For a riding holiday with a difference, I decided to set sail for Northern Spain where dramatic scenery, sunshine and empty roads await.
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Waiting for embarkation on the quayside in
But as it turned out, even this rather sketchy itinerary was ditched somewhere in the
One of the beauties of cycle touring is that route plans, whether meticulously detailed or pathetically threadbare, can usually be jettisoned instantly when better alternatives emerge.
So, as I rolled off the ship’s car ramp and struck Iberian tarmac, I turned right and pointed my wheels towards
Green Spain encompasses the provinces of Pais Vasco (the Basque country), Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, and it turned out that my Asturian advisor had his own self-interest at heart in suggesting that I go west.
He wanted some company as he pedalled home to
This region of
In addition to the cooling sea breezes, they come for the startlingly vivid greenery, the bountiful fresh seafood and the spectacular rocky coastal scenery, bisected here and there by world-class sandy beaches. They also go there to enjoy the walking and mountain biking to be found in the easily accessible Picos d’Europa mountain range.
Despite its proximity to the mountains, riders following the impressively engineered yet lightly used coastal highway will find there are few major gradients to deal with.
European Union money paid for the numerous, and no doubt hugely expensive, bridges and viaducts soaring over the gorges that slice through the more elevated stretches of coastline.
And it is only in these sections, if you choose to explore the largely bypassed fishing villages, that you will have to face the occasional thigh-burning ascent to get back on track.
On my trip, a detour inland involving an arduous ascent to
It was a struggle that – it seemed to me at the time, at least – would have done justice to Oviedo’s most famous cyclist, the late José Manuel Fuente, nicknamed El Tarangu. He was a legendary climber, a contemporary of Eddy Merckx and a two-time Vuelta a España winner.
The ride back down to the coast from
Brittany Ferries sail from both this port and from