When Sukho told me he was coming to Spain, I immediately thought of riding out to Gandia together and having coffee on the coast.
This route is fantastic, I wish the pictures and videos would do it justice, but they simply can't. The best and only way to experience it is to ride it!
Gandia is a town on the Mediterranean, separated from Xativa by the coastal range. Although there are many ways to get over to Gandia, I found that climbing up to the town of Barx and then down to the coast was the most scenic and magical way to get there.
Barx is a small town at the top of a mountain and the gateway to 3 passes. It's also the main way to get up to the notoriously steep climb of Cim del Mondúver (I'll cover that in another post!)
The roads leading out of Xativa are very quiet and low in traffic. Head out early in the day, and you might catch one of many groups of professional cyclists on their weekend training ride.
If you're lucky enough, they might be headed towards the coastal range as well, and in that case, jump on that wheel and enjoy the ride out before eventually getting dropped as soon
as you hit the first climb.
Turning right at the fork takes you to Pla de Corrals, one of many small towns you'll pass through, all over Valencia. I can't speak to whether this is true for all of Spain, but there's only one way to find out!
The climb up to Barx is very steep in certain spots, but then again, the views are just too beautiful to care about any temporary grind.
The first time I rode out to Gandia, it dawned on me that I used to drive up this road with my family to go to Font La Puigmola. A water fountain hidden under a giant tree next to a restaurant at the summit.
As someone who was born and raised in Kuwait, I cannot but be fascinated by flowing water and greenery in general. It is safe to say that the grass IS greener on this side of the world.
Once you're up to Barx, make sure to pass by the bakery right in the middle of town and grab a few empanadas before the long descent into Gandia. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on those pastries.
Heading south of town towards the drop is a straight shot. Once there, tuck in and enjoy that -10%. Hitting +50mph on the first straight part is as easy as letting go of the brakes if that's your jam!
A couple of bends before the second long straight line into Gandia, facing the Mediterranean sea ahead, rising like a giant blue wall.
Unlike Xativa, it can get busy here, especially in the summer. As a matter of fact, this is where I swam in the Mediterranean for the first time back in 2004. Followed by a cup of hot chocolate and a Belgian waffle, as one does in the summer, after a dip...
A quick note about coffee in Spain:
I was genuinely surprised by the quality you can find almost everywhere, at cafes, bakeries, bodegas, and even gas stations.
Spaniards love their espresso!
I have to say, without a doubt, that living in Portland raised the bar of what I would consider a good cup of coffee. So I came in with a biased view on how coffee in Spain will be.
I thought I would have to put up with liquid charcoal every time I stopped at a place for a quick cup and a tostada.
To my surprise, 99% of the coffee I had was quite good, and you can't beat that 1 Euro price tag.
However, I did manage to find a 3rd wave coffee shop in Gandia called Cygnus Coffee Shop. They had a great variety of beans, and I just had to take Sukho there for TDE purposes (Tour De Espresso, be on the lookout for this post soon)
The road north towards Tavernes de la Valldigna is a flat one running through the flooded fields on the coast. After making you're way through a maze of farms of orange trees at the mouth of the valley, you'll reach the foothills of the coastal range.
The ride to Barx, up the winding Port de Barx pass, is mystical at times. The views from the 9 switchbacks alternate between those looking over the valley below and the mountain you're climbing.
The Monastery of Santa María de la Valldigna at the bottom gets smaller and smaller as you climb. I like to climb up further up towards Font del Cirer for this view of the town below. You can see where the climb starts and how far you've come. What a truly fantastic feeling you get at the top.
Once you pass through Barx again, you'll be on your way back to Xativa in no time since it's mostly downhill!
What's your favorite climb?