Posted by: paulgilders | April 27, 2012

Sierra de Guadarrama

Our research into cycling out of Madrid was highlighted by three things. Firstly everyone said that cycling in Madrid was horrible. Secondly, Madrid does have a purpose built cycle route around the perimeter of the city. Thirdly, there appeared to be only one cycle-friendly route out of the city.

So the following morning, we pushed our bikes through the city centre and out to the closest park. We then joined the cycleway around the city, that was being heavily used by local cyclists (it was Saturday) and headed out north (albeit our general direction was to head south west). After all the warnings, we were delightfully surprised to have an extremely safe and easy ride out of the city. The cyclepath continued for about 30km beyond the city limits – right to the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama where we had identified camping.



Our campsite was close to the small town of Manzanares al Real, with beautiful castle and storks nesting on the church belltower.




After a couple of nights camping, we cycled off with the intention of going over the Sierra de Guadarrama to the city of Segovia. However, with 30 km/h headwinds, (no doubt much stronger at the pass) we decided to stop short at the ski village of Navacerrada.


Unfortunately, ski villages out of season don’t exactly thrive and we struggled to pull an evening meal together.

The following day the winds has subsided considerably, so we headed up the pass – climbing the 600m in about 7km – that’s really hard work for us! We stopped many times and ascended through the snow line to the pass of “Puerto de Navacerrada”, where we stopped for essential hot drinks. We were pleasantly cold and watched skiers come into the ski station. I knew the downhill would be even colder, so decided to buy a neck warmer at the top.




We descended quickly – switching back through trees to the new world below – flat dry open pasture. We soon came into the small town of San Ildefonso o La Granje – a place dominated by a huge palace. The streets were almost empty – a combination of siesta time and few tourists.




Our cycle for the last 8km to Segovia was surprisingly undertaken on a dedicated cyclepath – Segovia is renowned for being cycle-friendly. Our campsite on the edge of town has sheep next door and beautiful views back over the Sierra.



  1. Poppy amongst the poppies…. aaaahhhhh. I was looking for stocks up on the bell tower – imagining poor peasants being tomatoed – coz that’s what all those castles bring to mind. But instead it was storks! Amazing how a missing letter alters the mental picture. Wow you are having the most amazing journey. I guess your tent is feeling particularly homey now. You can fall asleep in there feeling totally content. Get it??

    • Thanks for pointing out the spelling mistake! – at least I didn’t see the stocks up there!

      You are correct that the tent is becoming familiar – too familiar in fact – we’ve had a couple of days of rain in Segovia and been locked in the tent for most of the days – not much fun actually. Looks like we have more rain ahead and the tent is getting slowly wetter. It’s also pretty cold – we are wearing nearly all our clothes most of the time.

      We will probably move on tomorrow regardless.

      Hope the cycling is going well for you!

      Catch you later.


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