Ride through the natural park and its surrounding rice paddies
By Barry Wright THIS week’s route takes the cyclist away from the usual mountains and inland countryside of Valencia for a journey around Albufera natural park and the Montaña de los Santos.
It has been provided by Cycle Clips collaborator Cicloturismo Valencia – a local development project that aims to promote the region of Valencia, in particular Alicante province, as a quality cycle tourism destination.
The route leaves from the City of Arts and Sciences and follows the beaches to the south of Valencia city before visiting El Palmar, the mythical rice fields of Albufera, Montaña de los Santos and the towns of Silla and Catarroja.
This 75kilometre circular ride is completely flat, with the only possible difficulty being the wind, which ‘could spoil an especially agreeable day’.
Negative points to be aware of are the northern access to El Palmar, which is a narrow stretch of road that can get busy at weekends, some sections of dirt track and a 200metre section where it is necessary to dismount and walk in order to avoid crossing the roundabout on the CV31 at Catarroja.
A total of 75% of the ride is on asphalt with very little traffic.
The start and finish in Valencia does not present too many difficulties as the city has an extensive intermodal travel network.
As with all of their routes, Cicloturismo Valencia say that they are indicative and should be undertaken in conjunction with the relative Wikiloc download (see below) and that cyclists must comply with current regulations regarding helmets and signposts.
The route can be undertaken in either direction, in this instance we are travelling clockwise around the park.
Use the cycle lanes from the City of Arts and Sciences to pass through Pinedo and Saler, which are already in the natural park, before reaching La Devesa.
Following this the route passes around Pujol pond, in which swimming is forbidden.
It is then necessary to pick up the CV500 for a short while before turning right onto Calle Vicent Baldoví, a narrow stretch of road without a hard shoulder which gets busy at weekends.
After crossing two bridges which connect the Albufera wetland with the sea, the route passes on to El Palmar island, with its jetty and canals that carry the traditional eel fishing boats. The eels are used for the traditional local dish ‘all y pebre’ – garlic and paprika eels.
Although there are few of the traditional cane and adobe huts remaining, our friends at Cicloturismo Valencia note that it is a ‘real pleasure for the senses to take a walk in this area, when there are fewer tourists about’.
Leaving the town of El Palmar by Carrer del Jesuset de l’hort, the cyclist suddenly finds themself in the wide open space of Albufera natural park with its famous, extensive rice paddies. Visiting the area at the time of year when the rice is at full bloom gives the cyclist the added pleasure of travelling on completely flat roads that are almost devoid of traffic.
Following a zigzagging route south, the ride takes the cyclist to the Montaña de los Santos promontory, on which the hermitage dedicated to the Saints Abdón and Senén is situated.
The hermitage dates back to the 14th century, and is situated by an old quarry, the height of which has reduced by two thirds over the years and now reaches just 27 metres above sea level.
From here we begin the return journey to Valencia by picking up the path that briefly heads south before arriving at Sollana and El Romani, all the while being accompanied by rice paddies.
Cicloturismo Valencia advise that, during the return part of the journey, stops at the small river crossings of Silla and Catarroja could be worthwhile for the views of the traditional fishing boats.
In the municipality of Catarroja, the cyclist will encounter the route’s second and last difficulty. In order to avoid the busy traffic on the V31, they suggest dismounting and ‘faithfully following’ the track that runs parallel to the road for around 200 metres.
From here to Valencia we pass through El Tremolar and Pinedo and then pick up the cycle tracks that we used at the start of the route.
“We hope you enjoy the route,” Cicloturismo Valencia add.
The Wikiloc link for this week’s route can be found at https://es.wikiloc.com/rutascicloturismo/circularporlaalbuferadesdevalenciaporlamuntanyetadelssants26857317
Traditional fishing boats at Silla
Paddy fields on the way to Montaña de los Santos