Cycling Weekly and its sister magazine Health and Fitness for Cyclists have taken a load of cyclists to Portugal for a photoshoot – but it’s not all sun and sangria.

DAY THREE

Awoken to brilliant sunshine again, with a thousand drummer boys playing their loudest anthem in my head I knew it wasn?t going to be possible to get out on the bike today. Two hours later after facilitating the sandwich making process I still couldn?t stop shaking, so it was off for my first Portuguese medical experience.

Meanwhile, both groups had headed out happily in the sun to the reservoirs to get large group pictures, before splitting and heading off with each photographer. Crash count of the day went to Sarah with one rather good slide out and two opsi daisies ?my feet are still clipped in? incidents, coming to a tally of three for the day and both sides of the bike nicely polished.

While I was dished out all manor of drugs and told take them all with food, I looked out over my milkshake on the beach front, jealous of the tans and the riding in the sun the team would be getting. My waitress kindly told me that if I exchanged my milk beverage for a beer I would be as high as a kite on the orange tablets, with a longing look at the large box I had. I must have been ill as I didn?t even consider the idea.

After a walk along the hotel beach front to get outside for the day, the team arrived back, tan less. Feeling not so left out after all, apparently it had rained most of the day up in the mountains and the coast was the place to be for the sun.

The Tourism Board had generously organised to take us all out for a traditional Portuguese meal. The restaurant, Dona Barca, was down a narrow cobbled street and presented a fish market atmosphere.

Our chosen fish was filleted outside our window and proudly displayed before being devoured by the team. Even the eyeball made it to the table which was flung around in a less than orderly fashion.

We will definitely be recommending it to the second group coming out. A dinner out in the Algarve wouldn?t be complete without a round of Midhora which lead to many late night shenanigans.

DAY TWO

There is something magic about waking up to blue sky, deep blue sea and morning sunshine. Excited that the rain had passed, ten lunch packs were made – accounting for all food allergies – and we set off in the van.

But just as we stepped outside big black cumulus clouds snuck up from behind and were upon us, emptying their contents. Slightly sodden, the groups split in two and went to their respective areas to be photographed. I was relieved to be in the group heading to the beach and not up in to the mountains, as the rain never really passed over the range.

Jumping in and out of the van to avoid torrential downpours we managed to get through the list of pictures we needed. At one point drops the size of large grapes came out of no where, and we all high tailed it down the twisty road to the café on the beach and had chocolate cake. I was assured all pro riders do this when the rain comes.

It has to be mentioned that the Portuguese do the best cake selection ever. Chocolate cake, custard tarts and almond nut flans are among the top pickings. If we had a pudding competition with the CW Track World Champ Twitter Team we would have won hands down.

The constant outbursts of rain broke us in the end and we headed back happy with over two memory cards full of great shots. The second van arrived minutes later and wetter than us as they decided to hide under trees, instead of getting in to the waterproof van during the down pours. Well done guys.

Down in reception using the internet, I dared myself to look at the forecast, much like a horoscope, will you then live your day to fit or just let it roll out? More rain, only 0.2ml per two hours. Not too bad. I think I might go home on Friday though, or at least schedule in a rest day, 4.9ml per 2 hours.

surfers' paradiseYou should have been here yesterday. Portugal’s dramatic coastline is a haven for surfers – this is why.


DAY ONE

A cruel reality set it after searching every feasible and slightly reliable weather forecast website. The first week of the two week Health & Fitness photo shoot in the Algarve, Portugal could be a wash out.

Ever hopeful, the first group of 10 braved Monarch check-in without breakfast and only a few stringent hand luggage rules caused a scene.

On arrival we discovered the weather forecasters were in fact spot on – rain was peeling down the plane’s windows. Thankfully our apartments had amazing views over the weathered and juxtaposed coastline that makes the Algarve so magical.

The team then split in to groups after lunch (by the pool bar, dappled with big rain drops). The boys built the bikes up, while Sarah (designer), Roo (photographer) and Claire (model) went on a reconnaissance to find idyllic terrain and backdrops to take the pictures needed.

Ben (designer) and I got the best task of going to the supermarket and buying enough food to feed 10 people, three meals a day and snacks. Taking in to consideration we are all cycling, all day, everyday, one trolley didn?t suffice and we ended up with two, filled to the brim.

shopping listBen holds aloft the shopping list.

It was quiet possibly the largest shop I have ever done, and included Bimbo burger buns. Ben and I treated ourselves with a pastry delight after being in the hypermarket for over two hours. We had defiantly worked those off, or Ben had after I bossed him around for that long.

Cooking for ten was the next challenge. Coming from New Zealand, burgers are an easy option, as you just make the patties and slam them on the BBQ. Remove the BBQ from the equation and you need a factory line production team to get them all out hot in order to have satisfied customers. Claire piped up and said she had a patty cutter at home and in true Army style I relegated her to a world of mince and frying.

The best anyone could do was three burgers; awards go to Ben Smith, Steve Groom and Claire Beaumont. A hurried apple flan was hoovered up as text messages started flying in to the room (the Chelsea Liverpool game was heating up).

As the rain poured down and cars swished past on water laden roads, I was delighted to be in bed reading the Portugal?s National Newspaper in English and see that they have had the driest March on record in a decade. Apparently only 20.9mm rain fell the whole month, I put the measuring cup out over night to see if we could break the March record in one night.