Bicycling mountain roads and passes

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Pico Torre 1,993m
Portugal's highest mountain road

A perfectly asphalted pass road leads right through the Portuguese Serra da Estrela, branching off to Portugal's highest mainland mountain. The Torre reaches an altitude of almost 2,000m and towers over the entire surrounding area as a solitary hilltop. It is quite easy to get up there on a racing bike, but you have to climb more than 1,800 metres in total (including the counter-climbs on the way back).

Start: Seia 528m
Altitude difference to summit: 1,638m
Distance to summit: 29km
November 2021

The profile shows a 7% ramp for the first eight kilometres to the village of Sabugueiro, followed by an even steeper climb up to a reservoir at about 1,500m. After that it becomes flatter and the climb to the summit is much more moderate.

We start in the diffuse light of an early November morning in the small village of Seia. From here on, the path is signposted to "Torre" and all you have to do is follow the road to the summit.

You quickly gain height on the wide road.

After about eight kilometres, you reach the village of Sabugueiro and unfortunately lose about 80 metres in altitude again.

After that, the steepest part of the climb begins, occasionally with double-digit gradients.

In mid-November, the weather is at its best: bright blue skies, a pleasant 15 degrees and hardly any wind.

At an altitude of 1,500m, you reach a reservoir that already marks a little more than half of the way.

From here on, the road surface changes to fresh black tar. Experience shows that this is an absolute torture in high summer, when the heat builds up on the road and the tar surface sticks to the tyres. But no problem today.

The biggest challenges in summer are certainly the heat and the wind. There is no tree cover whatsoever that would provide shade or some wind protection. But that's not a problem today either.

The landscape becomes increasingly barren, but offers great views down.

At the back of the hilltop on the right, the summit area of the Torre appears for the first time with its radar domes reflecting in the sunlight, showing the way like a lighthouse. Note the completely deserted and traffic-free road today - wonderful conditions for the climb.

Below the summit is Portugal's only ski resort...

At the top of the pass, you simply turn right to the summit.

Finally you stand quite lonely at the top and are happy about a special anniversary - my 25th country point :-)

It is not particularly beautiful here. The Torre (= "tower") stands next to two radar domes and some souvenir stalls.

A spectacular descent back awaits - certainly not in the prescribed "low gear". The road is very wide, dust-dry and clean, no traffic far and wide, no animals, no wind.

If you have the necessary body weight, you can easily reach the maximum speed of 70km/h on a road bike in these conditions. Maybe not quite my world (due to lack of mass and courage) - but still fun!

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