We start the ride in Alcantarilha or Silves, both of which are situated a little above sea level, making for a serious climb accumulating around 1600 m. d+ over a distance of 110 km. But our efforts are more than rewarded by the changing scenery as we climb away from the tourist trail; from the orange groves in the Odelouca river valley, the eucalyptus plantations and traditional cork oak and chestnut forests to the huge granite blocks exclusive to the hillsides of Picota and Foía as a former volcanic area. After passing through the mountain towns of Alferce and Monchique we tackle Foia from the northern side, which guarantees minimal traffic and superb mountain scenery with views stretching miles to the North and East.
With the climb under our belt there’s an obligatory and rewarding water/coffee stop at the Foía summit. Don’t forget your cameras! Whilst on a clear day you can see a vast area of the Algarve, right down to the south coast and the Atlantic ocean, the elevated situation can bring with it other challenges such as fog and low cloud cover. Starting the descent and as we cruise down the smooth tarmac of the southern slope the warmth of the sun soon returns and it makes for a very comfortable ride back towards the coast, in the knowledge that we have made it to the roof of the Algarve by bike. Times can vary but we aim to complete this ride in approximately 5 hours.