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Calpe – Costa Blanca

Coll de Rates and Port De Bernia Loop

By Jon Street

Distance
116 km

Gain
2034 m

Road
Loop

Time
5 hours

Start

Calpe

Finish

Calpe

Distance

116 km

A tough day out on the bike taking in some of the best climbing in Costa Blanca. With just over 115km of pedal turning and 2000m of elevation gain, it's a surefire way to empty the tank and boost endorphins.

The route heads south from Calpe toward L’Olla beach before turning inland toward Callosa d’En Sarria, this is where the climbing starts. Coll de Rates begins at just over 20km into the loop and it’s up up up for 18km, there’s also a secret climb to be had here for those wanting to claim as much elevation as possible! From the peak it’s downhill for 20km to Pedreguer and the midpoint of the ride. The next big climb is the Serra de Bernia with a max elevation of 617m, only 5m short of Coll de Rates. Don’t worry too much, it’s over 30km so fairly forgiving.

The final 30km is a mixture of switchbacks and straits all the way to Calpe, a really exhilarating finish.

Calpe behind you

Starting on the beachfront on Calle La Nina we head out of Calpe and onto the N-332 toward Platja L’Olla. Whilst this road can be busy with cars it snakes and winds along the rocky coast breaking in and out of the cliffs revealing some stunning views of the sea. 10km in we make our turn inland onto the CV-755 for another 10km up a short climb to Callosa d’En Sarria.

Inland and up

From Callosa d’En Sarria we start the first big climb of the day, the Coll de Rates. Hopefully, the coastal undulations and the short peak to Callosa d’En Saria has warmed you up!

Coll de Rates weighs in at 18km long with 453m elevation gain. It’s an average grade of around 5% with the odd push to circa 11% so take it easy and settle into your rhythm. The road is packed full of winds and views. Views that grow more expansive the higher you climb.

Want to soak them in and take a break? The restaurant atop the Coll de Rates is the ideal opportunity. But what’s that road behind the restaurant? A small road winds around the mountain and takes you 3km and 300m up to the hidden summit (10% gradient!), the views are panoramic and breathtaking. Well worth that effort.

 

Getting aero

What goes up must come down! The descent from your climb is just under 20km long and, bar one little climb at the town of Alcalali, it’s all downhill. Grab the drops and enjoy the snaking road all the way to the midpoint of the ride. The CV-720 is a fun road to ride with some stunning views and smooth tarmac made for road bikes.

Are we still heading up?

The town of Pedreguer marks the halfway spot and the beginning of the second big climb of the day. Port de Bernia. It’s a slow grind to begin with and the first 15km it’s relatively flat, the road then kicks up for the last 10km after the town of Xalo. Whilst you are in Xalo though you can take the opportunity to visit VeloSol cycling bar, a worthwhile little break.

Insider Tip: Check out VeloSol Bar in Xalo, great cycling ambience

Rollercoaster finish

Cresting port de Bernia it’s downhill all the way to sea level and Calpe seafront. A total of 610m to lose! And to be fair, your legs will probably be thankful. The first 15km are quite punchy with most of the first 3km coming in at over 9% so take care when gaining speed, the road isn’t perfect. You’ll wind your way through some awesome turns, flying past the white teeth on the edge of the road, keep it in check though as there are some big drops!

The final 5km back into Calpe is straight, fast, and smooth. Get the hammer down! Last one back buys the drinks!

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