Thursday, 19 June 2014

Cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra

One of the things we really wanted to do in Andalusia before we leave was to do a day of cycling on the Greenway, la Via Verde. There are many of these Greenways around Spain which are unused or unfinished railway lines converted into recreational routes for activities such as hiking or cycling. The one we chose was la Via Verde de la Sierra, close to the Sierra de Grazalema between Olvera and Puerto Serrano.

The deal is usually simple. You go to one end, hire a bike for a day (12 euros at the time of writing this blog), ride around then return it in exchange for your passport/ID card. We rocked up to Olvera just as the guy in front of the bike hire shop was leaving. He said it’s too hot now and there were hardly any customers so he decided to go home. We caught him just in time.

We got on our bikes and started cycling. It was a lovely feeling to cycle on a proper bike again, it felt so liberating! I love the Sevici bikes (the Boris bikes of Seville) but they can be tough to ride. The view was just stunning all around us.

The bike ride is actually quite fun as on the 36km distance between the two villages there are 30 tunnels, some of them short but some of them quite long. Apparently a few years ago some of them were sadly left without electricity due to vandalism but by now it’s all up and running, thanks to some EU funding. Going through these tunnels was also great to cool off after cycling in the sun.

The part of the route that leads through a National Park is the most beautiful.

We stopped for lunch at km 28 then turned back. There was a 1% incline on the way back but it was nothing major. Around km 22 there’s a bar so you can refresh yourself with a cold drink.

It was a great and easy ride and the views of the surrounding areas were just incredible.

Olvera is a gorgeous white village with a church and a Muslim castle that seems to grow out of the rock itself. The way to the Via Verde is well signed but if you can’t find it just ask anybody and they will point you in the right direction.

If there’s nobody around the bike hire shop don’t worry, just give them a call during the opening hours (10-14, 16-18) and they will come to help you. You have the option to hire the bikes for only half a day, too. More info and exact location can be found on their website.

I found this detailed description of the Via Verde in English very useful.


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