Cyclink in Spain

By: Ruth Polak
Cycling in Spain is a wonderful pastime as the country is vast and beautifulwith many extremely quiet and realatively traffic and pollution free roads.

However in addition to the normal highways and by-ways Spain also has a wonderful systemof Via Verdes, or Greenways,which are disused railway tracks that have been renovated and turned intocycling and walking tracks. There are around 1,500 kilometres of Greenways throughout Spain (more than 58 tracks), of varying length. They have all been carefully prepared to provide anexcellent surface for cyclisits, walkers, horseriders, elderly people and childrenand even mobility impaired people.

They allow you to explore some wonderfulhidden corners of Spain far away from traffic, noise and pollution.

Passing through diverse scenary, depending on the via verde in question, you will discover amazing valleys and mountains, impressive bridges and viaductsmore than one hundred years old and pass through some mysterious tunnelsthat once let the trains through. Be careful in these however as some of them can be a kilometre long and pitch black in the middle if the lights goout when you are half way through!!Don't worry if you don't own a cylce, or at least don't have it in Spain with you,because at many of the stations you can hire bicycles.

We did the Via Verde that runs from Puerto Serrania to Olvera in the provinces of Cadiz and Sevilla, Andalucia. It is a total of 36 kms. long and passes through 30 tunnels and over 4 viaducts.

The stations at either end and one en-route have been renvoted and provide bar and restaurant facilitesplus hotel accommodation for the weary traveller, or in our case the totally and utterly exhausted traveller!!We set out from Puerto Serrano and walked to Coripe, the first stationdown the line, about 15 kms.

Here we had a very pleasant lunch and generallyrecharged our batteries before completing the next and final stage to Olvera.

The scenary was magnificent and the tunnels great fun althoughrather frightening when the lights go out as they are all on time switchesbut don't seem to give you long enough to get from one end to the other!However there are switches at intervals along the wall but they are notalways easy to find in the dark!The route passes through some stunning scenary and alongside numerous rivers.

It is so peacful and quiet away from all the traffic, and the bird and wild flowersare magnificent, particuarly if you go in the spring whcih really is the best timeas it is too hot for such energetic activity in the summer.

It also goes past el Peñón de Zaframagón which is a spectacular mountainousarea with the largest breeding colony of vultures in Andalucia.

So having arrived at Olvera station, still just about in one piece, we repaired to our room and collapsed! Then having showered and changed we had a surprisingly good meal in the restaruant, a drink in the bar,and then a much needed nights rest.

After breakfast the following day we collected our bicyles, I expect you were wondering when I was going to come to them, which we hired from the station, and then set off for the return journey to Punto Serrano. This was great fun, neither myself nor my husband had cycled for years and we thouroughly enjoyed it,it certainly beats walking! For the most the surface of the track is very good and of course being an old railway linebasically pretty level. The cycle ride was a fraction of the walking timebut we still didn't mange to get through the longest tunnel without the lightsgoing out and it is virtually impossibe to cycle in the pitch dark.

If you are already cycling in Spain on your own bike then it would be a good idea to have it fitted with a light. A torch would be handy in any case.

Also be sure to carry water as there is nowhere to get any between sationsand even in the spring it can get pretty hot.

So if you are new to cycling in Spain you are in for a real treatwith so many via verdes to explore. In many cases there is a functioning stationnearby which makes it easier for you to arrive at the greenway of your choice and RENFE,the Spanish railway network, offer some good deals on taking your bike by train.

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