Paceline’s week in Xàbia, Spain
A contingent of Paceline riders recently visited Xàbia, Spain, on a week long pre-season training camp, writes Gareth Thomas. Andy Lack, Damien Breen, Gareth Thomas, Jim Ley, Keith Lea, Pat Wright, Sam Andrew, Tom Whatley, along with Kingston Wheelers Jasmijn Muller and Maryka Sennema, headed out to the Spanish coastal town to clock up the miles under blue skies and warm winter sun.
Accommodation was very generously provided by Peter Neeteson, a family friend of Jasmijn Muller. The large villa easily accommodated our large group, and the pool provided the temptation of post-ride swims. Located a short ride outside of Xàbia and its pleasant sandy beaches, the villa provided a convenient base from which to head out into the rolling roads and taxing climbs of the region. It was hard not to finish the week without finding our climbing legs as devising a flat route proved virtually impossible! Details of how to book the villa – perfect for large groups of cyclists, or holiday makers in the even warmer months – are at the end of this post.
Day 1: 87km Leg-Loosener
Using a combination of Strava heatmaps and routes others had done, all bar one headed out on a 55 mile ride, and up a climb from Xaló to Bernia. A nice shallow climb with good road surface. The Bernia – Benissa descent however was the opposite. Lots of gravel and potholes on the descent back down. The Benimarco cap-Blanc descent however was the total opposite. Lots of quiet wide roads and great tarmac.
Day 2: 80 miles / 95 mile, Col de Rates
On the second day, Maryka headed out alone to be back to allow Jim to ride later in the day as they juggled child care duties. We headed out for a longer ride, taking in Montgo in Dénia, and Col de Rates from the North side. We descended down the South side into Tarbena before having a coffee stop in La Nucia. We headed back via Calp on a busy coastal road (which we said we would never do again), and back home via Moraira.
The cafe stop at the top of Col de Rates is surprisingly anti-cyclist for a cafe which will get a lot of business from cyclists. We weren’t allowed to take our bikes onto the premises, and had to leave them outside in the car park. The cafe was empty, and the 8 of us weren’t allowed to put together a 2 tables of four.
Day 3: 106 miles
We headed out to the Vall d’Ebo climb and a very large man-made dam/reservoir, adjacent to the town of Beniarres where we stopped for lunch. We were greeted by the owner of Bar L’oliva, located here, who was wonderful. We had 2 bowls of nuts, 2 plates of pickled onions, carrots, gherkins and garlic, 2 bottles of coke, 2 bottles of fanta, 4 bottles of water, 8 Spanish omlettes in baguettes and 4 bowls of chips, and 4 coffees, all for the equivalent of £5 each. Fantastic value!
The route became lumpy, with the route heading back via Gorga and Castell de Castells. I didn’t particularly enjoy the relentless up and down nature of the route, so was glad when we hit Parcent and was a flat hour from home!
Day 4: 22 mile / 32 miles
This was our easy day, with the majority of us riding an hour or so flat and easy to a coffee shop on the beach, before heading back, while Pat & Jasmijn did did an additional 10 miles and hills North of Xabia.
The morning of the day we arrived here, I had raced and won at Dunsfold, which entailed an hour away from the bunch, 25 minutes in the break, and a total of 35 minutes solo, so I was shattered.
Day 5: 65 miles / 112 miles
Pat, Jasmijn and Sam headed out for a longer 112 mile ride.
Andy, Damien, Tom, and Keith joined me for 3 reps of Col de Rates. This would work out about an hour of threshold. After an hour of climbing at different speeds, we all congregated at the bottom near Parcent for coffee and cake. Put off by the cafe at the top of the climb earlier in the week, we were welcomed much more warmly by the owners next to Bar Planet (sorry I don’t know it’s name, but it’s here). The coffee wasn’t great, but the brownie cake was!
Day 6: 38 miles / 75 miles
After yesterdays longer century or 3x Col de Rates, the plan was for everyone to do 75 miles today. I woke up with a serious case of ‘can’t be arsed’, and spent the morning thanking that I’d never be a professional and have to endure this sort of lifestyle. The weather was overcast, it was a cool 13c, and quite breezy. After an hour in the saddle, I said I’d had enough, and headed the hour home, joined by Tom, who felt the same. Upon arriving home though, the skies cleared, the wind dropped, and it was a lovely afternoon – typical! The rest pushed on, up Coll de Rates once more and down into Castell de Castells before returning home. Maryka drove to Benidorm and headed up a shallow 1 hour climb, which progressively steepened towards the top.
I lazed, sleeping by the pool, and by the evening my motivation had returned. After seeing Jim head out to do hill reps around the villa, I headed out to do 3×8 minute reps on our local climb.
Day 7: ‘Rain Halts Play’
Our final day was blighted by rain. We stalled to see if it would ease off, but ended up packing our bikes away whilst Maryka went out in the rain. We cleaned up the villa before spending the afternoon having lunch with the owner.
Looking back, we had a great week. For me having raced Dunsfold just hours before flying out, 380 miles, 45,000 ft of climbing over 22 hours and 1200 TSS. We all had the chance to get to know one another better, talked a lot of cycling, and enjoyed friendly banter. Not to mention we all got a tan!
The villa is located in Xàbia, approximately here, and quieter than Calp. Alicante is the local airport, and it takes about 70 minutes to drive from the airport to the villa. The villa itself is served by numerous local supermarkets at the bottom of the hill; a large Consum, Aldi, and several small supermercados, all within 25 minutes of walking. On the hill is a bar named Cannibal, and ProCyclingAgency, with a bike mechanic. There are several seasonal restaurants such as an Indian, only 5 minutes walk away.
The local beach is the cove of Platja l’Arenal, which offers a typical tourist seafront promenade of shops; lilos, buckets, spades etc, plus lots of cafes, restaurants. This is less than a 10 minute drive, and offers free parking on the seafront.
There are local hills, 5-8 minutes long within 5 minutes of the villa. Heading further inland towards Coll de Rates and Vall d’Ebo is a flat 19 miles or so, so approximately 60 minutes riding time away. For cyclists, there are plenty of opportunities to cycle some lovely climbs and descents. Peter, the villas owner, is more than happy to rent out to groups of cyclists, and the villa itself is ideal for catering for groups. For more details, see the following links below:
https://www.facebook.com/NeetesonVakantiehuizen (he also has a villa in Czech republic)
Further photos of the villa