, cold and early start.
João’s excitement about the rays was partly because the sun’s arrival meant that things would warm up a bit, but also because we were at the Outerio Dirt Park in Cascais for a sunrise photoshoot, and the sunrise was looking good! Behind the lens was the talented Thomas Brynjulf Svendsen. The subject of the photos were two of WERIDE’s steezy guides, Diogo and Duarte.
João couldn’t have chosen a better location. I was amazed that this small coastal town has these jumps. Not just a set of dirt jumps dug by locals, this spot was voted for by the town and built with machines. The result is perfectly formed jumps ranging from small enough for me to send up to Diogo and Duarte were soon warmed up and sending the biggest double, right in front of the sunrise. One of Thomas’ photos even made as the chosen photo on Pinkbike’s Movies for your Monday.
Once the sun was higher in the sky, we loaded the bikes onto the trailer and set off for the Sintra Mountains. These mountains are a special place. Out on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, they have their own microclimate and the weather can change pretty fast. It is not unusual to find yourself enveloped in mist. Adding to the atmosphere are the round boulders that litter the ground. Ranging in size from small to huge, they give the woods a unique character.
A consequence of Sintra’s atmosphere is that practicers of dark magic like to visit the woods. Watch out for circles of candles or other strange items and definitely do not touch them!
We spent the rest of the day sampling the high quality trails and being shuttled back up again. By this point we had been joined by some other riders, including one of Portugal’s finest mountain bikers, Emanuel Pombo.
To put it bluntly, the trails in Sintra are awesome. Tight twisting singletrack, rock gardens, jumps, kickers and drops. Lisbon and Sintra have a lively downhill, enduro and XC scene. On the weekends there are literally hundreds of bikers out and the trails are very well maintained.
We ended the day riding the Donkey Trail, which runs from the heart of the mountains down to the southern tip. Half way down we stopped so that Duarte and Pombo could session some big jumps while Thomas captured the action. Photos of riders sending jumps is one thing, but witnessing Pombo’s smooth style as he got huge airtime was something else!
The Donkey trail ends at a beach bar and we enjoyed some hard-earned beers as the sun went down.
WERIDE offer a variety of single and multi-day tours in and around Lisbon, as well as other Portuguese locations. You can choose standard riding, girls only, a training camp or even a day riding with a pro (Pombo). Not only are they highly professional, they are also really nice guys. Lisbon is a perfect location for riding all year round. I was there in winter, which was chilly but by no means too cold to ride.