The Hermitage of Santa Anna
One of the things I love about Spain is the constant reminder of the deep and rich history everywhere you look. You get used to the frequent sighting of ruins from the pre-Islamic and Islamic era, castles, churches, walls, temples, etc... the list goes on.
The Hermitage of Santa Anna has always piqued my curiosity because I could see it from the other end of the valley where we live.
Until my last trip to Spain, the closest I've been to it was through the lenses of my grandfather's binoculars standing at the corner of the balcony.
Santa Anna is one of many prominent points in the valley, sitting across from the Castillo de Xátiva, looking over the town of Xativa and the neighboring villages.
The building is part of the cultural Route of the Borgias that runs all the way from Gandia to Valencia. The route crosses various points across the region, showcasing sites associated with the Borgia. The hermitage is also considered to be the most modern building out of the historical buildings in Xativa.
Almost all of my rides start from the small village of Novetlè, where my family has lived for the past 42 years.
Since my B-road is still under the knife back home in Portland, OR. We had to stick to the pavement as much as we could since I brought my roadie, the Lolo Breadwinner, with me on this trip.
Gravel in this part of Spain is entirely different from what I'm used to, back in the US. I would've felt comfortable with the 28s if it was a bit more "luxurious" as Khamsot used to say. But oh no, it was a complete Chunder Splunder. So I would classify it as a +40c territory.
Babyhead rocks and loose gravel are excellent terrains for planting olive trees, but not for my setup. So I guess I have to go back once I get my B-road up and running!
We decided to take the backroad to Sellent through the small town of Estubeny. We dropped into the La Cabrentà Glen to cross the Sellent River.
The drop into this small valley is steep and windy, which is exactly what we were after.
Remarkably, you get to ride through and between properties. And it's kind of feels unnatural to do so after being chased out of so many areas in the US! (it's part of the fun tbh...)
To get to Sellent, we climbed over a small hill through orange and olive farms up a meandering steep gravel road.
Riding along old water channels that are no longer being used. But, it's still great to see things as they once were not too long ago.
As a matter of fact, I remember my cousins and I sitting in the channels as kids. Waiting for the water to rush down the hill to cool us off during the hot summer days at my grandfather's farm.
Sellent is a tiny village of farmers from the region. The people here are as genuine as it gets, as you'd expect from most Spaniards around this area, and beyond that, I bet!
A cool steep street runs across the village that takes you to a viewpoint of the Sellent River. That's one of the highlights of this route.
Here's a video of that hill, courtesy of Sukho!
From that point onwards, it's almost all uphill, and it ain't easy. Those climbs are actually some of the steepest within the limits of Xativa. At least the ones I found.
Nonetheless, as you'll read from the numerous posts about my riding experience in Spain, the beautiful scenery quite literally takes you to a whole different mindset. I honestly love this type of terrain, and I used to chase that back in Portland.
Luckily, that's not an issue in Valencia. There are no shortages of long steep climbs starting at sea level into 4k ft of elevation and more!
The real kicker comes at the very end, after making our way from Sellent through farmlands, an underpass, and switchbacks (pictures at the bottom!). Here it is in action. It's steep...
But like everything in life, you cant get to the best part easily, and quite frankly, I don't want the easy way either. There's just something beautiful about challenges and the lessons you learn along the way.
I hope to spend more time in Spain in the coming years.
And more importantly, I hope I get to take you on an adventure with me around this beautiful part of the world that I call home.