Travel: Costa del Sol
So, cards on the table - the Costa del Sol actually isn’t actually somewhere to recommend for a pure cycling trip. There are simply a lot of locations which offer more enjoyable riding. Plentiful flights and accommodation as well as good weather and terrain should all make for a great riding destination. The problem? The road network though being highly convenient for cars isn’t very cyclist friendly. There are relatively few quiet “B” roads and the more common A roads vary from pleasant to almost motorway level, making planning a route difficult and unpredictable. This advice relates to the area immediately west of Malaga, it may well be the case that the area to the east and towards Granada may be excellent.
So then, why a cycling blog on the area? Firstly, sometimes a recommendation to avoid can be really valuable when considering options. Secondly, if you are one of the millions upon millions of tourist visitors to the area then there are still at least two great options to sneak in a ride as part of a “non-cycling” holiday.
The first option, and one that we did not experience yet, would be to try gravel routes instead of roads. Largely steering clear of the busy road network while taking advantage of the dry weather and gravel could make for some great riding. Gravel bikes can be rented from the likes of www.bikestardo.com and this may well be a growth area in years to come. There are also other bike rental shops which offer road bikes and most are happy to deliver to your accommodation.
The second option, described below, is a really outstanding road route that can be enjoyed in a few hours as part of a tourist holiday. The route runs from Coin to the Puerto del Viento, which is the highest point before you can choose to drop down to Ronda. Depending on your location and time available you could however reduce this to El Burgo to the same summit at Puerto del Viento as this stretch is the real highlight (30km round trip). As described the road network means that it is an out-and-back ride rather than a loop but it’s beautiful enough that you certainly wouldn’t be bored on the second half of the ride. The route largely passes through the national park of La Sierra de las Nieves and car traffic is far lower than on other roads in the area.
Leaving Coin (202m altitude) you head west along the A-366, reaching first Alozaina (386m), Yunquera (681m) and El Burgo (591m) before reaching the summit of Puerto del Viento (1071m). The total route returning to Coin is approximately 100km with 2200m of climbing.
The first section provides wide open views of rolling olive groves (first image below) with eucalyptus dotted along the road only adding to the atmosphere. The road starts to tilt up around 5km before Alozaina and continues to steadily climb for 15km before a 6km descent into El Burgo. As mentioned above it is the stretch that follows that offers the most spectacular roads and views in the 13km to the summit (which also includes some chance to recover on a short descent). The final climb to the summit becomes increasingly barren (second image) with much more bare rock and minimal vegetation.
The small towns and petrol stations spread along the route provide some options for food and drink but err on the side of carrying provisions/stopping as it’s a tough ride that demands some respect.
From the summit of the Puente del Viento you could drop down into Ronda and try and visit the spectacular bridge the town is known for. Two words of caution though. Firstly, the descent and climb back out of Ronda are nothing too special compared to what comes before it but certainly add to the time and strain of the ride. Secondly, to visit the bridge isn’t super easy and involves quite a lot of walking so again it will really extend the overall ride time if that is a consideration.
If you do head to this area then enjoy your riding!!