Helen Russell´s Winter 2015 blog news
In February I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend five weeks cycling in Spain with Ciclo Costa Blanca. In December I was able to return, albeit for a shorter stay and ride again with the team. I picked up my Cannondale Synapse on Saturday which I love. I had ridden this bike earlier in the year and it was a really excellent ride-smooth and reliable with the right set up to get up the toughest climbs of the Marina Mountains!
On Sunday I met up with Terry, the owner of Ciclo Costa Blanca for a warm up ride. We headed out in the sun, crossing over the Amadori reservoir and ascended to Relleu for a coffee stop before a fast descent back down to see level-a wonderful first day of riding.
The next day I wanted to do an open water swim as well as a bike ride so I just did a shorter ride from Benidorm to Callosa d’en Sarria and then back via Polop. In the afternoon I travelled to the nearby resort of El Campello to meet up with some local triathlon buddies for a sea swim and some swim analysis from respected swim coach Martin Hill.
After two days of conservative riding, by Tuesday it was time for a long hard ride. I rode from Benidorm to the Vall d’Ebo, near Pego and on route saw a multitude of professional teams. During the day I spotted FDJ, Etixx Quick Step, Giant Alpecin, BMC, Trek Segafredo and Lotto Belisol. The Vuelta Espagne often goes through the Costa Blanca and one of the things I love about cycling in the area is spotting the names of the competitors painted onto the road. Climbing up the Vall d’Ebo I was surprised to see ‘Go Pantani’ on the tarmac! This was obviously very old paint and I suppose shows how little it rains in the area and how little traffic there is on the local roads! After finishing the 12km ascent to the top of Vall d’Ebo I retraced my route back to Benidorm covering 129 km.
After a long day in the saddle I decided to do a fairly short ride on Wednesday followed by another sea swim. During all of my stays with Ciclo Costa Blanca I have climbed my favourite road from Altea to Guadalest and this stay wasn’t about to be the exception. The views whilst riding the 6km climb from the Guadalest river are breath taking. The valley is lush and green and once reaching Guadalest you are rewarded with a spectacular view over the Guadalest reservoir and as far as the coast. Normally I would continue further to the summit of Confrides but on this occasion I wanted to take advantage of the warm sea temperature and headed back to Benidorm for a recovery swim and to try out some of the new techniques I learnt whilst swimming on Monday.
Meta Bike Café organises a weekly ride from the shop on Thursdays so I was able to join Terry, Dani and some local cyclists for a rolling ride along the stunning coastal road to Benissa before turning inland to Xalo then climbing to Liber and Teulada before descending to one of my favourite locations for a coffee stop-the coastal town of Moraira. The return route took in the popular pro team base of Calpe before descending back into Albir for a full English breakfast! Well, you are supposed to have protein after training!
My final day of riding would be the hardest. I was saving the best until last-the two climbs of Port de Tudons and Benifallim. There are three roads up Tudons and there was only one route that I had never tried before so I wanted to tackle it, climbing from Relleu and past the local safari park (where I spotted some tigers) to reach the summit. The descent was also new for me as I rode down via Penaguila before turning right at the bottom to start the second ascent of Benifallim from the village of the same name. The climb is fairly short but there are some tough switchbacks which offer a stunning view towards the Sierra Mariola National Park. After celebrating reaching the top I descended back to sea level for my reward of Churros y Chocolate in the chocolate producing town of Villajoyosa-the perfect end to my week long training holiday.
Yet again it was a fantastic cycling break covering 531km and I look forward to seeing the Ciclo Costa Blanca team for more rides in 2016!