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Spain

La Rioja - Ruta del Vino

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

7 days

Prices from

£1,525 P.P.
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Come and discover this Spanish cycling gem and world-renowned wine region. La Rioja doesn’t need much of an introduction…
The deep red ‘tinto’ that has shaped the culture and land for centuries. Cycling around Rioja will make an indescribable impression on you; landscapes, heritage, culture, wine...Offering road cyclists the chance to discover the area's sights, both natural and cultural. It’s no surprise that Rioja is a land where people live and breathe wine, boasting more than 500 wineries and fantastic cycling.
A combination of calcium rich clay soils, a privileged climate giving masses of sunlight, taking influences from both Mediterranean and Atlantic weather, sheltered by the Cordillera Cantabria whips up a perfect concoction to create fantastic wine. Curiously, although wine has been produced in the region since Roman times, it was French winemakers with pest depleted harvests who saw the potential of this region. Rioja has now got it all from traditional bodegas and medieval caves to modern, jaw-dropping architectural cellars.
However, Rioja offers far more than fantastic vino tinto, it also serves up some of the best food in Spain! Hearty mountain stews and fantastic tasty local meats and game - fresh, simple local produce are the staples. 
The Rioja region spreads itself out along the fertile Ebro valley, hemmed in by the dramatic Cordillera Cantabria and the lofty peaks of the Sierra de La Demanda threaded by sinuous roads to help discover the region. The cultural heritage is strong and has been spiced up by the ancient influence of the Camino de Santiago which runs straight through the heart of it, giving Rioja an added depth of history and culture. Cycling around Rioja will make an indescribable impression on you with the landscapes, heritage, culture and of course wine...!

 

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Holiday Highlights

  • Staying at the fantastic San Millan de la Cogolla monastery, a World Heritage Site.
  • Cycling high along the limestone cliffs of the Sierra de Cantabria
  • Enjoying the atmospheric, medieval towns of Ezacary and Laguardia
  • Wine tasting in a Riojan bodega (or two!)
  • Cycling through Mediterranean forests, along mountainsides and through endless vineyards
  • Rolling along the Rio Ebro into Logrono for an authentic slice of tapas heaven in Calle Laurel

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We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and we will be recommending it to our friends. A good range of cycling in wonderful surroundings – we enjoyed the challenging climbs! The tour leader and guides were all excellent and made a great team. They were very professional, always on hand ensuring that the trip ran smoothly so we could concentrate on the cycling and enjoy the relaxing evenings.

Alistair, Cheshire

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Bilbao / Logrono
Non Riding Day

You’ll be met by a local Skedaddle representative and transferred to the capital of Rioja, the beautiful and historical city of Logrono.

Bikes will be fitted and tested for our week of cycling ahead and your local representative will brief you on the adventures to come, before you can step out and discover this wonderful city that sits on the banks of the majestic Rio Ebro. Flight times permitting, a visit to the Museo de La Rioja is highly recommended to learn a little about the diverse and fascinating area we are about to discover by bike.

Logrono is gaining a culinary reputation to rival anywhere in Spain and no visit to the town would be complete without a visit to Calle del Laurel which showcases the best pincho and tapas bars in the area. A great chance to go shoulder to shoulder with the locals, soak up some fantastic Riojan atmosphere and wash down local culinary delights with fruity red ‘de la tierra’, while getting to know your riding ‘amigos’ for the week.

Day 2
Logrono to San Millan de la Cogolla
47 Miles / 76 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,150 Metres Approx.

Our first day in the saddle begins by following the Camino de Santiago. We will leave the city via the ‘Puerta del Camino’ and head into the seemingly endless vineyards of Rioja; quiet, single lane strips of asphalt lead us through pretty sandstone villages, heading towards the dark, looming Sierras de Cebollera. By mid-morning we’ll reach the tiny village of Ventosa, which has been offering travellers refreshments for hundreds of years; with never-ending views across the Ebro plains it’s a fitting spot for a break.

Our route proceeds west and a steady descent on winding roads leads us into the dramatically located medieval town of Nájera where the Rio Najerilla is an ideal shady spot for a sumptuous picnic lunch of local delicacies (there might even be time to stretch out under the shade of a tree for a rejuvenating siesta before heading out on the final miles of the ride!). Next we’ll continue onto the medieval villages of Codovin and Villar de Torre before a final steady climb brings us to the majestic monasteries of San Millan de Cogolla, guarded by the towering peak of San Lorenzo (2,270m).

San Millán de la Cogolla, site of the Suso and Yuso monasteries which were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, is known for being the birthplace of the first written words in Spanish. The setting of the Yuso monastery is exquisite and, lucky for us, we are dining there tonight! Opening days permitting, we will have time for a tour of the monastery this evening followed by tasting the local Bodegas Moreno reds in the hotel bar, not forgetting the chance to sample some Riojan culinary delights.

Day 3
San Millan de la Cogolla to Quintanillar de la Sierra
48 Miles / 77 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

Following a relaxing breakfast it’s time for us to head deeper into the La Demanda Mountains. Leaving our hotel, the views across the Ebro Valley, to the Cordillera Cantabrica mountains, are splendid as we wind our way through foothills and farmlands, before dropping into the beautiful Najarilla Valley. The dramatic road weaves us up the valley, passing the Anguiano monastery. We’ll be able to stop high above the rushing river for a morning coffee break and will have chance to spot soaring vultures! Creeping further away from the fertile Ebro Valley, the mountains become ever more enclosed around us, until we reach the Mansilla reservoir.

We take a beautiful climb up through a twisted narrow canyon, taking us high into the Demanda mountain range on a virtually traffic free road. As we cross into the Castille y Leon province, the road eases into a beautiful glacial valley before arriving in the small, picturesque village of Neila, where we will stop for a well earned lunch by the village spring. The short afternoon takes us higher into the forested sierra and over the Collado pass to finish with a beautiful twisting descent to the village of Quintanillar de la Sierra, our home for the night.

The village is isolated and takes a privileged spot in the middle of a vast wilderness, surrounded by mountains. Peace and tranquility are simply oozing from the walls of the family run hotel where we will stay for the night. The family who run the hotel know a thing or two about feeding weary travellers and so you might want to try their restaurant, which serves up mouth-watering local produce.

Day 4
Quintanillar de la Sierra to Ezcaray
67 Miles / 108 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

From the hotel door we’ll set off deeper into the La Demanda mountain range and we come across a stiff warm-up climb before a fantastic 20km descent down through a narrow forested valley, passing through the village of Huerta to the valley floor, spanning the trout river Rio Pedroso. Once the capital of the sierra, it’s a great spot for a mid-morning coffee to soak up some local life. Back in the saddle, we take on the second climb of the day, gaining height on a terrific switch-back lane, before another gliding 20km descent to the Uzquiza reservoir.

Climbing steadily through pine trees we’ll be rewarded as the route begins a great traverse. Pradoluengo, sitting between flower filled pastures and high mountains, is ideally placed for a refuel and rest before our final push for today. We’ll begin a fantastic descent into the wooded Ciloria valley, to reach the grand Rio Oja valley and the quintessential Riojan village of Ezacaray, where we will stay for the night. Here, cobbled lanes link inviting plazas where some of the best cuisine in the region is served in a range of quality establishments.

Day 5
Ezcaray to Laguardia
49 Miles / 79 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,200 Metres Approx.

We start our day with a very gentle ride out of Ezacaray and down the Rio Oja valley, passing the village of Ojacastro dominated by limestone cliffs. The valley flattens and widens as we approach the Ebro plain and we’ll find ourselves winding past woods and wheat fields until we reach the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, meeting the Camino de Santiago once again. It’s worth taking time here to meander around the town’s network of medieval streets and 12th century cathedral, before we cruise past endless vineyards to arrive at the beautiful city of Haro, a place which lives and breathes wine and is the hub of the Riojan wine industry.

Here we’ll take a break in the atmospheric central square before riding down through the historical ‘estacion’ part of the town, which has been home to some of the most famous Riojan wineries for over 150 years. From Haro we will meander downstream on quiet lanes, skirting past the the wine village of La Bastida before climbing into the beautiful Sierra de Cantabria and the Alava province of the Basque country. We’ll soon meet an exhilarating descent taking us back towards the Ebro valley to the village of Elciego, where we can marvel the architect Frank Ghery’s dramatic creation, the Marques de Riscal Winery and Hotel.

Our route begins to ascend, gaining height from the Ebro basin. The sight as we head through the villages is quite something, with undulating vineyards as far as the eye can see! Following the picturesque Rio Rozanco we will arrive in the beautiful, medieval wine village of Laguardia. Sitting high on a rock foundation, the village is located within pristine fortress walls and has hardly changed since the 13th century. Below the village is a honeycomb of tunnels built to store food and provide refuge to residents when under siege. For the last few centuries these cellars have been used to produce and store wine! We’ll head into the depths of the town for a tour of a historical bodega dating back to the 13th century, with a touch of tasting of course, before there is chance to feast on some fantastic Basque cuisine.

Day 6
Laguardia to Logrono
51 Miles / 82 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,300 Metres Approx.

The final day of our Riojan cycling tour is a true beauty! As the sun rises and lights up the ancient golden sandstone of Laguardia, we set out for the stunning Sierra de Cantabria. Gaining steady height through vineyards, we pedal beneath impressive crags with griffon vultures spying on us as we check out bronze-age dolmens that scatter this ancient land!

Skirting past swaying golden wheat we pass the village of Lapoblacion and cross into the Navarra region which stretches to the high Pyrenees and the French border. The roads are desperately quiet and smooth as a terrific 15km descent lets us pin back our ears to blast our way down the Linares valley.

A shot of fine Spanish coffee in the sunshine will hopefully aid us up the final true climb of the week, a 5km climb past the impressively situated Santuario de Condes, to finally descend out of the sierra on a cracking 20km rollercoaster ride through deciduous forest and wheat fields, bringing us back to the beautiful blanket of vines for our last picnic lunch together. Snaking through foothills, we will arrive at the Camino stage-post town of Viana and we’ll meander through the lanes for the final few kilometres to our final destination, Logrono, for some celebratory wine tasting and tapas along the fun Calle Laurel.

Day 7
Departure: Logrono / Bilbao
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Time to pack our bags for the last time. Hopefully there may be time to explore the old quarter of Logrono before heading back to Bilbao and saying our farewells.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The ride through Rioja will be 100% on asphalt roads. The route uses a full mixture of different types of road from single lanes, and quiet double roads but traffic is kept to a minimum. Please be aware that there will be some busier roads which we’ll cycle on, especially when close to towns and villages. Overall the quality of the roads is excellent as throughout most of Spain, although there are sections that are potholed and gravelly at times. It’s a mountainous region, hemmed in by 2 mountain ranges, so we can expect lengthy climbs and descents.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day

For riders with experience, good fitness & a decent level of skill

Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher grade tour

Most days include a couple of significant climbs

Some long days & some steep to very steep sections

Not for beginners

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re definitely not a novice rider, you’re fit, you ride regularly at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for much of the day, you love your bike! You also enjoy a challenge and if you haven’t already done so you’re keen to attempt a semi-serious to serious mountain pass or two. You’re as comfortable with the prospect of descending from the top of a col as you are with the idea of climbing it and you’re confident that you have the skills to do so safely. You’re not necessarily a “racer” but you can crank up the pace a little when it’s necessary and you don’t mind forgoing a coffee stop if the schedule demands it occasionally. You probably own and use clipless pedals. You have good control of your bike and can take a drink from a water bottle without having to unclip and put your feet on the ground. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 3 would be a good option for you.

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Really enjoyed the different types of accommodation each night on this trip from Lograno to the monastery, country hotel, Michelin type hotel. All contributed to the enjoyment of the trip. The food and wine could not be faulted! The lunches were fantastic as ever and the team put in a lot of effort into looking after us.

Emily, Aberdeenshire

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
13/06/2021
Return Date
19/06/2021
Duration
7 days
Price
£1,525.00
Start Date
19/09/2021
Return Date
25/09/2021
Duration
7 days
Price
£1,525.00
Start Date
12/06/2022
Return Date
18/06/2022
Duration
7 days
Price
£1,525.00
Start Date
18/09/2022
Return Date
24/09/2022
Duration
7 days
Price
£1,525.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) 1 wine tasting session

G) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Bilbao airport (BIO)

H) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Bilbao airport (BIO)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

This tour starts and finishes in Logrono.

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday. To join the airport transfer on arrival, you’ll need to arrive into Bilbao airport (BIO) by 12:00 for a 12:30 transfer.

At the end of the tour, we will transfer the group to back to Bilbao airport, with an estimated arrival time of 08:30 – please consider this when booking your return travel and allow enough time to check in for your chosen flight.

Please contact us for more detailed information on the specific flight schedules available for your holiday.

Please check with us before making any travel arrangements, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers. Please note – If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the above time windows there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will usually be in en suite 2, 3 and 4 star hotels or guesthouses. Great care has been taken to find great accommodation for you to enjoy on your holiday. Family run, personable, charming, comfortable and homely are boxes we tick when looking for places to stay. A million miles away from chain style hotels all with unique touches.

Bike Hire

If you have opted to hire then your bike will typically be an aluminium frame Giant Contend with Giant/Liv Avails available for those preferring a women’s specific geometry. They are great bikes with good quality components and generally come equipped with at least one bottle cage, a saddle bag and a small pump. We can also include a helmet which should be requested at time of booking. The bikes come with flat pedals as standard, so if you prefer to ride with clip-in pedals please bring your own pedals along with you.

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News, Reviews & Stories

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