Photo: We thoroughly recommend the tiny Cafe Mia near the Picasso museum for the best coffee in Málaga.
It’s been three days since we left Málaga. 142km along the cold and windy lanes of Essex yesterday just wasn’t the same. It did however give me some time to think about our Winter Sun Training Camp. Here’s my BikeAdvisor report:
On the upside
- It was warm. It was such a delight to wear shorts for five days. Cycling is so much better with blue skies and some sunshine. The trick is to ride from mid morning through to the late afternoon when it’s the warmest. On the way out of Málaga each day I saw many riders returning in tights and neck buffs. I had no need of them.
- Climbing the hills north of Málaga is excellent. For the most part, excellent roads with very little traffic.
- Considerate drivers. It’s the law in Spain to leave 1.5m clearance when overtaking cyclists and drivers must slow down. The vast majority did just that so I always slowed down to make it easier for them to pass. Many times I received waves of thanks. Even on the faster roads many drivers would move into the outside lane to leave plenty of room for me. In my experience the Spanish don’t drive so fast and are very considerate.
- I didn’t have to clean my bike after every ride like I do in the UK winter. It was dusty though. On the basis that taking an air compressor might be a tad impractical I would suggest a dust blower/paintbrush to wipe the bike down after each ride. I couldn’t believe the amount of sand came out of the frame when I cleaned it back in London.
- The friendliness of the villagers. Stopping in the cafés for coffee usually ended up in a conversation with the locals. My Italian helps but even if you only speak English a smile goes a long way.
Not so good
- Taking advantage of EU subsidies the Spanish have built some great roads. The downside is that some sections of the coast roads are now dual carriageways with crash barriers and no room to ride just off the road. The road East from Málaga is not so bad, but the road West to Torremolinos is pretty scary. If I go again I’d ride to Marbella inland via Cártama and Coín. This adds another 5km and 200m of climbing but a much less stressful ride.
- Speed bumps. Every village has them on the approach. The problem is that they stretch right across the road with no room to bypass them. Many are raised paint and then a shallow trough in the tarmac repeated three times which means it’s pretty bumpy even at speeds well below the limit. Not the best thing for my back.
- Coffee, the riders essential companion. We found an excellent coffee shop in Málaga but in the country it’s a little more basic. I know this is picky but spending so much time in Italy has meant we take our coffee as seriously as the Italians.
So, the big question. Would we return for another training camp? I think we would as we have learnt what we would do better next time. If you like climbing in the countryside then it has a lot to offer. Having said that we’re seriously considering Seville next year, just for a different experience.
Year to date
2,201km / 22 rides / 100km average per ride
19,265m elevation gain (2.17 Everests)