I'm wondering if there's somewere accessible in Europe that combines high mountain climbs with flatter or more rolling roads? We've done Girona & Mallorca before but would like to try somewhere that provides more of a challenge as well as having the option of easier days if needed. Appreciate any thoughts!
Cycling the Camino de Santiago has a range of varied terrain, some challenging climbs like O Cebreiro. Lots of accommodation options, scenery, food etc.
Multo autem ad rem magis pertinet quallis tibi vide aris quam allis
Malaga, coastline and mountains.
Fly into Santander and take your pick, east into the basque country or west along the cantabrian coast towards Oviedo/Gijon. You have the beautiful coastline and within 10 km you can be up 1000m into Pico's De Europa. Towns like Ribadasella, Llanes or Cangas Di Onis are gorgeous and cheap as chips to stay and eat in
I know you said Europe, but my dream cycling holiday would be the Karokoram Highway in Pakistan; I've travelled it by bus and its the most incredible road journey that I've ever been on.
Biarritz to Girona or Collioure. Don't waste your time with the rolling stuff - you'll look back on any mix-n-match holiday and remember the big cols best. So just do the Pyrenees, end to end. Easy flights, great food, quiet roads with good surfaces...
WRT the Costa Verde (N coast of Spain)...it's nice, but not NEARLY as nice as the Pyrenees, even if it does let you do the Angliru and Covadonga. Also, it's not Verde for nothing - weather and wind are more of an issue there, than in the Pyrenees (in my experience, which may not be statistically robust!).
This thread is giving me ideas
I would second @Daroxtar suggestion. Obviously I am biased as I am from there myself.
If I was going to the North-west of Spain I would make sure to do some good ground work research. I wouldnt do Angliru or even Covadonga (unless you are determined to do them). Much nicer climbs around, which are not dead ends, with much nicer views.
About the weather. It is predominately mild which is great for cycling, and why most people from the south of Spain come to the north to cycle in the summer. I've never found wind to be an issue in the summer (or even in the winter) and it rains one day a week in average.
Someone suggested Camino de Santiago above. Depending on the type of cycling which you are looking for, isnt a bad option. But I personally find it pretty boring! :-) Best of the views/places to view are off the Camino. But hey.....it is still a nice experience to do it!
I do agree with Galego about the Camino. My daughter rode it a few years ago. The initial day out of Saint Jean Pied de Port was a monster (it is, I've ridden it since - lots of 15%+), but once out of the Pyrenees there was a lot of relatively boring stuff. Good cheap accommodation, tho.
I have rode the Camino on road a couple of times with the help of the excellent book " The way of St James, a cyclists guide" by John Higginson. While I agree that parts are boring I think it is an ideal cycling holiday for anyone relatively new to cycle touring. Accomodation is plentiful, food is cheap, it is well marked and most importantly there are cheap flights to Biarritz and back from Santiago. A bonus in Santiago is that there is a bike shop that will pack your bike and organise a taxi to the airport. First day is nice from Jean Pied a Port over the Pyrenees and then all the way to Burgos is pleasant Then you are on the Meseta for a couple of days which is the high plain of central Spain. Personally I enjoy the wide open spaces and remoteness of it. From Leon on you are into spectacular mountain scenery (and climbs) and then you have the final day or 2 in the rolling Galician hills. Santiago itself is a lovely city so while lacking any coastal scenery I wouldn't rule it out for a cycling holiday
Did you bring your own bike or hire one and was it a hybrid or mountain bike and how long did it take to complete from start to finish. Sorry one more question did you pre book accommodation or did you find it easily along the way?
brought our own bikes. Road bikes with saddlebags and handlebar bags. About 30 litres in total We booked our first night in St jean and our last night in Santiago. Otherwise we looked at booking .com the night before we were due to arrive in a town to get a feel for availability and then usually booked next morning for that night. It is approx 850km from Biarritz to Santiago and we have done it in about 8 days both times
Depends on whether you want a single base or are willing to travel, ie. with car support.
Re; bike hire - cheapest in Europe is Spain.
Single base: Bilbao is a lovely city and the Basque country is awesome for cycling, challenging climbing, rolling roads (good surfaces).
San Sebastian or Pamplona area also possibles.
Malaga is ok but you will need to get away from the coast roads, especially the A7 immediately.
Calpe or Denia are favourites for Pro tour teams training.
Argeles Gazost near Lourdes is a wonderful centre. If you want to climb, you have Tourmalet, Luz Ardiden, Tentes, Hautacam and many more on your doorstep. Lots of rolling roads when you head north of Lourdes and Pau.
Was looking for similar but needed something for the family as well so a friend suggested santa ponsa, I can head north for the climbs or east for some flatter roads, have a week in june booked.
Also if you've not been to tenerife it's unreal def one of the best place I've been cycling.
That's the French Camino, there are others like the Levante from Valencia crossing Spain through Toledo and Zamora and another down the Spanish coast through San Sabastian and Bilbao both of which I've done by bike. There's also ones from Portugal and southern Spain.
Don't keep strictly to the Camino route is my advice, they're designed for walkers not bikers. Some bits are fine but other sections are virtually unridable on a bike.
Surprised Gran Canaria hasnt been mentioned. Been twice and would head back in a heartbeat! Great routes where you get a good few climbs of varied difficulty, Pico de las Nieves, Valley of Tears, Lomo de Pedro Alfonso.
I suspect what the OP's looking for is a one or two centres where he can tick a few cols rather than an A2B cycle tour such as a couple of weeks in Normandy and Brittany starting/finishing in Cherbourg/Roscoff.
Have used these guys before for a couple of their holidays....
I had a look at that Red Spokes link and going by the testimonials a good few Irish have done it.