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+ Week Riding the Azores

Steve - YYZ

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Riding the Azores on a Rental Scooter

This is just a quick report on a riding trip I took a few years ago to the island of San Miguel in the Portuguese Azores. Besides riding my own Burgman 650 at home in Canada, I have an enjoyment in flying away somewhere and renting a scooter to explore different riding experiences. I was there for 9 days, 6 riding days and 2 days of general exploring, and the departure day.

This island of São Miguel is the largest of the Azores and is about 75 km long by 10-20 km wide, but despite it's size it has some amazing riding roads and you can easily spend a week there exploring different areas and sights. A ride completely around the island on the coastal road would be about 225 km distance. I went in mid-October and for riding, the weather was great. Daytime highs around 21C and nightime lows around 15C. There is some rain about, but it's pretty easy to avoid just by going to the other end of the island or changing elevation and it changes quickly. I wore my Klim gortex riding pants, my mesh jacket and had a rain jacket that I could throw on and off as needed. For my flights, I used a rolling duffel bag was full of my riding gear and I took one of my own helmets as a carry-on piece. They do supply helmets, but I'm more comfortable in my own which is guaranteed to be clean and fit correctly.

I rented online (details below) and had all arrangements made before I left. The bike I chose to rent was a 300cc Honda Forza but there are others available (including "real" bikes" LOL). Realistically, the Forza was more than adequate for the riding conditions I found. Overall, the roads are in good condition but there are some areas that are full cobblestone roads. I found that there's a sweet-spot, not too slow and not too fast where the suspension seems to adjust to the cobbles and the ride smooths out.

So here's a few images from the trip and commentary.

This road might be cobblestone, but what a feeling to ride thru the trees.

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There's lots of sweeping curves both along the coastline and up thru the mountains.
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At the top, a lovely mountain lake, the old caldera from the volcanic origins of the Azores. There is a caldera at each end of the island so lots to explore.
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This old aqueduct was a nice thing to come across out in the countryside.
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The main town of Ponta Delgada (where I stayed) is very beautiful both during the day and the night. I took one day without the bike to just walk around the town and see the sights. I planned my rides to all "loop" each day so I stayed at the same small boutique hotel every night. Parking for the bike was close by.
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I did go off-roading to explore the caldera at the west end of the island but that was by choice, not required. I just had to be aware of the smaller diameter wheels and "normal" tires for grip.
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More photos in the next posting.......
 

Steve - YYZ

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.....Azores continued.

More exploring around the west caldera.
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My Forza. As I'm so tall (2 meters or 6'6"), I removed the butt-bump for more leg room and just put it back on before I returned the bike. This is high up (about 1000 meters altitude) in the middle of the island.

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The coastal road is slower, but a very pretty ride, and of course, more cobbles thru the trees.
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It wasn't all smooth sailing and out in the middle of nowhere I had to pull over by this little abandoned stone house. The back tire had let go on me and it plopped down onto the rim.
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I phoned the rental company and told them where I was (having my own GPS with me was a HUGE help) and while I was waiting for a retrieve, a very nice cop came along who spoke english and we sat and chatted for a while about our two countries.
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Eventually (about 2 hours total wait) the truck came along and the scoot was rolled up into the back for the ride back to the city. Kinda ended one afternoon's riding, but the bike was returned to me next morning all ready to go again.
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You do have to be careful riding in the countryside as it's an agrarian society so you never know what might be on the road around the next bend.
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To be continued.....
 

Steve - YYZ

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....Azores continued

There are so many great sights and photo opportunities. Luckily I had been told about these two tunnels and to be sure to stop in the gap between them... and off to the side a wonderful waterfall.
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Not that the coastal roads didn't provide and endless opportunity for great photos as well.
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You can see both the north and south coast in this view looking westward down the island.
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And it can get foggy up in the clouds sometimes at the highest elevations.
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And did I mention the food. AWESOME!!!
If you can believe it, this entire meal (less the beer) was cooked underground in a volcanic vent in the village of Furnas. Geothermal heat brings boiling water to the surface in which pots are soaked until the food is cooked. Just call it nature's slow-cooker for which this town is famous.
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And as a solo rider, well my companion "Biker Ducky" is always along for my adventures!
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And at another country restaurant, I found out that when you order a steak, it automatically comes with a fried egg on top. Not sure why this is the local custom, but you can't get a steak without one.

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To be continued....
 

Steve - YYZ

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....Azores continued (last post)

Me and my cameras along the southern coastal road. Incredible scenery almost everywhere you look.
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Map of the island and the GPS tracks from my riding days.
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Just a pretty shot of the Forza along the coastline in "the grass pasture" prior to the "ooops".
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But not every trip ends well. On the final day before my flight home, I slipped while WALKING the bike in a grass pasture and as chance would have it, the 400 lb Forza came down on my leg at an awkward angle twisting my left leg under the bike. Ended up breaking the Fibula and tearing the MCL ligament. Ahhhhh #^%%^$$## !!!!! But that's another whole story in itself.
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(note that these prices are a couple of years ago (pre-covid) so they might have changed since)

Scooter Rental for 5 Days €236.25 (Approx $265 USD or $53/day, all taxes & fees included)
Airfare, Direct from Toronto Including Out-of-Country Medical Insurance $726 Cdn ($545 US)
Accommodation €450 for 8 days, all taxes included.

CONTACT Information for Scooter/Motorcycle/Car rental.
Headquarter: Caminho da Serra Gorda, Milhafres, Arrifes 9500 - 000 Ponta Delgada (ANC Energia) City Office: Avenue João Bosco Mota Amaral, kiosk in front of hotel Marina
How to get to us?
(+351) 296 247 171 | (+351) 967 309 909
[email protected]

https://www.azoresholidays.pt/en/veiculos/rent-a-motp/

And the link to the wonderful small boutique Hotel I stayed at in Ponta Delgado. Casa da Cidade
https://www.hoteisfind.com/casadacidade/
 

JimVonBaden

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Outstanding photos! I have been to every part of Portugal, and Madeira. But not yet to the Azores. Your scooter adventure gives me ideas for when we do get there in a couple of years!

Thanks for sharing!

PS Bummer on the leg. At least they have good medical services there.
 

klaviator

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I have been to the Azores a number of times. Lajes field was a common stopping point when flying across the Atlantic. I often got to spend the night there. One thing I remember well was going out into the local town and getting grilled Swordfish for dinner:dukegirl

Unfortunately I never got the chance to see the countryside or go riding there. From your pics it looks like some really beautiful scenery and a great place to go riding. Thanks for posting this. You took some great pics:clap:clap
 

Steve - YYZ

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Niagara Falls Canada
PS Bummer on the leg. At least they have good medical services there.
Actually, I'm a tough old bastard and just thought I had twisted the knee badly. So I iced it overnight, took a couple of Tylenol #3 (which I never travel without), hobbled thru the airport, and took my flight home. Had it x-rayed here in Canada, then the cast and recovery. I did this as the "ooops" was on the last day before my flight home. I'll tell you, riding the last 50 km back to turn the bike in at the rental company with a gimp left leg... geezes, just had to be sure I stopped and put my right leg down. I couldn't move my left. Would have toppled over again! Anyway, made it ok and the rest is tales to tell over a beer!!!!
 

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