From Madrid to València

After abandoning my project of biking along the Atlantic north coast of Spain, I looked at weather forecasts and topographical maps of Spain to find somewhere exciting for biking with no rain. I took the train from Santander to Madrid, and then a local train to Guadalajara just north of Madrid, since I wasn’t particularly excited about starting the trip by biking out of Madrid in rush hour. Before I left Guadalajara I located the bust of Moses de León, the most likely writer of the Zohar, the most important part of jewish Kabbalah. Even if I am not jewish, it was kind of cool to touch some mystic writing from the 13th century.

I’m not sure Moses de León was a happy person

The mountains stretching from Madrid to València don’t really have a name, they’re just part of the mountainous central regions of Spain. From Guadalajara it started with a slow rolling majestic hill landscape, with half an hour hard uphill riding and then 5 minutes downhill. Repeat all day, until I reached the gorgeous Rio Escabas canyon, which I rolled up at sunset.

Can you spot the huge house upper left?

It was dark when I finally arrived at the hotel I had booked in Fuertescusa, finding it all dark and closed. The contact phone number had no subscriber, closest hotel according to phone support at was 29 km and 600 meters of uphill climbing away. The prospect of having to freeze like a dog alone in a deserted village waiting for sunrise was not particularly appealing either, so I decided to roll back through the night to Cañamares. The narrow valley was only illuminated by the almost full moon. I was hoping to find a hostel, which I eventually did. A wee bit too much adventure for me.

Next day was about 100 km under a clear blue sky, but it was cold.

Frost was evaporating directly to steam.

I was also weary of invisible ice on the road, so I had to be extra careful downhill. But these hills are gorgeous, and the road surface was perfect, except for perhaps 10 km, where I had loose gravel and actually chose to bike on the meadows. A memory I will never forget.

The meadow was easier biking than the gravel road

The third day was under also mostly blue skies. After two hours of gentle uphill came the big surprise after the Puerto de Hontanar pass.

From here it is 12 km of insane downhill, most of it at 7%

One of the craziest downhill rides of my life. I tried to beat my speed record, but I need a steeper downhill and tail wind for that.

After that downhill came even more gorgeous hills.

Exciting biking

The last day was mostly rolling into València, the third biggest city of Spain.

Tour details (grading from 1 to 5)

  • Time of year: April to November
  • Difficulty: 3
  • Duration: 4 days
  • Scenery: 3
  • Comments: At times very desolate
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