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J51 - Sunday, December 6: Populo – Mesao Frio

68.3km – 9H05’
Altitude 184m
Torrential rain takes nothing away from the beauty of the scenery and wet feet don’t dampen the good mood of the team or the runner.  Serge has come up with a saying “If you don’t like rain don’t come to the Douro!”
Serge continues to be motivated and we wonder how he does it.  His love of figures and being able to add up the days to maintain his average is part of it but what else? Let me tell you a story:  Serge is running a race against a “virtual” opponent who is always behind but not very far and this imaginary runner must not catch him.  For four days now Serge has talked about this during his refueling and at diner.  With his story telling talent he can almost get us to believe this story is true.  At the age of 56 Serge has the soul of a child who likes to entertain an audience and it does a lot of good.
At km32, we have had our fill of down hills.  Between Alijo and Pinhão there is an extremely steep slope, covered with grape vines and in spite of the rain we can’t help but admire it; however, looking down makes us feel dizzy.
In Pinhão, on the banks of the Duoro, it’s market day.  There aren’t many people and tourists are absent at this time of year.  We cross to the south bank of the river.   There are sumptuous “Quintas,” something between a castle and a farm, equivalent to French wine producing estates, where there are wine tastings.  If the day is wet it’s not because we have had too much Port or Duoro wine and at the wheel of my camper, I begin to think about the grape harvesting season.  The vineyards are planted on terraces and the only possible access must be by foot, and even then it must be difficult.  It’s surely a phenomenal job.  This region of the high Duoro vineyards, which is completely man made, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Just before Regua, Fatima and Cesar, of Mizuno Portugal, join us.  Cesar accompanies Serge for a while.  We cross to the north bank of the Duoro at Regua, and then take the N 108, which is as narrow as it is sinuous and heavily travelled, even on Sunday, to Mesao Frio.  Serge is tired but he plays the weekly interview game, in two takes because of technical difficulties.  Unfortunately, the interview was not recorded!!!!!.
Tomorrow we will see villages only on the north bank of the Douro: Frende, Eiriz,Torrão and Melres and we will remain on the N 108.
The 24th edition of the Lisbon Marathon took place today and we hope that in the capital they had better weather than we did here.

Town : Mesao Frio (district de Vila Real)

GPS : N°41.16302° W007.87444°