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Cycling in Spain this Summer - Advice and Routes
Saturday, June 29, 2024 @ 9:24 AM

As summer is now in full swing and many have some time on their hands,  it is time to share some of the best cycling routes around Spain for those who fancy pedalling a little. If you are into cycling, be sure to follow this advice if you are not familiar with cycling in the Spanish Summer:

Riding a bicycle for long distances in the Spanish summer can be an exhilarating experience. However, the intense heat during this season necessitates proper preparation and precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Here are some tips to help you handle long-distance cycling in the Spanish summer heat:

1. Stay Hydrated

  • Carry enough water: Ensure you have enough water for your trip. Consider using hydration packs for easy access while riding.
  • Electrolyte balance: Along with water, consider carrying electrolyte drinks or salts to replenish lost minerals through sweat.

2. Plan Your Route and Timing

  • Avoid peak heat hours: Try to ride early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the temperature is cooler. Avoid cycling during the midday heat (12 PM - 3 PM).
  • Choose shaded routes: Whenever possible, plan your route through areas that offer shade to protect against the sun.

3. Dress Appropriately

  • Wear light and breathable clothing: Choose light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that reflect the sun's rays and allow your body to cool.
  • Sun protection: Use a high SPF sunscreen, wear sunglasses for UV protection, and consider a cycling cap under your helmet to protect your head.

4. Pace Yourself

  • Listen to your body: The heat can affect your performance, so it's crucial to pace yourself and take breaks whenever needed.
  • Adapt your speed: Recognize that your average speed might be lower than in cooler conditions. Don't push yourself too hard.

5. Rest and Cool Down

  • Take regular breaks: Use rest stops to cool down, drink water, and rest in the shade.
  • Cooling accessories: Consider using cooling towels or misting yourself with water to help reduce your body temperature.

6. Stay Nourished

  • Energy intake: Carry snacks or energy bars to replenish your energy stores during long rides.
  • Balance your meals: Ensure you have a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your meals before and after the ride.

7. Bike Maintenance

  • Pre-ride check: Ensure your bike is in good condition before heading out. Pay attention to tyre pressure, brakes, and the chain.
  • Carry a repair kit: Have a basic repair kit and know how to fix a puncture or adjust your bike if needed.

8. Stay Informed and Safe

  • Weather updates: Keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared for any sudden changes.
  • Let someone know: Always inform someone of your route and expected return time.

9. Adjust for Terrain and Distance

  • Train for your ride: If expecting hilly terrain or planning an exceptionally long distance, make sure you've trained in similar conditions.
  • Plan for stops: Know where you can stop for water or assistance along your route.

Embarking on a long bicycle ride in the Spanish summer heat can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. With the right preparation, you can enjoy the beauty of Spain safely and comfortably. Remember, the key is to stay hydrated, protected from the sun, and to listen to your body’s signals to avoid heat-related illnesses. 

Here are some of the best and safest routes you can follow to discover rural Spain:

Vía Verde de Ojos Negros (from Teruel to Valencia)

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The longest of a nationwide network of Vía Verdes (literally, Green Ways) along disused railroads, the Ojos Negros route runs for 160 kilometres in two stages. The first is in Teruel province and passes through the Sierra Menera, while the second descends through the interior of Valencia down to the coast.

The Transpirenaica (from Cabo de Higuer to Cabo de Creus)

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This trans-Pyrenees route runs for close to 800 kilometres along the southern slopes of the mountain range, from the Cantabrian coast (Cabo de Higuer, Hondarribia, Irún) to the Mediterranean (Cabo de Creus, in Girona province). Or vice versa. Part of the Europe-wide GR network of footpaths, its distinctive red and white markings have guided thousands of cyclists from around the world through protected areas in the Basque Country, Navarre, Aragon, Andorra, and Catalonia dominated by 3,000-meter peaks and with accommodation available in picturesque mountain villages. The perfect combination of nature, landscape, history, and cuisine.

The French Way of the Camino de Santiago

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Those in the know say the French Way (Camino Francés) of the Camino de Santiago (which runs for nearly 800 kilometres between Saint Jean de Pied de Port, in France, and the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain) is the best of the five major Saint James pilgrim routes. It’s easy enough at almost any time of year and offers a tremendous range of landscapes, architecture and cuisine, with any number of historical sites, cathedrals, monasteries, churches, fountains, hostels, restaurants and other facilities. This route is stage one, if you go to the link it will explain the following stages of the route.


The Vía de la Plata Route

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The Via de la Plata Route, a network made up of 26 towns and cities, from Gijón on the Cantabrian coast to Seville, in Andalusia, in collaboration with four regional governments, has set up a bike route (also available on an app), with information and advice for cyclists, along with the best routes for road racers or off-road bikes, as well as a passport that gives holders discounts in establishments along the ancient trade route dating back to before the Romans – the name of which, contrary to popular belief, comes not from the Spanish for silver, plata, but from the Arabic Al-balat, which means paved or cobbled.

The Camino del Cid

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“The Way of El Cid is a cultural-tourist route across Spain from northwest to southeast, from Castilla in the interior to the Mediterranean coast. It follows the history and story of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador, a famous medieval knight of the 11th century and who, together with Don Quixote and Don Juan, is one of Spain’s greatest characters. Unlike the latter two, El Cid is not only a character of literature but also of history.” So reads the Camino del Cid website, which offers both a road and mountain bike routes along some 1,400 kilometres of pathways and 2,000 kilometres of roads divided into theme-based itineraries running for between 50 and 300 kilometres: The Exile (Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara), The Borderlands (Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Soria), The Conquest of Valencia (Teruel, Castellón, Valencia), along with seven others. 


 The Ruta de Don Quijote (Castilla-La Mancha)

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Along the course of its 2,500 kilometres broken up into 10 stages that pass through 148 communities in the five provinces of Castilla-La Mancha, the Don Quijote route takes in the main natural and cultural areas of the region, featuring livestock routes, historic roads, rivers and disused railroads that provide access to more than 2,000 sites of cultural interest. Along the way, there are plenty of great outdoors activities: birdwatching, the Cabañeros and Tablas de Daimiel national parks, six natural parks, 12 reserves and six micro-reserves. (These are two routes from different stages of the entire route)

The TransAndalus

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Conceived as a way to get to know Andalusia’s eight provinces by bike, from the volcanic landscapes of Cabo de Gata, in Almeria, down to the wetlands of Doñana, in Huelva, the TransAndalus is a non-signposted 2,000 kilometre itinerary for cyclists. Some sections include GR paths, while one-third of the routes pass through protected areas. This project was set up by cycling enthusiasts in Andalusia who have provided information to build up this ever-growing collection of maps, routes and tracks, all with GPS.


The Castilla Canal (Castilla y León)

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In the middle of the 18th century, a project was begun to transport cereals grown in Castilla y León to ports on the Cantabrian coast via a network of canals, but only 207 kilometres of the so-called Canal de Castilla was ever built. That said, it is a fine example of Spanish hydraulic engineering and very popular with bike lovers. It can also be travelled by foot, horse or by barge. The northern route runs from Alar del Rey toward Calahorra de Ribas, in Palencia province, and from there to Medina de Rioseco, in Valladolid; the southern route runs from El Serrón, in Grijota (Palencia), to Valladolid.

The Cister route (Tarragona and Lleida)

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The Alt Camp and Conca de Barberá districts in Tarragona, along with Urgell in neighbouring Lleida, each have a major Cistercian monastery: Santes Creus, Poblet and Vallbona de Les Monges respectively. The GR 175 links the three monasteries: 108 kilometres for cyclists, with four options in the more difficult stretches. This is the backbone of the Ruta del Cister, which includes 65 communities offering not just a rich cultural heritage but spectacular scenery, great wine and food, and lively fiestas.


Get pedalling!


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