Month: October 2013

2013 trips reflection

Well the dust has finally settled on the 2013 bici-almeria tours, a total of 31 riders joined me for the spring training camps between late feb and mid april. Many returning for second or third time, but a good number for whom this was their first bici-almeria experience

Just as the autumn kicks in here in the UK, bear in mind it is well still into the 20s everyday in Sorbas in October and November, I thought I’d better update the website and start thinking about 2014s trips. trying to keep it fresh and exciting I am offering a chance to explore a couple of other great regions of Spain – Asturias and Girona – in 2014 – more about that later, but preliminary details can be found on 2014 page on the website.

So 2013 tours were are great success, first arrivals were from Banbury Star in February and judging by their riding this summer it seems like the work they put in on Almeria’s climbs has worked for them …. hope to see Banbury Star members again in 2014

Good friend John H then arrived from Reading for the duration of the 2013 tours and put in some sterling efforts and rode like the legend that he is … it was his first experience of Almeria and I think he was hooked!

A small party from Amersham then arrived in March and brought with them the real spring weather to Almeria the chilly north winds had finally gone and warm days in the mountains were enjoyed by all.

Late march saw the arrival of the largest group – an ecletic mix from Reading, East Englia and the USA. Many of these were back for more in 2013 but there were also a few newbies in this fantastic group, we even had the first ever bici-almeria time trial on our ‘rest day’ up the short but testing Alto de El Chive outside Lubrin. I expect to see most of these guys again in 2014 either in Almeria or on one of the summer’s trips north!

The final group came after Easter and got the best of the weather, mostly from reading but with a few friends from other parts of the UK the group bonded really well and enjoyed riding climbs familiar to some, new to others and a couple that were new to everybody!

So thoughts on 2013 – well it is tough riding almost everyday for 7 weeks, the groups were great and the weather much better than the terrible spring UK I luckily missed. it clearly showed me that Almeria is beyond doubt a brilliant place for spring training camps and I hope to run a similar programme again in years to come. reliable weather, great roads, low traffic, mountains to ride …. miss it already!!!!

September visit

Going to start blogging a little bit about Almeria and some of the great rides that we have ridden with our visiting groups and also some that I have recce’d while out there on my own ….
I am going to start with one I did last month in the last week of the summer school holidays – I’m going to call it Alto de Nijar & the Campo
As with most rides in Almeria in late summer it was scorching hot from about ten minutes after sunrise to well after sunset on Friday 6 September. As I love riding in heat I set off just after 10am – very soon I was riding into the warm hairdryer headwind along the N340 west to the turn for Lucainena. The first little rise up through the eucalyptus trees is perhaps one of my favourite stretches of road, nice and steady for about 1.5km knowing that you have a good long climb coming up whether it be south to Nijar or west towards Turillas and Colativi.
On this occasion I was heading through Lucainena, climbing parallel but up and away from the ancient railway track now a via verde cycle path. The road surface is of course immaculate as most in the area are, and after passing one of Europe’s largest solar farms,which looks almost reptilian as it clings to the hillside, I reach the summit of what I call Alto de Nijar, 635m after 23km. What follows is an exhillarating 15km plunge down to the pueblo of Nijar, great sweeping bends with magnificent vistas out towards the Cabo de Gata and the Med. On the way up I passed one cyclist and met one car, on the way down I had the road to myself, only sign of life was the occasional local harvesting almonds either by hand or using what look like mechanised upside-down umbrellas. I got up to 60kmh but have done well over 80 down here before – in the Clasica Almeria a few years back the pros were over 100kmh!
Deciding to make it a non stop ride on this occasion I skipped the temptation of tostado and coffee in Nijar and dropped down to the Campo with it’s vast expanses of plasticos, the ‘greenhouses’ that ensure us folk in northern europe are well supplied with tomatoes, peppers and such like in the middle of winter. I decided to see if there was a way of following a service road alongside the A92 motorway rather than heading towards the coast and Fernan Perez as normal when out this way. So after skirting Campohermoso I found the service road on the north of the motorway to be a perfectly fine piece of road to ride on and covered 20km in next to no time. Riding alongside a motorway is never the most exhillarating experience but when you have 1000m mountains to your left and a smaller sierra and the coast to your right it ain’t so bad after all.
Soon I was back on familiar roads, having stopped at a service station to top up depleted water bottles, the AL-140 gorgeous road up through a dried up gorge, I marvelled at the white elephant that is the partially completed high-speed railway between Murcia and Almeria. A remarkable feat of engineering, bridges, tunnels and cuttings galore, but with no apparent sign of completion any time soon. In fact they have recently put tarmac down, perhaps it will become a modern via verde!?! Going back under the motorway I began the double dip climb that makes up the last 10km back to Sorbas, past derelict old cortijos, entrance to marble quarries and more ubiquitous olive groves. Can’t believe I haven’t mentioned these already, they are everywhere! A quick snake like descent into Rios Aguas and back up the steep almost alpine switchbacks, complete with those concrete block barriers and then the final dash back into Sorbas. From the town it is just 3km back to my house, however as with all good rides there is a sting in this particular tail, a 18% sting, what I call the Muro de Sorbas …. that is another blog for another day.