Our 4 mph Hero

November 26, 2010

We pedaled into a small Portuguese village late in the evening. There was the typical group of old men hanging out at the edge of town--all wearing jackets and caps, all sporting canes. We asked them if there was a campground.

No campground or hotel we were assured. The sun was low in the sky. No time to pedal to the next town.

I widened the search. “Is there a garden space? Some small flat place to pitch a tent?”

This garnered many responses and all the men began to talk at once. One gentlemen came up close and gave me explicit directions, all in Portuguese, on how to get to “somewhere."

Another man spoke up, and I can only estimate what he said, because of my poor Portuguese.

“Hey, these travelers don't speak our language, they'll never find the place you are describing. I'll take them there.”

He hobbled over and mounted a sporty little battery-assisted scooter and the little group of old men waved goodbye as we headed off down through town.

This scooter topped out at about 4 mph, so we barely could keep our bikes balanced as we followed behind him. We wound our way through the village and came to a small little park at the other end of town.

He showed us where we could pitch our tent. Assured us that the water from the fountain was potable. And then pointed out that he lived across from the park and if we had any trouble to knock on his door.

In the morning we knocked on the door to say thank you, but there was no answer. Our hero was probably sleeping in.


Photos by Willie Weir

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.


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