At the end of last year's cycling season, which for myself was the Club's long ride to Dalby Forest in mid November, I made the conscious decision to avoid riding on the road through the winter months and, instead, resort to the use of my indoor trainer. In the meanwhile, as I am no fan of the turbo and needed an incentive, I booked a week's cycling on the Spanish mainland for early March which would also serve as a useful build-up to the Club's Majorca Tour in late April. My chosen destination was Denia which is just over an hour's hire car drive North of Alicante following a three hour Jet2.com flight from Leeds Bradford (Ryanair also cover this route). I have visited this resort before and stayed at the Daniya Denia, a comfortable if slightly dated hotel, on the fringe of the town centre. The food is good with plenty of choice and there is on site cycle storage, a swimming pool and spa. The early spring weather during my trip was excellent (18-24C) and I completed five days of glorious cycling on ribbons of pristine tarmac through some stunning scenery. Although I travelled to Spain alone I joined two sensibly paced (25kph) group rides from the Cafe Ciclista cycling hub which is just a five minute walk from the hotel. They were a welcoming bunch of experienced riders who used their local knowledge to ride routes and use cafe stops I would otherwise never have found. This is the second time I have used Cafe Ciclista as my cycling base and, as with the first, the advice and guidance of John, the British owner, on route planning for my solo rides was invaluable. The hire bikes are all excellent quality well maintained machines and initial set up on the first day was quickly achieved by Darren who was also group leading a ladies’ race team during my week. The Cafe is well established with excellent snacks, coffees and cakes, bike hire/maintenance and clothing and also serves as a meeting place and stopping off point for both local amateur cyclists and pro teams training in the area. Denia itself is much smaller than Calpe to the south (the winter base for most of the pro teams) and retains more of a Spanish feel whilst still offering plenty of interest for evenings, rest days or non cycling partners. The Marina Alta region offers a great variety of route options from flat coastal roads to rolling hills and the longer mountain climbs associated with the Vuelta a Espana which will spend the first three days of this year's edition in the Alicante region during late August. Most of the roads were almost deserted and are unbelievably pothole free - although I suspect they might be tricky in anything other than bone dry conditions which invariably they are. Drivers seemed both courteous and patient towards lone riders and groups which was a pleasant change. I rode around 500kms with 6,500m of climbing which seemed a sensible early season amount. Costs were: flights £138 (inc 22kg checked in bag), hire car £66 (Citroen GC4 Spacetourer inc top up insurance), £305 for six nights FB in a single room at the Daniya and bike hire from Cafe Ciclista was 20€ per day. In sum, if you are thinking of cycling in the Northern Costa Blanca then Denia and Cafe Ciclista is a good option. Back to the indoor trainer now – roll on Majorca!
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