Cycling World Magazine July 2017 - Page 122

122 | Cycling World Cycling in Spain A Whistle-Stop Tour of Some of Spain’s Best Cycling Locations Written by Tom Edwards, Pictures provided by Pixabay – CCO Public Domain Sierra Nevada Not for the faint-hearted and with an effort warning, the Pico de Veleta cycle route in Spain’s dramatic Sierra Nevada mountains is a must but only for die-hard cyclists. Little known, this route has it all in terms of drama, challenges and sheer beauty. The Sierra Nevada mountains rise 3,478m above sea level, making them the highest in continental Spain, and the route itself has an altitude gain of around 2,700 metres. Starting in Grenada, there are a couple of options along this 43km ride, however the most popular follows the A395 all the way to a service road (more of a track) at the mountains peak, where the road tops at 3,300 metres above sea level, giving it the official title of the highest in urope. A gradual ascent is the order of the day for most of the journey, although nearer the peak the challenges start to appear as the harsh wind, lack of oxygen and disappearing surface make the ride an awesome and unforgiving experience. Luckily, if you prefer mountain biking and something a little more down to earth, you will find plenty of smaller and easier mountain bike routes within the wider Sierra Nevada range and there is a dedicated bike park (Sierra Nevada Bike Park) with over 20km of trails. Northern Spain, the Basque country Bordered by the cities of Bilbao, San Sebastian and itoria- astei , the Basque Country has a varied and lush landscape with something for every cyclist. San Sebastian is a well-known tourist hub and, with its beaches, world famous gastronomy and title of European Capital of Culture 2016, it makes a great base. From here, you can indulge in several recognised routes, such as the ride to Bilbao. This km route takes you along the coast into pretty fishing villages and through glorious countryside with plenty of stop off locations along the way. At Bilbao, you can explore a vibrant and diverse city, from the historic cobbled streets of Casco Viejoold town (old town to the modern rank ehry-designed uggenheim Museum. Another great area to explore is the Rioja region. Famous for its red wine, the Rioja region is also a cyclist’s paradise, with a mix of dramatic gorges and rolling countryside connected by quiet roads, vineyards and attractive towns and villages. Of particular note are the historic towns of Logroño, Laguardia, and San Vicente which reward you with some fantastic restaurants and attractive medieval architecture. A classic ride in the region follows the meandering path of the river Ebro as it weaves its way through Campoo, Pesquera, Medina de omar and aro before finishing in ongrono. This unforgettable journey takes you from the dramatic backdrop of the Cantabrian mountains as they gradually make way to gorges and truly unspoilt countryside before