by Don Russell,
As you know, I don’t normally adorn these pages with tales of pleasure trips; however, I have found an article that I did some time ago and thought it may be of interest, if only to give you all a well deserved break from my normal ramblings. Apart from the stunning scenery in and around the Sierra Cabrera, mountain biking here offers good weather along with a variety of surfaces.
This route starts at the car park in the mountain retreat of Cortijo Cabrera; from here, descend through Cortijo Grande to the junction with the main road. Turn right and continue through Turre, past Mojacar Pueblo until reaching the roundabout with the fountains at Mojacar Playa. At this roundabout turn right and continue on the coast road until reaching Sopalmo, a small village on the way to Carbonaras. Turn right in Sopalmo by the fuente,
here you can top-up your water for the climb ahead.
After you have taken on water and had a short ‘breather’ it’s time for the climb; it’s not particularly steep but it does go on for around 10km on a wide, roughish track. You will need around 3 litres of water for the climb, a couple of energy bars and some nuts & raisins are always very welcome (if it’s only so you’ve got something inside you to throw-up later on) as is a large handkerchief to mop-up the tears as more of the mountains keep appearing just when you thought you were getting in front. About two thirds of the way up you will go through the small village of La Adelfa, continue on until the narrow track changes to asphalt; continue climbing and then turn right at the next junction. Continue on 200m or so to the next junction; at this junction you could turn right and descend past El Dondo, Los Peralicos, Cortetes and back into Cortijo Cabrera on a quick asphalt downhill that will make your discs turn blue! Be careful on this descent, there is loose gravel on the corners, broken-up asphalt and rough patches; to top it off there are horrendous drops if you go off on the corners during the fast descent.
But That Can’t Be Right? Can it?
While it was a nice thought, it’s just not going to happen. While stopping at that junction to wipe the stinging sweat from your eyes and allow your tunnel vision to return to normal, you will notice a peak up on your left, this is Cerro de la Mezquita; at 962m it is the highest peak in the Sierra Cabrera. Now, after a climb like the one you’ve just done you may think that you deserve a break; quite right too, and this one comes in the form of a track that goes right to the summit so that you haven’t got to carry your bike over all that rough ground. So, at the junction, turn left instead and continue on about 100m before turning left again onto the dirt track; this leads directly to the summit taking in the odd heart attack. This climb is steep and after what you’ve just done it feels even steeper. If possible, continue to the end of the track before falling-off the bike, consciousness will hopefully return in a few minutes.
The Good News
At this point almost any news would sound like good news but now that you’re conscious again and you’ve stopped throwing-up, things will begin to feel as if they are starting to move in your favour. The view of the total climb you have just done is spectacular. It’s all been worth it! Take a few minutes to savour the feeling and then descend by the same track to the road, then on past the junction; in a few minutes you will be back at the car park in Cortijo Cabrera.
That Familiar Feeling
The familiar feeling that comes at the end of any hard physical exercise will now make an appearance; the one we all get when you vow never to push it that hard again. The pill with ‘It’s done you the world of good’ written on it often seems very bitter and difficult to swallow at this point. Nevertheless, after a warm shower, a mug of tea and a good cry the pill slides down a treat and soon you start to plan your next adventure; after all, it’s this tenacity that sets us apart from the rest (well, that and possibly a slight psychological disorder).
Anyone that is involved with any kind of adventure sports will tell you that there are always risks. In the interest of self-preservation we do everything we can to reduce those risks, mainly by being good at what we do; although this does not always work as the better you are, the bigger the risks you seem to take as you push the limits further out. Age is a great moderator and when I look back to my twenties I cringe at some of the things I did but managed to get away with it. I heard someone say many years ago ‘There is always a risk in being alive, and the more alive you are, the greater the risk’; and this seems to sum it up nicely.
If you are in this part of Spain you can hire good quality mountain bikes locally, Trek, Specialized etc. I am fortunate that I have all this in the place where I often run courses. I continue to tell everyone that it’s a hard life and you can do no more than struggle on. Well, that’s the time honoured script; some, may just disagree.
No mountain bike route would be complete without a few statistics, so here they are.
Distance: 50km (31 miles). Total ascent: Around 1160m (3806 feet). Time: Around 3 hours 30 minutes. To keep it fair, any time spent on a defibrillator should be deducted from your total time.