Wrapped up in 20 layers, still defrosting from battling the Beast from the East? Read on to help warm you up. It’s the second in our series of travel specials and this month we’re heading to Calpe on the gorgeous Mediterranean coast of Spain. Not too far from the cycling Mecca that is Mallorca, Calpe is an equally idyllic coastal resort. With more than 300 sunny days a year, very little rainfall and winter temperatures averaging 19’C, it’s an ideal location for a winter cycling holiday. A great feature of Calpe is the range of cycling available – breezy coastal roads, mountains routes and stunning climbs. The sea views are stunning, too. The Costa Blanca even holds the prestigious title of one of the healthiest areas in the world, according to the The World Health Organisation.
If you want a DIY cycling holiday…
We’ve teamed up with Sol y Mar Hotels whose establishments are all designed for sporty people, with facilities and location to suit, to make the most out of the area as well as some great cycling routes while you’re there.
The adults-only Gran Hotel is situated just 50 meters from the Arenal beach, in front of the Peñón de Ifach, and in the heart of the commercial center of Calpe. Nearby bike workshops and rental shops are available if you don’t fancy bringing your own bike – get in touch beforehand to reserve, as demand is high in peak season.
From the hotel, ride out to spots like Coll de Rates, the most famous climb in Costa Blanca, Cabo de la Nao, the beautiful ‘Cape of the Ship’ headland , Bernia and Oliva.
One of the things that really makes this hotel stand out is the Analysis and Sports Performance Centre. Here you can undergo aerobic capacity testing and kinetic performance testing. The elements include Anthropometry, blood pressure, treadmill or static bike stress test and electrocardiogram. So if you are interested in pushing your training to the next level and fine tuning your program to suit your individual physical requirements, this can provide a fascinating insight. The tests are run by a qualified sports coach and doctor.
But don’t just take our word for it, many World Tour cycling teams head to Calpe every year as a trusted destination for their training. This winter some of the teams that stayed at the Sol y Mar included included Astana, Quick Step, FDJ, Fortuneo, Team Dimension Data and Balise Team. So if you want some great inspiration and ride on the trails of the pros, the destination could provide you with a star-studded holiday.
After a long day of riding, give your bike some TLC in the Bike Centre which is complete with a washroom, workshop and secure storage. And for yourself, head to the spa for the full works; sports massage, sauna, turkish bath and more.
If you want a training camp…
If a training camp is what you’re after instead, companies such as RJ Cycling Camps are a great choice. They offer bespoke training camps for everyone from individual beginners to professional teams Whether you want a long weekend break or a full, intense week the choice is yours. Vehicle and mechanical assistance are provided to give amateur riders the pro team experience.
Around Calpe you can find a great variety of cycling routes. Hundreds of kilometres peaceful, well-maintained roads await you and indeed the terrain quality is so good that it often features in stages of some world tours, particularly the Vuelta a España. In 2016, the whole of stage 20 of the Vuelta a España took place in the Marina Alta mountains.
Long steady climbs up to 15km in length average at 5-6% incline and reach altitudes of 1000m; others are short very steep and explosive ones, reaching gradients of a brutal 25%. For challenging climbs, try the high peaks of Cumbre del Sol and Coll de Rates, as well as the Sierras of Bernia and Aitana. There are also flat, rolling coastal roads for leisurely rides around the orange groves – if you’re more of a racer, they are also a perfect spot for sprint training. You will also have a great opportunity to work on your bike handling skills in hairpins and tight corners of the valleys.