Mountain Journeys

Col de Rates: Great Road Cycling – Costa Blanca

Pit stop in the Jalon valley

Col de Rates

It’s always great to get back to sunny Spain, relax a little and enjoy the fresh food there is so much of. To be fully truthful though, it hasn’t been quite as sunny as usual this past few days, but we have still managed to enjoy some fabulous rock climbing on warm rock in the sunshine interludes. But first up was a cruise out on the bikes and we headed for the iconic ‘Col de Rates’.

With the cold and damp weather well and truly established back in the Lake District, there hasn’t been much opportunity to get out on the road bikes or go rock climbing, so getting any of this done is a bonus. Setting out we immediately remembered why cycling here in Spain is so wonderful. The roads are perfectly smooth, most drivers are considerate, and the views are fantastic. The 50+km felt like only 30km as the wheels seemed to spin so much easier on this ultra smooth tarmac.

Pulling in for coffee at Musette café in Alcalali, sitting on the terrace and watching the world go by whilst sipping their freshly ground organic coffee is all pretty fine.

Taking a rest on the 'Super Rates'


For Kate the onward journey would take her through the orange groves of the Orba valley, whilst for me it would be the Col de Rates hill climb first. With about 350m of height gain over 6.5km this is a nice steady climb with plenty of switchbacks. I’d typically take around 25 minutes to reach the top and today was about that. The road was pretty quiet, I don’t think a single car passed me and only a few other cyclists were on the climb. A heavy rain shower hit just as I was nearing the top, thankfully there is a tiny shelter up there so I waited it out.

Now the road surface was wet I took the descent very slowly, there were loads of riders now making their way up the climb, I was glad to be on the way down and looking forward to the warmth of the Jalon valley which by now was bathed in sunshine.

I took the shortest route back to base to minimise the wetness, although the roads were starting to dry already. A great first ride out and ace to be back. This place is a cycling mecca and for good reason. If you haven’t tried it I’d urge you to do so.


En-route to the Jalon valley


There are plenty of bike hire places locally if you’re not wanting the hassle of transporting your own bike. There are also plenty of cycling orientated holidays here if wanting a guided experience, we can help with guiding too. For route ideas have a look at this guidebook I wrote.

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