This beautiful and very complete route starts right by the Mediterranean seashore and goes through some of the highest mountains in our region, such as the 1,020-metre high La Carrasqueta mountain pass (Category 2).
We'll begin our ride at
El Campello's port and then we'll follow the CV-777 road up towards
Busot. This section of the route does not present any difficulties and goes uphill gradually through some rainfed crops, used mainly to grow tomatoes. We will come across a more demanding area at Partida San Sebastián (just before joining the CV-773 road), where we'll have to go through an uphill section with a gradient of about 17%. Luckily, this is a very short climb.
Just 400 metres after the turn, we'll exit the CV-773 road and we'll take the CV-774 road towards
Jijona / Xixona. This is a very quiet part of the route where we'll find hardly any traffic until we get to the CV-800 road. If we still think we're not going to have any trouble completing the elevation gain for the day, we recommend taking a detour at this point in order to visit the Canelobre Caves and enjoy the view of the whole bay of
Alicante and the Monnegre river valley, from the viewpoint that is located at the entrance to the caves.
We'll then keep going until we arrive at the well-known town of
Jijona / Xixona, famous for the production of high-quality
Although we'll have virtually been going uphill since we started the route, it's now that we'll begin the classic climb to La Carrasqueta (Category 2). The slopes in this ascent are quite mild and gradual, covering 12.80 kilometres, with an total elevation gain of 588 metres from
Jijona / Xixona and an average gradient of 4.6% all the way up the top of the mountain, located at an altitude of 1.,020 m. From the top, we'll have a chance to admire some stunning views of the area and, in a clear day (which is usually the case), we'll even be able to see the Mediterranean Sea.
We'll start the descent and we'll follow the road all the way down to the Autovía del Mediterráneo motorway, which we'll cross through an overpass, in order to take the N-340 road towards
Alcoy / Alcoi. This used to be a very busy road, but that changed due to the tunnels and viaducts that were built next to
Alcoy / Alcoi. On our way down, we'll be surrounded by the astonishing views of the Barranco de La Batalla. Once we reach its lowest point, we'll turn onto the CV-785 road, which is quite a tough one and only has a few areas for us to stop and rest before getting to the town of
Benifallim, where we'll start the second big climb of the day: the Alto de Benifallim (Category 3). This mountain pass offers some extraordinary views of the whole valley, made up by the Penáguila River and the towns and villages next to it, and will take us back to an altitude of over 1,000 metres (1,010 to be precise). It's a demanding pass that covers a distance of 5 km from the town it's named after and has slopes with gradients that go over 8%.
We'll begin now another descent down to the town of
Torremanzanas / La Torre de les Maçanes, which will lead us to the last climb of the day: the Alto del Teix (Category 3). With a total elevation gain of 200 metres in just a 3-kilometre distance, this section of the road will probably be hard to complete at this point in the route. From the top of the Alto del Teix, we'll take a fast road down where we'll need to be extremely cautious, since some segments have gradients that go over -20%. After a short ascent, we'll arrive at the town of
Relleu, easily identifiable by the castle ruins that lie at the top of an adjacent hill. Even though we'll have covered way more than half the total distance of the route, we think
Relleu is a good spot to regain our strengths, since there are a few drinking fountains and bars. On top of that, the part of the road that lies ahead before getting to the
Aigües, despite offering incredible views, is a really tough one that we'll probably enjoy a lot better if we manage to avoid bonking.
At the 87th km of the route, we'll have to do a last effort to climb the last hill for the day, known by local bikers as "Alto de La Casa Roja" (Red House Hill) due to the fact that there is a half-built house on it that is made of very characteristic red bricks. The top of this hill offers a really beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea, which acts as the prelude to the end of our route. After leaving
Aigües, we'll continue our way down to
El Campello's port.
Finally, let's not forget that the positive elevation gain (2,178m) for this route might be slightly misleading, since we'll very rarely have the chance to stop pedaling, even when we're going downhill or riding from one mountain pass to the next.
Alicante / Alacant
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
What to see
The Baños de la Reina (The Queen's pools) in El Campello.
The Canelobre Caves in Busot.
The Turrón Museum in Jijona / Xixona.
What to eat
Once again, our bikes will let us enjoy the contrast between the coast and the inland areas, and the local cuisine is a good example of that.
Right by the sea, El Campello offers dishes like the "Caldero campellero" (fish, rice and vegetable stew), the "Arroz a Banda" (rice and fish), the "Arroz Meloso" (a sort of creamy rice dish), the "Fideuá" (thick noodles and fish), the "Bogueta amb Tomaca" (small sardines with tomato sauce) , the "Olleta Borda" (bean and vegetable stew), and the "Bollitori" (fish stew).
The inland towns and villages that the route goes through have local dishes such as the "olleta con perdiz" (partridge stew), the local "gazpacho" (with chicken and rabbit), the "Borreta" (salted fish, potato and vegetable stew), the "suquet de peix" (fish stew) and the "pericana" (fried pepper, garlic and fish salad).
Did you know?
It was the Arabs that brought turrón to the Mediterranean coast, mainly to Spain and Italy, under the name of "turun". The Spanish version of this sweet treat was created in the province of Alicante somewhere around the 15th century.
During the 19th century, turrón started to become really popular all over Spain, and especially in Madrid and Barcelona. King Charles IV forbid selling it before and after Christmas because bakers in Madrid complained about unfair competition, and this is the reason why turrón is now a traditional Christmas sweet.
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