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October 19, 2018

Cycling Holidays in Spain. So why Galicia?

by Dean Fletcher

There are many regions to choose from when considering cycling holidays in Spain. So why Galicia? There are many considerations to be taken into account when planning your trip. Spain is a very varied country. Its regions, its climate, its accesibility and its cycling culture all vary substantially. So why does Galicia stand out?

Mallorca and Girona

The most popular destinantions for cycling holidays in Spain are without doubt Mallorca and Girona. These have been the staple diet for years of cyclotourists to the country. Mallorca is well set up for cycling. Plenty of holiday companies operate there, and generally the weather is good. So what are the downsides? One could say it has been the victim of its own success. Mallorca now can be full of cyclists, and cars. This issue fed the emergence of Girona as a new centre for cycling holidays in Spain. As the professional peloton became more international, overseas riders set up home in Girona. It has plenty to offer, but again could be going down the path of Mallorca as overcrowded. The “been there,seen it , done it go the T short ” mentality.

Spanish regions north and south

Other hotbeds of cycling in Spain have their own issues too. Andalucia and Alicante are popular, as many parts are just like being in the UK. So those looking for authentic Spain will be disappointed in Alicante in particular. It is “Britain on sea” . The Basque country is the domestic haven for cyclists. However its terrain can be too demanding for many. Asturias is the same story, and the weather there can be awful, even in the summer. Many have seen the Angliru in the Vuelta at 5 degrees and raining in late August.

Cycling Holidays in Spain.So why Galicia?

The question therefore is when booking something new for your cycling holidays in Spain.So why Galicia? Galicia has everything that you could possible need. Accesibility via Porto is very simple. The roads are excellent, and due to a lower populaltion density, relatively traffic free. The weather is very ambient. No overly cold temperatures in winter, nor sweltering heat in the summer. The terrain can be challenging, but only if you seek that out. There are endless kms of flat, mildly undulating terrain, and much of it coastal, or next to rivers. The price is very competitive. The quality of food in relation to its cost is second to none in Spain.

So, overall Galicia, despite it being realatively unknown, is perfect for cyclists of all levels. The next time you look into cycling holidays in Spain, put Galicia at the top of the list. Guaranteed enjoyment.

 

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October 12, 2018

Off Season Cycling

by Dean Fletcher

Today is the 12th of October. In Spain that is a national holiday. The day of Pilar, the patron saint of the Hipsanic people. It is also the date that Columbus sighted land for the first time in his journey to discover the Americas. So, all in all, it is an important day in the Spanish calendar. For me however, it has always signalled the end of the cycling season. And today, it is the first day that it has rained in our part of Galicia since early June. So that is a sign that summer may well have passed, and we need to start preparing for off season cycling. The weather in Galicia is extremely temperate. Very well-designed seasons. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean prevents very cold temperatures within 30-40km of the coast. Yes, it rains, but never too prolonged. How else would we have such beautiful forests? However, it is unlikely that we will see the 25-30 degree temperatures for a while. So, we must start to prepare for off season cycling.

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October 8, 2018

Cycling and Blogging Brings Rewards

by Dean Fletcher

When I set up the Cycling Galicia project, it was always going to be ” a journey”. This is a well used phrase in modern life. I wasn´t sure where it would all lead, and the best journeys are always like that. Cycling is a huge part of my life, and always will be. Blogging has never been, and writing was not what I thought was my strong point- However, now I can see that cycling and blogging brings rewards. And both have now become part of my life. And thanks to Feedspot , I have now achieved something that I have never achieved on two wheels. I have won something. Well, not “won”, but I count it as a win. To be named in their top 100 cycling blogs is a win for me.

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October 1, 2018

Very Steep Climbs. Why do we love them?

by Dean Fletcher

Having watched the World Championship road race yesterday, it got us thinking about very steep climbs. Seeing the best cyclists on the planet , zig -zagging up the final climb begged the question. Is this really what cycling is all about? So let’s try and answer that question.

Cycling is a sport that always includes a degree of suffering. Regardless of your standard, at some stage it is going to hurt. Most cyclists, certainly those who get to a decent level secretly enjoy that sensation. Indeed, for many cycling is all about the pain. That is the challenge, the raison d’être for want of a better expression. And the most suffering occurs when the road goes upwards. And very steep climbs now are all in vogue.

Very Steep Climbs in Galicia and Portugal 

The recent Vuelta de España featured some brutal ascents, and the organizers seem to want to promote this. Spain and Portugal are two countries that have some very mountainous regions, so are ideal for lovers of very steep climbs. Galicia and Asturias are the best regions for this, so a cycling holiday in Galicia is perfect for those who like 20%+ ramps. In the list of Galician climbs there are plenty to choose from, the hardest being Arga de Cima and Sao Silvestre. Both these climbs hit ramps of 20%+ , and are a proper test for lovers of lactic acid.

Steep Gradients: Enjoyable or not?

However, sometimes these type of climbs can become excessive. Yes, it is always good to say that you have survived these brutal tests, but can they be enjoyable? I think the answer to that question is quite straightforward. Yes and no!!!! Yes, because of the sense of achievement gained by tackling something that pushes one to their limits. And no, because the sheer effort and sometimes agony of getting up 20-25% gradients means that nothing can be appreciated during the effort. Legs and lungs burning whilst you move at no more than walking pace, cannot be enjoyable.

So, whilst it is good to try these very steep climbs, I think “less is more” for enjoyment. That is why with our our bike holidays in Galicia we try to balance the climbing with much more. There are plenty of very steep climbs, plenty of long steady climbs, and plenty of undulating and flat terrain. We have it all, and the scenery and weather too. So if you want to enjoy a cycling holidays in Spain, come to Galicia.

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September 24, 2018

Galicia is a Cyclist´s Paradise

by Dean Fletcher

When you are planning anything on a bike now, be it a Sunday run, a full blown holiday, or it seems a grand Tour, climbing seems to be an integral part. Cyclists have always wanted to go uphill since bikes were invented. However, this now seems to be an obsession, with riders and organisers alike. The recent Vuelta de España was packed with different types of climbs. Even the “hilly” stage in Galicia had 3300m of vertical gain. So, for those who like challenging terrain, this region is perfect for riders of every ability. It can truly be said that Galicia is a cyclist’s paradise.

The Modern Day Problems of the Famous Climbs

The historic climbs, particularly those featured in the Tour and the Giro, have always been part of cycling folklore. The Stelvio and Alpe D´Huez are the two most famous from those great races. Most cyclists have those two on their bucket list of things to do before they die. Tourists flock to these monuments, and and just bike tourists. The Alps in particular have become a haven for motorcyclists too, who much prefer descending to ascending. This has added to the danger of visiting these climbs. Tourism in general has not helped either. Cycling has made these places very familiar, and in the summer now, these mountains can be very busy with tourist traffic. Nothing quite like rounding the hairpins of Alpe D´Huez in a caravan of motor homes and exhaust fumes. Similarly heading down a busy dual carriageway ahead of the Tourmalet is not ideal preparation.

Galicia is a Cyclist’s Paradise

So, if you want to enjoy climbing on a bike, what ingredients do we need. Well, first a decent supply of mountains and hills is fundamental. Secondly, as climbing implies going uphill, sometimes to altitudes well above 500m, some good weather too. Thirdly, roads that are relatively traffic free, as all climbs have to be descended too, and safety is an issue. And lastly, a good combination of climb length and severity. Thus, those who love to climb should try a bike trip to Spain, as the country offers this in abundance. And in particular, the cycling in Galicia is tailor made for those who love climbing.

Galicia’s Famous Climbs

On our page, we have listed the Galician climbs. These are those found just in the south western part of the region, and the Portuguese border. Galicia offers some of the best cycling terrain on the continent, and undiscovered gem. And for those who love climbing, it offers long 30km efforts such as Cabeza de Manzaneda. Also, short , violently steep efforts such as Monte Aloia and Arga de Cima.  Each of these climbs present a different challenge, and that is what makes Galicia so unique. Many of these climbs can be tackled traffic free, in fact there are more animals than cars. Descents can be enjoyed without dodging motor homes or motorbikes. Nature in it’s rawest from can be observed. And you are never far from the sea, to enjoy some flat after all the effort.

Here in the region of Galicia, cyclists have everything they could want on a bike holiday. Climbs, safe roads, little traffic, ocean side rides, and after a day in the saddle , great food too. All these ingredients add up to make Galicia the ideal place for cycling holiday. Galicia is a cyclist’s paradise. Come and see it for yourself.

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