The road surfaces are almost all fantastic and if you go to the right areas you will encounter very little traffic. In addition, the region is served by Alicante airport, which is linked to many European destinations.
A cycling holiday to this region does, however, take some planning and knowledge of the region as there are some areas that are less than ideal for riding. In this article you will find five of the best cycling routes, and also details of some of the areas that are best to avoid.
Top Five Routes
Coll de RatesThe Coll de Rates is the most popular cycling climb in the Alicante region. It is easily accessible from the popular coastal towns of Denia, Javea and Calpe and has several different routes, all posing a different challenge. Like most of the climbs in this region, the gradients are quite gentle and allow you to train on them differently depending on your goals.
The most popular ascent begins from Parcent and is 7km long at an average gradient of 5%. From the top of the Rates, you are in the heart of Alicante's cycling country and can connect with many other climbs in the area.
In January and February you often see professional teams training on this climb, with Trek Factory Racing and Etixx-Quickstep among the teams that regularly frequent the area.
Port de TudonsPyrenees. So, if you are on an early season training holiday in preparation for a major European sportive, then the Tudons should be high on your list.
The climb starts a few km to the south of Sella on the CV-770 and continues for 16km, ascending nearly 800m at an average of 5% (the climb is steeper towards the top than in the first few kilometres). At the Port de Tudons there is a road to your right which climbs for another 6.5km to a military base at Aitana. However, the barrier is normally closed prohibiting public access. From the Tudons there are a range of options to extend the route, including continuing to the picturesque town of Alcoy.
Port de Tudons is also a good climb to practice your descending on if you don't feel so comfortable in this area. There are numerous hairpin bends and other steep corners, but the good road surface will allow you to try different lines with confidence.
Xorret de CatíXorret de Cati has a very different character to most around the Costa Blanca, in that it is short and steep - very steep. Climbing from the town of Castalla it is just 4km long, but with an average gradient of 11% and with one kilometre never dropping below 14%.
If you are looking to do some nice steady base training at low intensity, then Xorret de Cati may be best to avoid. However, for anyone looking to improve their explosivity and threshold climbing, this is a very good training choice. If your main aim for the season is the tougher sportives in the UK then this is an excellent choice. Xorret de Cati is like a longer version of the short and steep climbs that are common place in areas like the Lake District or Peak District.
The climb has been used five times in the Vuelta a España and is widely recognised as the marquee climb in the Alicante region.
Sierra MariolaThe Sierra Mariola is not as frequented by cyclists as the three major climbs outlined above; however, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas for cycling near the Costa Blanca. The roads are quiet, there is a wide range of hilly routes and the scenery is very different from the rocky landscape closer to the coast.
Located to the west of Alcoy, the Sierra Mariola is close to the other cycling routes in location, but very different in the type of cycling that it offers.
XixonaThe town of Xixona is famous in Spain for being the home of turrón - a popular almond and sugar based snack. And you may well need to stock up on turrón if you cycle around here because the area is packed with undulating roads. The climbs are generally under 5km and are quite easy gradients, making it an excellent training ground for a long endurance ride or for building a really strong base.
The most famous climb out of Xixona is La Carrasqueta, characterised by long hairpins which gradually climb a cliff. On a clear day it offers fantastic views of the valley below.
Best Areas to Stay
Castled VillagesThere are numerous small historic towns and villages in the inland area which are perfect bases for cycling. These include - but are certainly not limited to - Biar, Aigues, Castell de Castells and Sella.
All of these villages date back many centuries and most have a castle or the remains of a fortress. They are surrounded by very quiet roads, which offer a good variety of both rolling routes and more sustained longer climbs.
They also generally have small and locally run boutique hotels, which provide a much more pleasant experience than staying in the giant resort towns along the coast.
Where to Avoid
The Coast from Calpe to AlicanteThe roads around Benidorm and Calpe, including towns such as Altea, Villajoyosa and Alfas del Pi are popular with cyclists, but we believe are not the best options in the area.
The main advantages of these areas is cheap accommodation in winter, plenty of bike rental places and proximity to the mountains - on the face of it, this sounds like all you would need. However, there are also some disadvantages, which can be avoided by staying in other locations.
Principal among these is the traffic around these towns. Even in winter, the roads both along the coast and quite a long way inland are very busy and, in places, completely unsafe for cycling. Calpe is especially bad for this as there is no way directly into the mountains from the town, so you have to go at least 10km on traffic-laden roads before you enter more picturesque and safer surroundings.