Day 2 of the Legal & General Real Assets pedElle 2017 begins, like Day 1, with clear blue sunny skies. It is, however, a chilly start as the group rolls out of the hotel after a big breakfast, and there are a few nerves at the scale of the challenge still to come despite yesterday’s achievements.
However, Portugal’s scenery is not going to let anyone’s expectations down and the morning’s first stage is another stunner. The terrain becomes more rugged as the riders make their way south-west from Viseu, with vineyards giving way to olive groves. Winding roads over dams and reservoirs distract anxious minds and help settle nervous legs into a steady rhythm. The pace is faster and smoother and the previous day’s first-day jitters are all but forgotten as the riders concentrate once more on the task in hand.
The morning’s coffee stop is on a peaceful terrace overlooking a reservoir and it is with reluctance that everyone moves off to take their place on the road again. However the next stage delivers more stunning scenery and as the peloton winds its way through a valley bottom dotted with white houses, the riders begin to practice through and off, rotating through the group smoothly and evenly. Through and off allows everyone a turn on the front but also assures a chance to recover on the way back, as well as allowing riders to mix and chat as they move through the group.
However, cycling is hot and tiring work as the temperatures begin to climb and the morning’s combined stages of 106km begin to take their toll. Winding its way through a forested gorge the peloton arrives at lunch at Condeixa a Nova, eaten on the restaurant’s terrace in the blazing sunshine surrounded by orange trees.
After lunch the terrain changes again, as limestone gives way to red sandstone and becomes more arid and dry. Practising through and off again, the group makes its way through flatter and more gently rolling hills, consisting of agricultural and industrial landscapes, eating up another 41km with ease in the mid afternoon sun.
The final stage of the day is a short, sharp 30km, a welcome distance after 146km already spent in the saddle. After negotiating the busy, post-rush hour run into Leiria, the 43 cyclists are treated to a well-deserved al fresco dinner in a beautiful square overlooked by the castle in the old town. Two days and 328km done, it’s time for an early night in preparation for the third and final day of pedElle 2017.