Cycling at Spain
In this post I bring you a little portion of my native country, Spain.
The Southwestern Europe country houses some of Europe’s greatest climbs and is consider a mecca for many roadies.
The combination of two important ingredients for cyclism, such as the dominant Mediterranean climate, characterised by warm/hot and dry summers, and the good routes to ride, make this country a must to go for cycling enthusiasts.
Spain’s vast and diverse landscape will have you begging for new cycling destinations to tick off in your bucket list.
Thousands of cyclists make the pilgrimage up to Alto de l´Angliru, this mighty ascent is considered one of the most difficult, challenging and hardest climb in the World. The 12.5km track has an average gradient of 10.21%, although one particular section -Cueña les Cabres- reaches a brutal 23.5%. I am sure you will sweat a lot to get to the top, but the reward will be worth.
Not very far for this region, you will find Parque Nacional de los Picos de Europa (Picos de Europa National Park), described as a theme park for cyclist. Here you do not miss Lagos de Covadonga, a stunning series of lakes -Enol and Ercina lakes- over 1 000m up in the sky, and a mythic ascension of Vuelta a España.
If you are looking for pure height, in Spain you will also find the highest paved road in Europe, Pico Veleta, in the high mountain of Sierra Nevada. If starting in Granada, it has an astonishing 2 700m elevation gain to its peak and reaches 3 367m at its tallest point. You will feel more an alpine climber than a cyclist.
Islas Canarias/Islas Baleares
But Spain is not only the Iberian Peninsula, the Islands (Islas Baleares and Islas Canarias) also provide an excellent opportunity for cycling. In fact are a popular choice for professionals doing training stages.
If you want to do altitude training, Islas Canarias could be your best choice. A popular choice is El Teide with its more than 50km of pure climbing. Is considered the roof of Spain (3 718m), although you can not quite ride to the top.
For the other side, Islas Baleares, and specially Mallorca is considered the original cycling mecca. Sa Calobra and Puig Major, are some examples of Mallorca’s toughest climbs, but not the only ones.
For many people Spain is synonym of sun and warm days. One of the finest examples of this mixture is The Costa Brava, running from France down to Blanes, a town just northeast of Barcelona. Easily accessible from coastal towns like Begur and the more popular Tossa de Mar, the winding and hilly road that hugs the coastline provides hours of sun-kissed enjoyment. It is one of the most unspoilt coastlines in Spain, and its incredible cliffs and sea views will not disappoint you.
If you are more interested in explore the place that so many pros call home, Girona is your destination. The golden combination of city, coast and mountains means that you can explore a plethora of terrain in one single ride, and is the reason that Girona has become a bit of a ‘must visit’ in recent years.
Last but not least there is The Pyrenees, mountain range covers 430km, and it stretches over both Spain and France. The French side houses many of the most famous climbs, but Spain has plenty to give - and a fair few climbs span the France/Spain border.
Obviously, this is just a glimpse of what Spain as a cycling destination has to offer. It is plenty of good roads and unspotted climbs that must to be explored by yourself.
Personal Spain cycling climb bucket list
Here, I show you my Spain cycling climb bucket list, a list that I want to increase in the following years.
Before check the plot, some aspect should be highlight:
The number associated to each climb represent the degree of difficulty, the bigger the number the bigger the difficulty.
This degree is based on the formula given by Juanto Uribarri. A complete description, in Spanish, could be find in this post at Altimetrias website.
This could be a good estimator to compare the difficulty of different climbs, at least from an objective point of view.
Based on this, the climbs are classified in four categories:
- HC Hors catégorie, french term to designate a climb that is “beyond categorization”
- Category 1 120-240
- Category 2 60-119
- Category 3 <60
* Note that in professional cycling stage races such as, "Tour de France", "Giro d'Italia" and "Vuelta a España", this classification differs depending of the organization decision.
For an easy display, only climbings belonging to HC, first and second category are represented.
For many of the climbs, you have several roads to get to the top. For those cases, the side used is specified and its degree of difficulty indicated as well.
To reveal more information for a specific climb, click on the associated point.
The associated information included the length (km), average gradient (%), maximum gradient (%), cumulative elevation gain (m), and the height of the climb (m).
I hope you find this post useful and interesting, and if you decide to ride in one of the detailed climbs I am sure it is going to give you the biggest sense of achievement ever.
“Bike only moves forward and retains its balance when the rider pedals.”