Work Bike Balance in Calpe


April 2, 2024☕️ 6 min read 16

Winter in central Europe can be tough… Tired of indoor training and short runs, I dreamed of a longer stay in a warmer climate this winter. Unlike my shorter trips to Tenerife and Mallorca, this year I managed to spend a month working and cycling in Calpe, on the Spanish Costa Blanca.

Staying in Calpe

Staying in Calpe meant finding a spot near the action but affordable, close to grocery stores and with good internet for work. We landed an apartment in Edificio Xanadu, not far from Calpe’s old town. The view of Ifach from our cliffside spot was unbeatable, even if the apartment had its quirks. The convenient location eliminated the need for a car rental.

Edificio Xanadu, a creation of Ricardo Bofill, stood out as a local landmark, situated near the La Muralla Roja (Red Wall) and El Anfiteatro, forming an intriguing “Ricardo Bofill” complex on a cliff overlooking Calpe. Interestingly, the architecture of Muralla Roja was a significant influence on the architectural themes in the Netflix series Squid Game.

Living in Calpe allowed us to work until 4 PM on weekdays, yet still go on 50-70km rides, covering famous climbs like Coll de Rates or Bernia, and return just after sunset, utilizing the 2.5-3 hours of daylight for cycling.

Weekends and days off allowed for longer rides over 100km, after which we’d still have time to relax on the sandy beach just below our cliffside home. Even in March, the weather was ideal for chilling on a beach, and the sea was invitingly cool for a dip.

Cycling in Costa Blanca

Why is Calpe so popular for cycling? It offers mountains with stunning views and famous climbs - pros snag all the KOMs here, showing the performance gap between “them” and “us”. Just check out this Col de Rates KOM attack. The roads are quiet, in great condition, and the drivers are friendly and respectful. But the best thing? Calpe’s weather. In this Spanish Costa Blanca, winters are mild and sunny. We had just one rainy day in March. It truly is a cycling paradise.

I won’t delve into specific routes here, but if you’re interested, check out this Komoot collection of our favorite rides this year. Some of the must-visit spots for cyclists are:

  • Coll de Rates - The most iconic climb in Costa Blanca. Don’t miss the turn to Tossal dels Diners for an incredible view and a challenging ascent.
  • Bernia - This climb offers breathtaking views from the Sierra Bernia peaks with an enjoyable descent towards Benissa.
  • La Vall d’Ebo - My top pick, particularly the climb from Castell de Castells and downhill to Pego.
  • Cap de San Antoni - Near Xàbia, this cape features a lighthouse and dramatic cliffside roads, perfect for photography.
  • Puerto de Tudons - One of the highest accessible points in Costa Blanca for cyclists.
  • Puig de la Llorenca - Known for its challenging steep sections with gradients of 15-18%, and stunning views overlooking Calpe.
  • Cap de la Nau - A picturesque rocky cape with a lighthouse, offering scenic vistas.
  • Zitronen Pass - A beautiful mountain pass from Pedreguer to Alcalalí, surrounded by citrus groves (Komoot segment).
  • Parcent, Xaló - Ideal spots for a break, featuring cyclist-friendly cafes like VeloSol and Musette.
Cap de San Antoni
Coll de Rates

Where to find a cappuccino without cream?

Finding good coffee in Calpe was tougher than expected. Specialty coffee seems off the radar in many local cafes, untouched by the third wave coffee movement. Spain’s habit for sweetening coffee was anticipated (after experiencing Cortado Condensado in Tenerife), but the widespread practice of adding cream to cappuccinos in Calpe was a genuine surprise, with some places even lacking a cream-free option.

Despite hopes for a more extensive list, only a few spots made the cut for quality coffee. It’s worth noting that several bike shops in Calpe also serve coffee, though I didn’t get the chance to try them.

  • Musette: A cycling café and shop in Alcalalí near Calpe. Loved both the espresso and flat white there, and their Rocket Espresso machine really caught my eye.
  • Velosol: Located in Xaló, it’s popular in a good way. There’s plenty of space to park bikes and enjoy a seat on the patio, plus you can catch live cycling on TV while sipping coffee outside.
  • Madness Benidorm: This café and roastery sits on the seafront in Benidorm. It’s not specifically a cycling spot, but the coffee and overall vibe were great. A random stop that turned out to be a highlight!

Flying with a bike

I finally decided to buy a hard-shell bike bag, which was cost-effective since a month’s rental was about 25% of the purchase price. I went for the B&W Bike Guard Curv, having rented it before and knowing it fits my Canyon Ultimate perfectly. It’s lightweight yet extremely durable; in fact, many triathlon stores use them for their rental gear, and they withstand a lot of use. The bag weighs roughly 10kg, and with my bike being under 8kg, I had a 12kg limit to pack everything else.

The 30kg bike bag, along with a slightly oversized backpack (don’t mention this to Ryanair), was sufficient for packing for nearly a month-long stay. The bike survived the flight unscratched :)

What’s next?

I enjoyed the trip so much that I’m planning to make winter cycling trips a yearly ritual. Tenerife is on my radar for the winter of 2025, but I’m open to suggestions! Drop your recommendations in the comments below or shoot me an email.