When my friend Mark comes over to Asturias I know I’m in for a tough ride and on his latest visit the ride certainly lived up to expectations (I’m still undecided as to whether good or bad expectations, I’ll let you know once my legs recover). Unfortunately I only had time for one ride with Mark but he kindly made sure that it was the toughest ride of his visit; thanks for that Mark!
I met Mark and his brother Phil mid morning in Sevares, a village between Infiesto and Arriondas. The planned route included 3 main climbs the first of which was the Collada Moandi (one of my favourite climbs). Climbing the Moandi I realised that despite my lack of training the climbing legs were actually OK, and chatting away with Mark we soon reached the top without even realising it. After a couple of photos with the local residents (see below) we headed down to the next climb.
I’d never ridden the Collada de Llomena and knew little about it. The approach to the climb rises slightly all the way and is really nice, with great scenery and good road surfaces. After about 12km the climb proper begins. It’s a climb of two halves with the first half (3.5km) to Beleno (where it levels off for a bit) averaging around 7% and the second half (4.4km) averaging 9%. All in all a very nice climb which isn’t as tough as it looks on paper.
We then descended and connected with the N-625 (the climb of the Ponton) and rode a few km’s upward to the turn off for Casielles. Now Casielles is an altogether different kettle of fish, where gradients below 10% are few and far between. Averaging 13% with gradients reaching 20%, Casielles is a real challenge. It’s also quite unique as it has 20 switch backs in just 2.5 km and resembles the famous French climb of Lacets de Montvernier. http://bikeasturias.net/2015/07/23/the-asturian-version-of-the-lacets-de-montvernier
The road surface at the start of the climb is pretty horrendous but fortunately it soon turns into pretty decent asphalt (which was laid in Aug 2015). The good road surface continuous until you reach the last couple of switch backs where once again it turns pretty awful and just to make it worse is the steepest part of the climb.
It’s a great climb! Short, tough and quite spectacular. The switch backs actually make it easier, as you are always focusing on the upcoming switch back which serves to take your mind off the pain in your legs and your inability to breath. The views from the top are pretty impressive both looking back the way you came and down the other side. I was expecting more of a village up there but in the end there were just a couple of deserted houses and a church.
Coming down such steep slopes on the bad bits was quite tricky and at times I thought I preferred going up it rather than down, but we were soon down the bottom and speedily headed back to Sevares via Cangas de Onis.
A great ride! in great company and certainly a route I’d recommend.
Here’s the route and Stats:
Route distance: 95km
Number of climbs: 3 (Moandi, Llomena, Casielles)
Altitude Gain: 1920m
Level: 2 tough, last climb with gradients in excess of 20%