20 October 2013

Off-road in the Sierra de Madrid

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Madrid to visit Alberto's family -- and brought our Mountain bikes along. Sunday dawned as a beautiful and warm autumn day, and we made our way to Cercedilla, to the  north of Madrid, to start our ride. We were joined by our good friend Mateo who has relocated from London to Madrid. The plan was a 50km off-road ride through the Sierra de Madrid, to Segovia, famous for its Roman aqueduct.

From Cercedilla we immediately started climbing into the mountains. On-road for a short section and then onto the wide trails that lead to the Puerto de la Fuenfria. There were plenty of walkers and cyclists about on such a lovely day, but the trail was wide enough that it never felt too crowded.

Entering the Sierra de Madrid from Cercedilla
We continued to climb steadily, although thankfully not too steeply, for at least an hour. Along the way we fell into conversation with an older man who seemed to be a regular on these hills. We chatted about various things, including where to find wild raspberries in July, and stayed together all the way to Fuenfria. We said our goodbyes to him as our routes diverged, and then began a bone-shaking descent deeper into the Sierra.

Lookout point halfway up to Fuenfria
After the initial rocky trail, things smoothed out and it was glorious undulating riding through the trees. We stopped for lunch of bocadillos de jamon and soon found ourselves climbing once again, this time on a more remote section.

We reached the top of this second climb and Alberto announced that it was all downhill from here to Segovia. Mateo and I immeadiately prepared ourselves for an even tougher climb ahead, as we have learned that whenever Alberto says there is a descent, a challenging climb is sure to follow.

Descending from Fuenfria
Sure enough, soon we were huffing and puffing our way up an even steeper hill. I was climbing a bit behind the boys, and heard them groan when they turned the corner up ahead. This was lucky as it meant I knew to get in a really low gear before the turn!

Climbing again
By now we were pretty much the only people on the trail, and eventually we did reach the last hill before the descent into Segovia. We took a route that went via Palacio Real de La Granja -- we toured around town briefly but decided to make our way to Segovia to ensure we had enough time to make our train.

This sign on the descent is teling cyclists to slow down and remember they aren't alone on the trails!
From La Granja to Segovia we followed a main road via a path along the side. It was here that Mateo started daydreaming and went off the path into quite a steep ditch! Fortunately he managed to save himself from any serious harm and we got a good laugh out of it.

Leaving the mountains for Segovia
We arrived in Segovia to the impressive sight of the Aqueduct and searched out a bar for a quick bite to eat. We had a train to catch in a just under an hour so it was a very speedy lunch followed by a mad dash uphill to the train station -- only to find that this train didn't run on Sundays! We had to wait another two hours before eventually catching a train back to Cercedilla.

But it was a great day out in the Sierra, showing off some great off-road routes near Madrid. We stuck to wide paths, but there is apparently lots of great single track as well. Now that our mountain bikes are in Madrid, we're looking forward to many future rides in those hills.

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