Whats the riding like on a cycling holiday in Spain?
Road rides are a mix of mountain passes taking in the ancient pristine forests and the rolling oceans of olive groves. Several Cat 1 climbs dot the park, and many valley bottom sections stretch for miles with nary a junction or stop sign, excellent tempo country.
The MTB trails are a mix of fire and forest control roads, ancient single tracks and pack horse trails. Entropy has taken its toll, and some of these can be washed out and over grown. The trails cross mountain ranges that have been barriers to civilisation for millennia, and whilst tourism and forestry have created some gentrification, this is not the Sierra Nevadas. The trails have steep climbs, rocky and technical descents and they traverse through remote regions with sporadic, if any, communications.
The rides involve at least 4 hours in the saddle, averaging around 5-6 hrs, and we ride every day. If you fancy it..read on!
The riding takes place around the head waters and river basin of the Rio Guadalquivir and the Rio Segura, a broken mountain topograpghy of labyrinthine landscape of ravines and precipices. The road rides are quite and deserted, save for the occasional John Deere or domingero. The roads climb vertiginous Cat 1 and Cat 2 climbs, over mountain passes into remote valleys, interspersed with meandering rolling single carriage ways. Its not unusual to ride for hours and be the only people out there.
The mountain bike trails through the forest roads are more travelled, the ground evened by fire control and logging activities, climbs are less technically demanding on these connecting roads, but still a physical challenge. The higher trails have a rocky, tundra feel, vegetation is more scrub like, with thorns like nails! The loose, rocky quality of the trails means a greater technical level is needed both for climbing and descending; some portage is usually required on the MTB trails, but we try and keep these sections to a minimum; after all, these vistas are earned with legs, lungs and lactate, not land rovers or ski lifts. The changing gradients, terrain and landscape make these higher trails challenging and satisfying. Less travelled, the high trails are more lonely and isolated. Peaceful and tranquil, sightings of rare wildlife are much more likely.
MTB routes are mixed terrain offering a mixture of hard pack, rock gardens, and roots and pine needles. Most routes have technically demanding sections and all require a decent level of base fitness. Climbs are physically demanding, especially so in higher temperatures, descents fast and challenging. The air at these altitiudes is crisp, clean and very dry, with a sharp contrasting light. A high UV factor means bring the sun cream. Summers are hot, the heat turns the caminos into hard dusty trails, and the roads tacky, you can feel the tyres peeling the hydrocarbons off the bitumen.
All rides, Road and MTB, are a mix of length and duration, with changes to suit group and conditions as required, but we’re not a destination for novices or those used to groomed trails and the internal combustion engine to get you your altitude.