Lesley suggested a bike ride today so we set off for Portman. Mostly main roads passing the renowned and exclusive golf club “La Manga”. Into Portman is a long uphill trek which at its’ peak has panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the start of the steep descent into Portman. The countryside here is not pretty, many years of quarrying has left many scars as the minerals have been mined from the ground; it has also left Portman beach contaminated from the effects of this industry. As ever, from the destruction of the hillside, the creation of challenging and prolific off road cycle challenges have been born.
We were at sea level and whatever we did we had a big ride up. After some thought and discussion Lesley convinced me that we should explore the off road track. There was a map at the start showing a 6 – 7 km route to La Unión. It looked steep but then so did all the alternatives.
It wasn’t long before we realised the true nature of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Not only was it technically challenging from a riding point of view, but there were many choices of route, no more maps and someone thought it was funny to destroy the few finger posts there were. The only option was to rely on our vague sense of direction. Fortunately we didn’t make too many errors but it was certainly more challenging than we expected.
There weren’t many people on route but near the summit we did meet a couple who didn’t understand our Spanish and asked if we spoke English. They were from Sweden and spent about 5 months a year here but they were uncertain which was the route to take to La Unión.
Dropping off the top we soon hit a concrete road and, brilliantly, a small coffee shop. The Spanish definitely know how to make a café con leche. The reason for the road was that the old quarry buildings and mines had been converted into a mining museum. They joined all the points of interest with a road train which we saw full of school children.
Into La Uniónand we caught the train to Los Niétos, €2.70 for the two of us. We had a final stop for lunch at Mar de Crystal before finishing the ride home.
The Strava app kept turning itself off, but I’m guessing the cycling was somewhere around 25km and over 500m of climb.