Teams of cyclists clad in Lycra enjoy the challenge of cycling through the mountains in the north Costa Blanca region of Spain. The hairpin bends, steep climbs and fast descents in the mountains around Jalon and Guadalest provide a tough challenge for the athletes.
Top professional teams are among the cyclists enjoying the winter and spring sun to practise their sport. They can enjoy fast routes along the flat coastal routes or head into the mountains for a really tough ride. At times, it seems as though there are more cyclists than motorists on the roads.
The Alicante region of Spain is a perfect spot to enjoy a gentle ride or you can even follow in the footsteps of the professionals who rode along the Costa Blanca during the Vuelta España cycling race 2015.
The ninth stage was over 168 kilometres from Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol. This year’s Vuelta España is also heading to the north Costa Blanca with stage 19 covering 39 kilometres between Javea and Calpe with the following stage along the 184 kilometres from Benidorm to Alto Aitana high in the mountains.
A great place to base yourself for a cycling holiday in the region is in the pretty beach town of Altea, next to Benidorm. It’s a peaceful spot with lovely beaches and a pretty old town famous for its iconic blue-and-white-tiled church dome.
If you just fancy a day out by bike, you can join an excursion or hire a bike to do your own thing.
Pedalling by the beach in Altea
If you’re a little rusty, you may like to cycle along the main N332 coast road to Benidorm, 10 kilometres to the south. This is a main road so is easy cycling but you’ll need to be aware of the fast traffic also using the route. Alternatively you could stay on the N332 but head north towards Calpe,11 kilometres to the north. Be warned the road around Altea Hills and Calpe is very steep and twisty. You could stop for a while to catch your breath and enjoy the far-reaching views over the Mediterranean.
Head for the lofty heights of Guadalest
Hardier cyclists will enjoy the challenge of heading up to the beautiful mountain regions around Altea.
A favourite route is from Altea to the mountain-top town of Guadalest, famous for its iconic white bell tower on top of the granite mountain perched 600 metres above sea level.
The 21 kilometre ride will take about two hours and although it starts off fairly flat with a ride along the N332, it is a gruelling climb for half the ride up to Guadalest.
Head south on the N332 and then take the CV70 all the way up to the town. It is pretty tough going but so worth it for the views on the way and for visiting the town itself.
You will be riding through some of the finest rural countryside in the region surrounded by farms and little towns as you ride alongside the Guadalest river.
It is advisable to take advantage of the resting places along the way so you can really appreciate the panoramic views of the mountains, open countryside and down to the sea. They are spectacular and are worth stopping to appreciate.
Once in Guadalest, you can visit the castle, enjoy a traditional meal of sausages or rabbit in a restaurant with fine views, and visit one of the town’s many museums exhibiting curiosities such as instruments of torture, miniature items and classic cars.
Dip into the Algar waterfall
On the way down, you could take an alternative route to visit the marvellous Algar waterfall. Take the CV75 as before but after about seven kilometres head left on to the Ctra d’Alcoi/CV755. After a few kilometres you come to Callosa d’en Serria – a lovely little rural town with attractive bars and restaurants – where you take another left on to the CV715 to Algar.
The waterfalls are beautifully cold, which may be well appreciated after your long ride, surrounded by amazing rock formations and stunning flowers.
Head back the way you came until you reach the CV755 to take you all the way back to Altea with the round trip taking about four hours.
Climb up Alicante’s ice mountain
A shorter route from Altea takes you up to the Sierra Helada (ice mountain) which is a peaceful nature haven on the coast. You’ll be riding back along the N332 south towards Benidorm before turning off to the CV7651 to climb up the mountain.
It is a short ride of about 30 minutes but the last leg is steep as you head up to the top of the mountain. Once there, you can enjoy a choice of walks or rides around the natural park.
It is worth cycling the 2.5 kilometres to the Albir lighthouse as you will enjoy fabulous views over Altea bay, the impressive Ifach rock at Calpe and the sea.
Another route takes you over to the emblematic Benidorm Cross, which was originally erected in the Sierra Helada natural park about 55 years ago by Catholic friars. From here, you can take in the views of the Benidorm skyline with its skyscrapers of different colours glistening in the sun.
Heading towards Jalon
A favourite route for cyclists is in the Sierra Bernia mountain to Jalon. The rides are invigorating with some great climbs, tough bends and fast descents.
You will also be riding among stunning countryside in an area famous for its almond blossom in spring-time and its award-winning wines from the local vineyards.
From Altea, you will ride along the Via Pista for 19 kilometres to reach Jalon. It’s another steady climb up but you will be rewarded with amazing mountain and countryside views.
This is traditional Spain at its finest with little villages complete with pretty squares lined with cafes and impressive churches. You can ride into Jalon and turn back to Altea or keep climbing up the Sierra Bernia as high as it goes.
Obviously the higher you climb, the better the views and the closer you get to nature but it is a tough ask for many cyclists.
In Jalon itself, you can enjoy a traditional meal of rabbit with garlic, wild boar or home-made sausages washed down with a glass of wine from the local Bodega Xalo. You can also stock up on local honey or olive oil while in town.