“Get a bike.” he said
Fat Chance, were the words that went through my mind. My doctor had just pushed my X-rays across his desk pointing, osteoarthritis he announced, Get a bike he repeated and maybe do some yoga. I could hardly walk up the stairs so I was hardly about to get on a bike.
A few months later after changing my diet and losing quite a few kilos, a good friend marched me into the bike shop and persuaded me it was time to get a set of wheels. It was time to get out there, but don’t even think about getting me in lycra shorts, not yet anyway.
Amongst all the sporty styles for the serious cyclists was a very pretty blue bike with a basket on the front. Immediately I came up with a romantic notion of cycling on the flat through our local vineyards, flowers in my basket, wind in my hair and nothing too strenuous. I had not done this form of exercise since I was a teenager when I would cycle through the country lanes with my friends looking for Famous Five adventures. My friend bought one too and we spent the first hour cycling in the park, away from traffic. Yep! I remembered how to do this.
It had been years, but they say you never forget. I was petrified that I was about to get killed as I wobbled on the tarmac and hoped that drivers would notice me. I must admit, it did get easier, however as a regular driver on these roads, I sympathised with my fellow drivers as they overtook me and I used my concentration to stay balanced and move in a straight line.
This is about as far as my own cycling story goes. I’m pretty pathetic I know, however, I do admire those who are passionate about cycling. I have friends who are avid cyclists.
The Jalon Valley in the Costa Blanca welcomes thousands of cyclists every year, becoming one of the areas in Europe which attract large cycling groups. When I moved here 14 years ago the only people you would see out exercising, were the dog walkers. Now our roads are busy with cyclists, whizzing through the villages, filling the bars with noisy chatter and making their way up to the mountains, All are happy, all are smiling. It’s a good life. For Miss Marple drivers like me, it can be frustrating, especially when you get behind them going up a hill. You have to be patient. We need their tourism and it is wonderful to welcome them here to the Jalon Valley.
Why the Jalon Valley and the Vall de Pop?
Cycling is a national sport for the Spanish and there have always been groups of cyclists on our local roads. However, this area has been discovered by pro cyclists coming here in January, February and March. The Valley apparently offers perfect training routes. It has been stated that we are to expect another 17,000 cyclists here. Our sleepy little roads apparently have a lot to offer.
Drinking coffee with my friend Pete, who rocked up to the Jalon Valley last year in his camper van and has so far no wish to leave, we chat about his passion for cycling and why he loves it here.
‘I’ve been cycling on roads since my mid-twenties and spent about twenty years going to Majorca, lots of cyclists went there. Trouble is in the winter the island dies and mass tourism does not start until April. The Costa Blanca offers so much more. The mountain roads are some of the best and the scenery is spectacular. Not to mention the community here.’
Unfortunately, Covid has reduced the number of cyclists and tourists coming to this region. Like everywhere tourism is suffering. Fortunately, the pro cyclists are still showing up in big numbers as they are allowed to travel. We should be grateful, our villages here, are still bubbling with some life. The cycling boom remains, it aids our economy. Not only that, some visitors have fallen in love with the Jalon Valley, decided to put down some roots and are encouraging more to come. This area has always attracted health professionals. It is an addiction here, listening to Pete’s stories of cycling in the mountains is infectious, but I can’t see my pretty bike getting up there.
‘Get an electric bike,’ he advises, ‘you will still get a good workout, but it is more enjoyable.’ I make a mental note, wondering if I can convert mine. I have a desire to go up a mountain, I would need help.
For people coming here as a tourist, it is easy to hire a bike. The best months to come are Jan, Feb, March and April. The nearest airport is Alicante or Valencia. The weather is calm (on average, twelve days of rain per year.) The Valley gets covered in Almond Blossom at the end of February and gets busy with all visitors. Local hotels and village accommodation have adapted to become cyclist-friendly offering help with routes, cycle hire and security for your bikes. As soon as Covid restrictions ease we expect more visitors. There is nothing like breathing the air from the top of the world. The climb is the challenge, endorphins flowing, turn around and it’s all downhill. Until the next ride out. No wonder they come. This Valley has magic, it has it all.
Accommodation click here
Road cycling for the beginner. click here
Vall de Pop Routes. click here
Bike touring Costa Blanca. Click here
Bike Hire. Click here
Please leave a comment below. If you are local and offer any services to cyclists please send me a link and I will happily add it to this page at no cost.