The team at Recyclo Bike Shop has been riding the local hills here in Málaga for many years and we thought we would share some of our favorite rides. Unless stated, all rides start from our shop in Pedregalejo.
Route 4. El Torcal – The Hard Way
El Torcal de Antequera is one of region’s most visited Natural Parks for good reason. This almost unearthly limestone mountain used to form part of the seabed, and via the various processes of erosion has become a unique and magical place to visit.
For the real Torcal experience I recommend not taking a bike and instead planning a day with the hiking boots. There are well signed paths criss-crossing the park and some great places to picnic with wild goats and griffon vultures looking on from their perches on the cliffs above. For those bird watchers among you, keep an ear out for the friendly chatter of the Rock sparrows, which inhabit two facing vertical cliff faces on each side of the road up. Red-billed choughs and Blue rock-thrushes are easily spotted, and in the Summer visitors include Black wheatear, Dartford warbler and Lesser kestrel among many others.
There are a couple of ways of approaching El Torcal by bike from Málaga and this ride gives two options; one being much tougher than the other. For the hard route we head left out of the shop towards Málaga, keeping right at the fork at Baños del Carmen. After 1km approx. we take a right turn at traffic lights and climb towards Gibralfaro. Following the one-way system round to the right and alongside the church of La Victoria, we turn right, left and right, and then straight over the roundabout leading to the first climb of the day; El Puerto León. After 16km head straight on towards Colmenar, and then left as soon as we enter the village. At the main road turn left (signed Casabermeja) and head down towards the motorway. Keep straight, and then under the motorway and follow signs for Villanueva de la Concepción. A short but quite sharp climb follows and from the top we get the first views of El Torcal to the right. We keep on this road to the foot of the next climb, and crossing a normally dry brook (Arroyo Coche) we start climbing towards Villanueva de la Concepción. If the gradient proves too much for one bite, the village comes at roughly the halway point and can prove a vital refilling opportunity for those water bottles. The climb gets tougher before it tops out at around 1000m, as we get tucked in along the massive outcrop. There is a natural spring on the left after another couple of kms. There is a car park and good signage for the road up to the top. The last drag up the hill is brutal, with poor road surface and narrow enough for coaches to pass a little too close for comfort. As the valley drops away behind us, the rock formations get more and more outlandish and spectacular. Griffon vultures are always on the lookout for a flagging cyclist so one should keep a watchful eye on the skies. The road finally comes to an end at the information centre and car park. There is an excellent café here which serves a hearty vegetable soup and delicious hot chocolate.
There are plenty of options for the way back, but the following route is as good as any! We head straight back down the hill to the car park, taking a little extra care with the loose chippings which make up the road surface. At the bottom we turn right and re-tread our path back to Villanueva de la Concepción. Rather than turning left back towards Málaga, we head straight on towards Almogía. This is another quiet country lane with very little traffic, other than the other cyclists. It is worth keeping a look over one’s shoulder as this is a great viewing point for the mountain just climbed. We ride straight down into Almogía and keep straight on past the reservoir on the left. This road eventually leads us under the motorway and back in to Málaga via Puerto de la Torre. To get back to the shop from here, it is best just to keep heading East and downhill until you reach the main drag “Alameda Principal”, and from here, the beach road all the way back to Pedregalejo.
Enjoy the ride!