MontañasVacias XL

This new proposal that connects the original MontañasVacías loop with other remarkable mountain ranges of the Serranía Celtiberica traces a route of up to 1700 km. It’s based on a few field trips, recommendations from good friends, and a “general attempt” in September 2020.


Since MV emerged, I have spoken with many of you, learned from your concerns, exchanged impressions, and delighted with the tremendous diversity of profiles. But always sharing an idea: bike trips as a way to bring value to a territory.

That’s why this idea has been sizzling in my head since day one, because there are a lot of places that deserve to be rode as well, to be discovered, to be made aware of their problems and to finally be added to our list of possible cycling destinations.

This new loop is not intended to replace or be a modification of MV. The original route will remain as it is now, and will continue to focus the main dedication. I just want to show that these outback areas are a perfect “blank canvas” for this kind of trip, philosophy, and above all, interaction with this unique territory. A perfect excuse to plan your own route and come and discover this little-visited area.

In a homogeneous and highly populated Europe, the Empty Spain is an unique experience. Extreme and bare landscapes, deserts, arid mountains, impossible villages and the constant question: who lives here and why”.

Sergio del Molino. La España Vacía.

The Route

The idea is simple: a loop of just over 1000 km that connects with the northern end of MontañasVacías. Play with the track, follow it, or not … research, use the links or create your own. With endless possibilities, this track is only meant to be a proposal, an excuse to launch yourself to investigate these areas and design your own routes.

Some numbers:

Original MV route680km 13000m+
20% asphalt
New loop1040km 18000m+
30% asphalt
Complete loop1720km 31000m+
26% asphalt

Tracks:

RIDEWITHGPS
Google Drive
IF YOU WANT A PRINT OF THE MAP, IT IS AVAILABLE AS A FREE DOWNLOAD, JUST FILL OUT THIS SMALL SURVEY AND TAKE IT TO YOUR LOCAL PRINTER.


If you see some mountains in the distance, you are probably going towards them”.


poi’s

  • Sigüenza. Beautiful medieval town to get lost in its streets and enjoy its architectural jewels. Its gastronomy does not fail since, despite its size, it has two Michelin-starred restaurants.
  • Sierra Norte de Guadalajara and Sierra de Ayllón. Famous for their black villages, made entirely from black slate, these mountain ranges are crossed by some of the most impressive roads of the entire route. It has examples of abandoned towns in the process of reconstruction, with very interesting stories, such as those of La Vereda and Fraguas.
  • Río Lobos Canyon. An impressive canyon of karst limestone bounded by evocative walls of up to 200m. In rainy seasons you will have to avoid it by road because of the floods.
  • Sierra de la Demanda, Tierra de Cameros, and Tierras Altas. High mountain areas dotted with towns and villages that still use summer pastures to feed flocks of sheep, the wool from which once dressed half of Spain. Its well-groomed tracks cross endless forests of pine, oak and beech that was, and still is, the other source of income in the area. If you are stealthy you can enjoy encounters with deer, roe deer, wild boar, or even wolves.
  • Moncayo. With its 2314m, this solitary peak is visible for more than 200 km of the route. It has a special magnetism, you can’t take your eyes off it. Surrounding it with this route was a must from the first day.
  • Laguna de Gallocanta. Paradise for birdwatchers, it is the largest saline wetland in the country and the best preserved in Western Europe. The light at dawn and dusk is an absolute spectacle, and so is reaching it through the Sierras de Pardos and Santa Cruz.

loops & links

When MVXL was just a doodle on a piece of paper, there were already areas where I was visualizing 2 or 3 day loops. Without any doubt, some others will emerge over time, as the living and collaborative idea that this has always been. Here are some brushstrokes:

  • Sigüenza – Wadapichu loop. Years ago a good friend named some areas of the Sierra Norte de Guadalajara that way because of its inhospitable valleys and its similarities to the famous Peruvian site. In addition, it runs through the Sierra de Ayllón, and charming towns such as Sigüenza or Atienza. It consists of 300 km and almost 6000 m+.
  • North Zone. Sixty kilometers of the Santander-Mediterráneo Greenway are already available, which allows closing a loop with the northern part of the route, which includes Demanda,Cameros, y Tierras Altas. The result would be 385 km and about 7000 m +. It can also serve as an escape to Soria if necessary. As an alternative to the Greenway, you can research the Tierra de Pinares area.
  • Moncayo Loop. Surrounding the Moncayo is one of the highlights of the route. A complete tour of this mythical mountain can be a beautiful getaway of one or two days, depending on the chosen route. I don’t give more clues, research and find out for yourself.

Technical difficulty

“I’ve never felt so free and so miserable at the same time”

Daniel Mateu (@dmateuf). MV 2019

Nothing new compared to the original route, MVXL keeps on getting the most of one of the hidden treasures of the Spanish outback: The thousands of kilometres of public and unfenced doubletracks and gravel roads.

But you know, bikepacking without pushing is not bikepacking. That’s why I left some points for adventure. Specifically, there are only four hike-a-bike sections in the whole loop. In the guide I’m preparing you will see them all, as well as their possible escapes if you don’t want to face them.


Info + Guide

This little big madness aims to encourage you to awake your more self-sufficient side. Due to the covered extension, I won’t offer the same level of support on this route as I did on the original one. Instead of email or PM on social media to contact me about these areas, I encourage you to use the Facebook MV Group, there are great connoisseurs of each of the areas in it, and we will all help each other. It’s part of the charm I pretend with all this. Neither the guide, which I will publish soon, will have the same level of detail, it will only give a few brushstrokes that will help you draw your own adventure and adapt it to your needs.


Acknowledgements

Without any doubt, in comparison with the process to create the original route, in this case the most beautiful thing was that I was not alone. I enjoyed the advice, help and support of a lot of cracks that gave their best to help me find the routes that most represented the MontañasVacías philosophy.

Alex, Miguelito, Irra, Mikel, Enrico, Silvia, Samu, Agustín, Chus, Arturo, Dani, Felipe, and all those who contributed a grain of sand in the Facebook Group. I know it is always said, but without all of you, this would have been very different…

And of course, I’ll leave her to the end, María, for her patience, for her support every day, and for her miles of R&D since this began to sizzle in my head.


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