April 15, 2024

Day 109: Valdepeñas (Cycle/Drive)

The Big Event:

To cycle up to the summit of the Pico de Veleta.

Today, by cycling to an altitude of approximately 2,560 metres, I reached my highest elevation by bike so far this year (I doubt that I'm going to go higher). Yet, it wasn't the 3,280 to 3,394 metres I'd hoped for (there appears to be some discrepanciesas as to where the cycling stops and the hiker-biking begins!), which would have resulted in me cycling the totality of the highest paved road in Europe: the Pico de Veleta. Indeed, the elevation I reached today doesn't even exceed the highest elevation I've attained previously in Europe: the Col de L'Iseran at 2,630 metres)!

However, although I "failed", I very much enjoyed the climb. The problem was that today's ride, rather than being a story about cycling the highest paved road in Europe, turns out to be more a story about road closures.

Closure 1:

After climbing for about 13 kilometres, and passing through Güéjar Sierra, there followed a steep descent to a river crossing that no longer existed! See photo:

At this point I thought I'd have to make a long detour, with some steep climbing to get back on track. Fortunately, a short distance away, there was a footpath that led to a bridge across the river that enabled me to rejoin the road beyond the closure: Phew!

Closure 2:

Okay, so this closure wasn't a surprise. I knew that the road to the Pico de Veleta is only cleared of snow to an elevation of approximately 2,500 metres. However, given the impact of Global Warming, I thought it worth investigating whether or not the current increase in temperatures was sufficient to melt the snow earlier than has historically been the case. It is not! Thus, ended my attempt to cycle to the Pico de Veleta summit!

Closure 3:

The descent was progressing well until, guess what, another road closure! I was able to get the workman manning the closure point to understand that I would like to know, "at what time will the road reopen?" - 16:30 was his typed on phone response. At this point in time it was about 12:30! I chose the detour over the wait! (I neglected to take a photo - I was in descending to the van mode and, thus, not in multi-tasking mode! The detour was via some pretty steep gradients - I was glad both brakes were working! In fact I think it was easier descending on the bike than in the motorhome that someone was trying to bring down safely, which I overtook.

Some milestones:

The view taken about one mile above sea level:

The view approximately 1.5 miles above sea level:

Some metrestones:

1,750 metres

2,000 metres

2,250 metres

2,500 metres

Even though I was thwarted in my attempt to reach the summit of the Pico de Veleta it was a fantastic way to spend the first day of my 6th decade! Yes I was an April baby, born this day in 1964 - A vintage year!



  • Distance driven: 143 miles
  • Distance cycled: 71 Kilometres
  • Weather: I could not have asked for better weather for the climb (starting just after 8am helped).
  • Location: Google Maps

Today's ride: