When there is an opportunity to have a fiesta in Spain, it will not be missed by anyone. A major sports event, the Tour of Spain (La Vuelta a Espana) road cycling race stops traffic on major and minor roads for the professional cyclists to ride along their route, and spectators congest the rest of the nearby roads. In any case, the most important thing is to get out there, and have a fabulous picnic with friends or family.
In August 2017, one of the stages of the Tour of Spain ended on a mountain Xorret de Cati near a small town of Castalla, located roughly between Alcoy and Alicante. It happened to be Saturday, which meant thousands and thousands of people packed their picnic baskets and headed to the mountain to have a good time. Many people rode their bicycles up the mountain as well.
The dedication of spectators is convincing. Since the roads are closed well in advance the racers arrive, people have to walk several kilometers carrying their cooler boxes and picnic baskets. Especially, the cooler boxes can be heavy with ice and beer, sometimes requiring two men to carry one to a destination. Naturally, everyone has to walk back to their cars after the race has gone by.
The special feature of this particular mountain road is that it is extremely steep. 20% ascent is so brutal that you have to walk up yourself in order to appreciate the racers who first ride 160 km / 100 miles and then tackle the ascent.
A Spanish fiesta is a loud and social event even if the reason for the party is sports: a bicycle race. It is a lot of fun, simply. A warm day and the hot afternoon sun means that everyone has to find some kind of shade. That’s why people may seem to be hiding behind trees.
The video clip below shows the big favorites passing our picnic spot. Alberto Contador is launching an attack while Chris Froome is crouching behind his team mates at this point of the race. A small group of riders, including the eventual stage winner Julian Alaphilippe went by already a couple of minutes earlier.
Then, it is time to head back to the civilization.