Four of the best winter cycling destinations in Spain
With cheap flights from other parts of Europe and a low cost of living once you arrive, it’s no wonder professionals and amateurs alike flock to the Spanish shores to live or train. An ideal place to beat the winter blues and guarantee a friendly cycling culture with respectful and courteous drivers, we explore the best places to base yourself for some winter riding.
One of the most popular destinations for cyclists is Mallorca, due to its mixed terrain and decent temperatures during most of the year. We recommend visiting in the winter to avoid the car and bus-blocked roads during the peak summer months. The temperatures can vary and it has been known to snow up on the peaks, however, it usually still gets up to around 15ºC. That should be warm enough for the sun chasers during winter, particularly if going for a two-hour winter ride where you live requires putting on a hundred layers of clothing before you leave the house. The beautiful island biggest training asset is the Tramuntana mountain range which is home to the iconic Sa Calobra. It sits without the same notoriety as a grand tour col, largely due to its dead end at the bottom, but offers a challenge for any rider lasting 9.4km with a 7% average incline. Make sure you pack your compact chainset for a trip to the island.
With a circumference of 235km, the largest of the Canary Islands is best suited to those who may tire of the smaller destinations. Partnered with its near-consistent climate thanks to its position near the equator, and diverse choice of terrain and roads, Gran Canaria is a wise choice for any cycling holiday. Even throughout the winter, the temperatures remain pleasant with lows of around 10ºC. With climbs topping out at the highest altitude of all locations on this list, the environment varies from barren volcanic moonscapes to dense pine forests and – of course – the beach. It’s as scenic as the climbs are challenging, offering as many opportunities to create content for your Instagram feed as to test your legs. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy to get to as other areas of Spain, making long haul flights the most convenient if not the most appealing way to get there. However, given it’s a tourist hotspot during the summer, you can guarantee there will be plenty of accommodation during the winter months for you to base yourself out of.
Perhaps the most well-known cycling destination on the list is Alicante. Home to the cycling mecca that is Calpe, the training camp destination for pro teams every winter offers decent climbs such as the Coll de Rates and Alto de Aitana, as well as beach views and warm weather year-round. As with most of the climbs in this area, they offer steady gradients and are approachable from multiple sides of the mountains, so you won’t need to climb the same road twice in one ride. If you are looking for a less busy place to base yourself then you could consider Castalla, which unlike it’s busier neighbours offers shorter steeper climbs such as the Xorret de Cati, which has been used five times in La Vuelta. Four kilometres long but averaging 11%, this is not a climb for the 25 cog. Similar smaller bases without the ugly high rises often featured in Calpe and Denia include the upscale seaside town of Javéa and the inland village of Jalón. Alicante is a relatively large region and can provide suitable training terrain and business for your ideal training holiday while being accessible from two major airports, Alicante itself and Valencia. The weather can stay upwards of 16ºc throughout winter and rainy days are uncommon so you can maintain those razor-sharp tan lines.
An area home to an uncharacteristically large number of pros given its relatively small population, they are enticed by varied terrain, fancy brunch spots and sublime coffee. Girona provides the holy grail of pro cyclist requirements with easy access to airports and surrounding transport links, fantastic training roads which you can choose according to your training needs. Unlike other areas where the only way is up, Girona offers the chance to put yourself in the hurt locker with challenging climbs and country roads as well as providing suitable terrain for the recovery or cafe ride. Situated in the norther region of Catalunya, the temperatures in Girona may be slightly cooler than the other locations on this list, so pack accordingly for weather between 0-14ºc, however, rainfall is relatively rare even over the winter months. If you base yourself within the city, you’ll be party to the local nightlife and coffee culture, which is important if you’re not purely going abroad to train.
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