Spain is a destination endlessly popular with cyclists. Its excellent climate, beautiful natural landscapes, and bike-friendly cities make it the perfect holiday location for travel hungry cycling nuts all around the world. For a truly special two-wheeled tour, though, head to the south east of Spain and the hip, hot and happening coastal regions of Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia.

And don’t worry: with some careful planning, you won’t have to go through the rigmarole of hiring once you’re there. Pack smart and you can take your own bike with you on your epic Spanish odyssey.

Picture by Martin Cox on Flickr, some rights reserved

Packing your Bike for a Flight

First things first: read the small print. Even if an airline is offering cheap flights, they may charge you a high fee to check your bike, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deals. Though it can be tempting to box up your bike and claim it’s just a regular old piece of luggage, this will prevent you from claiming any insurance if the bike is damaged during transit.

As for the actual packaging, it comes down to three options. Firstly, you could choose a soft bike case or plastic bag. Bags are cheap and flexible but don’t offer much protection from overenthusiastic baggage handlers.

Secondly, you could invest in a sturdy rigid case. This will definitely keep your bike safe, but is also the most expensive option and difficult to transport once you’re off the plane.

Your third option is a cardboard box, which strikes a happy medium between the other two, giving adequate protection to your bike without being too expensive. Best of all, you can maintain your green credentials by recycling it once you get to your destination!

City Biking

Some of the best cycling to be found in this part of the world is in Murcia. This university city boasts numerous cycling trails and fascinating sights in the centre of town, including an ornate cathedral, a large botanical garden and park, and a spectacular world-famous casino in the Sociedad Casino of Murcia.

Further south from Murcia, the coastal cities of Almeria and Cartagena provide ample opportunities for cycling. The notoriously dry Almeria is particularly pleasant for tranquil bike rides during the cooler autumn months. Meanwhile, Cartagena is the place to be if you’re into your historic architecture. The city is home to an ancient Roman theatre, the ruins of a cathedral destroyed in the Spanish Civil War, and a number of striking Art Nouveau buildings.

Cycling Disused Railway Tracks

Around the south east of Spain, there are numerous disused railway tracks, which have been converted into cycling paths. Known as “greenways” or via verdes to the locals, these paths are a secluded and truly unique way of travelling through Spain’s natural landscapes.

If you’re headed for Valencia, take a train down to Gandia and hop on the Safor Greenway, a long straight cycling path that takes you past orange groves, canals and rural villages. From Murcia, you can head west inland on the Greenway of the Northwest, a 78 km line that links Murcia with Caravaca de la Cruz, one of the Holy Cities of the Catholic Church and a place famous for its spectacular 15th century castle.

Coastal Bicycle Paths

For cyclists who want to make the most of Spain’s sandy beaches and warm waters, there are plenty of coastal routes to choose from. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, fly into Valencia and then make your way down the coast to Malaga. You’ll pass through the beach resort towns of Benidorm and Alicante (where you can get your sunbathing and clubbing fix) before reaching the Murcian towns of San Javier, Cartagena and Aguilas.

Once in Andalusia, head south along the coast to spots such as Carboneras, home of the famous Playa de los Muertos beach. Move on through the fishing village of San Jose, before finishing up in Almeria. Trust us – the journey will be tough on the legs but easy on the eyes!

The real beauty of taking a cycling tour of south east Spain is that it’s very easy to get budget flight deals, particularly if you travel off-peak. If you take your bike as well, your travel costs once you arrive will be dramatically reduced, which means more money for sightseeing, tapas and lots of cold Spanish beers.

Muy bueno!

Hello fellow bike commuters! Did you miss your Monday Bike Geek fix? Me too, but I had a very busy weekend and I was not able to write my weekly post. Let’s just hope that I still have a “job” at BikeCommuters.com (who are we kidding, I effin’ run the show here!)

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So the unofficial start of summer is here and two of the things that are on my bucket list is to do a bicycle camping trip and learn to play golf. Well Burley is one of those companies that is well known for their trailers (they did have bitchin’ tandems years ago) so they sent a Burley Travoy to fulfill that bike-camping dream of mine.

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This thing is freaking awesome, it folds so it is out of the way if you live in a Condo and it is very sturdy once it is fully erect. It comes with a tote bag with neat little tie downs, quick release bicycle attachment, 12 inch wheels and it carries up to 60 lbs. I’ve been planning a small trip to a camping ground 23 miles away from where I work so stay tuned for that adventure in the near future.

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In the meanwhile, what to do with the Travoy? Well, since I started learning how to hit that little white ball, I figured that I can ride my bike to my always crowded golf range and when the time comes, I can use the Travoy to haul my golf clubs around! Pretty neat, eh.

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We will be putting the Travoy to the test, come back for the updates!

Most of us are familiar with the famous “Blue Book” for cars. If you are not familiar with it, this little book (now a website and app) would give you an estimate of what a car is worth.

So a blue book for bikes would make sense, right? I mean, we all want to know what our bike is worth if we want to sell it. As an avid buyer and seller of bicycles on Craigslist (I’m not a flipper), I can tell you that the bicycle blue book sucks. Here is why: the prices are no where close to what the Los Angeles market dictates. This means that if you list your bike at “market value” you always get that buyer who wants to buy your bike at “blue book value”.

Here is a couple of examples of my personal experiences:

I sold a 2004 Giant TCR for $500 on Craigslist, Max Bicycle Blue book value: $300. GTFO.
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Sold a 2007 Bianchi Via Nirone 7 on Craigslist for $450, Max Bicycle Blue Book value: a ridiculous $169.
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Friends have also told me that when they try to sell bikes, the bicycle blue book value is way off.

Why such discrepancies? Not sure but here is my theory: According to the bicycle blue book site, it gathers data from Ebay and other sources but it does not cite Craigslist as one of the main sources. As far as I know, Craigslist contains more bicycle listings than eBay and it really dictates the market value of a bike more accurately.

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Sure you have idiots on Craigslist trying to sell piece of shit bikes for unrealistic prices, but that is where the art of bargaining comes in. On the other side of the coin, if you happen to be a buyer and you get that uninformed seller and throw the blue book value at them and they bite, you just scored a nice deal.

So if anyone is selling a Bianchi Via Nirone for $169, hit me at a thebikegeek@bikecommuters.com.

I hope you have been enjoying “Bike to work month” also known as “Bike commuters get lots of free schwag month.” Lots of companies jump on the “bike to work” bandwagon and all kinds of interesting stuff pops up during this month.

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An email that I received from Performance Bicycle caught my interest, it was called “How to make your business bike friendly“.

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So this got me thinking if my company is bike friendly, or to be more precise, bike commuter friendly. As I mentioned on previous posts, the President of the company that I work for rides his bike to work from time to time so he understands some of our needs. Although the company does not have a dedicated bicycle rack to park our bikes, he is cool with having our bikes inside next to our cubicles or in the warehouse. I think that this is much better than leaving the bikes outside.

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We also don’t have any showers and I doubt that the owner of the building would want to add one. I really don’t see the lack of showers a big deal, we have written a few articles on how to clean up once you get to work:

http://www.bikecommuters.com/2007/06/22/i-used-to-stink/

http://www.bikecommuters.com/2008/03/11/how-to-avoid-being-smelly-when-you-get-to-your-destination/

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Here’s the thing, I really don’t believe that a facility needs to be “bike friendly” to promote bike commuting, I think our culture is so car centric that we are usually dubbed as the weirdos that ride a bike to work and that is what needs to change. Bike commuting is perceived as dangerous, inconvenient and in some cases, as the poor man’s form of transportation.

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But how do we change that? Trying to convince that our fat ass society needs more physical activity? Good luck with that… That cycling is safe? Cycling is indeed safe, is the asshole drivers that make it dangerous. Provide more infrastructure for bicycles? Sure, but it is my experience that bike lanes are not enough. Move to Portland? I wish.

I no longer try to convince people to ride their bike to work, I just simply answer their questions on why it is a personal preference. So let’s keep enjoying all the free stuff that we get on “Bike to work month/week/day”, the way I see it, more free stuff for us!

Next on The Bike Geek: More carrying options for Bike Commuters!
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