Instagram feeds are a synonym for living the dream – everybody is always on holiday, always on the road, always riding. No doubt about it, my posts may look the same, and one can be forgiven for thinking that I’m simply living the perfect van and bike life every single day. However, this picture perfect dream is quite often different to reality…
April 2018: I’m on the ground. Full of dirt. Trying to catch my breath, stay calm and not lose consciousness. That was a hard impact! One of the ugliest crashes I ever had. But I was lucky – I did not smash into the rocks face first and somehow made it onto the right side of my body before a brutal impact after a 12 meter flight over the bars. Everything hurts like hell. Most of my upper body… In that moment, Seb is coming to look after me and also our guide Marco is trying to help. I don’t want to talk, I just need a moment to sort myself out and get back to my feet. Breathing is hard, my leg is shaking and my hand doesn’t feel good either.
The heavy rain comes back, I need to get down from this mountain quickly and back to my van, back into civilization to see a doctor. I don’t know what’s going on but I feel like I got beaten up by an MMA fighter. I managed to roll down the rest of the slippery trail and to the car. I lay down on the back seat trying to hold tight while Seb is driving the Syncro down over the rough 4x4 tracks back down to Terras the Bouro and straight to the hospital of Braga.
The doctors didn’t seem too interested and let me wait while I was still shaking and breathing hard… After an hour I stood up and left to go to a private hospital – at least to get the x-rays done and a check that I don’t have any internal bleeding. Luckily, no organs got damaged and I had no broken ribs. Only a broken wrist and a bruised diaphragm from the heavy impact that shook all my organs. Well, this is not how I planned the start of my road trip through Portugal. Too much excitement, too much fun on these heavily flooded trails and too much speed… I didn’t see it coming but this is what happens sometimes. Driving back to Germany wasn’t an option, so with the help of our Guide Marco from In Nature and the guys from WeRide I was able to leave my car and my bikes in Portugal for the time to heal up and return as soon as possible.
May 2018: Exactly 6 weeks later I was back and found my van all charged up, clean and in perfect condition – just like my bikes. Marco took great care of my babies. What an awesome dude! To re-start the trip smoothly with some mellow riding and surfing along the stunning Algarve coastline I headed down south… Visiting Portugal has been on my to-do list for many years now but I have just never managed to make it happen. Last year that changed when I was on my way back from Morocco. I stayed with my wife and kids on top of some cliffs directly above the ocean looking down on one of the finest surf spots I ever been to. Every day I went down to the beach and surfed for a few hours. The kids played all day long and simply enjoyed the time tripping along those huge sandpits. While I was sitting in the water waiting for the next set of waves to come in, I imagined riding this endless, rough, coastline by bike. I imagined there must be a lot of riding around but I had no idea what I was already missing back then… Luckily I met my friend Luis Pedro who is an exceptionally good surfer and rider: He took me with him on a bike trip along the coast – further than even my van could go.
About half-way up the coastline, I rolled into Lisbon and damn that felt good. Being the city boy I am I loved the vibe right away because it reminded me of Prague, the city where I was born – except the big difference of the ocean and the brilliant riding at the front door: In the woods of Sintra are many hidden trails. You would expect the woods to be crowded on the weekends because it’s so close to town but it’s not. It’s surprisingly empty and you can get easily lost in the jungle. The trails are somewhat special. Insane what lines have been built and how much fun they are. When you end your riding day at the beach and catch some waves – there is not much more than you could dream of.
And then there is Portugal’s North. That place where I had my crash and needed revenge. When we got back there this place was burning like hell. The heat and dry conditions caused bushfires everywhere. We moved deeper into the mountains, totally off any civilization and found some of the finest trails in Europe. I still hardly believe the riding there and the dedication of all the locals who put so much work into such a big trail network.
This road trip surpassed all expectations – not just for the highest quality in every aspect of landscapes and riding locations – most of all because of the great people we met along the road.
Thank you all at WERIDE.pt for all your help and perfect times guiding us.
We definitely will be back in this perfect Syncronicles land.