View Full Version : Which Route?
Can anyone suggest a good route to the south of Spain for me.
I'm hoping to be going in June and have 3-4 weeks.
Get that black visor on and get on that boat to Santanter. I live in Madrid and have travelled all over Spain. You are in for a treat. How much time have you got and what is your budget. You've got the whole world in one country..... and no speed cameras.
Yep the helicops got me a couple of years ago for crossing a solid white line when returning to my side of the road .... funny they didn't mention the +120mph or the fact that I passed 8 cars in one hit. 100 euro fine and no points because U R foreign.
You are coming to the holy grail of biking. Let me know what you are looking for and I will give you tips about routes and where to stay.
The missing bit is that the ride down to Plymouth is lot more interesting than the ride down through Northern France.
There is no need to travel down through France, though I can recommend a few routes.
If you don't fancy France, get the boat down to Santander in Northern Spain. The boat trip has a good overnight stay which kinda forces you to eat drink and be merry (high seas permitting!).
I'll second the Santander route. This is an extract from a post I made after my trip in 2002.
"I did Northern Spain this year via Plymouth/Santander. Excellent ferry, good facilities, great food, being French. And it's only 24 hours - I think P&O to Bilbao take 36. Riding to Plymouth is a pain though - unless you live in Devon.
Yes the lash down for the bike is crap but £5 will buy you a ratchet tie-down from Carnell and no-one tried to make us use centre-stands.
I did about 1500 miles on Spanish roads and they were 90% fabulous. I have a theory that the Spanish spend all their EC grant money on superb roads that actually go nowhere in particular just so they can attract bikers from the rest of Europe.
Not having the skill to mark up and post maps, you'll have to get Michelin 442 and 443 to make sense of this, but the pick of the roads I did are these - all beautifully surfaced and almost free of traffic.
N621 - from 10k West of San Vicente - Potes - Fuente De. This climbs into the Picos up a narrow ravine and you twist and turn inches away from rock faces until the last stretch up to Fuente De where it opens out into 100 mph sweepers.
C627 Potes-Cervera. Up over a pass. Stunning scenery to be seen on the rare occassions that the bike is not banked over on yet another hairpin. Stop for a break at the top or you'll get dizzy.
This one's a bit tricky to find on the map - go N from Burgos to the BU 629, follow it N to the N232, SE to the N629, N to Trespaderne then E to the A625 at Caicedo. First section heading N is over high remote plains, dead straight road for miles through bleak scrubland, then a string of hairpins up and over ridges. The last section is an awesome wide road snaking alongside the Rio Ebro with perfectly surfaced and constant radius bends. Knee down territory for those that like that sort of thing.
Another remote one - in map square 23F, find Arnedo and follow the C115 SW to Soria. At the moment the road as far as Yanguas follows a narrow gorge and is awful but the Spanish are building a completely new road in the hills above it. At Yanguas, which is like the town that time forgot (200 houses, population; 35 senior citizens and about 50 sleeping dogs), you join the new bit of road which just flows over the high undulating plain like a race-track that went for a wander. I wouldn't like to predict that the whole road will be finished next year, this being the land that invented "manana", but you never know.
On map 443 - the N240 East from Pamplona to Jaca. The first 30-odd miles are uneventful, till you come to the Emabalse de Yesa (reservoir), and the scenery goes all lunar and desolate while the road becomes a lovely rhythmic roller coaster - as ever predictable suface and bend radii, and very little traffic, and the last bit must be 50 miles non-stop without passing through even the tiniest of villages.
Very similar is the A138 - the section we did was S from Ainsa to El Grado. Awesome views across the reservoir when you can spare the time to look.
The N230 from Benabarre to Vielha is good too, but quite a bit busier. The best run we had in the Pyrennees was from Vielha E along the C142/C147 to Sort, N260, then to Andorra (where you can replace your knackered tyres at about half the cost in the UK).
This route goes over 2 high passes with full-on sequences of hairpins zig-zagging up and down the mountains, linked by a sublime fast stretch down the Pallaresa valley. The N260 from Sort was probably the best road on the whole holiday.
So those are the best ones we rode, courtesy of Brettours. All of the rest were good roads, with the exception of a few miles of loose surfaces. Even ordinary roads become good, simply because of the lack of traffic.
N611 to Palencia N620to Salamanca.N630 to Caceres then Merida.
After that you can't go wrong,some of the best roads you will ever ride.
Have to agree with Funkybill if you get the chance(weather permitting)go into the Picos Europa.You have two chances assuming you're getting the same ferry back.
It's like a mini Pyranees.
Some of the border towns with Portugal are worth a visit.
Faaaar too much to do in one trip.:D :D :D
Funkybill has hit the nail on the head. You're description of Spain is exactly what I live with day in day out (tough huh!).
I agree with you re- the Picos area, Ebro and run around the Pyrenees. If you fancy checking out the other diverse areas of Spain further to the south let me know.
Following popular demand I am opening a bike tour business in order to share paradises I've found over the past decade with those lucky enough to tag along.
If anyone can give me feedback I would appreciate it. Would British bikers prefer to ride down to Madrid and beyond, or would they prefer to fly to the heart of Spain and pick up a hire bike such as VFR, Harley.... depending on the riders preference?
Sam, if I ever get to do Spain again, I would do it the same way - the mini-cruise at the start and end of the trip was great; compared to the prospect of sitting in Stansted departure lounge for 3 hours and carting 20 kilos of bike clothing and helmet each end - no thanks.
Good luck with the venture. I would suggest that you don't go too upmarket with it. The trip I did used Paradores every night - lovely hotels but way OTT for the average biker (well, me anyway) and they must push the price up something scary.
Now you've really got me itching to go..
I was actually thinking about doing the French thing and taking in the Pyrenees on route but if France isn't that great to tour then I could skip it or do it on the return ride only. What do you reckon, I've got 3-4 weeks??
I like the sound of this already!!!
P.S what do Spanish chicks think of us bikers?:k
Off the boat at Santander head west along the coast road A67 toward Torrelavega.
Take a right and follow signs for Santillana on C6316. In Santillana there is a Paradore national Hotel which is worth an overnight or at least a stop for lunch.
Continue on the C6316 toward San Vicente, the road hugs the coast and can get a bit congested in the summer months but it is more scenic than the alternative N634. Since I was up in this neck of the woods, they have built a new motorway?. No idea what it is like but it will save you time if your main aim is to get away from Santander and into the mountains of Picos Europa.
Either follow the coast to Oviedo, for those that love beaches and coastal riding it is a good option, although the coast road tends to get busy as it is the main communication route to La Caruna in the West.
For those looking for top tarmac, roads designed by civil engineers with a snake fetish and a bit of peace and quiet (except in July August), leave the N634 coast road at Pechon and take the N621 south into the Picos de Europa heading for Panes and later Potes. Potes is a great first stop off point (I can recommend an excellent hotel with only five rooms next to the river at only 50 Euros for a double room).
Potes is the busiest town in the Picos and can be compared with Betwys Coed in North Wales. There is a cable car near bye at Fuente De which takes you up to over 2000m in a few minutes (walking takes 4 hours). It?s one of those must do rides. For those well heeled there is a Paradore Hotel at the foot of the cable car, but Potes is better for those looking for a little more night life.
The Picos Europa mountain range can be turned into a two week tour without any problem, especially for those who like to combine biking with a few days of mountain walking, or just chilling and picnicing. It easily compares to the Alpes but is much quieter (don?t go in July / August?. It is full of Spanish Sunday drivers).
From Potes follow N621 which skirts the southern foothills of the picos heading toward Ria?o. For those who have time I recommend a detour north to Cain in the heart of the Picos, take a right off the N621 at Portilla de la Reina and follow your nose to cain. There is good camping in Cain or a hostel in St. Marina de Valdeon which also has an excellent restaurant (15 Euros per night). The detour is an hours ride each way, but when you encounter the beauty of the area you may decide to spend the rest of you life there.
Back on track to southern Spain, at Ria?o, cross the lake on the N621, the bends and scenery compensate for the odd rough section of road. Watch out for wild cows, and sheep (cows in Spain quite often have horns and leather doesn?t stand up too well in a head to head). Turn right to Sabero and follow you nose on roads which are prone to bumps and loose stuff to Bo?ar and on to La Robla which joins the main road N630 south to the regional Capital Leon.
Although I don?t tend to stay in big cities, Leon is an exception to the rule. It has great historical importance, but the reason for staying is the welcome received on my two visits to the City. The people are very friendly and know how to eat and drink. In the villages surrounding Leon there are old Bodegas (caves where they store wine). These Bodegas also have excellent restaurants serving Morcilla (black Pudding), chorizo (best spicey saucage in Spain) and other stodgy foods all washed down with some of the best wine in the world. I normally stay with friends in the City. There is a Paradore Hotel and for those serious about staying I would be happy to ask my friends for their recommendation?.. who knows, they will probably offer to put you up.
Time to twist the throttle a little, long straight A roads await, but beware there are loads of farms next to the roads and small villages. Tractors pop out at an alarming rate when travelling at 90mph and cars are prone to turn left without indicating (remember left in Spain is UK right). Yep, if you are unlucky enough to be overtaking a line of traffic when one of our jovial Spanish friends decides to turn ?LEFT?, the side of a Toyota pick-up may be the last thing you kiss.
Take the N630 to Benavente then on toward Zamora. This whole route is flat and straight and can get a little windy, tarmac is good though. Zamora sits on the Rio Duero arguably the best wine growing region in Spain?. Certainly my favourite region for wine. The river Duero winds and twists across Northern Spain and is now becoming popular for wine tasting holidays and boat tours on the Duero. A good stop off point for those looking to chill?. For those looking for a little more life combined with outstanding ancient architecture, press on down the N630 after lunch in Zamora and stay in the University town of Salamanca. Loads of night life and culture to suit all tastes.
Continue south down the N630 toward Merida. The road starts to undulate more but the best is yet to come. For those with time to spare take a left prior to reaching Merida and go tour the Gredos mountain range (two days will allow you to take it all in, for recommendations of routes just ask me).
Merida gets very hot in the summer 50 celcius in the sun is normal and you need to keep moving and your visor down just to stop your face getting burnt off by the heat. It?s a dry desert heat. Press on south toward the mountains Sierra Morena. After passing Villafranca take the next right to Zafra on the EX101 / N435. This turn off comes quicker than it appears on your Michelin 446 map. Now you are entering undulating hill country surrounded by cork oak forests and pigs grazing free range in the forests. This is the region of Spain most famed for its Ham. The roads are excellent with sticky hot asphalt, +80mph sweeping bends a delight in every sense of the word. Aracena in the heart of the Sierra Arecena or one of the many village rustic hotels in the area are excellent for an overnight. An hours ride from Sevilla it is close enough to reach Sevilla in the early hours of the next morning prior to the mid day heat (45 degrees in summer). It is also far enough away from Sevilla to prevent bike theft. Yep Sevilla is notorious for car, bike, wallet? hell any kind of theft, that is why I don?t stay in Sevilla, the mountains also offer a cooler nights sleep, better food and great scenery.
Stop off in Sevilla, ask a friendly hotel if you can park in their locked car park, and leave your leathers there too. Sevilla has loads to see for those into wonders of the world it has one or two. Check out a good web page or two. In the late afternoon as the day starts to cool, jump on the bike and cruise down to Arcos de la Frontera passing bye the Jerez race circuit on the A382. Arcos is built on a huge rock and has plenty of small hotels and a Paradore (I recommend an old Arabic house in the heart of the old town give me a shout if you want the name).
?The best days riding you will ever have in your life.? Guaranteed to scrub in all that untouched rubber for even the most prudent of riders. From Arcos, we head west on the A382 fast A road with sweeping bends and a small hard shoulder. Ronda can be reached in an hour but I usually leave the main A road and take some excellent B roads which offer all the challenges of narrow alpine roads, with the exception that these roads have excellent tarmac and views which will leave you speechless.
From Ronda it is bend after bend all the way to Marbella. The bike will not be upright except to flip from a right knee slide to a left. Slow traffic is easy to pass, although on the edges of the road, some loose stuff can give you a few slippy moments but nothing to worry about. Warning, as you approach the main coast road there are huge pot holes (Bach?s in Spanish) don?t get caught out following the euphoria of your last hour of excellent mountain road. Normally as you reach the coast road the inclination is to turn round and go back to Ronda, I know?. I have done it?. Addict.
So you are now on the Costa del Sol, two weeks of cruising the beach bars and exploring the mountains just off the coast then back up to Santander via a ?totally different route? but just as thrilling. Watch this space.
The Spanish Chicas love us..... why do you think I live here. In Spain a man without wheels is like a cowboy without a horse.
There is something magnetic to chicas as a group of bikers pull into a village or town square to search for a small hotel for the night.
They will be sure to be in the local bars searching you out at night..... but watch out for those village boyfriends..... they might not bother you but your bike might not work too well the next day.
Good advice Bill.....
I don't go for the expensive Paradores either.... they are good once in a while, particularly after a wet windy day in the saddle.
Yep it rains here too sometimes.... also have pics in 2m of snow in the Gredos mountains agh.....
Sam, I think I feel a 2005 VFRClub trip to Spain coming on if this carries on.......:yo:
Why Bill do you like snow.........
Whats wrong with 2004?
Originally posted by SamEurobiker
Whats wrong with 2004?
The info you've provided is really helpful Sam.
I've just booked the Portsmouth - Bilboa ferry (£100 cheaper than Plymouth route) for the 3rd week in July, returning via same route two weeks later. Travelling down to Marbella to meet up with rest of family who are flying out to stay at a friend's villa.
I've done the South of France a few times so I'm well used to touring abroad. However, finding accommodation was sometimes a problem. Is it worth booking accommodation now, or is there plenty to choose from at that time of year in Spain?
On the way back I plan to visit relatives at Roses, near Girona, returning to Bilboa via Andorra. Probably taking 3 or 4 days each way.
Can't wait :D
Book early, July & August in Spain is mad. All the Spanish take their hols in these months and everything gets booked up.... mainly on the coast but worth booking early.
Let me know where you are planing to stop off and I will give you some top tips for accomodation.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by goggomobil300
[B]The info you've provided is really helpful Sam.
I've just booked the Portsmouth - Bilboa ferry (£100 cheaper than Plymouth route) for the 3rd week in July,
Lets meet up whilst your over here goggo. Tried to mail you but you have the option closed off.
Just changed the settings so that my e-mail should now be available.
Would be happy to meet up with you on the way through. We sail 24th July and arrive on 26th at 8am. Sail back on 9th August. I'm still waiting to hear from the in-laws (who live near Girona) whether they are available at the beginning or end of our trip. They're spending some time in China, but aren't sure of dates yet. This will dictate our direction of rotation, so to speak.
Will let you know once I know.
I am about to book the Portsmouth-Bilboa ferry tomorrow and will also depart on July 24th returning on Aug 9th. Maybe we will see on the boat?
I have done many trips around Europe but not to portugal. I would appreciate any advice on routes around Portugal and what the best bike friendly maps are (real paper ones not ipaq based!).
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.