Cycling in Valencia - Puerto del Portitxol

Summit of Port del Portitxol, Vall d'Albaida, Valencia, Spain


Passing over the Serra Grossa range and linking the comarcas of Vall d'Albaida and la Costera, el Puerto del Portitxol is a relatively easy, regular climb that is popular with local cyclists and which can be slotted into numerous hilly routes in the lesser-known southwest corner of the province of Valencia/northwest corner of the province of Alicante.

Location


Map showing location of Puerto del Portitxol, Vall d'Albaida, Valencia, Spain
Location of Puerto del Portitxol

The summit of el Puerto del Portitxol sits atop the Serra Grossa range in the southwest of the province of Valencia, around 60 km by car from the coastal city of Gandia and around 100 km from Alicante. The Serra Grossa range runs from the neighbouring municipality of Font de la Figuera to the west to the Mediterranean coast, and its eastern extreme is covered in our article on el Puerto de Barx.

El Puerto del Portitxol has the unusual characteristic of being accessible by road - and bike - from the four cardinal points: from Aielo de Malferit in the east via el Puerto del Paller, from Vallada via el Alto del Campello to the north,  from the town of Moixent to the west, and from the city of Ontinyent ("Onteniente" in Spanish) to the south.

We've chosen the climb from Ontinyent for this article. The other three ascents, of which the climb from Vallada is by the far the hardest and worthy of a separate article, come together at the crossroads of Plà de Campillo and share the final 2.5/3 kilometres to the summit.

Profile


Profile of climb of el Puerto del Portitxol, Ontinyent, Valencia, Spain
Profile of the climb of el Puerto del Portitxol

Starting altitude: 395 metres
Length: 7.8 kilometres
Average gradient: 5%
Maximum gradient: 10%
Altitude gain: 381 metres
Maximum altitude: 776 metres
Difficulty: Easy

At a little under 8 kilometres in length and with an average gradient of 5%, we consider el Puerto del Portitxol to be an easy climb for a moderately-fit cyclist.

The first 3 kilometres rarely reach the climb's overall gradient and there are probably less than 200 metres at the maximum gradient of 10%, allowing us to ride at a steady, even pace to summit.

On the whole, it's a regular climb, ramping up somewhat in the last couple of kilometres, but nothing to an extent that should trouble our rhythm.

The climb

We taken the start of this ascent of el puerto del Portitxol from the south as the roundabout located at the start of the CV-665 regional road on the westerly outskirts of Ontinyent.

Start of Puerto del Portitxol, Ontinyent, Valencia
Start of Puerto del Portitxol in Ontinyent

Following the directions to "Moixent/Aielo de Malferit", the initial part of the climb takes us through suburban developments on a road that rarely rises above 4-5%

Initial slopes of Puerto del Portitxol, CV-665, Valencia, Spain
Traffic on el Portitxol is usually very quiet

Notwithstanding a wide road surface in generally good condition, there isn't usually a lot of traffic on el Portitxol as the destinations it serves can mostly be reached faster by alternative routes. Good news for cyclists, and on the whole it's here among the different residential areas at the bottom of the climb that we'll find the most cars.

There has long been a keen interest in all things motorcycle-related in this part of the world, and little-used mountain roads such as el Portitxol, with their snaking bends and conspicious absence of speed-traps, are high on the list of favourite options for Sunday runs. This isn't such a problem on a wide road live the CV-665, but it can be a little unnerving on other, narrower single-lane climbs in the area.


Shade is somewhat scarce on the climb of el puerto del Portitxol
Shade is somewhat scarce on the climb

Once we've passed the 2-kilometre mark and left the built-up areas behind, the gradient rises slightly to around 5% as we make our way up the tree-lined slopes. There isn't a great deal of shade on the climb, perhaps even less so the higher up we go, and this should be borne in mind when planning our route.

Entrance to the quarry on the ascent of el Puerto del Portitxol
Entrance to the quarry on the ascent of el Puerto del Portitxol

Just after the 4-kilometre mark we pass the entrance to a quarry on our left, and it is here that the climb presents us with perhaps its steepest stretch, with the gradient rising to almost 10% for the next half kilometre or so.

The antennae atop Alt de la Creu as seen from el puerto del Portitxol
The antennae atop Alt de la Creu in the distance

It is also on the stretch when we catch our first glimpse of the antennae atop Alt de la Creu, the peak which lies off the left of the summit of el Puerto del Portitxol at almost 900 m.a.s.l.

View of the road on el puerto del Portitxol as it winds up to the summit
From the 6-kilometre mark we can see the road above as it winds up to the summit

Slightly before the 6-kilometre mark the road begins to bend and twist as we approach the final section up the uneven mountainside. At this point we can see the road above us as it winds up to the summit.

Stone bridges crossing gulleys on the final part of the climb
Bridges crossing gulleys on the final part of the climb

The road here passes over several stone bridges which take us across the gulleys running down the mountainside. The gradient eases off slightly as we cross the bridges before the road rears around a series of hairpins and heads off up to the summit.

View down the valley to Ontinyent from el Puerto del Portitxol
View down the valley to Ontinyent from el Puerto del Portitxol

As we enter the final section, with the road doubling back on itself as we round a series of hairpins, we have several opportunites to cast our view back down the valley and trace the road that we have just climbed from the town of Ontinyent.

Final stretch of el Puerto del Portitxol, Vall d'Albaida, Spain
The final kilometre of the climb

The gradient during the final kilometre of the climb varies between 6-10%, following the right hand side of the final gulley to the summit.

Summit of el Puerto del Portitxol, Vall d'Albaida, Valencia, Spain
Summit of el Puerto del Portitxol

The summit is marked by one of the series of signs installed especially for cyclists by the Valencia Provincial Council on numerous climbs throughout the province: the summit marker shows the final altitude, while individual kilometre markers installed on the climb itself indicate the distance and gradient during the following kilometre.

Given el Puerto del Portitxol's location, its restrained, regular gradient make it ideal for combining with other climbs in the area, such as el Puerto del Moro to the west in Fontanares, el Puerto del Peregrí and Casas de Benalí to the north and el Puerto de Simat and el Puerto de Barx of towards the coast near Gandia.

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Michael Dixon

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