Ride Report: IV Lands gravel event
Gravel Union On
28 January 2021
The name of this route is taken from the four different territories or Spanish provinces that the route passes through, all of them joined by a singular and common thing - the vineyards from where some of the best Spanish wines will be sourced. This circular route starts and finishes in Vitoria in the Basque Country, north of Spain, easy to reach from Bilbao airport and a beautiful area in Spain which is worth a visit for all keen gravel riders!
The landscape along the three days of the route is very varied and not only contains vineyards, but a combination of mountains, plateaus, singletrack and very nice to ride gravel roads. The whole route is 300 Km in total, with around 4000m of accumulated elevation - that could make, depending on our pace, a nice or a hard ride!
On our first day we left Vitoria in the afternoon on our way to Haro, the wine capital in the famous Rioja region and where on arrival we took part in some local wine tasting. The day included some nice climbs, secluded roads and tracks and passed by the small Condado de Treviño - a small land island into the Basque country that belonged to Castilla y Leon before landing in La Rioja. On our first day we already rode through three of the four different "Lands" we were meant to touch during the event.
We rode the route with a bunch of great people in a semi-organized style - a group that reflected the reality of this cycling discipline and could be described as variety. As gravel and bikepacking is so versatile I think it fits everybody and we could all find something interesting in it for us. There was some pre-arranged accommodation during the tour, but there were some members of the group that slept on an open sports center (Fronton) using their own bikepacking equipment.
On the second day we met early and after a short briefing we started our route with a clear main course on the day’s menu, La Sierra de la Demanda - a set of mountains around the 2000m mark in the heart of La Rioja. We hoped to conquer the summit after a long and steady climb on a mostly broken tarmac road, a climb that used to be a stage final in La Vuelta some years back. At the very top we had a nice and well sorted Feed Station with homemade cakes, coffee and a number of refreshments and soft drinks.
Here is where the magic of gravel started. The end of the road now means “Start of the adventure” as we took a double track that took us around the surrounding peaks - always close to the tops along beautiful ridges for almost 20kms fluctuating above the 2000 m line. After that ,a long and fast descent took us to San Millan de la Cogolla, famous for its monasteries and also known for being the birthplace of the Spanish language almost 1000 years ago. After a proper lunch there we headed to the Logroño (capital of La Rioja) outskirts for the last kms of a fabulous gravel day.
Our aim on the last day was to start early so that we could arrive to Vitoria at lunch time after around 90kms . On our way from Logroño to Vitoria we passed along some of the most beautiful landscapes of the weekend, in something we can call the “Spanish Toscana” - all we could see was the track we were following crossing rolling hills and a series of non-stop vineyards. The last part of the route was following a “via verde” which is a track made on the former path of a railway so you can always expect good terrain to roll through and a perfect gravel surface.
Overall, the IV Lands is a route loaded with potential. We had a mix of wine culture, gastronomy, nature, landscapes and crossed through many different Spanish regions, all in just 3 days - a winning mix without any doubt!
The weekend was organized by @ibaipacking He was super experienced at organising this type of informal event, where we can share our riding passion on this cycling discipline in which we all have love.
You can follow the route of the event here:
Text by @Jorge_padrones Images by @ibaipacking and @antonioortizbike Video by @gsport_oficial