Although the area may not be the first to come to mind for training in Spain, the Alpujarra region in Southern Andalucia is an excellent alternative to the tourist hotspots of Mallorca and the Costa Blanca. Being the southernmost tip of mainland Europe, less than 10 miles from Africa at some points, Andalucia is blessed with warm weather all year round as well as mountains reaching over 3000m in the Sierra Nevada. This combination is unique in Europe allowing riders to climb to high altitudes all year round at times when the typical Alpine and Pyrenean passes are deep in snow.
Quiet mountain roads snake across the countryside through unspoilt villages. If the weather and terrain aren not enough of a draw then the quiet roads, which are wide and well surfaced, and the friendly, generous locals will ensure you have a great trip to the sun. Whilst the area is relatively new to road cyclists, the spectacular mountains attract mountain bikers from all over Europe, both for cross country and downhill riding and is a popular base for Spanish road cycling teams, including the UCI Pro Team, Movistar, who use the area for training camps in preparation for the Grand Tours.
Nestled in the hills, the town of Soportújar is a perfect place to stop for a coffee. Picture: Vive Alpujarra
Although the impressive climbs are a great attraction to the area, drop down to the ‘Costa Tropical’ and you will discover several attractive seaside towns, perfect for a mid-ride cafe stop! The warmer temperatures of the coast also offer an alternative to the cooler air of the mountains, especially in winter and early spring.
The combination of mountains and sea provides a varied landscape to explore. In the space of a 70 km ride you can climb from the coast into the changing vegetation of citrus trees in the lower valleys, punctuated by vineyards and olive groves, which give way to almond trees as the altitude gets higher. Finally you will reach the Alpine pine forests that surround Trevélez, Spain's highest mainland village and home of the pigs used to make the famous Pata Negra hams - just one of the regions many culinary delights for you to savour and enjoy!
Main image: Quiet roads and stunning views dotted with villages and hamlet characterise the Alpujarra region. Picture: Tom Kirk
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