Murcia Road Cycling Climb Highlights
In trying to decide which are the best climbs in any particular region it's clear that the matter is largely subjective. What makes a great climb? Is it the toughest or the most picturesque? We've got 3 candidates for you here which all offer something different. However, they're all achievable and within easy reach of Los Alcazares which is the base for our Murcia Bike Camps.
GPX files for all of these routes are available when renting one of our road bikes. More Info>>>
ATAMARIA/CLUB LA MANGA
5km, +110m, Average gradient 2.5%, Max gradient 5%
Our first candidate has been chosen as it's a short (20km) ride from Los Alcazares, is not too challenging and offers a great view when the summit is reached. Starting out from the town of Los Belones follow the RM314 past La Manga Club and continue straight on. In recent years the road has been widened and a cycle lane added on the left side which cyclists are obliged to use.
The first half of the climb sees a consistent gradient of around 2% until the main entrance to La Manga Club has been passed. The gradient picks up in the second half with a series of short lumps but nothing more than 5%. You'll know when the last push is complete when the road opens up revealing Portman Bay and the Sierra Minera with it's disused mines.
From here you have the choice to return to Los Belones or continue down into Portman. If you continue into the bay you'll need to climb back out but it's certainly worth it. The descent consists of of a series of sweeping bends on super smooth tarmac. The down side is that its only a mile and if you're going at any speed you might miss the incredible views and the stunning colours in the rocky outcrops.
At the bottom of the descent you'll arrive at a roundabout with 3 options:
- Continue through the village and climb out toward La Union (another 5km climb but this time with 235m of climbing)
- Turn round and climb back to La Manga along "The Green Mile" (1.6km with 102m of climbing)
- Turn left and head to the beach in the Bay of Portman
Whatever your choice we'd certainly recommend you include the last option if it's your first time in the area. The stunning black sand beach is well worth a visit. There are also a handful of beach bars where you can obtain refreshments. It's not difficult to see why this route is so popular amongst riders in this corner of Murcia.
CRESTA DEL GALLO
4.4km, +340m 5km, Average gradient 8%
This climb is popular for a number of reasons: firstly it's easily accessible from Murcia city; it's the most challenging climb in the area; it's featured several times in the Vuelta a Espana and the Vuelta a Murcia. However, it's easy to cycle in the area and not be aware of its existence.
Our recommended start point is on the RM-F13 which heads South-East out of Los Garres on the outskirts of Murcia. As you head out of the town there is junctioned controlled by traffic lights where the "Calle de las Escuelas" can be seen climbing into the forested area. Follow this meandering road uphill. After 100m follow it left onto "Camino de Forestales". After a further 500m turn right at the T-junction - then just keep climbing.
As the gradient increases you're protected from the worst of the sun by being on the north side of the ridge and the surrounding forests. If you're able to catch your breath, views of Murcia City are visible on the right hand side. For us the climb is complete when you get to the junction at 340m elevation. It's possible to bear left and cut back on yourself and climb to the "Mirador de Cresta de Gallo" at 400m but this is really only enjoyable with a gravel/mountain bike.
We'd recommend that you bear right and start the exhilarating descent on smooth roads down to the Western side of the ridge. A one way loop is in force on this section meaning that the descent can be tackled with a degree of confidence. Do take care on the first left hand bend though. The competitive spirit of Murcian rider Jose Joaquin Rojas did result in an unexpected exit from the road during the 2015 Vuelta a Espana and the 2019 Spanish Road Cycling Championships.
About three quarters of the way down the descent it's worth stopping at the Sanctuary of the Fuensanta. However, it's easy to fly past if you gained too much speed on the descent. Eventually the road joins up with the RM302 where you can had East back to Los Garres.
It is possible to do the route in reverse but we wouldn't recommend descending on the East side due to the poorer road surface.
23km, 1416m, Average gradient 6%, Max gradient 5%
The Sierra Espuna Natural Park is home to one of Murcia's toughest and most picturesque climbs. It is immensely popular with local cyclists an has featured in the Vuelta a Espana and Vuelta a Murcia. The most popular way to ascend the mountain is from the town of Alhama on the East side of the park.
The climb can be broken down into three segments. The first starts as soon as you turn into the Natural Park and the road starts climbing almost immediately. This first section is characterised by a steady climb with reasonable amount of shade. The meandering road alternates views of impressive crags and gorges and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. This first section terminates with a slight downhill section where you will pass a visitors centre and cafe. However, the cafe isn't normally open when the early morning cyclists pass this point.
The second part of the climb sees the the gradient increase and and a series of 18 switchbacks carve through the forest. Thankfully the tree cover provides some shelter from the sun. Once the switchbacks have been conquered the landscape opens out and our first objective comes into view. The Alto de Collado de Bermejo (1200m) is reached after 18km of climbing. With its impressive views to the East and West this is where many cyclists terminate the climb. From here you can retrace your steps, follow the road downhill towards the town of Totana or turn right (and uphill) where the summit of the mountain is clearly in view.
The summit is reached riding a further 5km with an ascent of 300m. This section sees some of the steepest sections of the climb and the reduced tree coverage can leave you exposed to the elements. The summit is home to a military radar site and there are a number of signs advising that visitors are not welcome. However, it is safe to continue past these until you get to the gate across the road. Many cyclists don't tackle this last section but it's well worth the effort. It's achievable throughout the year as long as you dress appropriately - and remain hydrated in the summer.
Etiquette Cycling offer weekly trips out to Sierra Espuna with bike hire options. More Info>>>