Bike Touring Spain: The Transnevada Off-road Route
Leaving Africa was like saying goodbye to a dear friend. As the ferry roared out of the El Hoceima port, we watched the foggy cliffs of the Dark Continent fade into the mist. But soon there was something new drawing my eye to the north—the high snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada range in Spain’s southern district of Andalucia.
There are countless options for off-road cycling routes in southern Spain. These include the Andalbike routes, the 2,000KM TransAndalus, and the many footpaths that traverse the country. We only had a short period of time in Spain before our flight home, so we opted to do a chunk of the 450KM Transnevada route in the steep and rugged Sierra Nevada National Park.
A scant 30 kilometers due north of the touristy Mediteranean beaches, the Sierra Nevada juts straight out of the Earth in massive spires of wildflower covered peaks. The autonomous range was designated a national park in 1999 and is the largest in Spain.
In 2011 a gnarly web of doubletrack, single track, gravel and footpaths were adopted by Andalucia Tourism and supported by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). The effort resulted in a well documented, and extremely well signposted, 450 kilometer route that encircles the jagged range in eight named segments.
Chunky rock descents, heart valve tearing climbs, and almost impassable hike-a-bikes make up a route that is as punishing as you make it. We were fortunate to land here right in the midst of a mild late spring when wildflowers were at their peak, the crisp mountain sky held back moisture from the sea, and chilly mornings made coffee extra special. The riding was epic.
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