The Sierra Espuna regional park is by far the area in Murcia of the most outstanding natural beauty and is the first protected natural area in the Murcia region. We travel here three to four times per year to cycle the great roads and tracks that it has to offer. The Sierra Espuna has been part of the Tour of Valencia and the Tour of Spain on a number of occasions and is a fantastic hill climb.
We normally travel by vehicle with bikes loaded on the back and park outside a lovely little Tapas bar called Restaurant Ora on the outskirts of Alhama de Murcia. Here we have our customary coffee and tostada before unloading the bikes and setting off up this great monster of a climb. We start off at a leisurely pace with everyone talking for approx. 1km. However we soon start climbing, gradually at first, but it soon gets steeper and steeper and the speaking fritters out. On the way up we pass many parking/BBQ areas and many trails suitable for walking and cycling and there are families everywhere, cycling, running, walking, barbequing and basically just enjoying this vast national park.
We carry on regardless and after approx. 45 mins pass the central point with the restaurant and large parking area where we usually stop to regroup on the way back down. Just past here we are still climbing and reach the start of the 26 switchbacks which are fantastic! You can look down and see how far ahead you are from the rest of the group or you can look up to see how far everyone is in front of you! The average gradient here is 8% - 10%. Up and up we go until eventually it levels off to about 4% and we eventually arrive at the viewpoint where there are usually loads of people stopping to take pictures, including us. The views are incredible and you can see for miles.
After a quick 5min stop we are off again, still climbing, this time the grades reach 15%-18% for the next 5kms up to the Military Observation Station - a Controlled Zone, fenced off. We cycle right up to the gate and take more pics - this time you really feel on top of the world and sometimes we are even above the clouds! On the way back down we travel at a considerable pace, usually passing the cars as they try and negotiate the tight switchbacks, everyone normally going at their own pace, generally taking around 30mins to get right back down to the Restaurant Ora and the cars where we get a large table in the sun and order beer and Tapas before heading back home.
This is a brilliant but tough ride, to which you can add many more miles if you want to, by coming down a different route. Some of the guys come down and cycle the back roads home all the way to Quesada, passing through Mula, Pliego, Archena, Fortuna, La Murada, Orihuela and Hurchillo before hitting the home straight. If you haven’t done it before then what are you waiting for? Give it a bash!
Team 'Cyclogical' meet every Tuesday and Thursday night at 5.30pm, and Sunday mornings at 8am, and cover between 90 and 120kms at a moderate to fast pace. So if you fancy a challenge come along and join us! Looking to improve your fitness, riding ability and speed and also have a new group of friends to train with? Why not come along and give it a try, or call Gary on 637 487 377. Cyclogical's website