Ever wondered what bikepacking in Spain would be like? We caught up with Chris Hall, who along with Francis Cade recently rode a 900 mile round trip from Alicante to Malaga.
What was the idea behind the trip?
The idea of the trip really was an opportunity for Francis and I to just have a bit of an adventure and a good old catch up setting the world right again. The last time we were able to head out on an adventure together was when we did Australia in 2019!
What was the route you decided on?
So the route travelled from Alicante, along the coast to Malaga before we cut inland to Granada snaking along the mountain ranges there before we changed the route (missing out Valencia as the weather was taking a turn for the worse) to then head back to Alicante, where we initially started.
We had banked on a couple of rest days along the ride, one in Malaga and the last one in Caravaca de la Cruz, basically 6 days riding, a day off and then another 6 days riding before a more relaxed spin back to Alicante.
The first block of 6, were pretty much following along the coast taking in some parts which I had ridden when I did Badlands in 2021. So it was quite nice heading back to some of these parts that I was pretty exhausted in during that race.
The route mainly encompassed road or compact gravel. But on our 8th day, we had a pretty relentless 10km gravel climb and just over 2000 metres of elevation in 90km, it was brutal!
What were the highlights of the trip?
The trip had so many highlight but I think some of my favourites were:
Day 1- Cycling up 'Big Bertha' as named by a group of triathletes we met at the top. The descent was pretty incredible as well.
Day 4- We stayed in a western themed hotel which was just flipping weird but also there were several pro teams here which was pretty cool!
Day 4- We also got involved in a local chaingang
Day 6: The ride into Malaga featured tonnes of punchy climbs and a mtb section
Day 8: That brutal gravel climb. Looking back it was kind of cool but yeah it was very tough
Day 10: Tackling the brutal climb that is Calar Alto. This was oneI had done off road on Badlands but I really wanted to do the road climb. It is a MONSTER. The climb on its own is over 2000 metres and I think like 35km long. from the top you then basically have 50km of descending and it was probably the most incredible descent I have ever done.
Day 14: Our final day. To make up for making the route shorter, I made the ride back to Alicante as hard as possible. 109km, over 2000 metres of elevation and one climb which averaged something well into the double digits. There were skulls and crossbones painted on the road and regularly it was over 15, close to 20 % for 4km!
Fancy taking on the route yourself, check out the Komoot Collection here: https://www.komoot.com/collection/1416874/-bikepacking-spain