A challenging but extremely rewarding cycling trip along the beautiful countryside and quiet roads of Andalucia. A lovely guide and great weather together with a great group of people who were really fun to spend the week with.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The view down from Puerto del Viento, our first ascent, across the wide open countryside to Ronda.
Riding into El Chorro Gorge with its towering cliffs and then staying at the lovely hotel at El Chorro with its great setting and nice pool at the end of a long hot day.
Being alone with one's thoughts along any of the quiet stretches of road (there were many) and taking in the warmth and the views.
The fantastic descent down to Cacin which seemed to go on for ever and made you want to whoop with joy
Being with a great group of people really enjoying the challenging cycling and having a real laugh, too - not just during the day - but in the evenings too.
That lovely, cool Alhambra beer when we finally cycled into the main square in Granada!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Jose was a professional, friendly and helpful leader. He was with us from first thing in the morning to last thing at night and helped in any way he could. In spite of a bike that broke down completely on the first day and repairs that were required to another on the second day that delayed us, Jose kept a positive attitude at all times and kept the group on board. Jose was a good navigator, had a good sense of humour and provided local knowledge on the route and on our food and drink options (although we never got the picnic some of us would have liked on at least one of the days). We did joke that Jose referred to what we would consider to be hills as "undulations" - but perhaps he was just trying to keep our spirits up!
On the other hand, Jose's colleague Ander who provided the vehicle support, was far less committed to the trip and could have been much more of a help to him. A few examples were that the bikes were not assembled and ready on the first morning when we went to collect them, thus delaying us, and he carried no spare water on the van. He had a laid-back attitude at times and didn't really properly engage with the group through the week. He did, however, get our luggage safely from the start to the end of the trip and to all hotels along the way - and could be knowledgeable and interesting when speak to us.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
- This was a hot and dry trip with some long ascents - hnece the moderate/challenging grade. Take your time, ensure you keep well hydrated at all times and use plenty of sun block. Insist that the van driver brings along spare water, or leave some in the van yourself. Cycling shorts and gloves will help make your journey a comfortable one, too. You will get plenty of breaks along the way so don't worry that you'll get left behind or miss out on that coffee or ice cream!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
This is a well thought-out ride that gets you to beautiful areas of rural Andalucia that alot of people just don't get to see. Apart from the odd car you'll be cycling on quiet, mainly well-maintained roads (although you'll get the chance to do a few nice bits of non-technical off-road from time to time) and hopefully you'll get a feeling of satisfaction and well-being at the end of each day's cycling.
Many of us felt that the bikes could have been a bit better maintained (I should stress that they were safe but not really as well "tuned" as they could have been). For the amount of off road the bikes (mountain bikes) had to do they could possibly have been fitted with road tyres and would have made progress on the roads easier. Better maintained bikes would have prevented the delays on the mornings of the first two days too.