On this cycling adventure in southern Spain we discover Murcia's whitewashed villages and Moorish towers, endless orchards, ancient irrigation channels and layers of history. Murcia enjoys mild winters, a semi-arid climate and averages more than 320 days of sun per year. Peaceful cycling - Ride on scenic and quiet backroads and cycle paths through varied landscapes White - washed villages - typical Spanish villages in the Ricote Valley with Moorish roots Tapas y Vino - Reward yourself with and refuel on delicious Spanish food and wine.
Our tour starts in Murcia, a bustling university town packed with culture. Murcia sits in a fertile plain surrounded by mountains. Sites include Murcia cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and Church of San Nicolas de Bari. The Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 8pm for the welcome meeting followed by the chance to go out for dinner for those interested. There are no other included activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Murcia at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Region de Murcia International Airport (RMU) which is approximately 30 minutes away. If you prefer to fly into Alicante airport there is a regular bus service from the airport to Murcia bus station by Alsa (departs every 2 hours, journey takes 1 hour) (https://www.alicante-airport.net/bus.php). Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, there is an optional self-guided ride today to the Fuensanta Sanctuary. The hotel will be able to give instructions to make your way to the bike rental shop to meet the Leader, where you will be fitted with a bike for the week ahead, as well as route notes to follow for the ride today. Anybody that doesn't ride today will be given their bike tomorrow morning and will have time to make any necessary adjustments. Please note there is a charge for this optional ride and you pay the bike rental office directly. We recommend you start this at 3pm latest from November to February or 4pm in other months. Later this evening you can meet your fellow travellers properly at the briefing and first group dinner. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 18 kilometres (Total 100 metres ascent and descent)(optional).
Location: Caravaca de la Cruz
We drive out from Murcia after breakfast on the only vehicle transfer of the holiday, other than getting to and from the airport. After 45 mins we reach the town of Bullas where we start our ride on the gently graded via verde del noroeste cycle path (a converted railway track). Those that didn't ride yesterday will be given and fitted with their bike this morning. The cycle path leads all the way to Caravaca but we leave it mid-section to ride on quiet country roads up to the hilltop town and interesting old quarter of Cehegin and along the river Argos. We return to the cycle path and on to Caravaca de la Cruz where we spend the next two nights. One of the world's five Holy Cities according to the Vatican (the others are Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Santo Toribio in the Lebanon), Caravaca de la Cruz becomes busier with Catholic pilgrims during a Holy Year (every seven years). Pilgrims can obtain Eternal Forgiveness in the Holy Year by visiting the church. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres (300 metres total accumulated ascent and descent).
Location: Caravaca de la Cruz
On today's ride we discover the nature, beauty and history of the area surrounding Caravaca. Cycling past irrigation channels and elm groves, the route takes us from fountain to fountain passing sites with the remains of Paleolithic, Iberian, Roman and Medieval settlements. The day starts with an ascent of 400 metres spread over 16.5 km to reach the Celtiberian village of Archivel. Then we pick up a waymarked route - 'Itinerario Ecoturístico Archivel-La Encarnación' - that leads us past tiny villages downhill to La Encarnación and eventually back to Caravaca. The final section of around 10 km is along an unsurfaced track that takes us to our hotel in Caravaca. This evening you can enjoy a stroll on the Plaza del Arco square along with the locals and there should be the option to take taxis out to a local restaurant that also brews their own beers. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 45 kilometres (450 metres total accumulated ascent and descent).
We leave Caravaca this morning after breakfast and cycle to Calasparra. As with yesterday, a lot of the ascent is tackled in the morning with two steep ascents of note (150m each), after which the route is mainly downhill to our hotel in Calasparra. We plan to arrive into Moratalla around lunchtime and allow some free time to explore its steep, narrow lanes and 15th-century Christian fortress featuring the 'Torre del Homenaje' (a reconstruction of a Moorish fortress) and 16th-century church of Santa María de la Asunción. On the next section of the ride after leaving Moratalla the countryside becomes more barren, with huge groves of olive trees, almond trees and farmed fields. Wherever you find a bit of water and a river nearby, the orchards and vegetable gardens reappear, as do the rice paddies as you near Calasparra. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 44 kilometres (450 metres total accumulated ascent and 740 metres descent).
This morning we ride out to the 'Virgen de la Esperanza Sanctuary' (Our Lady of Hope), the patron saint of Calasparra whose 12th century shrine is a cave carved into the rock face over the banks of the Segura river. From here our cycle ride heads on to Cieza and along the way we will encounter very few villages, riding on peaceful country roads, with views to the surrounding hills and past the Alfonso XIII Reservoir. As we return to the Segura river the landscape turns into a patchwork of almond and apricot orchards, a symphony in shades of pink with springtime blossom. Known locally as La Floracion, the spring blossom is best in the countryside surrounding Cieza. The bloom usually runs from mid-Feb to late March. The final 6.5 km follows a quiet road along the river to reach the lively town of Cieza. It is possible to shorten the ride today by 13km if you do not visit the Esperanza Sanctuary. Those interested can cycle (uphill) out of Cieza to visit the Moorish archaeological site of Siyasa, returning the same way. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres (480 metres total accumulated ascent and 630 metres descent).
The Segura River and ancient irrigation channels will mark our way from the pleasant town of Cieza to Archena. The scenery changes today as we ride in the Ricote Valley whose arid slopes contrast with the oasis-like orchards studded with palm trees fed by the river. We pass villages, such as Abaran, Blanca, Ojos and Ulea that were Murcia's last Moorish stronghold in the 15th century. From Archena we follow roads through some industrial areas and busy small towns before a peaceful final section of via verde cycle path for 12km along the banks of the Segura river back into Murcia. Around 10% of today's route is on unpaved surfaces. Tonight we can reflect on and celebrate the week with a final supper in Murcia. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 57 kilometres (200 metres total accumulated ascent and 340 metres descent).
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Murcia. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Region de Murcia International Airport (RMU) which is approximately 30 minutes away.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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