Cycling in Spain is a wonderful pastime as the country is vast and beautiful with many extremely quiet and relatively traffic and pollution free roads. However in addition to the normal highways and byways Spain also has a wonderful system of Via Verdes, or Greenways, which are disused railway tracks that have been renovated and turned into cycling and walking tracks. There are around 1,500 kilometres of Greenways throughout Spain (more than 58 tracks), of varying length. They have all been carefully prepared to provide an excellent surface for cyclists, walkers, horse riders, elderly people and children and even mobility impaired people. They allow you to explore some wonderful hidden corners of Spain far away from traffic, noise and pollution.
Passing through diverse scenery, depending on the via Verde in question, you will discover amazing valleys and mountains, impressive bridges and viaducts more than one hundred years old and pass through some mysterious tunnels that once let the trains through. Be careful in these however as some of them can be a kilometre long and pitch black in the middle if the lights go out when you are half way through!!
Don't worry if you don't own a cycle, or at least don't have it in Spain with you, because at many of the stations you can hire bicycles.
We did the Via Verde that runs from Puerto Serrania to Olvera in the Provinces of Cadiz and Sevilla, Andalucia. It is a total of 36 kms. long and passes through 30 tunnels and over 4 viaducts. The stations at either end and one en-route have been renovated and provide bar and restaurant facilities plus hotel accommodation for the weary traveller, or in our case the totally and utterly exhausted traveller!!
We set out from Puerto Serrano and walked to Coripe, the first station down the line, about 15 kms. Here we had a very pleasant lunch and generally recharged our batteries before completing the next and final stage to Olvera. The scenery was magnificent and the tunnels great fun although rather frightening when the lights go out as they are all on time switches but don't seem to give you long enough to get from one end to the other! However there are switches at intervals along the wall but they are not always easy to find in the dark!
The route passes through some stunning scenery and alongside numerous rivers. It is so peaceful and quiet away from all the traffic, and the bird and wild flowers are magnificent, particularly if you go in the spring which really is the best time as it is too hot for such energetic activity in the summer. It also goes past el Peñón de Zaframagón which is a spectacular mountainous area with the largest breeding colony of vultures in Andalucia.
So having arrived at Olvera station, still just about in one piece, we repaired to our room and collapsed! Then having showered and changed we had a surprisingly good meal in the restaurant, a drink in the bar, and then a much needed nights rest.
After breakfast the following day we collected our bicycles, I expect you were wondering when I was going to come to them, which we hired from the station, and then set off for the return journey to Punto Serrano. This was great fun, neither myself nor my husband had cycled for years and we thoroughly enjoyed it, it certainly beats walking! For the most the surface of the track is very good and of course being an old railway line basically pretty level. The cycle ride was a fraction of the walking time but we still didn't mange to get through the longest tunnel without the lights going out and it is virtually impossible to cycle in the pitch dark. If you are already cycling in Spain on your own bike then it would be a good idea to have it fitted with a light. A torch would be handy in any case. Also be sure to carry water as there is nowhere to get any between stations and even in the spring it can get pretty hot.
So if you are new to cycling in Spain you are in for a real treat with so many via verdes to explore. In many cases there is a functioning station nearby which makes it easier for you to arrive at the greenway of your choice and RENFE, the Spanish railway network, offer some good deals on taking your bike by train.
Article submitted by Ruth Polak the owner of http://www.costadelsol-vacationrentals.com A web site specializing in holiday villas and apartments on the Costa del Sol and in Rural Andalucia. You will also find lots of information about Spain and Andalucia, in particular.