Barx, arguably my favorite village to pass through either on my way to or back from the coast. Situated in a high U-shaped valley near the coast of the Mediterranean, hidden from sight. I still find it fascinating to climb up a mountain just to find another one on top of it.
Over the many rides I've done through the village and the area, I kept eyeing a towering peak rising over the valley. On a clear day, the peak can be seen all the way from Xativa and certainly from many viewpoints in the area.
Alto De Montduver is a peak east of Barx in the La Drova community. As always, whenever I want to map out a ride, I spend way too much time on RidewithGPS, for a good reason! I've ridden in the area often, but I'm not even close to scratching the surface.
I mapped out a quick route that goes through two of my favorite local passes as part of my last ride on my 2021 trip to Valencia. To maximize my time on the last ride, I decided to add another tough climb before I tried to summit the Alto De Montduver.
On the valley's north end, the Les Creus mountain borders the Tavernes valley. A few weeks before this ride, I went on a hike and climbed up a ridiculously steep mountain road that took me to the top where the trailhead was. Given that I drove up it the first time, I figured it would be a great climb to attempt riding up. So I added that climb as a warm-up ahead of the main climb.
The town of Simat De La Valldigna is only about 15 miles east of Xativa, and it's a perfect connector between the two climbs. The best way to get to the town is by taking the Port De Simat-Barxeta. A gradual climb with a fast descent into town, through twisty roads offering fantastic views of the valley and Mediterranian.
The pre-pre-warmup (i guess!) was good enough to get the legs moving a bit. After bombing down the pass, I headed north out of Simat to a backroad through orange fields, which sit at the bottom of the climb. The best way to imagine this first climb is to compare it to a wall, goes straight up!
No mercy, only grinding.
The climb was 2.7 miles long, with a 1200ft gain and an average of 10% with no drop whatsoever.
You climb up.
And up some more.
The grind was real.
I rode this at the end of November, and the temperatures were perfect! I find it more comfortable to climb in the cold weather anyway. What about you?
The climb faces south, giving way to the valley below and the Alto De Montduver in the near distance, a reminder that the steep part of the route wasn't even this climb I was on!
The first climb doesn't peak to any point; it just turns into a long dirt ridge road worthy of a gravel ride. I'm getting ideas for routes and inspirations for when I have my B road with me in Spain, inshallah.
I turned and headed down the climb towards Simat. The descent was dicey; with my weight shifted behind my saddle, both hands on the brakes, I zigged and zagged down the steep hill and into the valley.
When passing through Simat, I stopped for a quick coffee break in town before climbing Port de Barx to Barx & La Drova.
Port De Barx is one of my favorite passes in the area. A gradual climb with alternating views between mountains and the coast on a series of 10 hairpin turns. It's one of a kind in the area, although outshined by famous passes, such as Puerto De La Llacuna.
Going through Barx is the only way to get to the bottom of the Alto De Montduver from the north end. Once through the village, you'll get to the community of La Drova, a neighborhood of high-end chalets and vacation homes. The climb to Alto De Montduver starts as soon as you turn left from the main road and onto Carrer l'Esparterola. Although not visible from the photo below, the grades were steep. If you zoom into the picture, following the mountain ahead to the right, you can see the summit where I'm headed.
At first, I thought I could just paperboy my way up the climb. Paperboy is the act of climbing by going from one side of the road to the other in a zigzag motion to reduce the grades a little bit, instead of climbing straight ahead with the climb. However, I found out that the further you climbed up the road, the narrower and steeper it got.
Now that elevated the experience to a whole other level.
I love climbs that challenge your whole body and not just your legs. The further I went up, the harder I had to grip the handlebars and focus on maintaining my momentum. Stopping on climbs like these is also tricky. Again the narrow and steep roads make it very challenging to stop and go. Luckily the Lolo (my bike) was built for these types of rides (perhaps it's time I write about the Lolo, should I?)
Although it is hard sometimes to convey how steep a climb might be, both in video and photo, I think I managed to present a glimpse of that in the two photos above. Looking at the first of two photos, you can see the road getting narrower and steeper, hugging the mountain. Where the road turns in the first photo can be seen in the second one (directly above), seemingly floating above the forest on the bottom right side.
The second photo paints a better picture than I can describe in words. The elevation gain from the road below to the point where I snapped this photo is mind-bending, given the short distance.
The road continues further, reaching a spot hidden from the sun, a pocket of freezing cold temperatures lurking in the shadows of Alto De Montduver. Nearing the summit, the grades still show no mercy with the consistent uphill. However, the views kept getting better.
To add more perspective about this ride, you can see where the first climb is, compared to where I took this photo. The mountain in the top right of the photo above is where that climb was. This ride is a multidimensional experience. Riding up and down those climbs helps make sense of the sheer magnitude of these mountains, which aren't even that big compared to the ones south of there.
Finally, the summit.
As rewarding as it might be to reach it, the climb is about 90% of the fun, and the other 10% is for taking in the views.
I sat there for 30 minutes just pondering everything from the views, my time in Spain, and the pivotal juncture that I was at. At that point in time, it had only been 3 months since I had to leave my friends and family back in Portland. I was thinking about some of the things my closest friends have told me and honestly trying to make sense of it all.
What I find magical about cycling is that regardless of what I was/am/will be going through in the past, present, or future, I always find a reason to be continent whenever I'm in the saddle.