Nerja loop ride - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 24, 2019

Nerja loop ride

Wonderful ride today, up into the hills above Nerja.  Our ride begins with a five mile backtrack along the coast to Torrox Point, into the winds.  We were just here yesterday, but it’s such a brilliant stretch of coastline that we’re happy to see it again.

Looking north from the coast up into the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama; which for the remainder of this post will be simplified to ‘The Mountains’.
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When the GBO heard that we were biking along the Costa del Sol, he insisted that he get his own look. The place is famous, even he’s heard about it. Most of all though he wants to brag to all his friends that he’s been here too, soaking up the rays while they’re home in the rain and snow.
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Jen GrumbyLucky! Yep - another winter storm coming to Colorado tonight.

Soak up that sun and warmth, little GBO!!
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At Torrox Point we leave the coast, gradually climbing as we follow the Torrox River up to and through the town of Torrox.  After that we pull away from the river and start angling up the ridge to the west.   For the next ten miles we’ll steadily climb a wrinkled road that teases us with a series of false summits.  There are few cars on this narrow, winding road, but quite a few bikers whizzing down the other way.  An excellent mountain cycling road.

We cross over this ridge finally, then drop a few hundred feet into the headland of the next canyon over, then resume climbing.  Finally we summit this next ridge and come upon a stunning view of Cómpeta, a dazzling white village embedded in the surrounding mountains.

Entering Torrox, gradually climbing toward The Mountains.
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This is really rugged, contorted country. It’s surprising how populous it seems, with white houses and terraced vineyards and orchards clinging to steep slopes.
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It’s a great climbing road, with a steady grade you can settle into.
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Nearing the top of the climb, La Marmora dramatically comes into view. It’s the highest point in the range, at 6,775 feet (2,039 meters).
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Cómpeta, the first of a triangle of mountain villages we’ll loop through over the coming ten miles. We’re standing at 2,200’ here, with La Marmora hovering on the horizon another 4,500’ above us.
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This fine sixteenth century church rises above Cómpeta’s sea of whitewashed houses.
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From Cómpeta we drop into the next ravine to the west, dropping nearly a thousand feet on a dizzying road that doubles back on itself.  It’s disorienting looking over the edge of the road at another parallel one far below, and then realizing that it’s our route.

I’ve gotten behind Rachael by quite a bit here as I stop for photos, and don’t really expect to meet up again until the next village.  I’m surprised when I round a blind curve and come upon her near the bottom of the descent.  She’s been taking it a bit cautiously, having gotten a bit spooked by the narrow road, the blind curves, the strong wind, and the sharp drop off.

Nearing the bottom, we find the perfect spot for lunch: a wide shoulder on the road with a sloped flat rock wall edging it.  We lean against this sun-warmed wall, surprisingly sheltered from the wind, and break out lunch: the usual cheese, ham and bread, supplemented with dried figs and roasted almonds.

Starting up again, we soon bottom out and start climbing again, rather steeply this time.

At the end of the descent we gain sight of sister villages that we’ll climb steeply back up through: Árchez, followed by Canillas de Albaida.
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In Árchez, a beautiful unspoiled village. All three of these villages are fascinating spots that would be worth a much longer look than we’re giving them today.
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In Árchez
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In Árchez
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In Árchez: Alminar de Árchez, a Mudejar tower that was originally a minaret and dates back to the Moorish occupation.
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Alminar de Árchez
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Climbing from Árchez to the upper village, Canillas de Albaida. Steep.
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In Canillas de Albaida. Another beautiful place that we should have spent longer in. We were focused on just trying to find our way through its labyrinthine maze to the other side.
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Looking back across Canillas de Albaida at La Marmora.
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A closer look at La Marmora. Its name (the rope) alledgedly comes from the ropes that villagers used to climb down into its depression to collect ice.
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In Cómpeta, trying to find our way out of town.
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We don’t find our exit here, but we do find this intriguing cul-de-sac. Well worth pushing my bike up here for a look at this, thinks Rachael.
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So, that wasn’t it. Now what?
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Oh, yes. Now this looks much more promising.
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In Cómpeta. This town is fairly large and supports a few accommodations and restaurants. That would be the way to do it - bike up here for an overnight stay and enjoy a leisurely long look at all three villages. It would make a fantastic hike.
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Finally finding our way out of Cómpeta, we barrel down toward Torrox, making quick time of through the rest of the ride. As usual, Rachael got the jump on me as I stopped for a last look back. I’ve had my eye out for her for the last five miles and am glad when I finally see her come into range.
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Video sound track: Esta Soledad, by Kany Garcia

For dinner, we’re thinking Italian again.  There are a surprising number of Italian restaurants in Nerja, which is clogged with British ex-pats.  Oddly enough, they don’t seem to favor British fare.  Tonight we eat by the waterfront at Ristoraunte Vitaliano, a very nice place that must have killer views of the sea if we were here before sundown.  Afterwards we pick up gelatos and walk over to the Balcony if Europe to peer into the darkness at the sea crashing against the rocks below.  It’s a warm, windless, delicious night.  Hard to believe it’s almost December.

Tonight’s appetizer: shaved zucchini salad.
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Another look at that agave we saw yesterday.
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Ride stats today: 40 miles, 4,100’; for the tour: 1,890 miles, 63,500’

Today's ride: 40 miles (64 km)
Total: 1,890 miles (3,042 km)

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Jen GrumbyLove seeing the white villages in both photos and video .. what a great ride!
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt was pretty spectacular, alright. We were lucky to get such a fine day for it too. It looked a bit dark up in the hills today.
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2 weeks ago