October trip Post 1

Great day out on the virtually traffic- free roads of Almeria. Asked Lisa very nicely to go for a day out in the car, checking a few potential new climbs for the April 2015 trips.

We headed past the place we will be staying near Tabernas, on to Gador and along the road we used last year to get to the foot of Calar Alto.

Rather than climb up through Alboloduy, we headed west towards Canjayar where the first of the climbs was. So bike out of car and after a quick whizz back down 2km to the junction with the ‘main road’ I turned and began the climb up to the white village of Ohanes, clinging to the mountain slopes @ 969m up. So I figured it out 8km with about 450m vertical difference. Add in the fact I had just got out the car plus it was 26° – and I realised I was in for a good 35 minutes of hard work.

It was a good one, perfect surface, no traffic, lots of great little switchbacks and some breathtaking scenery. The only negative about the comes just before 2km up, a very smelly chicken farm that fills the senses for about 250m. A few bends further up I passed Lisa sat in the sun by the car, music on, surfing away online, no stopping just a ‘see you in bit’ between increasingly heavy breaths. Then I settled into a nice rhythm as the next 3km were 5-7% with those switchbacks we cyclists love, the ones where you can see the next few above you as you climb. Resisting the urge to stop and take photos, I pressed on still managing to push on at a decent pace on the big ring! Then at about 6.5km I came round a tight bend and the tarmac straightened out in front of me for a good 300 metres and it looks a bit steeper than all I had already done. A quick look down at the computer showed 13% and this was followed by an equally quick shift down on to the 34 and the struggle was lessened. Then the beautiful sight of Ohanes appeared a few bends ahead and after 36 minutes of climbing I reached the village, turned round and punctuated the brilliant descent with those photos I resisted on the way up.

Back at the foot of Ohanes we continued west past the bigger town of Canyajar and onto Bieres to check out the other climb up to Ohanes, or what could be a possible descent. Like the first this had spectacular vistas, a decent road surface but was a more rustic, narrow and much rougher road. Much less fun to descend than the smooth tarmac I had plunged down a few minutes earlier. Most likely any future climb and descent will use the first road. So in 2015 the Alto de Ohanes looks like making its debut on bici-almeria trips in at least one of the weeks, I can’t wait to get back there and climb it again.

Alto de Ohanes ... wow!
Alto de Ohanes … wow!
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2015 trip planning

so here we go again, planning the two 2015 bici-almeria week long trips begins. 2015 promises to be our biggest and best ever after the fantastic coverage given to almeria by the big ride feature in issue 23 of cyclist magazine. lots of new riders ready to experience what they read about back in june, and ride what i still believe are the quietest and best cycling roads in europe.

in order to be closer to the big ride climbs featured in cyclist bici-almeria has spent the past 3 months visiting accommodation near the village of tabernas – about 20km from our hq in sorbas.

i think we have struck gold on the accommodation front – a magnificent, private selection of re-furbished cottages in their own secure, wooded compound set back 150m from the main road between sorbas and tabernas. please take this in context – main roads in our part of almeria would be considered positively deserted in the uk. casas rurales albardinales are owned by one of almeria’s finest olive oil producers oro del desierto, which is located just across the road. lovingly restored to a magnificent standard the six cottages are named after the six important olive varieties – arbequina, picual, hojiblanca, cornicabra, lechin and blanqueta. these are set in a small, secure, gated wood with lots of outdoor relaxing space, outdoor cooking areas, shaded car port and of course, a very big swimming pool.

each cottage sleeps 4 in two twin rooms and has two bathrooms, a dining room, lounge area, fully fitted kitchen and an outside terrace area. there is also a laundry room and storage room for bike boxes. the cottages are plenty big enough to store bikes inside with you! the setting is truly idyllic and just the place to unwind, relax and socialise after another great day in the saddle. preparing evening meals can be done either in you own kitchen or on the communal parilla – in effect a giant barbeque, indeed there is even an outside bar complete with pump for cerveza (not provided but can be sourced I am sure!)

breakfast is included in the 2015 trips and will be served daily at the restaurant across the road at oro del desierto, also included in the price is a daily cleaning service for all cottages and use of the laundry facilities.

the accomodation for 2015 is located just 30 minutes drive from almeria airport and 5 minutes from tabernas, which has a couple of decent size supermarkets, farmacia (chemist), pescaderia (fishmonger), panaderias (bakers), carniceria (butcher), fruteria (fruit & veg) as well as many small shops and a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants. this makes the choice of whether eat in or out no problem whatsover, and there is some pretty good olive oil available very locally!

finally bici-almeria will be staying at one of the small cottages for the trips this year so will be on hand pretty much 24/7 as well as a member of the owner’s staff who has a house on site, he also speaks excellent english.

feel free to give me a call or drop me an email for any further details – details can be found at bici-almeria.com

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.
http://app.strava.com/activities/80752129

Indalo – the little man of Almeria

Indalo
Indalo

 

 

 

 

This little red image – which features on the bici-almeria jersey every year – is the INDALO – the symbol of Almeria province.

Everywhere you ride in Almeria you see it – on cars bumper stickers, on houses, on restaurants, outside the airport, Almeria football shirts, businesses, on trucks as well as in all the tourist shops selling you name it with Indalo on or in the shape of it!

So what is it ? ….

Well on one of our first visits to Almeria we saw the symbol all over the place and decided to find out more. Turns out that in the north of the province that are some prehistoric cave paintings one of which visualises an image similar to that above. You can read more on the link below. Before going ahead and using the symbol we of course did our due diligence and went up to Velez Rubio to check out the Cueva de los Letreros where the paintings were discovered …. just to make sure it actually existed!

http://www.andalucia.com/province/almeria/indalo/home.htm

It has now been adopted by Almeria as the emblem of the region and of therefore had to be the image for bici-almeria.

 

M

 

 

First Blog

As I am beginning blogging with a group of ‘non-writer’ boys in my Year 6 class at school next week I thought it might be good to practice what I preach. So here it is –

el blog de bici-almeria

I will be posting blogs about rides I have done with groups, rides I have recce’d, something I have discovered, heard or read, latest happenings in Almeria or whatever flits into my brain!

Not to serious but hopefully enough to engage a conversation or two.

Will start with a blog about a ride I did in the last week of the summer holidays, although it seems more than 2 weeks ago ….

… 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!Solar Farm @ Alto de Nijar

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.

http://app.strava.com/activities/80752129