Pico de Veleta, Spain

Redlight

Senior Member
I've mentioned this on YACF but popping it here too as this seems to reach a broader readership :-)

Last year, while on holiday, I rode up Mt Evans, which is the highest paved road in North America, at 4,350 metres. This year, I have a few free days in mid-June so I've decided to have a crack at its European equivalent, the Pico de Veleta, near Granada, which is a little over 3,300 metres.

I'll be flying out to Granda on day 1, tackling the climb the following day, then flying back on day 3. I thought about hiring a bike but have decided to take my own as the local hire shops seem to specialise in lightweight road bikes with narrow tyres and the road is pretty rough/non-existent at its upper levels.

Any advice or tips from riders who have done the climb or know the area gratefully received.
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
It's a ski resort.
Mid June is too early to be sure that the road will be clear of snow all the way. When I went it was September, and there was some roadside snow even then.

There'a a barrier at Hoya de la Mora (2500m). Up to there, the road will be clear with a good surface. Between there and ~3150m there's still tarmac, but it's in a poor enough state to keep your speed down to 15-20 mph for a large part of the descent. Between 3150 m and the end of the possibly rideable track some 20-25m below the 3398 m summit is unsurfaced, getting worse the higher you go. How far you get will depend on tyre size and how much puff you have at that altitude.

IIRC, I gave up about 100m below the summit (28 mm tyres), and pushed the rest.
I flew in to Murcia, bussed to Granada (Pinos Genil), rode to the top via Guejar Sierra and the old road that follows the river to ~3 km after Guejar, back down, and the next day went back up with my touring gear and over to Capilera and Lanjaron (not via the summit).

{edit}
It's a nicer ride if you turn left where the Guejar Sierra road comes in at ~1650m, and then keep right. This takes you via the Collado de las Sabinas, and avoids the ski resort entirely. No extra climbing.
 
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OP
Redlight

Redlight

Senior Member
Thanks Andrew. I know I'm taking a chance with the weather but if it looks as though the snow will still be there I'll just have a pleasant day on some of the lower slopes! It will just be good to do a few lengthy climbs - they're hard to find in SE England.

On a related note, last time I cycled in Spain I took a helmet because the law had changed a few years earlier. However, I hardly saw any other cyclists other than serious roadies wearing them. Does anyone know what the current situation is, in terms of likely enforcement? I think I still have that helmet, somewhere in the loft, but I'd prefer not to have to take it.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
The helmet law does not require you to wear a helmet when in towns and cities or when riding up steep hills or if it is hot. Law unlikely to be enforced. If stopped just say you lost it in hte woods back there etc.
 
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OP
Redlight

Redlight

Senior Member
Yes, it's quite surreal, isn't it? I guess, technically, I will have to carry a helmet up the hill so that I can put it on to ride down, just as slowly to judge from the road quality!
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
The tarmac up to and down from the barrier is very good. Beyond the barrier its more gravel. However for the last few hundred yards, if you want to reach the summit stone, you will have to walk.
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It's a lovely climb, with a bar/restaurant about a third of the way up and also just before the barrier to stop and have a break if you wish. Even though the climb is long, it's not steep. I didn't even use my lowest gear on a pannier laden bike. However be aware that oxygen at the top is a 3rd less then at sea level. I pushed it a little too hard and suffered a little near the top with dizzyness.

As it's not a through road, it's not very busy. Just tourists, other cyclists and motor manufactures testing the new models of their cars. A surreal site as they are all camouflaged. The drivers did not like people taking pictures

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Probably one of the greatest cycling days I have ever done and to be honest, I preferred the climb to the descent. I'm not a great descender so by the time we got back down to Grenada, my hands were hurting from all the braking. Bloody good fun though.
 
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ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
The helmet law: I used to go on annual training camps in Spain a few years back. We were told that the law hardly ever got enforced so lots of our riders didn't bother with helmets. I got chatting to one guy back at the hotel one evening and he said that a patrol car had pulled their group over and every rider not wearing a helmet got an on-the-spot fine! (I always wear a helmet so I never got to test the law.)
 
OP
Redlight

Redlight

Senior Member
The helmet law: I used to go on annual training camps in Spain a few years back. We were told that the law hardly ever got enforced so lots of our riders didn't bother with helmets. I got chatting to one guy back at the hotel one evening and he said that a patrol car had pulled their group over and every rider not wearing a helmet got an on-the-spot fine! (I always wear a helmet so I never got to test the law.)
Ouch!

For my part, I'll probably take one and wear it for the descent just in case I do have a mishap, break something completely unrelated to my head, and the insurance company gets all snotty because I wasn't obeying the law in every respect. :rolleyes:
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
The helmet law: I used to go on annual training camps in Spain a few years back. We were told that the law hardly ever got enforced so lots of our riders didn't bother with helmets. I got chatting to one guy back at the hotel one evening and he said that a patrol car had pulled their group over and every rider not wearing a helmet got an on-the-spot fine! (I always wear a helmet so I never got to test the law.)
The impression I've got is that it's much more likely to be enforced if you give the impression of being a group of roadies out training, and that utility riders and solitary tourists are pretty much ignored.
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
The impression I've got is that it's much more likely to be enforced if you give the impression of being a group of roadies out training, and that utility riders and solitary tourists are pretty much ignored.

This is the impression I got.
Going back out to Spain to do a bit of touring later this year with a couple of others. I wont be taking a plastic hat.
 

DaveFY7

Senior Member
I've mentioned this on YACF but popping it here too as this seems to reach a broader readership :-)

Last year, while on holiday, I rode up Mt Evans, which is the highest paved road in North America, at 4,350 metres. This year, I have a few free days in mid-June so I've decided to have a crack at its European equivalent, the Pico de Veleta, near Granada, which is a little over 3,300 metres.

I'll be flying out to Granda on day 1, tackling the climb the following day, then flying back on day 3. I thought about hiring a bike but have decided to take my own as the local hire shops seem to specialise in lightweight road bikes with narrow tyres and the road is pretty rough/non-existent at its upper levels.

Any advice or tips from riders who have done the climb or know the area gratefully received.
I had a ride up it a couple of years ago.

See here: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1mr&page_id=468058&v=Ha
 

whippetUP

New Member
I stayed at Ski station a couple of years ago for a week at the end of May, it's deserted and a little surreal. It is a good destination for altitude training - there is a Sports centre that Spanish athletes and pro road teams use there.
It's a great climb up from Granada - there is a few backroad loops which are potentially worth building in if you have the time. The last bit to the Veleta is rough, you'll have to be careful on a road bike - make sure you have tough tyres for that if you want to cycle it. It can be cold descent from the top. Enjoy.
 
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