When the leaves start dropping you know it’s time to point south. So we’re off to sunny Spain, Y Viva Espana…
Andalucia: where to ride, eat, drink and generally have a very nice time indeed.
When most people think of Andalucia, they focus on the roads around Ronda – especially the A397. If you are riding it, stop at Venta El Madroño at km marker 26.4. It’s just a small whitewashed building with red terracotta roof tiles and plastic chairs outside, but it’s the bikers’ place around here. Relax and admire the view, because the service is sometimes a little slow. These lush green mountain ranges are a far cry from the deserts to the east.
Talking of which we have the only desert in Europe. Cross it from west to east on the N-340A, starting at the Mini Hollywood theme park and passing the well-known Circuito de Almeria. It’s a fast blast of a road, with epic views, like the gorge around the town of Sorbas. Turn off to the right just after the circuit entrance for delicious corners on the AL-102, or explore north on the A-1100. Stop for a rest at the Circuito and have a look at the Cuevas de Sorbas (Sorbas Caves). Or enjoy a spot of Spaghetti Western nostalgia at Fort Bravo in Tabernas.
Typical Spanish food is served all around Andalucia. It’s very famous for tapas and cheap for Europe. Twin great food with great riding in the south of Sierra Nevada: the Alpujarra area. Stop at Trevélez and look for Restaurante Piedra Ventana. For 12 euros you get a starter, main course, dessert and drinks. Enjoy the Jamon Serrano legs hanging from the ceiling.
Andalusians love to drink wine and eat tapas and stay out on the streets until late. Consequently, the nightlife in Sevilla is magical, but Malaga and Granada have great ambience too. Big cities are expensive to stay in, however, and there’s a sizeable difference between kipping in a hostel (30 euros) and hotel (100 euros).
Sierra is the Spanish for mountain range. It also could be the Spanish word for motorbike fun. Riding over the Sierra de Filabres from Velefique to Bacares is fun for everyone: sports, touring bikes, or Harleys. It’s the AL3102 and it covers 10km of sublime curves on perfect asphalt. It’s actually the only part of the Vuelta de España cycle race that’s ridden twice – that’s how extreme its road design is. Stop at a little sign with Mirador del Pedregal written on it. Here, all the curves lie right at your feet and it’s one of the best photo opportunities in the world. Another beautiful sierra is El Torcal, just south of Antequera. Here, the mountain views haze away in every direction, but be careful with the surface on the road around it. It doesn’t always provide the best grip. Want a rollercoaster road? The A7000 between Malaga and Colmenar delivers. It’s narrow, twisting, and features two fullblown 360-degree curves as it winds up the mountainside. Both corners are lefthanders and start with a tunnel, where the corner exit is crossing above you. Sight line can be reduced by the trees lining the side of the road, so it’s not a place to ride fast, especially when you throw the odd cyclist into the mix. But experiencing these two corners is worth it. Stop at the Mirador de Malaga and look back towards the coast for an epic view.
My favourite road lies to the north of Andalucia. It’s the C0-6410 From Villaharta to Pozoblanco. It’s a single-lane adventure stuffed with curve after curve of riding pleasure. And the best thing? No traffic. There is next to no chance of bumping into police on this gem, but the police are cool all over Andalucia. They like bikers, but you better behave. They don’t
try sneaky techniques such as helicopters but you will find radar around the villages near the coast. There’ll be warning signs.
Cruise along the Mediterranean on the A5107. Start at Mojacar and ride south to Carboneras. The road kisses the beach here, with views only a little diluted by the odd mega hotel. From Carboneras, take the AL-5106 through Agua Amarga and turn left at Cortijo Los Malenos. This little shortcut looks like a proper road to nowhere, but it’ll spit you out in Fernán Pérez. Then it’s south to Rodalquilar, Isleta del Moro and San Jose. The route provides beautiful views, especially riding down towards Isleta del Moro. Keep on going along Playa Monsul and Playa Genoveses at the end of San Jose: it’s a gravel road but the scenery of the two beaches is fantastic.
Great roads and a plate full of tapas at the end of a day’s riding. What’s not to like?