Nov 192014
 

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Annabel, Mark and their son James.  They had travelled from Poland to spend a week in Valencia as a surprise celebration of Mark´s birthday.  I had previously communicated at length with Annabel, and together we´d designed a trip for them that was essentially a twin-centre holiday as a way of enjoying the diversity of the Valencian Community.  I really enjoyed working with them as one of my key priorities is to help my clients to make the absolute best of their time, to discover virtually unknown corners of Spain and to provide something bespoke.

Self catering apartments at L´Alqueria del Pilar

Self catering apartments at L´Alqueria del Pilar

They spent their first few days in the beautiful Alqueria del Pilar in the village of Banyeres de Mariola, before making the easy drive to the city of Valencia where they spent the weekend.  That way, they had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning rural location followed by a visit to this fascinating and enchanting city.  This diversity coupled with our mild climate makes the Valencian Community an ideal destination in which to enjoy cycling for families in Spain.

The historical quarter of the city of Valencia

The historical quarter of the city of Valencia

They had requested two very distinct biking trips during their stay in the Sierra de Mariola.  On day 1, they were looking for a trip for all the family, including 3 year old James who had brought along his own bike trailer!  One day 2, they wanted a tougher mountain bike ride for Mark, but had requested a route that could also include some good opportunities for photography, particularly wildlife.

 

Day 1

Our first day together dawned bright yet cool, so having ensured that we were all sufficiently prepared for the ride, we attached James´trailer to one of our bikes.  I explained the plan for the day, which included a number of possibilities and alternative return routes, then we set out directly from L´Alqueria del Pilar, past the village of Banyeres de Mariola then along a disused railway line that´s now a great recreational trail.

Cycling along a trail near Banyeres de Mariola with James in his trailer....at 3 years old, my youngest ever client!

Cycling along a trail near Banyeres de Mariola with James in his trailer….at 3 years old, my youngest ever client!

After almost an hour´s cycling we made a stop at a playground beside the trail so that James could stretch his legs and we could rest ours!  We then passed through another ancient village, Beneixama before taking to a quiet country lane that lead us to the historic fortified village of Biar.

Biking towards Biar

Biking through almond and olive groves to the village of Biar

Having enjoyed lunch in the village square, we ended the trip with a pleasant ride along another quiet country lane back to Banyeres de Mariola.

 

Biar Castle

Biar and its castle

 

Day 2

Day 2 was a little warmer with clear blue skies and very little wind.  We made a slightly earlier start as we had quite a long route in mind.  We had a number of key objectives to cover – to ride some great mountain biking trails, to see as much of the surroundings as possible, to have quite a physically challenging ride and the photograph some of the local wildlife.

The Sierra de Mariola offers some superb XC mountain biking

The Sierra de Mariola offers some superb XC mountain biking

Therefore, we began on one of the areas best cross country forested trails.  It has a little of everything, descents, climbs, rocks, single track, and great views.  After a couple of hours riding we stopped for lunch in a clearing and enjoyed the warm autumn sun.  We then took to a stretch of country lanes that took us over into the next valley and gave us views over the town of Alcoy.

Looking down to the city of Alcoy

Looking down to the town of Alcoy

After a little more pedalling we entered a spectacular rocky gorge where we rested and waited, scanning the skies and high cliffs.

Waiting and watching for vultures

After just 5 minutes our patience and hopes were rewarded with some great views of Griffon Vultures.  These magnificent creatures breed in this dramatic gorge and are always an absolute pleasure to see.

The magnificent Griffon Vulture breeds here in rural Alicante

After a fascinating half hour watching and photographing these superb birds, we began the climb back up onto the Sierra de Mariola and headed for home.  There´s something very beautiful about the afternoon autumn sunlight in the Sierra de Mariola, and this made our final few kilometres very memorable.

Heading across the wooded foothills of the Sierra de Mariola

Heading across the wooded foothills of the Sierra de Mariola

We arrived back at Alqueria del Pilar as the shadows were growing longer, having enjoyed a great day out in this very special area.

The end of a great day on the trails

The end of a great day on the trails

Annabel, Mark and James spent another day discovering some of the ancient villages of the area before making the short journey to the city of Valencia where they had a great weekend.  They particularly enjoyed the historic quarter, the vibrant central market (one of the largest indoor markets in Europe), the River Turia Gardens and the beachfront.

 

The Turia Gardens and City of Arts & Sciences, Valencia

The Turia Gardens and City of Arts & Sciences, Valencia

It had been a pleasure to have met them.  Hopefully they had discovered what makes this corner of Spain so very special.  It´s a privilige to share it with my clients and friends and to call it home.

DJW MTB

 

Written by David Warrington.

Mountain Bike Guide and Instructor at Mountain Biking Valencia.

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