There’s nothing quite like the experience of exploring the world from the saddle. It’s one of those things that is so special for you, but so difficult to express fully to your non-cyclist friends.
The cooling effect of the wind as it guides you along winding coastal roads with sweeping views of the alluring waters of the Mediterranean.Traversing through fairytale woods where the only sound is of your bike’s tyres crunching pine needles and the birds above you, where you come upon medieval ruins long forgotten. Stopping at a small family-run bakery for the best croissant of your life in a tiny town, where the side roads don’t accommodate cars. Capturing these moments and explaining how incredible they actually are is exceptionally difficult. Only other cyclists really get it.
One of the best parts about seeing the world like this is that there are always new routes to discover! Not sure where to head next? Here are some of our top European cycle routes for those who enjoy climbs to add to your bucket list (warning: these are not for the novice cyclist):
Col de la Madeleine, France
One of the most famous European cycling routes is the Col de la Madeleine in France, and in fact, many would argue that it’s one of the most famous climbs in the world. After the Tour de France put it on the map – so to speak – this magnificent climb has been conquered 25 times. Needless to say, this climb, situated between the Maurienne and the Tarentaise valleys in the French Alps, is extremely difficult and it’s actually part of a bigger route that includes some other challenging climbs such as Col Croix de Fer, Col du Glandon and La Toussuire. The total length of the route is 19 km at an eight per cent gradient.
Passo di Mortirolo, Italy
For those of you who like choice, this is one of the European cycle routes for you. From the Alps of France, we are now heading to the Alps of Italy with the Passo di Mortirolo. There are technically three ways to traverse this mountain pass, but for those that really want to challenge themselves, then we highly recommend tackling the Mazzo di Valtellina, one of the toughest climbs in Italy with an average gradient of 11 percent, and a maximum of 18 per cent, over an 11.4 km distance. Do this, though, and you can claim some serious bragging rights.
This is one of the most exceptional European cycle routes on our list. The route, found in the mountains of western Norway and the name of which translates to ‘troll’s ladder’, looks like it came straight out of The Lord of the Rings movies, and has dramatic views of the unparalleled scenery. The climb that boasts centre stage on this route is approximately 12.2 km long at a seven percent gradient – considerably easier than some of the others already mentioned. Take your time with this route, and consciously take in the route itself that is carved into the very mountain face and surrounded by Norway's natural beauty.
This mouthful of a route, also known as Grossglockner High Alpine Road, is another route set in the Alps, this time in the Austrian Alps, and has been named after the highest mountain in the area. This is another of our favourite European cycle routes due to its sheer beauty (especially with the snow-capped mountains as your backdrop). No stranger to the limelight, this route features in the Tour of Austria and has featured in the Giro, and should definitely be on your cycling bucket list. Not for the faint of heart, this is another gruelling climb, at a 19km distance, a gradient of nine per cent, a starting elevation of 886m and an end elevation of a whopping 2556m. Make sure you train well for this one.
Coll de Rates, Spain
When it comes to the best European cycle routes, the Coll de Rates in Calpe, along the gorgeous Costa Blanca is certainly on the list. Considerably less intense, the great thing about the Coll de Rates, is that you don’t have to spend the most part of your year training for it, and even the novices in the group can partake in this climb.
The incredible route that boasts unbelievable views of the area, was made famous by the Vuelta – not to mention by its glorious surrounds, olive groves and quaint coastal towns (namely that of Calpe). While this is not the highest climb in the Costa Blanca, it is still one of the hardest in the area. An added bonus about this climb and cycling along the route is that they have introduced a timing system so that you can keep track of your climb. One of the biggest added bonuses about riding the Coll de Rates is the fact that you can couple it with an incredible holiday spent soaking up the sun in the Costa Blanca.
If you are looking for the ultimate place to train and challenge yourself then look no further than Calpe. Contact us to book a stay at one of our exceptional cyclist-friendly Calpe hotels, where we will ensure that you have an incredible experience.