One day, two cols

Today we tackled the Coll de Rates, which is a 6.5 kilometre, 5% climb to 626 metres. Although it’s not the steepest or longest climb in the area, it seems to be the climb that everyone wants to do, including the professional cyclists who train in the Costa Blanca region. After Coll de Rates we extended the ride to Sa Creueta, a further climb to 780 metres. It was a fabulous morning!

The ride to the start of the Coll de Rates was pretty straightforward When we reached Parcent, we could see the road high on the hillside above us. Dave told us we were at the start of the climb, and warned us not to go off too quickly because there would be no rest… the climb is a steady but unrelenting gradient.

After the initial pull, the real climbing started as the road twisted and turned higher and higher around corners and hairpin bends. Then, suddenly, the road straightened, stretching out ahead of us, with mountains soaring high above us on our right and stunning views down to the valley on our left.

We stopped at the view point just below the top to admire the views into the distance. We could see the roads we’d been cycling on, just half an hour ago, far below in the valley.

Once we had taken lots of photos, we got back on our bikes for the final slog and, before long, we’d done it… we’d reached the top!

The next section to Sa Creueta was lovely cycling, with long sweeping downhills and bends before we began climbing again.

To start with the climbs were rolling and fairly gentle. We powered downhill in order to get enough momentum to carry us back uphill, with the minimum of effort… legs spinning hard and big smiles on our faces. However, this climb has a sting in the tail because, in the final section, the gradient reaches double figures… a leg and lung burning 13%.

We cycled through fantastic mountain scenery, looking back to Coll de Rates, over towards the jagged Bernia Mountains, and through gaps in the mountains to Benidorm and Altea. The roads here are are in great condition, with very few potholes, and there’s little traffic so cycling is a joy.

Another group of cyclists had flown out to join us this morning and, after we’d reached the top of Sa Creueta, the plan was to meet them for lunch. We had a fast and very enjoyable cycle back downhill and through the valleys to Jalon, where we met Ian, Andy, Vince and Dan at the cycling cafe.

After a delicious lunch washed down with a large cold alcohol free beer, we set off again. So that the four guys could check their hired bikes were set up ok, we rode round the villages in the valley for a while, through vineyards and orange and olive groves.

Then it was time for Coll de Rates again. John and I were quite tired by now. After cycling 75 kilometres and doing over 1000 metres of ascent, we decided to sit it out and have a beer at a cafe in Parcent. We watched as Dave set the guys off at minute intervals, according to their fitness levels. Off they raced to the top, and Dave followed to make sure they were ok.

When we had finished our beer, we decided to head back because the cafe was preparing to close, and we weren’t sure how long the others would be. Within half an hour, we were back at the villa, relaxing with another beer and a slice of delicious home baked cake, enjoying the sunshine.

I think this has been my favourite day so far, perhaps because my confidence and ability on the bike is improving, but also because the route was so beautiful, but challenging… and I did it!

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