Today I had again planned an overly ambitious day, which also did not quite work out as planned. However since it was a bus ride and I had taken a cover for the bike with me to wrap in, I got away fine from Alicante on a long ride to Granada in south of Spain. I had been going up before 03:00 in the night to take a bus from Alicante at 03:20 and was there in time (I think I got tickets the day before). Thus I got to Granada at 08:30 in the morning.
Granada was a nice city from what I saw. I stopped for a coffee and a sandwich in the centre at an old-fashioned café (very nice) before continuing through the city to the south and then I was on my way to Pico Veleta. Pico Veleta is known as having the highest paved road in Europe, but the pavement deteriorates soon after passing by a turnpike blocking the road at the height of 2525m and the last stretch up to the top is not paved, but it is somewhat paved up to ca. 3280m (gravel road ends at 3345m and the mountain is at 3396m).
Here in the photo I am at Monachil (820m), where the climb for me started.
It was a little cloudy and decently warm at start, but guess it could have been a bit warmer as I was about to get much higher up.
Here I am up at El Purche a bit before Collado del Muerto (1491m) and the climb up here from Monachil is the steepest part and steepest way to climb the Pico Veleta. After this climb there is just a short downhill to join the main road up the mountain. After some restaurants/hotels there is a turn-off for Güejar Sierra, which is a small road down again, but this road also takes you up to Pico Veleta on a nicer variant that climbs more at once after a second turn-off to Güejar Sierra.
Here is the Collado del Muerto (1491m) and it is a bit cloudy here. The temperature was still fine however, but it could have been a little warmer. On the alternative road up to meet the main road for the second time at Collado de las Sabinas (2178m) one is supposed to pass by a minor pass called Collado de las Sabinillas (2027m).
The Collado de las Sabinas (2178m) is sign-posted (or was) just as the roads meet again. The climb then continues nice and easy, but steadily up the mountain. One passes close by Collado del Diablo (2323m) (just some maybe 150m up a gravel road, I claim it but did not care to walk up the short stretch this time).
Here I am still on the main road and have now passed by the Sierra Nevada ski resort and get this cool sign showing the altitude of 2500m which is not that common a height to reach and pass by on a big road. Soon one here reaches the curious looking Albergue Hoya de la Mora (looked closed).
Then came the bar across the road at 2525m. Here I continued and now I was aware that it had become pretty cold now, but I wanted to push on and see how far I could get. I knew for sure that I had no chance of reaching the Pico Veleta on the bicycle on April the 1st as many wait until September to be sure to have a chance to reach it.
I continued and after a while the asphalt was completely missing at some points. Looking at some Google maps photos from late 2016, it looks like there has been new pavement on some sections, but nothing on the last stretch to the peak. I have tried to figure out just how high I got and given the poor visibility I encountered I am not quite sure exactly where I gave up, but I first went across a small snow field, than another bigger one and then this even bigger one. Actually I have location data saved for the photo below and the height is 2710m – I thought I had been up to like 2700m, but was afraid to claim it as it seemed a bit unrelastic in the weather, but I actually got that high I now see … a bit crazy, but you would have suspected that anyway I guess, having read my reports.
I could possibly have gotten a bit higher up cycling as it seemed there was less snow on the side that the road mainly climbs up, but it was starting to snow now and the snow increased and I thought I better get back down while I could get back on my own. It was now 1°C and I was not looking much forward to go back down as it would be cold as hell. I think it was pretty hard taking this last photo.
I got back down to the Sierra Nevada ski resort to try and find a place where I could warm up a little and get something to eat and drink. As I came down there everone was walking in Winter skiing dresses while I was coming down in my Summer clothes shaking madly. I found a little bar that looked oddly misplaced here among the big proper and boring looking hotel buildings. An older lady was heating up the room by putting logs in a fire stove and I got some warm soap and a beer and/or coffee.
After sitting close to the stove for a while and making sure I put on everything I had (which I probably did not do on the way down as it is always a hassle putting on clothes when it is so cold one hardly can move the fingers), I then moved on. I took the road back up again to where I turned off the road to descend to the village to warm up a little and to follow the same alternative road back, but then turning off on the narrow and steep road down to Güejar Sierra. Here up from Sierra Nevada after a long stop and the sun comes back heating up the road as you see here. The snow stopped higher up the mountain.
And now everything looks just nice again as if there could not possibly have been hellishly cold behind me just an hour earlier. It was a nice descent and I eventually felt all fine again. I was only a little sad I got no clear view of the mountain top itself.
It all had taken a bit longer than I had expected (always too optimistic) and now I was not sure I would get to Guadix in time for the bus home this day. In fact it was totally unrealistic in hindsight. I had counted on it being only 175 km and that I needed only to keep going at 23,88 km/h (incl. stops) to get to Guadix in time for the 15:45 bus back to Alicante. Sure! That was what the time was now when I finally was on my way over there, but not anywhere near Guadix yet.
Some more good views down toward Granada a last time from the alternative road from above Collado de las Sabinillas (2027m).
I had also thought to alternatively take a night bus back to Alicante and later in Guadix called José Manuel to ask what he thought about me waking him up in the night and it was clear he was not much happy about that and he was after all going to work. It was better as I had already had thought about as a third option to then stay a night in Guadix (though I had hoped not to do so). I had also thought that if I stayed a night I should do several more climbs the next day in the area including the Calar Alto and Puerto de la Ragua, but in the end I decided to be a bit nice and return while José Manuel was awake so I could talk a bit more with him before leaving for the alternative lodging later. Might have been yet another night somewhere otherwise too.
Here I am on the nice road down to Güejar Sierra! This is the second road choice up the Pico Veleta that I could recommend almost as much as the Monachil climb. Only the main road up is a bit boring.
I tried to hurry on a little now to make sure I at least got to Guadix while it was light and to decide then what to do. I stopped shortly in Quéntar for a coca-cola, but then only for photos. The road becomes quite nice as one reaches the Embalse de Quéntar, where I stopped for a photo.
After a somewhat short climb I reached Collado de los Blancares de las Ramblas (1299m), where I saw the only ever cyclist this day (I might have seen someone on the way up to the Pico Veleta early on the main road, but not sure). Now it was a Monday.
I think I took the road over the Mirador de La Peza (1110m) as planned and on small roads to Purullena. Photo here is before coming to Purullena and a nice landscape here. In Purullena it seemed like making pottery was the big thing and there were many sellers when leaving the village near the odd small mountains at the end. A very peculiar and nice village.
This is just before reaching Purullena and you see the low ridge of strange looking mini-mountains and buildings intermingle and sometimes the building are built into the mountains. I then arrived in Guadix around 20:30-21:00 just in time before it started to get dark. Guadix is more of a town and not very nice (from the little I saw). I fooled around for a while and soon decided after talking with my friend in Alicante to find somewhere to sleep. After a while I started to try and ask someone about a place as it was not so easy and I did not want to stay at a very expensive hotel. Some people avoided me when I asked for hotel, maybe just not so good on English. Then found a shabby old man that I asked and he advised me of a nearby place. I went there and it was not expensive, but it was also not a very good or clean hotel.
I got something to eat at the hotel (also not that good, but guess I had some beers at least) and went to bed. It had been a long day so guess I slept well.
The next dasy has to be included here too as I did not cycle many metres that day. I took a bus that took half the day to get to Alicante (as expected). The bus went over Baza to Lorca where it rained which José Manuel thought was a bit fun as it is the most dry spot in all of Spain and it almost never rains there. I think the bus also stopped in Vélez-Rubio before (where I walked around and bought something to drink) and in the area around there it was a nice ride. Back in Alicante we went to eat one more time for the evening at the good tapas restaurant we had been to on the first night. It was good with this day off cycling for me with all that travelling.