MTB and surfing in Portugal – Where would WE be then?

Words: Julian Lemme Photos: João Mourão

Hey there. I’m Julian, Art Director for

Although my work is anything but monotonous, I find myself frequently falling into a routine, one that ends with my creativity in a headlock. Habits, it turns out, are probably the most quicksand-like element in the world. For this issue of the magazine, I knew it was time to break free of the shackles and find a new horizon – namely that of the Portuguese coast.


The words ‘time to shine’ flash luminously on my phone’s lock screen. That’s the alarm, I realise groggily. I’m inside my van, tucked into a sleeping bag and cosily lying between my bike and a surfboard. At home, round about this time is when I switch on the coffee machine and hunch over my laptop, eyes flickering for hours on end between design layouts and cat videos. But today is different; I’ve got a banana and a handful of nuts for breakfast. I’m on the Atlantic coast and from the sliding door of the van, I can see there are just a few metres separating me from the sea.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
— Henry Ford

The good life is within easy reach if you hit the road

Routines can be a simultaneous blessing and curse. They’re like lined paper or road markings, organising and demarcating where to go, what to do and neatly putting our lives into order. But therein lies the danger too. We slump, worn down by demotivation, from weekend to weekend, plagued by a vague sensation of boredom. In my case, it saps my creativity, stirring up a cloudy broth of sameness. But there’s no chance of that happening when I’m on the road. No time for routines to emerge. I wake up in a new location every day and manoeuvre around my small living space. In the best-case scenario, I have to switch languages too. 

But is there a solution for self-discovery for those who don’t have the luxury of calling themselves a freelancer, for those who can’t simply schlep their laptop to a new beachside cafe each day to work? Sometimes the only solution might be to brush your teeth with your non-habitual hand and walk backwards. That’s my trick anyway. By shaking up the status quo of the way I do things, I try to avoid sinking into the boredom of daily life. New experiences are established in unknown territory, right?

Where would we stand if everybody said where do we stand, and nobody went to look where we would stand if we went?
— Kurt Marti

Jump into cold water

Escape the infinite loop that’s built on old quirks and repetition. Straight into the cold water! If walking-backwards-brushing-your-teeth doesn’t help, why not take up a new sport? The sea is my substitute for the woods. There’s no Wi-Fi in the sea, no power sockets, no clock-watching. It’s all new and strange and unfamiliar. I find myself toying with thoughts and ideas while I wait for the next set. It’s the sort of time when I’m usually hit by a sense of clarity and a new way of looking at things. I can take it back to the desk, executing a new layout or switching imagery. Creative ideas, fuelled by the ebb and flow of the waves.

Ships in harbours are safe but that is not what ships are built for.
— Unknown

From the trails to the surf

To the west of Lisbon the trails shoot you out right on the beach. There’s the sort of variety you’d normally associate with an all-you-can-eat buffet at a five-star hotel – that’s how appetizing the trails are here. Impeccably built downhill tracks with berms, drops and rock gardens, and flowing natural singletrack along the craggy cliffs that border the sea.


Back home I spend a lot of time riding on my own. I ride at my own rhythm and find it easier to switch off. But inspiration, I’ve come to realise, often breeds better with company. When travelling, I’m not averse to latching onto fellow riders. Perhaps a local who’ll show me a hidden trail, or another tourist on a similar hunt for new routes. Each ride brings new stories, perspectives and ideas. Oftentimes, these are the encounters that influence how I live my life and how I approach work projects. Not to mention the new friendships that are forged. So why not say ‘hi’ to the next unknown individual you bump into on the trails, in the supermarket or in the water.


Remember that the world is bigger than us as individuals. You don’t need to bear its whole weight on your shoulders, so embrace the freedom. That’s the freedom of going on an adventure and gaining a new perspective. Pack your bathing trunks or swimsuit, and go catch some waves if that’s your thing. Walk backwards while brushing your teeth, because you’ll end up where you might have gone had you gone there. Say hi to people with a smile and mean it. And me? I’m on my way home now. Real life is calling ;-)

Muito obrigado for the support and the photos to João Mourão of

BIKESPORT: Sintras Trailrituale

weride Sintra bikesport
Flowige Trails gibt es viele in Portugal. Dieses mal sogar mit Meerblick.

Flowige Trails gibt es viele in Portugal. Dieses mal sogar mit Meerblick.

Hawaii-Feeling in Portugal?

Für Wellenreiter nichts Neues. Unweit der Atlantikküste gibt es aber auch ein nahezu unbekanntes Juwel. Die Trails der Serra de Sintra mit Regenwald-Flair.

Vor der ehemaligen Stalltür unserer Unterkunft stehend, blicken wir nach Süden. Von flauschigen Wolkenfäden bedeckt, liegt das hügelige Waldgebiet Serra de Sintra vor uns. Mit den Worten „Einfach nur mystisch, dieser Anblick!“ werden wir von unserem portugiesischen Guide Hugo Oliveira (WERIDE) zur heutigen Mountainbiketour abgeholt. Über Nebenstraßen und Forstwege geht es erstmal eine gute halbe Stunde bergauf. Der immer stärker werdende salzige Schweißgeschmack auf den Lippen erinnert mich an das erfrischende Bad, das wir gestern im kühlen Atlantik genommen haben. Der Nebel wird dichter. Regenwaldstimmung. „Jetzt nur noch zwei Kehren und dann sind wir da“, motiviert Hugo. Am Traileinstieg auf gut 300 Höhenmeter steht kein Wegschild. Keine Markierung. Nur ein Hinweis von Hugo: „Hier lag vor ein paar Tagen noch eine tote Katze. Das war eine Opfergabe von Voodookultanhängern, die gerade bei Nebel ihre Opferrituale in der Serra feiern.“ Jetzt sind wir gespannt, was heute noch alles Unerwartetes auf dem Trail geschehen wird. Ich zurre den Rucksack fest. Und ab geht es in einen mit Moos und Farnen durchzogenen Märchenwald. Und genauso fühlt sich der Trail an. Weich. Griffig. Ungewohnt anders.

Mehr als nur Surfen

weride bikesport Pena palace

Wellen reiten? Ja. Aber Mountainbiken in Portugal? Diese Frage haben wir uns vor dem Reisestart in das südwestlichste Land Europas mehrmals gestellt. Die Antwort wollen wir in der Serra de Sintra mit einer Erhebung von gerade mal 530 Metern finden. Die Region, gut 30 Kilometer westlich von Lissabon, ist bei der deutschen Geländeradzunft kaum bekannt. Internationale Touristen gibt es hier aber viele, denn die Serra de Sintra ist seit 1995 Weltkulturerbe der UNESCO. An märchenhaften Schlössern, Parkanlagen, Herrenhäusern und Villen vorbei fahren wir mit dem Mietwagen bis zum farbenfrohen Nationalpalast, dem Palácio Nacional da Pena. Er thront über der Serra und wird auch als das Neuschwanstein Portugals bezeichnet.

weride bikesport hiting berm

Von Mountainbikern bis jetzt keine Spur. Wenige Kilometer von der Touristenhochburg entfernt tauchen wir in das Sintra für Naturliebhaber ein. Immer wieder queren Trails die kleine Nebenstraße. Hugo, der uns auf dieses Gebiet aufmerksam gemacht hat, ist begeistert von dem einzigartigen Mikroklima, in dem man 365 Tage im Jahr biken kann. Die Landschaft wechselt ständig zwischen Dschungel, Regenwald und Farnfeldern. Hawaii-Feeling pur.

Die komplette Reisegeschichte findet ihr im bikesport Reisespezial 2015.

Unter folgenden Link könnt ihr das Heft bestellen:

Gewinnspiel: Mountainbike Reise im Wert von 1149 Euro zu gewinnen

weride bikesport highfive

In Kooperation mit der MTB-Fahrtechnikschule und Reiseagentur aus dem Chiemgau verlost das bikesport Magazin eine Reise nach Portugal. Beim „Surfing HappyTrails Mountainbike Trailcamp“, das am 27. Februar 2016 startet, kann sich der Gewinner auf eine Woche Trailspaß in einem Gesamtwert von 1149,- Euro freuen. Geschlafen wird in der Multisport-Unterkunft The Lodge ( Unter www. kann man bis zum 23. 12. 2015 an der Verlosung teilnehmen. Mehr über das Trailparadies Sintra erfahrt ihr im bikesport Reisespezial 2015.

Hier gehts zum Gewinnspiel:

Unter folgenden Link könnt ihr das Heft bestellen:

Viel Glück!

Die Trails der Serra de Sintra mit Regenwald-Flair

ENDURO MAG: RidingStyle in Serra de Sintra

weride enduro mag

Original review at ENDURO Mag here

Fabian Arzberger of Ridingstyle is traveling a lot! This time, he went to Portugal. This is his report!

While searching for a new riding destination in the southern climes, I stumbled across Portugals Serra de Sintra. Just a few kilometres east of the capital Lisbon, this mountainous forest area is a protected natural park that promises incredible trails spread across a breathtaking landscape, with sea views to top it all off. The host of other sporting options and its broad cultural offerings rendered the region even more appealing to me. So, flight and accommodation duly booked, the fun could begin.

weride sintra ridingstyle

On the edge of the national park and directly by the coast stands The Lodge, where I’d call home for the next six days. I’d decided that the ultimate way to explore the region would be a B&B with a beautiful garden, chill-out room and self-catering option. Here, I’d be provided with plenty of information on the local bike trails and could book both a local guide and a shuttle service.

weride lodge ridingstyle

What’s more The Lodge offers a yoga and fitness pavilion, swimming pool, sauna and whirlpool – decide between a complete workout or total relaxation. Your choice entirely. The surrounding area boasts over 50 surfing locations within a short drive, so you’ll always hit the perfect swell. For fans of bouldering, there are tons of opportunities in the immediate proximity. The Lodge’s reception is a mine of information with maps and details on local guides.

weride sintra lodge

But first I head off on my mountain bike to get to know the area a little. At just 16 km wide, the Serra de Sintra isn’t particularly big, but its highest summit of 529 m can be seen from every direction. Reasoning that there had to be some adventure to be enjoyed, I pedaled off in search of it.

weride sintra Pena palace

As I pedal up I find the odd trail or two. The open and friendly local riders that I encounter let me tag along and show me just what the Sintra Mountains have to offer.
You gradually pick up on the fact that the locals are pretty proud of their trails. Carefully laid, and furnished with berms, drops and jumps, there’s something to suit every taste. Flat, steep, flowing, techy, jumps, drops, berms – it’s all here. And despite the descents all being rather brief, they’re easy to link into each other and you’ll soon find yourself back up high.

The descents down to the coast have the same incredible views but are a little less trodden.

The descents down to the coast have the same incredible views but are a little less trodden.

weride shoreline ridingstyle

By the end of the day I’m shattered, having seen and ridden quite a few kilometres. In fact, too many kilometres probably, as my navigational skills kept failing me and I wasted time looking for trails. If you want to have a more worthwhile day of riding, turn to WERIDE and get a local guide to accompany you. After appealing to the reception at The Lodge that evening, they arrange a guide for the next day.

weride colares ridingstyle

Our guide Hugo guides us through the forests of Sintra the following day. WE’re riding trails that I’d never have found on my own. Super diverse, we get down to business and repeatedly climb and descend. It’s the ideal terrain for enduro riders.

weride team ridingstyle

For those who aren’t so keen on climbing – or would just prefer to ride downhill as much as possible – you can book a shuttle guide. I decided to do this for a day as the conclusion to my trip and headed out again with the guys from WERIDE.

We rode trail after trail virtually non-stop, some of them multiple times.

We rode trail after trail virtually non-stop, some of them multiple times.

weride torgas ridingstyle

Unfortunately my riding came to a premature end after destroying my front wheel and one of my ribs on a hard landing. However, this allowed me to check out the hospital in nearby Colares – my verdict: not bad.

weride widow ridingstyle

The schedule of the last two days took on a slightly more cultural theme, with a visit to the beach, a shopping trip to Lisbon and a good look at the fish in the Oceanarium.

Conclusion: Given the great value flights and accommodation, a week of riding in Serra de Sintra is definitely worth recommending. Diverse trails and Mediterranean flair are a winning combination. For those who want to stay longer, there are more than enough activities and attractions to keep you busy. In my opinion it’s the blend of surfing, bouldering and yoga that render the region and The Lodge so appealing too. They also offer airport transfers so rental car hassle can be avoided. The guys from WERIDE will guarantee that you find every single trail and there are more areas to be discovered on your bike too, such as closer to Lisbon or north of Sintra. 

Accommodation: The Lodge
Trail Guides: WERIDE
MTB technique and camps: Ridingstyle

Words: Fabian Arzberger | Pictures: Ridingstyle / WERIDE / The Lodge