Via Verdes or Greenways are a network of disused railway lines across Spain that have been redeveloped for walkers and cyclists to enjoy. They are a great way to access the Spanish countryside without the risk of getting lost and because they are old railway lines the inclines are not too steep.
The route officially starts at the Alcoy railway station, however, the first three km or so were paved over in 2005 to create a three-lane road. So we started near the football ground and skate park in the Batoi region of the town.
Starting here you are straight onto the track proper without having to negotiate the town traffic, there is plenty of space to park and a small picnic area with signs and maps giving details of the route and what to look for on the way.
Settings off along the line the surface is half tarmac and half gravel to cater for all tastes, watch for the transition as in some places it could catch out the unwary whilst enjoying the view. The first real item of interest for me apart from the stunning scenery was the seven-arched viaduct which you can see in the distance off to the left, but first, we have to pass through 1 of 10 tunnels on the route.
The tunnels have a lighting system operated by push buttons every 50m or so however due to inevitable vandalism they do not all function and in some of the later tunnels, there is no lighting whatsoever so be advised to take cycle lights.
This first tunnel is short and straight with good lighting, the second, approximately 400m in length arches round approx 90 degrees and deposits you with a clear view out onto the viaduct. From here you have great views up and down the valley, watch for photographers meandering about without looking.
From the bridge the route starts to gently climb the valley wall passing through a number of tunnels of varying length and light quality before turning around the head of the valley and arriving at the last two tunnels, these are the highlight (or rather no light) of the ride being of 900 and 1000m respectively. This is where good lights come in handy as the tunnels have no light and due to there length and direction no natural light either. Not somewhere to be stuck with flickering bike lights.
Out of the end and back into the countryside you are now in another valley altogether, travelling alongside the A7 motorway. A couple of Km's further along the track comes to an end at a sign. It may be possible to pick up the old railway line further along but at this point, it goes through a private estate and is blocked off. Most people turn around here and return back to Alcoy enjoying the downhill to the car park.
This ride is well worth doing and is not beyond the abilities of most leisure cyclist.