Exploring the Northern Roads, by Tiago Ribeiro

The most memorable experiences on a motorbike often happen in the most unexpected places. Tiago Ribeiro, a Portuguese motorcycle enthusiast, tells us about his adventures in the lesser-known parts of Portugal in an interview with the Fuel team. He shares some unique moments he and his friends have experienced on their travels.  

1. What is your first memory on a motorcycle?

Actually, I can not say that motorcycles came very early into my life. It was when I moved to Lisbon that, out of necessity, I decided to get one. It was supposed to just be a way of easily moving around the city. I did have a motorcycle driving license, so I got an old Vespa from the 80s. With that experience, I understood that a 2-wheel vehicle could provide me with a different lifestyle. In a matter of weeks or a few months, all of my friends decided to do the same.

However, we quickly realized that we needed proper, bigger, stronger bikes to go further.

I always loved vintage and retro stuff, and I fell in love with a 1980 BMW R65 that I saw in the street. Later I realized it was a friend’s bike, and he actually sold it to me. So… I could say that my life changed from then on. Motorcycles started to become a part of my life; it became a lifestyle. From just riding in Lisbon and going to the beaches or doing shorter rides, to actually making big trips in Portugal and Spain during summer. 

2. Can you explain to us a little about your project of Northern Roads Portugal? Is it mainly off-road? Can you share some must-visit locations in the area?

The Northroad project emerged as an invitation by the Associação de Turismo do Porto e Norte. They wanted us to go on a trip along the most scenic roads in the north of Portugal. The idea was to experience it and to document it through photos and video. 

We did the N222, a road that goes along the Douro River for several kilometers, the N103 that crosses the northern limit of Portugal through the impressive Gerês Mountains, and a part of the N2 that is a mythical road that crosses Portugal from north to south.

So, this wasn’t much about off-road at all. Despite this, we had the chance to explore some of the mountains through less conventional roads.

It’s hard to choose a favorite location from this trip, but I would say that the region close to Douro river between Régua and Pinhão is a must-go, for sure. And also the Gerês Mountains.

3. How did you feel while riding through the northern Portuguese roads? Can you choose a word to summarize that feeling?

It wasn’t the first time that I made this trip. I think it was around five years ago when, together with some friends, we decided during the summer to go north instead of the south (where most people go). I can say it was a surprising experience because I didn’t know the region. We enjoyed it so much that in the following year we decided to go back. Douro and Gerês became my favorite places to go.

I can say that you feel at home but at the same time always impressed and mesmerized. The landscapes are stunning. People are very kind, the food and the wine are amazing… It really feels like a great way to spend some days. 

 

4. Do you have any interesting stories from the trip? Some curiosities or moments you would like to highlight?

Even though we were traveling through many unique places and landscapes, I can clearly say that the moment to highlight was when we suddenly found ourselves under a big storm. We were arriving at a mountaintop in Gerês when suddenly the sky just closed above our heads. It went dark, there was intense lightning, and it was like a flood coming over us. It was a mix of adrenaline, wonder, and knowing that we were about to get completely wet. The landscape became one of the best we had ever seen. It was a special moment for sure.

5. How was your experience with FUEL gear on that trip? Is there any feature you would highlight from our products or any challenge that our gear helped you go through?

I can say it was the first time that we actually felt protected in terms of gear.

We especially loved the jackets, because they are extremely comfortable and in the most challenging weather moments we felt they were great allies.