January 28, 2024

Day 31: Altea (Drive/Cycle)

It was a foggy start to the day in Denia. Not until I'd travelled about 10 miles west of Denia did I get my first glimpse of the sun, which augured well for my planned cycle up the highest paved road in the Aitana Mountains.

It turned out to be a much tougher cycle than I'd imagined it would be.

  1. The climb up to about 460m was a pretty enjoyable steady climb.
  2. The descent down to Emblase de Guadalest (a reservoir), was also okay.
  3. Cycling alongside the reservoir was like being on a rollercoaster - up and down like a yoyo! And was populated by numerous walkers but, fortunately, there were only two vehicles.
  4. Once beyond the head of the reservoir the going started to get tougher. It was still like a rollercoaster. However, with the addition of a steepening upward gradient. Hence, there were multiple ramps ranging from about 12 to 20 percent gradients, which went on for about 4.5 kilometers: a wee bit tiresome to say the least!
  5. It was then a short, sharp descent before the main climb of the day commenced. This was the climb of the highest paved road in the Aitana mountains to Font de l'Arbre, elevation 1197 metres.
  6. The thing is, from the town of Confrides, the map states that the climb is 6.7 kilometres with an average gradient of 6.3 percent, which is probably true and, would normally be thought of as a "reasonably easy" climb. But, what is lost in these numbers is the fact that the climbing is 1) front loaded, and 2) is not monotonically rising. Accordingly, yet again, there are many steep ramps of the order of 15 - 20% in gradient. In addition, it may well have once upon a time been a nicely paved highest road. However, today, it is mainly in a very poor state of repair with much of it effectively being gravel! (You will need to be even more careful descending!).
  7. When I did arrive at the Font de l'Arbre I was somewhat underwhelmed! Here's a photo of that which you'll see at the end of the road:

    Now, usually, on reaching an elevation of 1197 metres you get your reward => A fine view

    (on that there hill, elevation 1558m, is a military out post!) and a much earned descent (in this instance a return to sea level). Unfortunately, given the poor state of the return road to the town of Confrides it was very much less enjoyable than it could have been if the road was in a better state of repair: Way to much braking was required to get down safely! By the time I reached the town, my starboard hand was becoming numb due to the braking effort.
  8. Fortunately, beyond Confrides the vast majority of the descending was on well made roads and much enjoyment was had!
  9. Ice cream o'clock was at 3.30pm at the Altea promenade!
  10. Oh yes, and I nearly forgot, I was a numpty again to today! Nothing new there you may think! Obviously, by the time I'd reached the Font de l'Arbre I was a wee bit hot and sweaty. So, when I started to descend, a thought popped into my head that "I should put on my wind proof jacket and/or gilet because it is likely to get cold descending"! Accordingly, I went to open the bike's handlebar bag, which I could not do - because it wasn't there! So, not only was I faced with the prospect of getting cold as I descended, I realised that if I had a puncture or mechanical I would, speaking metaphorically, "be up the creek without a paddle"! (My pump, spare inner tube, tool kit and spares are always kept in the bag, so that I always have them with me on a ride - just in case!) I can't remember the last time I've been so stupid! Okay, no doubt it was just the other day!!!

So, in summary, I'd say that much of the climbing today was endured rather than enjoyed. So it goes. It was good to do it, nonetheless.

Tree of the day:

  • Distance driven: 29 miles
  • Distance cycled: 81 kilometres
  • Weather: Foggy in Denia, sunny and warm cycling out of Altea.
  • Location: Google Maps

Today's route (According to my garmin navigational aid, there is only about 2000 metres of climbing on this route! - ridewithgps nearly always overestimates height gained):