Cycling in Costa Blanca – Coll de Rates (626m) and Puerto de Sa Creueta (780m) from Xalo – Both Directions

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Monday, 4 February 2019

Cycling in Costa Blanca – Coll de Rates (626m) and Puerto de Sa Creueta (780m) from Xalo – Both Directions

This was the first real cycling loop we tried in the Jalon Valley/Vall de Pop area and a wonderful one to start with. With some incredible views and stunning landscapes, it was the perfect introduction to the area and left us wanting more the next day. At around 55-km long, it also wasn’t a total legbuster for us, although some of the climbing portions are steep.


Clockwise
We headed east out of Xalo along the CV-750 into Alcalali where we joined the CV-720 to Parcent. Although rolling, most of the road so far had been gently uphill with a handful of steeper sections thrown in. At Parcent we turned left onto the CV-715 signposted Tarbena and were pretty much immediately on the climb to Coll de Rates. The Coll de Rates isn’t the biggest climb in the world with 5% average for 6.5-km, but the reward in sweeping views is out of proportion to the climb involved. After an initial straight drag the road started snaking up through roads at first flanked by pine forest and then opening out to give a wonderful panorama towards the Costa Blanca and Denia to the east.

With still, warm air and clear blue skies it was a fantastic time to be out on our bikes together and we basked in the feeling of being back on a snaking tarmac strip heading upwards, a place we just love to be.

All too soon, it seemed, we reached the top where a quiet restaurant was not yet open for business (well, it was early) and immediately headed down the other side into a stunningly beautiful valley of terraces and almond groves that was like entering a lost and quiet world. With uncountable numbers of terraces on pretty much every surface, it felt a little like looking back into an Incan Empire scene, especially with the Serra Bernia ridge rising in the background.


The road descended alongside the sheer wall of the valley for about 3 km before kicking up again into Tarbena where we turned right onto the CV-752 towards the Puerto de Sa Creueta. From here the road continued to climb a little before undulating its way towards the high point at 780 metres. Some of the gradients were severe, but never for too long and the views continued to be incredible. With the morning sun getting warmer with each passing minute, the terrain of cultivated olive and almond groves sets against a backdrop of sheer cliff faces and green hillside was wonderful to enjoy.

After cresting the Puerto de Sa Creueta the road was (mostly) downhill, sometimes steeply, into Castell de Castells where we picked up the CV-720 again for the fast, gradual descent back to Parcent. This road, again, is a beautiful ride on its own, with steep hills on either side to admire and (when we were here at least) very little traffic.

Anti-Clockwise
I’ve already described the road names, so I’ll just add that this felt like the more challenging direction. That ‘fast homeward descent’ into Parcent becomes a 20-km dragging climb towards Castell de Castells, followed by some 10% + sections up to the Puerto de Sa Creueta. Then, after generally descending to Tarbena and into that lush, ‘Incan’ valley, you still have to climb several kilometres back up to the Coll de Rates before the final cruise downhill back to Parcent and onwards to Xalo.

That said, both directions are equally beautiful and I’d happily do either direction again in a heartbeat. Happy riding.








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