Vall de Ebo

Cycling in Spain, Vall de Ebo, Alicante


Located in the northernmost extreme of the province of Alicante and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Vall de Ebo (Vall d'Ebo in Valencian) is one of the Region's most popular climbs among amateur and professional cyclists alike. 


Indeed, due to its proximity to coastal resorts such as Denia, Calpe and Altea, so popular in the off-season among the world's leading pro cycling teams, it's not uncommon to come across many of the international peloton's most famous faces both climbing and descending its slopes, team cars dutifully bringing up the rear. And it's not hard to understand the climb's attraction for cyclists of all levels: with its 7.5 km length, multitude of hairpins and gradients between 5% and 13%, on a ranking of 1 to 10 it can comfortably be classified as a doozy.

CLIMBS IN ALICANTE

Vall d'Ebo

Length: 7.5 kilometres
Average gradient: 5.5%
Maximum gradient: 13%
Altitude gain: 450 metres
Maximum altitude: 540 metres
Difficulty: medium

Location

Location of Vall de Ebo, Alicante
Location of Vall de Ebo, in the north of the province of Alicante

La Marina Alta

The climb up to Vall de Ebo is located in the Alicante comarca of la Marina Alta, in the north of the province, about 100 kilometres south of the city of Valencia, and around 100 kilometres north of the city of Alicante. The area includes the coastline and beaches around the cities of Denia, Javea and Calpe and mountain ranges of inland Alicante.

The nearest town to the foot of the climb is Pego, which can be accessed by car on the E-15/AP7 highway, exiting at Oliva when travelling from the north and at Denia when travelling from the south. Once we've left the highway, Pego can be reached quickly via a combination of national and local roads.

When travelling by bike, the climb is within easy distance from many of the other popular bike routes in the area, and can be reached without problems from the village of Jalón and the towns of Denia and Oliva.

The start of the climb is located around 1 kilometre south of Pego on the CV-715 road, where we take the CV-712, following the indications to Cova del Rull and Vall de Ebo.

Pego

Cycling in Spain, Pego, Province of Alicante
View of Pego from the climb of Vall de Ebo

Located roughly half-way between the coastal towns of Oliva and Denia on the Costa Blanca, Pego is home to around 10,000 inhabitants. It still conserves the remains of the Moorish walls that once served as protection, and the old town's medieval streets retain much of their original charm today. Since the mid-19th, the town has been most closely associated with the production of rice, much of which has traditionally found its way into that most local of Valencian dishes, la paella.

Some 10 kilometres inland from the coast, Pego is surrounded to the east by the Pego-Oliva Wetland Natural Park and by mountains to the north, west and south. Indeed, Pego can serve as an ideal point of entry into the mountains and cycling routes located in the north of Alicante.

Profile


Climb Profile, Vall de Ebo, Alicante, Spain
Profile Vall de Ebo climb, Pego, Alicante

450 metres of vertical climbing

We've taken the start of the climb as the beginning of the CV-712 road about 1 kilometre south of the town of Pego, although you can find various descriptions that take Pego as the start. It's not such an important point.

Our start gives us a climb of around 7.5 kilometres in length, from the CV-712 turn-off to the "Puerto La Vall de Ebo" sign at the summit, located a couple of (downhill) kilometres before the actual village of Vall de Ebo. (You might like to note that, if you continue along the CV-712 road after passing the village of Vall de Ebo, the road continues to rise, steeply in places, for quite some kilometres. More of this later in our Suggested Route).

The average gradient on the climb is around 5.5%, dotted with sections of @10% and ramps of 13% as we climb into the 2nd kilometre. Once we reach the summit, located at 540 metres above seal level, we'll have covered a total of 450 metres of vertical climbing.

In general, the climb is at its toughest on its lower and its upper slopes, with the middle section on the whole making for gentler going. This offers us the added bonus of being able to take our foot off the gas for a while and enjoy the spectacular views over the Mediterranean Sea, the nearby coast and the surrounding mountains.

The climb

Climb of Vall de Ebo, Pego, Valencia
Climb of Vall de Ebo from junction with CV-715

Start from CV-715

The start of our climb at the junction of the CV-715 and the CV-712 local roads, about 1 kilometre south of Pego, is clearly signposted, with indications to La Cova del Rull and Vall de Ebo (note that it is the village of Vall de Ebo which is indicated, not the climb itself, hence the distance shown as 12 kilometres).

Junction of CV-712 and CV-715, Pego, Alicante, Spain
Junction of CV-712 and CV-715 at the bottom of Vall de Ebo, Pego, Alicante

No sooner do we take the turn onto the CV-712 than the road kicks up, gently at first, with the first kilometre or so most noteworthy for providing the day's initial views of the Pego-Oliva Wetlands stretching out below us and extending outwards to the coast.

Pego-Oliva Marshes, Pego, Alicante
View of the Pego-Oliva Wetlands from the first kilometre of the climb

As is often the case on the lower slopes of climbs in the Valencia Region, the initial ramps are populated with the holiday- and weekend residences of those seeking cooler, mountain air among the trees and vegetation, above all during the summer months.

Initial slopes of the Vall de Ebo climb, Alicante, Spain
First slopes of the climb

At just over a kilometre in, as we leave the majority of the houses behind and become immersed in the trees, we hit what's probably the steepest section of the entire climb - a couple of hundred metres at some 13%. It's not really too bad but, given the choice, it's nice to get it out of the way at the beginning rather than at the end.

Steepest section of Vall de Ebo climb, Alicante
Steepest section of Vall de Ebo climb

The trees lining the road are very welcome and come into their own here, offering some much appreciated shade during the hottest hours.

As always when riding in this part of the world, it's wise to take into account the hours (and months) with the highest temperatures, as it's both no fun and more than a little unwise to be out and about on your bike in the summer midday sun. At the risk of sounding redundant, it's important to make sure we set off from the bottom of the climb with sufficient liquid in our bottles given that, as far we know, their are no fountains or springs to be found on the way to the summit.

Such considerations apart, before we leave the trees we get to enjoy some of those hairpin bends that, for some reason, are such good fun on a bike.

Hairpin bends on Vall de Ebo climb, Costa Blanca, Spain
Hairpin bends on the wooded section of the Vall de Ebo climb

As a curiousity, around the 2.5 kilometre mark we pass a gated driveway on the left bearing the sign "Heredad de San Juan", or St John's Estate, "Heredad" being a specific term referring to "a plot of cultivated land belonging to a single owner, and especially such land when tradionally bequeathed to a family". "Heredades" can be found all over the Valencia Region, and are quite common in inland Alicante, often taking the form of splendid old country houses surrounded by working estates or vineyards. They are mostly privately held, but if you find yourself with the opportunity to visit a "heredad" whilst out and about on your travels in the area, we'd recommend you take it up.

Heredad de San Juan, Vall de Ebo, Alicante
Entrance to la Heredad de San Juan, Pego, Alicante

But we digress, and after a couple more curves and the odd straight we will no longer be disposed to entertain ourselves with such thoughts as visiting old country houses as, almost without warning, the trees end and the road rears up through the low mountain vegetation under the watchful gaze of the remains of Pego castle. It's at this point, around 3 kilometres into the climb, where we also get to really enjoy the majestic views of the town of Pego, the marshlands and the distant sea way down below.

Warren Barguil climbing Vall de Ebo, Alicante, Spain
Past Pego castle as we leave the trees behind

Now that we are out onto the open mountainside the scenery undergoes a drastic change, with our eyes greeted by the alternating sights of the marshlands below, the distant sea, the surrounding mountains and the ribbon of road winding its way ever-upwards, picked out by the old-school white-washed, pre-guardrail concrete blocks that stand gleaming against the bright blue sky. The effect is quite dazzling after the kilometres climbed in the shade of the trees.

View over Pego-Oliva Marshes, Vall de Ebo climb, Alicante
View over Pego-Oliva Marshes, the coast and the Montgó Massif

The gradient drops off somewhat as we enter this middle section, averaging around 5-6%, before kicking up somewhat during the 4th kilometre as the road winds and snakes its way up the mountainside.

When looking up the climb at what lies ahead the intitial response may well be that sinking sensation familiar to anyone who has slogged their way up never-ending mountain passes on a bike, but not to fear: although we can't actually see the summit from this point, there isn't really a great deal more left of the climb than what we can already see.

The long and winding road, Vall de Ebo, Alicante
The long and winding road that leads to Ebo....

As on the rest of the climb, the road surface is in pretty good condition here, and given that the road doesn't actually go anywhere that you couldn't reach quicker by other routes, traffic is notable for its absence. There's also a notable absence of anything capable of producing shade to protect us from the sun, and during the hottest hours it's here that we'll be glad that set off with sufficient liquid aboard.

Port de la Vall d'Ebo, Alicante, Spain
View over the Mediterranean Sea from el Puerto de Vall de Ebo

During the 6th kilometre the road bears around steadily to right as we circle a peak in the mountain, offering beautiful views of the Mediterranean and el Montgó in the distance.

The Montgó Massif seen from atop the Puerto de Vall de Ebo
View of el Montgó and the coast from atop the Puerto de Vall de Ebo

Valencians in general have a sentimental fondness for Ibiza, and Vall de Ebo is one of several places from which it is claimed that the island can be seen. A clear day is necessary, preferably one in the winter, when the air is at its coldest. We've seen it from other spots along the coast, and its an oddly exciting sight, but not from here unfortunately. But we will keep trying.

Final ramp to the summit of Puerto de Vall de Ebo
The last difficulty before the summit of Puerto de Vall de Ebo

There's now just one short, sharp ramp left before the left-hander that leads into the gentler, final slope up to the summit but again, this isn't climb of drastic percentages and it doesn't present that much of a challenge.

Views over the Mediterranean from Vall de Ebo, Alicante
Looking over the Meditteranean from the summit

And with that, the summit sign comes into view and we're there: around 450 metres of climbing with spectacular views over the surrounding mountains and the sea way below. El Puerto de Vall de Ebo is a beautiful climb, and great fun to ride, as well as serving as a perfect point through which to enter the mountains and valleys of inland Alicante.

Summit of the Puerto de La Vall d'Ebo
Summit of the Puerto de Vall de Ebo

Best time of year

As when riding most routes in the area, it's wise to keep off the roads during the hottest periods of the year and the hottest hours of the day. If you do find yourself on your bike in the area during July - August, it's recommendable to set off either very early in the morning, or hold back until later in the afternoon. There is daylight until around 10 o'clock in the evening at the height of the summer, and the while the temperature is still high, the sun is far less intense.

Spring and autumn are usually perfect seasons for riding in the area, notwithstanding the weather phenomenon known as "cold drop" which usually appears in the form of very short, violent torrential rain and storms in September or October.

Winter is also usually fine for riding, although temperatures do drop quite considerably in the shade and after dark.

Traffic is usually very quiet all year round.
 

Suggested Route




El Puerto de Vall de Ebo is located in an excellent spot for cycling within the province of Alicante, and can be incorporated into many different routes, depending on ability, form and time available.

To simplify things, we've taken an easy option for this suggested route, climbing up through el Vall de Ebo to the head of the valley, before doubling back down the long descent of the parallel Vall de Gallinera, another of our favourite climbs in the area. At around 55 kilometres, the route isn't long, it includes a little over 1000 metres of vertical climbing and is run along roads which normally carry very little traffic. As always with a circular route, we can choose any spot we like as the start.

Once we've passed the summit el Puerto de Vall de Ebo itself at some 540 m.a.s.l., the road drops sharply down to the village of Vall de Ebo, located at an altitude of around 390 metres. From there, the going is mostly up - including one or two short, eye-watering ramps - to an altitude of about 640 metres m.a.s.l., at the point in which we take a right on the CV-700 in the direction of Patró and Vall de Gallinera.

It's worth noting that the homeward stretch of this route lies in the shade of the Sierra de la Foradada, and as such is often considerably cooler than el Vall de Ebo, which we've just climbed on the other side of the range. With around 25 downhill, freewheeling kilometres from the head of Vall de Gallinera to the end of the route in Pego, arm- and neck-warmers most certainly come in handy in the cooler months.

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