A good friend of ours and a fanatical cyclist, very kindly reviewed some of the cycling routes when they stayed at El Parral....
The following rides are all from El Parall Villa in Catadau. They were ridden in March when the weather was warm and sunny. Each ride offers something slightly different, but they are all in beautiful scenery on high quality roads with drivers who are courteous around cyclists.
During my stay I visited two bike shops, 'Big Bike' in Carlet and 'Kame Bikes' in Alzira, both of which the owners were very helpful.
Route 1 - East to the Coast - 118km with 707m elevation - heading out south east on the CV50 you pass through Carlet and Alzira before heading into the beautiful valley of La Barraca d'Aigues Vives, this undulating, but mostly downhill 25km long stretch through the spectacular valley pasture and farmland is a true reminder of how wonderful cycling is and how it puts you directly contact with the nature that surrounds you. Popping out teasingly close to the coast, follow the road north to the 60km point where you will arrive at the amazing beaches of Faro de Cullera, from here the road hugs the coastline giving amazing views. At the 85km point you will pass through the town that invented Paella, El Palmar and the natural parc of Albufera. This ride then steadily follows the CV520 back towards Catadau........... where you're rewarded with a punchy climb back up to the villa. Time for a glass of wine!
Route 2 - Mountains ride 118km 1977m elevation - a fully committing circular mountain ride......... the only way back if you don't go round is the way you went. This is a big day out in the saddle. After leaving Catadau on the CV50, you then turn right onto a road running parallel to a canal, popular with local cyclists particularly at weekends, this road heads out for 15km towards Tous. Should you fancy an extra challenge (not in this .fit file), turn right at the top of the hill in Tous and wind your way up for a quality 3km climb, then return back to the route. Once you arrive in the pretty town of Surmacarcer the real climbing begins!! Surmacarcer would be a good place to find a café if you want a coffee stop, as the next opportunity won't come for quite some time!
The beautifully surfaced mountain road that is the CV580 twists and turns for what seems like the endless perfect bike ride..........eventually passing through Millares, your next opportunity for a coffee! Then onto Dos Aguas where again, there is a café at the mini roundabout in the village centre.
Turning right......yet more climbing, descending, even more climbing then eventually leaving the mountains behind as you enter the orange groves of the fertile lands that create the agricultural plateau to the north west of Catadau. Enjoy your ride back into the villa, without the climb as you're approach is from the other way! Time for a beer!
Route 3 - Mountains ride 2 111km 2400m elevation - another big, committing ride. These are exposed mountains with nowhere to hide or shortcuts back. This ride is more remote that the first mountain ride, but even more spectacular in rewards for views and efforts on the climbs. Heading out west to Dos Aguas and into the valley towards Millares, before you get to the village there is a right turn. Once you've made that turn I recommend stopping for a minute or so to take in the views and get some photos! Onwards and upwards, literally this remote mountain road seems to climb to the moon. Passing through short tunnels (no need for lights) and dodging the occasional fallout from rock falls this really is a ride on the wild side. Eventually you'll be greeted by a beautiful lake. As you descend to the lake, this route immediately turns right.......... if you turn left, a couple of km's will bring you to the town of Cortes de Pallas where there are cafes and bars. Back on the route, through a lit tunnel and across a bridge takes you to the other side of the lake where the breath taking scenery continues!
Eventually you'll arrive back in Dos Aguas, where the café at the mini roundabout was a very welcome sight for me. Leaving here, climbing and winding your way back out of the mountains the way you came in. You'll deserve and extra beer after this ride!
Route 4 - to the north 99km 1143m elevation - this is such a spectacular ride, through constant farmland of olive trees, orange trees, almond trees and many with blossom on in March when I was there. It was awash with colours and smells, so striking it left a really pleasant lasting impression on me. This amazing countryside is punctuated by a few small towns such as Turis, Chiva, Cheste and Monsterrat all with cafes should you need the stop. This route also gives you several options to cut it shorter should you wish. The nearly 1200m of elevation in this ride seemed to pass by without too much notice, it is that pleasant a route.
Route 5 - Turis 56km 641 elevation - similar area to route 4, this was my last ride of my holiday before I packed my bike back into it's flight case.
As I reflected on my time staying in Catadau I come to realise this is an area I'd fell in love with, a true cyclists paradise. There is good reason why the people of Valenciana love cycling, and why there is a pro tour stage race here every year. The area is truly amazing.