Road Tripping Calpe
Alarms set pre-dawn, big breakfast, coffee, Garmins charged and route loaded — good to go. Roll out of Calpe.
Calpe, Benidorm and Port de Tudons
Cruise to Benidorm via a flock of strip clubs (some still open…) with night time stragglers weaving their way home — the side of the Costa Brava we all know and erm love.
Relief comes as we head into the hills where we meet a grumpy restaurant owner affronted by our purchase of water, listen to the latest The Cycling Podcast episode as we climb, share the road with crazy loud Spanish locals on their club run, and top out on Port de Tudons — a climb any true cyclist would love.
Port de Tudons and Back Side of Confrides
There is descending and then there is this. Nothing much more to say other than this being some of the most fun it is possible to have on a bike — endless perfect corners that melt into one and zero traffic, all shared between two friends attacking this incredible sector.
Descending done and war stories shared, the road rises in yet another perfectly governed fashion towards Confrides. Fairy tale stuff for a seasoned rider –no cars for huge portions of time, punching our way up a series of hairpins and sweeping bends determined to one up their neighbor.
Confrides and Callosa d’en Sarria — Supermercat Lunch
One of a number of rolling sections encountered, the midday sun was taking a toll. Passing numerous village restaurants but pushing on to our chosen lunch stop just short of halfway via another attackable descent.
Shop raided we picnicked outside an apartment block, serenaded by political candidates on PAs and the hustle and bustle of an authentic town hundreds of miles removed from the tourist mecca of Benidorm just 50k away.
Callosa d’en Sarria and Pego
Ramping immediately from lunch past huge apricot orchards netted over to keep the birds away (spotting some lucky birds that had made it inside raised a smile despite the heat and heavy lunch), all was plain sailing until we neared the top of the Tarbena. Encountering red and white tape across the road is never good. With some swift negotiation we were told to ride “very fast” up the final 4km, as a rally car race was headed our way.
Capacity near maxed out the marshal caught us with 1.5km to go in his Max Power style BMW and gave us a few choice words of encouragement, but we slipped the net again, getting an ironic cheer as we crossed the rally stage finish line chequered flag. We would however meet again.
Another short descent and we hit the one of those roads that we’ll never forget. Badly paved becomes pot-holes, becomes gravel, becomes completely off road. Winding through Spaghetti Western countryside that takes the breath away, diverting our all-important attention from choosing the racing line through the sand, gravel and rocks. This is what road tripping is all about and while undoubtedly the toughest 6km of the day, it flies by and we love it.
Pego and Parcent
Two days ago we awed at the beginnings of a bush fire sweeping the valley fuelled by 40c heat and vicious winds. Stopping for a well-earned drink we quickly learned (from a very friendly/drunk Dutchman) that the fire had spread wildly, wiping out power and communication lines and placing our route at risk.
Mildly panicked we attacked the early stages of Coll de Ebo. Smouldering farmland, fire engines, water bombers and helicopters accompanied our path to the inevitable road-block just one k short of the summit. Friendly negotiation took place (Spanglish ruled the day) and we managed to squeak through another potential ride ender, smashing the 8km closed road descent to Sagra like two kids left home alone for the first time.
Our hearts are with everyone affected by this devastating fire (we later learned a local farmer in breach of regulations started a bonfire which quickly spread out of control).
Parcent and Calpe
All good things come to an end and our ride very nearly did as we neared the grand finale, the Coll de Rates and were stopped yet again by another police road block. This one appeared fatal as the rally we had encountered earlier had commandeered the mountain until 8.30pm, leaving us stranded. Did we head home, eeking out the distance via a hastily pulled together detour or sit the rally out for two hours and finish what we started…
With a police escort we clipped in, heading up Rates well behind schedule as the sun began to set over the mountain. Frustration bit hard as we were stopped multiple times for the rally vehicles and associated staging to be cleared from our path. Reaching the top we snapped quick pictures in the fading light then set our minds to the final 35km time trial home.
Just over nine hours of ride time, 205km (our Garmins disagreed by 3km in the end despite riding together all day), 3700m of elevation and a Road Trip neither of us will ever forget.
Le Domestique Calpe
If you have been inspired by our Road Tripping Calpe ride then why not join us in Calpe in Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016. Full details will be available on the Le Domestique Tours website soon.
You can see our Strava fies here:
Footnote — thanks to the guys at Cyclingtips.com.au for the article which originally inspired this ride, which can be found here:
Originally published at www.ledomestiquetours.co.uk on May 18, 2015.