Cycling in Calpe Highlights
Spain has three well established ‘Cycling meccas’. Whilst Majorca is normally the first name on the tip of the tongue for many, the other two destinations more than deserve their place on the Spanish cycling map. Calpe is nestled in south east of Spain whilst Girona is located further north beyond Barcelona.
Currently, both Calpe and Girona perhaps offer the benefit of not being quite as ‘Mainstream’ as the Majorca option. With both alternatives located on the Spanish mainland, 'cost of living' price savings can often be made versus the Spanish island option.
The term ‘Cycling meccas’ should not be taken lightly as all three regions have their status cemented by the professional cycling world. Many pro teams use these key cycling hubs for their winter training camps and Calpe for example, frequently hosts Spain’s principle professional races, La Vuelta a Espana and the recently upgraded UCI World Tour race, La Vuelta a Valencia.
The pro teams are undoubtedly drawn to these cycling regions as they each offer the staple requirements for a quality cycling environment:
Quality of the roads
Variety and challenging nature on some of the routes
Cycling friendly hotels
The area is easily accessible
Oh yes and the weather with on average of 300+ days of sunshine a year
Calpe Training and Bike Camps
Calpe offers the ideal cycling holiday for both the serious training camp or a more leisure based social bike camp. The cycling terrain in the Calpe area offers something for everyone and as is always the case, you can make each ride as long or as short as you require.
Many riders visiting the area from across the world will inevitably fly into and out of Alicante. which is the main airport hub for the region. The airport serves many countries across Europe and for those riders coming from further afield, there are good connecting flights from Madrid, Lisbon and Barcelona.
The airport transfer time to Calpe is approximately 1 hour. The hotel Etiquette Cycling uses for its Winter Training Camps and the more socially focused Bike Camps is the 4* Diamante Hotel. The hotel is in the heart of Calpe and only a 5 minute stroll to the main beach.
This bike friendly hotel has really been designed with the pros in mind. The underground parking has one entire side wall partitioned into several large and separated secure cycle parking units. Each unit has ample cycle racks. Each unit also benefits from the hotel’s 'Upcycling' strategy which sees some of the hotel’s older furniture (tables and sofa chairs etc.), which provide an environment for rider briefings and a time to mingle in sweaty lycra. This underground facility also offers a couple of units which are well equipped for bike maintenance and bike cleaning requirements.
Once off the bike, riders can take the internal lift straight from the parking area to their room, before showering and perhaps recuperating on their balcony. Refuelling takes place in the hotel’s main dining area or the large reception area hosts the lobby cafe bar. The hotel offers a large outdoor swimming pool, a solarium area and a suitably equipped spa/massage facility (with its indoor plunge pool).
On the bike
On daily rides out, riders make the easy choice on leaving the hotel, of turning either left, out through the town or right, out along the winding coast road. Almost as soon as you leave the hotel you will see other riders on the road as they head out or come back into town - the pro team spotting begins!
The cycling routes offer plenty of scope - the out and back or making a chosen loop set as long or short as you require. Each ride option promises not to disappoint in terms of the varied terrain which yes does often involve a spot of climbing with the reward of some sweeping descents and jaw dropping views along the way. Yes, you are allowed to stop and take a picture (even on the ascent if you need to take a breather).
There are a number of famed cols (mountain climbs) to challenge and conquer if you so desire. Rest assured you are not alone for long as you climb and periodically look down to the road which features the free-style painted names of some of the top pros and local heroes such as Valverde, alongside one or two faded remnants of Contador. On a daily basis, consider your mountain climbing challenge/s for the day. Options include the well trodden pro-race favourites; Port de Tudons, Xorret de Cati, Sierra Mariola and La Cumbre del sol.
Time for Rest
There are a number of quaint and picturesque smaller towns and villages along the way. There includes the town of El Castell de Guadalest with its impressive castle and the medieval town of Benissa. There are any number of 'watering holes' along the way including a few cycling cafes. Enjoy.
The many quaint rural towns and villages also offer the roadside cafe bar retreats to rest, recover and provide an opportunity to sample real Spain going about its daily routine. Don’t be surprised if you are held up as you happen to cycle through town on market day or the local farmer is moving his sheep.
On the run back into town, it is not uncommon to hook up with other riders to often form an informal larger group, all helping to reinforce the real cycling community feeling. This should be a warm down remember and not the last strava segment of the day...
Off the Bike Options
To bring a close to a perfect day, Calpe offers an array for ‘Off the bike’ activity options over and above the very well equipped hotel facilities. Options include simply:
Take a stroll along the beach and stop at a beachside cafe
Climb up (yes sorry up) to the top of the Penon de Ifach (Rock of Calpe) to capture a most inspired view of the town, the mountains beyond and the life going on out to sea
Walk out towards the old town and digest the ambience, history and culture of the town
Sold on Calpe?
Calpe and its blessed cycling terrain is good enough reason why pro-teams and the wider cycling community keep coming back. Oh yes and of course there is the weather with on average over 300+ days of sunshine a year.
In years to come will we remember Covid-19 where we could only cycle locally or we were resigned to our turbos versus witnessing first-hand the beauty of cycling in this truly great and largely unspoilt part of Spain.