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.

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.

September 17, 2018

Transporting a Bike. What are the Options?

by Dean Fletcher

There are many ingredients to make the perfect cycling holiday. However, like any recipe, if you get one wrong you can end up with a disaster. So, what are the most important issues when you are organising transporting a bike on a cycling holiday? As all of us know, travelling nowadays can be hard work. The heavy reliance on budget airways has changed the way that we all plan for out travel. Cyclists have had to re-think their strategy on bike transport. Long gone are the days when a cycling holiday meant taking your bike on a plane, free of charge. So, from the very beginning of your planning, bike transport is very important. So, let´s examine the options, and try to come up with an answer.

September 12, 2018

Campaign for Spanish Road Safety Laws

by Dean Fletcher

All of us who love this sport of cycling must contend daily with the dangers that lie therein. All modes of cycling present their own form of risk. That risk draws people to the sport in the disciplines of downhill, and mountain biking. Those who choose the road as their main method of cycling are in a constant battle with vehicles. Perhaps battle is not the correct word, but sometimes it does feel like that. Whilst the region of Galicia is not perceived to be as dangerous as London for example, risks remain apparent. And the world of cycling in Spain is doing something about it. The campaign for Spanish road safety is now flying.

September 6, 2018

The Vuelta de España 2018 Arrives in Galicia

by Dean Fletcher

After ten stages through the south and south-central part of Spain, the Vuelta de España finally arrived in Galicia. And what a difference it made. Viewers of the race on Eurosport must have been a bit weary of endless days watching cyclists travel through barren landscapes. Because of the climate, much of the southern part of Spain is arid. All the commentators mentioned the extreme heat of 40+ centigrade every day. The cyclists themselves in social media spoke of little else, just the need to constantly hydrate.