Classic Cols of the Picos

Picos

• The best of the Picos by road bike

• Flexible itinerary to suit mixed ability groups with optional extras for those looking for a challenge

• Climb the infamous Vuelta passes including Fuenta De and Lagos de Covadonga

• Optional Classic Cols challenge: over 600kms and 16000m ascent

• Comfortable and friendly 2 and 3* hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists

• Excellent support from 2 customised support vans and 2 experienced, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the best it can be.

Days on the bike

6 days

Price

2017: £1050

Departure Dates

2017

May

  • 14th May - 21st May
  • 21st May - 28th May

Aug

  • 20th Aug - 27th Aug
  • 27th Aug - 3rd Sep

Introduction

The Picos de Europa in Northern Spain is a little known paradise for cyclists and a great place to spend a week. There are few places with so much variety; rugged limestone mountains, deep gorges, ancient forests, mountain pastures and unspoilt villages.  The climbs are also varied:  gentle and meandering or short and sharp, and then there is the Alto de Angliru, which is just brutal (and thankfully optional!).

We have designed the Classic Route so that the distance and gradients between the hotels is manageable and enjoyable for most cyclists if taken steadily.  However, each day there are ‘optional extras’ increasing the possible daily ascent to between 2600m and 3100m, making this holiday also suitable for those looking to really push themselves and take on our Challenge Route. With a group of 20, you can be sure to find someone else on the trip with similar aspirations to you, whether that be sampling ‘una cerveza por favor’ in a rustic village bar, or taking on every optional climb on offer.

It is important to us that you book the correct holiday so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel…

Beautiful scenery, smooth roads, few cars, and some challenging climbs.

C Bailey

Map

Itinerary

Day 0: Travel Out

Included transfers from Bilbao airport (2hr 30mins) to Potes, the capital of the Picos.

Our 2017 pick up times are when we will be leaving the airport, all being well.  Please don’t book flights arriving later than suggested below (in brackets).  

Pick up: Bilbao @ 17:00  (for flights before 16:45)

Should you wish to use Santander Airport for your outward flight, we can arrange a private transfer for you for a supplement of £100 for the return journey.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.

Meet your guides, assemble your bikes and have a welcome briefing and great dinner in the peaceful setting of our hotel.

Day 1: Day Ride from Potes

The Puerto de Piedrasluengas (1355m) to the east of Potes offers you a great introduction to the Picos.   It starts off ‘relatively’ kindly, but does have a few cheeky sections in the middle. You climb up through a vast variety of scenery, but eventually emerge from the trees to be treated with a great view form the Mirador (view point) overlooking the Picos to the East and the plains to the South.
From here you head back to Potes, where you have the option of relaxing by the hotel pool, visiting the lively town 1km away or taking on the Puerto de San Glorio – east (1608m).

Classic Route: Piedrasluengas  (60km, 1100m ascent)
Challenge Route: Piedrasluengas + San Glorio (115km, 2400m ascent)

Day 2: Notes to Cangas de Onis

Head North through the deep gorge of the Desfiladero de la Hermida, almost down to sea level before joining a beautiful road that skirts around the North high peaks of the Picos.  Your only real significant climb is the Alto de Ortiguero (443m), which should test the legs for what is to come later in the week. After 75km we get to the hotel, where you have the option of retiring gracefully so you can visit the interesting mountain town of Cangas de Onis or to take on the infamous Vuelta stage ending; the Lagos de Covadonga (1120m).

The challenge comes 7km from the lakes when there is a 800m section of 15%! Your reward? A justifiable lie on the grass by the side of a beautiful lake / cafe at the top before free wheeling most of the way back to the hotel. If that is not enough cycling (!) then the Alto de Riensena (534m) to the north, would be a fitting finale to the day.

Classic Route: Ortiguero + Lagos de Covadonga (114km, 1500m ascent)
Challenge Route: Ortiguero + Lagos de Covadonga + Rienesena (146km, 2100m ascent)

Day 3: Cangas de Onis to Riano

Its worth a post breakfast churro today before the climb of the Puerto del Ponton (1280m). It is 46km long but thankfully its gradients are kind (generally) and the constantly changing scenery is bound to keep you motivated to the top. You are now on the high plateaux of the Picos, a landscape of small forested peaks surrounded by lush fields that have been laboriously levelled from this otherwise harsh rocky land.
Our destination is the ‘new’ town of Riano, built on a rocky peninsula when the old town was flooded under the huge reservoir. Our hotel offers classic hospitality and its kitchen produces some fine local dishes.

Today’s optional extras are at the start of the day, the Alto de Cazo (653m) and the Alto de Los Bedules (933m). Both are beautiful climbs on narrow roads through some very rural countryside.

Classic Route: Ponton (69km, 1300m ascent)
Challenge Route: Ponton + Cazo + Los Begules (106km, 2600m ascent)

Day 4: Riano to Santa Cristina de Lena

The high plateau to the West of Riano has a unique rural beauty. We traverse the region over several small mountain passes, though narrow gorges, remote villages and terraced hillsides. It is a truly stunning ride and the descent from the Passo Pajares (1378m) is a real treat. Here you have the option of retiring gracefully to the hotel in the small hamlet of St Christiana de Lena or taking on one of two great climbs…

The Alto de la Cobertoria (1173m) is no stranger to the Vuelta and with good tarmac and stunning views; it is bound to be a highlight of the trip, despite being fairly tough! Those wanting even more can then add on the Alto del Gamoniteiro (1772m) – this is often known as the Ventoux of Spain and it is a brutal climb to the top of the mountain. Being on the highest point of the highest mountain around, the views are mind-blowing!

Classic Route: Valdejeta + Carmenes + Pajares (132km, 1400m ascent)
Challenge Route: Valdejeta + Carmenes + Pajares + Gamoniteiro (171km, 3100m ascent)

Day 5: Santa Cristina de Lena to Riano

What goes down, must go up again! The Alto de San Isidro (1520m) is another epic climb, going on for the best part of 30kms.  Next up is the beautiful gentle climb up to the Puerto de Las Senales (1625m) before rolling back down to the shores of the reservoir and the hotel in Riano. For those on the Classic Route a detour up the Alto de la Colladona (850m) early in the day is well worthwhile. Foolhardy masochists might want to take on the gradients of the mighty of Alto de l’Angliru (1570m) today – a climb that rivals Alp d’Huez and Mortirolo as one of the most demanding in professional cycling. The main ascent is only 7 kms, but it has an average gradient of 14% and an extended section of 24% – ouch! In order to get to the Angliru you must first endure the Alto de El Cordal (789m) which serves as a good ‘warm up’!

Classic Route: San Isidro + Las Senales  (115km, 1800m ascent)
Challenge Route: El Cordal + Angliru + San Isidro + Las Senales (170km, 3600m ascent)

Day 6: Riano to Potes

Today is a day of narrow gorges, towering limestone cliffs and lush green meadows in the heart of the Picos. You set off gently to the understated Puerto de Panderruedas (1450m), descending to the mountain town of Posada de Valdeon. Enjoy a coffee whilst you contemplate the option of taking on the most famous ‘tourist road’ in the Picos – the narrow gorge to Cain de Valdeon. Unusually you start with a descent to Cain where the road turns into a narrow path so you turn around face the climb back up!  It is a decision requiring some commitment as the road is narrow and our support vehicles cannot get down here!
Next ‘up’ is the Puerto de Pandetrave (1562m), a cheeky climb that leads onto the Puerto de San Glorio (1608m) and a fun descent back to Potes and the hotel pool! Naturally cycling is an option and the climb up to the cable car station at Fuente Dé (1105m) is more than worthwhile.

Classic Route: Panderruedas + Pandetrave + San Glorio (91km, 1380m ascent)
Challenge Route: Panderruedas + Cain + Pandetrave + San Glorio + Fuente Dé (155km, 2500m ascent)

Day 7: Travel Back

We offer included transfers from Potes to Santander or Bilbao

Our 2017 drop off times are when we will be arriving at the airport, all being well.  Please don’t book flights leaving earlier than suggested below (in brackets).  

Drop off: Bilbao Airport @ Bilbao Airport 14:40 (for flights after 16:40)

Should you wish to use Santander Airport for your outward flight, we can arrange a private transfer for you for a supplement of £100 for the return journey.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.