On New Year’s holidays, I try to leave for warm lands – to give a solid kick in the ass for the training season there. After trips to Gran Canaria and Portugal, this year I was seduced by the Spanish Costa Blanca, where I threw a camp in the tourist town of Calpe.
Unlike Mallorca and the islands of the Canary archipelago, which only in recent years have been heard by the media pressure of the Sky team, the Costa Blanca has been chosen by cyclists from the Benelux countries for many years.
Unfortunately, it should be noted that the Costa Blanca is also the place where the British now swept away John Dagenkolb with the Giant-Alpecin team and, literally a week later, the Belgian Lotto team riders got into a similar mess there.
But despite the disappointing press, the Costa Blanca in general and Calpe, in particular, remain one of the best wintering destinations with a bike. If anyone has seen the film Behind the Stripes about the preparations for the season of the Trek-Segafredo team, then Cancellara and Molema’s test time was recorded there on Coll de Rates, and I would have moved to live in Calpe just to train there every day.
Google suggests that this climb is 6 km long and has an average gradient of 5.6% – just what you need for sluggish winter legs. A rare march from Calpe does without Coll de Rates and the most successful combinations, in my humble opinion, are the Coll de Rates – Tarbena – Callosa Sarria and Coll de Rates – Tarbena – Castell de Castells rings. I arrive at Coll de Rates in 22 minutes and Michal Kwiatkowski’s time is 14:30.
From Calpe to the foot of Coll de Rates you have to drive 27 kilometres with a couple of short climbs up the hills, the longest of which takes me 10 minutes. After this warm-up, you drive up to the main course well warmed up and, as a result, you get a great interval near-threshold workout. It is the near-threshold intervals that make up the backbone of my training process in winter – the dispute here is certainly appropriate and your preferences about the methods of preparing for the season can be stated either in the comments to this article or on Facebook. When you need a mountain cassette – Bernia and Castells climb
For those who like spicy things, I can not but recommend the Bernia and Castells climbs. The first one is not as popular as Coll de Rates because of four rather long sections with a two-digit gradient. In Ostrava, this climb can even be found under the name Four Hills Climb.
The second climb is Castell’s climb, most often you have to go in the opposite direction since it is convenient to use it to close the loop back to Calpe after Coll de Rates, but I strongly recommend that you go up at least once. Professionals, whose darkness is dark here, fly into these gradients, as if on wings. Mortals like me are forced to twist the squares.
Let’s return to the sore one. Two high-profile incidents in one month is a pretty lousy advertisement, but I invite everyone to count the number of cars in the photos in this article. Mountain roads here are quite deserted, locals respect cyclists, and tourists in rented small cars prefer to be careful on local serpentines.
It should also be noted that professional teams, unlike amateurs, are less demanding about the choice of the route and often drive along the noisy coastal highway N-332. At the same time, the BMC team takes care of their own and drives with two escort cars, but the Giant-Alpecin racers are forced to ride by themselves.
In general, the choice of the route around Calpe comes down to leaving the coast as quickly as possible. The most ideal option is through Fanadix and this road can be driven every day. The road through Callosa Sarria is noisier and I tried to get out on it only on weekends.
I also drove towards Teulada a couple of times and I want to inform you that such an adventure is worth the spent nerves – the ascent to the La Cumbre del Sol observatory is certainly beautiful and steep (featured in last year’s Vuelta ), but the pleasures of the Sierra de Bernia y Ferrer mountains are all the same more. Travel, accommodation, meals low-cost airlines fly to Alicante, from where it is an hour’s drive to Calpe.
The transfer is handled by the Benniconnect company, which drives the bus almost to the plane’s ramp. They need to be advised in advance that they will be carrying a bicycle. The prices are quite reasonable and two adults, a seven-month-old child and a suitcase with a bicycle travelled to Calpe and back for 90 euros. The bus willingly drops off on request near large hotels, which are a dime a dozen in Calpe.
Accommodation can be found both in hotel complexes ( booking.com for help) and in the private sector.
In the first case, there will be a studio with a small kitchen, but with a concierge and other hotel bells and whistles, but we prefer to stay in the private sector and, after finding an apartment through TripAdvisor, we were led by the owner’s proposal to settle the financial part personally, which saved us 200 euros.
For 18 days in the apartment following the link, we paid 700 euros. The guy who organized this apartment is called Atilano Vicente Gonzalez and, as I understand it, he manages several apartments in Calpe. If anyone decides to establish direct contact with him, you can refer to a couple from Holland – a cyclist with his wife and a baby, who was staying for the new year.
In terms of food, I am a big snob and in tourist restaurants along the promenade, I do not eat in principle. I am fully satisfied with the assortment of Spanish supermarkets, where only from the seafood department eyes run-up … and what do we fool besides pasta and rice in this life need. By the way, Calpe is a great place to practice making spaghetti with clams.
Weather, Temperature …
The sky covered with clouds is already considered bad weather here. On the Dutch bike forums, of course, you can find reports about how to sit in a hotel room for a week when it rains outside the window, but, in general, it should be dry and relatively warm – from 10 to 20 degrees. The only thing you need to be prepared for is the wind.
During the whole period of my stay, I travelled in a summer set with sleeves and without boots. I took a windbreaker for descents in my shirt pocket. Gloves were also not needed.
In Calpe, you first need to go to train. Fans of cycling tourism or, God forgive me, brevet, will also find a lot of interesting things for themselves here, but coming to this Mecca and not using the local climbs in full is taking a sin on their souls.
Compared with Gran Canaria, in Calpe, the climbs are shorter, and the entrances to them give enough time to warm up. If we compare with Portugal, then training around Sintra and Cascais will be no worse, while the Algarve is again long climbs to Monchik.
I tried to stick to the training regime – you ride for three days, you rest for two days. All training routes can be found in my from 18 December to 4 January 2015-16.