I arrived fine in Alicante/Alacant on the last of March and was met at the airport by the nice acquaintance José Manuel Caturla (who, just like me, have a long-standing appreciation of the works by Eyeless In Gaza, which is the reason for knowing each other). We had a late lunch in the city and a little walk. Later in the evening we went to a very good tapas restaurant, which few tourists manages to find (and I never learnt where it was located).
On the morning the first day I went up quite early to catch one of the the first trains north to Valencia, which I had first planned to do later during the stay, but as it was the most uncertain of the days planned, I wanted to see if I could get it done right away while I was staying down in Alicante (as I later would stay up in the mountains above Alicante, which was not part of the original plan, but something that José Manuel had come up with as I could not stay with him all the week, but it was a very good place).
In the above photo I am on the coastal road just after the sun had come up. That road is usually a very busy road, but not at this time. I was tremendously tired, but was hoping to get some rest on the train to Valencia. When I came to the train station I learnt that I was not allowed to enter the train with the bicycle no matter if I packed it down or not. And there were no other ways to manage to do the day ride in Valencia apart from taking one of the faster trains and thus I now knew that there would be no Valencia day for me. I was mostly irritated over that I had to go up so very early and to bother José Manuel for nothing.
Thus I had to go back to the original plan to instead take a bus to Murcia in the south. At least I now had ample of time to make sure I got there in time and so I did.
I just cycled straight out of Murcia and saw the direction to go in by looking on the mountains. After a while I stopped to ask a young guy on a road bike the way and was then on a smaller road with lemon trees seemingly forever lining the road full with lemons that looked delicious. Really nice meeting with the Spring. Soon I came to the dubious turn-off (178m) (see photo above) for the very dubious road I had looked up before at the Spanish site with profiles of many, many Spanish climbs – the APM – altimetrias.net.
In the Murcia section at the APM site one find that one climb here stands out and it is the Carrascoy climb (1058m). The mountain does not look terrifying and maybe not even the profile at APM, though the profile reveals this is not an easy climb with long sections around 14% on average. Now, I did note the comment on this climb that the road was supposed to be a in a very bad state and not suitable for road bikes, but I was hoping this commentary was old and the road maybe had been improved since then.
Above I had just arrived at the summit and luckily some walkers just came by and offered to take a photo of me (looking a bit fat after the long Winter home).
Now the road had NOT been improved upon I perfectly convinced of since the write-up long ago for the Carrascoy. Still the writer might have overstated the badness of the road when he was there, but surely it was in a terrible state. Pretty fine at first and the very last part, but the steep part in the middle was very bad and at the steepest section with up to 20% you had to look hard to find patches of asphalt. I managed to use narrow strings left of asphalt here and there but one had to go on gravel for some short sections anyway. There were also big holes, etc. But I was feeling fresh arriving here and by putting all I had into trying to conquer this climb I just precisely managed to get up. It was much, much harder than the profile looks! But still Angliru and a few others may still be a bit harder. Here is how it looks where you arrive. Long views all around.
Here is the twin peak that you first may think you are going to as the road goes mostly toward that before it at the top turn over to the peak I am at. There is just a track up there.
Here on the last rasmp the roads look okay and the views from here inland over my next climb up the Cerro Espuña is quite nice.
Here a photo to show how the road mostly looked in the main big middle section so you know what to expect. This was not the worst place! I was happy to have made it and felt the worst of my Alicante visit was now behind me.
I got down fine and the bicycle still in piece and continued on good roads again to Alhama de Murcia (203m), where I made a first stop. Not sure (now (did not write this down until 2017) what I had here, but think I had a coca-cola and maybe something more.
There is then two possible roads up the Cerro Espuña (1575m) mountain from this side. I had tried to figure out the shortest way which should be the first road choice, but not sure if it was the best as the other might be more scenic. The road up here was very good and the exact opposite of the Carrascoy road. The road on the south side that I took goes through woods and is obviously a popular tourist road, and I think it has been used in the La Vuelta also (probably several times) as there are few roads anywhere near as nice as this.
After reach the Collado Bermejo (1201m) pass, one takes off on the peak road up to the mountain top. In the photo here I have just arrived at the top.
The last part is a restricted road as there is a military sender fenced off at the top, but doubt they ever tell cyclists not to go up here. Here looking in another direction.
And a photo of the military zone itself and given access there one could have climbed a few metres higher still.
Here you see one of the nice stretches near the end looking up north here. Down on the road you here see a big sign, which is the one saying you should not really continue up here.
On the way down I looked for a minor pass on the side of the road in a bit on a track/path called Collado Mangueta (1383m) which is just a little off the main road. Did not see any sign but was roughly where it was located and it is noted on a sign at the parking nearby.
I then continued down to Collado Bermejo (in the photo here) and further down the other side, where the scenery was much more open and nice.
There is one more pass down this side which is called Collado Pilón/Collado de las Yeseras (1051m) and shown on a sign in the photo here.
Very nice road down here too as you can see, but at the end of the road it turned rather bad before coming out on another road. I was basically going around the Cerro Espuña mountain now to get back to Murcia and it turned out to be quite nice on the other side.
Here I am on the small pass on ”behind” the Cerro Espuña called Puerto de Mula (741m). The road down from there was nice.
Now it was a rather long way back to Murcia. I stopped for a coca-cola by a gas station near Pliego (392m), then crossed over Collado de Espuña (519m) and Collado Blanco (508m) and then went on odd roads via Alcantarilla to Murcia. Time was getting late and think I got back a bit late (as usual) even though my intent was of course not getting so late, but I also did a lot of kilometres this day. I think it was this day I stopped eating at a bad place on the way back in Alicante along the road in the first photo. I found my way back and got in and could sleep. I think José Manuel really had already went to bed tired of waiting for me, I guess, (but had warned him of getting late).