NFCC Trip to Cadiar 2022PhillBrown
After two unsuccessful attempts at getting there – in 2020 and again in 2021 – we were finally on our way to Cadiar in March 2022, for the NFCC Cycling Camp. We arrived in Malaga with all our bike boxes and assorted luggage full of NFCC kit on the afternoon of 26 March. Two hours later, having been transported by our friendly driver Fernando, we were settled at Vamos Cycling – a traditionally-built house in a small town of Cadiar in the mountainous Alpujarra region, run by Sarah and Gary Williams.
Richard knew this place well but most others didn’t really know what they were in for – having never cycled in the mountains or in Spain! So the first day’s planned ride of 70 km and 1700 m of climbing caused a bit of anxiety in the morning. Bikes were assembled, some pedals ended up back to front, cycling shorts went missing, but we were all finally out on the road and our week of cycling in Spain was under way. Gary rode with us on every ride to provide local knowledge, support and translation where necessary.
It turns out, in this place you either cycle up or down. Beautiful (or scary, depending on your point of view) descents are followed by long, winding ascents. By the third day we didn’t flinch at the mention of a 14 km climb. The long climbs were mitigated by cafe stops to replenish with bocadillos and plenty of cafe con leche. Spanish sandwiches and coffee are different – see photos!
Another surprising aspect of our rides was that the roads were smooth and mostly empty of traffic. Occasionally we would come across goat herds or random dogs in the middle of the road.
As the days went on and the kilometres accumulated in the legs, some of us grew stronger and faster, feeling in our element. Some picked up local viruses and were out of action for a time; some decided that they wanted to do other things (i.e. run all the way to the third village up the mountain and back down again, and local Zumba classes), but mostly we kept the show on the road every day.
The day of the epic ride to Adra on the south coast was eventful – the wind picked up as the group was returning up the long climb and one rider was blown off the bike into a ditch (he was fine). On another (shorter) ride, a rider came off the bike on a bend in the wet (nothing broken, just shaken). Sarah had a busy day collecting exhausted and shaken riders in her blood wagon. Those who finished the big ride that day felt quietly heroic when they posted on Strava – 2300m of climbing, involving a 30km-long climb among others.
All this effort required enormous amounts of energy – mountains of crisps, bread and tortillas were consumed after the daily ride and before dinner.
Sarah and Gary had a job feeding the hungry hordes. But feed us they did, and their home-cooked meals were a high point of the evenings. When Sarah rang the bell for dinner every night, there was a stampede to the dinner table. We ate out in a local restaurant on the last evening and sampled the delights of the local cuisine. The vegetarians among us had a hard time persuading the locals that tuna is not a vegetable, but we got there in the end and a fully vegetarian paella was served.
I think we would all agree that this was a memorable week and that our fitness and confidence has improved enormously in this short time. Sarah and Gary have been lovely and very easy going while working hard to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. Looking forward to next year’s trip already!
If you have any questions about the training camp or would like to know more, please ask club members who attended – Alan Wooller, Aleks Burlinson, Barry Wooten, Bill Mayes, Jonathan Lester, Matthew Knight, Neil Stevenson, Phil Grant, Phil Harris, Richard Parker.