A Great Cycling Holiday in Southern Spain
Having recently returned from a fantastic week long cycling holiday in the south of Spain, I thought I'd write a bit about it as part of the inevitable post holiday withdrawal process. My cycling club mate Mike and I, who both ride with the Ribble Valley Cycling and Racing Club (www.ribblevalleycrc.com), spent seven great days with Vamos! Cycling Holidays Spain.
Vamos! Cycling is situated in a road cycling paradise in Las Alpujarras, the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Southern Spain, within the Andalusia autonomous community. Gary and Sarah Williams run very flexible cycling holidays from their beautifully renovated town house in a small town called Cádiar in the province of Granada, Spain.
I read a bit about them beforehand on the Vamos! web site (www.vamoscycling.com). That talked about providing a comfortable, relaxed, bike-friendly base for road cycling holidays, with plenty of fabulous food! And after experiencing the offering, I’d say this was a pretty accurate description.
I’ve personally cycled in Spain a few times now, so I knew what to expect as far as the quiet roads and (generally) better tolerance of cyclist from the local motorists. Previously I’ve dragged the bike along on family holidays and fit in riding around the other holiday activities. I’ve also been fortunate enough to drive through Spain a couple of times with the bike in the back of the car, taking it out for a spin when the mood grabbed me. However, this is the first time I’ve taken a completely bike oriented holiday and I can certainly say that it is worth doing.
The area around Cádiar is truly stunning. Cádiar is positioned on the south side of the Sierra Nevada mountains and itself is relatively high up. I reckon it’s somewhere in the region of 900 metres above sea level, but don’t quote me on that! Gary and Sarah said that they chose Cádiar – in the heart of the Alpujarras – with cyclists in mind because of the choice of varied routes that leave the town. There are challenging climbs, awesome descents and the odd bit of flat stuff if you travel towards the coast.
A view of Cádiar from Gary's and Sarah's town house
We spent the days cycling with our host Gary, who is very handy on the bike, and the evenings relaxing around the house always fitting in a long and hearty dinner. The meals were prepared by Gary’s wife Sarah. These were excellent, varied and really couldn’t be faulted on their quality or quantity. I often sat in awe as my cycling buddy Mike polished of four of five helpings of the main course. And I thought I could eat a bit!!
The group of hungry cyclist dining with Sarah and Gary
Mike and I spent the week in the company of the Williams as well as several other guest from around the world. Sarah collected us from the airport at Malaga and at that point we met up with Amanda and Robin. Amanda is from America and is currently visiting Europe whilst doing more than her fair share of Triathlon training. You can read all about them on her blog (http://swimbikeruntheworld.blogspot.co.uk/). On the journey to the accommodation we also picked up Amanda’s American Triathlon training buddy, Katie. The final member of the group (Paul) was picked up by Gary later on in the evening on the day of our arrival. As we were all weary from the travelling, so turned in early, we didn’t get to meet him until the following morning for breakfast. Not something that’s particularly in the Williams’ control, but fortunately the group mixed well both on and of the bike. Riding, meal times and relaxing were always full of much good humoured banter.
A picture of me enjoying the cycling. The arm-warmers etc. were just for the high parts.
All in all, a “TOTALLY AWESOME” (…will perhaps explain this in a later post) experience that I would recommend to any cyclist looking for some challenging, traffic free riding on good quality road surfaces. All this and the dry warm climate that makes you remember why you enjoy cycling. Now I’ve to work out how the heck I can motivate myself to carry on riding in the bleakness of the Winter (and to be fair, most of the Summer) in the North West of England, where the motorist don’t think twice about running down the likes of Bradley Wiggins let alone mere cycling mortals such as me!