What are the ingredients needed for a climb to be considered a "Classic"?
1) Significant climbing history: check. This route has, more often than not, been part of the queen stage of Volta a Portugal (Portugal's cycling Tour). 2) Elevation/grade/distance: check. Almost 20km long, averaging 6% gradient, with sections above 15%, it will make you develop a special relation with your largest sprocket. 3) Switchbacks! Boy oh boy, who doesn't love a good sequence of switchbacks? check! 4) Great views: triple-check. Infitine valley, lake, rock tunnel and 7m tall holy monument carved into the rock, are all part of the menu. 5) Dramatic ending: check. How much more dramatic can it be, than finishing on mainland Portugal's highest peak?
The first 6km are a relentless sequence of swichtbacks.
9 Km| Altitude: 1486m - Penhas da Saúde
This village is a well-known winter resort. If you are not trying to beat the KOM record, it's a good place to stop and take a breather, eat an icecream and enjoy the view.
17.4 Km | Altitude: 1850m - Senhora da Boa Estrela Monument
2km after the rock tunnel, you will see the 7m tall monument to your right. This beautiful sculpture, dating from 1946 and carved on granit, and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, honnors Senhora da Boa Estrela (translation: good star Lady), the patreon of shepperds.
18.9 Km | Altitude: 1970m
Summit! For the fittest among cyclists, it's hard. For the weekend warrior, it's hardcore. Once your heart rate goes from rabbit to human mode, and you've taken a picture for posterity, go to the bar and ask for a sandes de presunto (ham sandwich). The balcony has a great view.