The connoisseurs and the people of the north say that nothing has to envy the famous Angliru. And the truth is that on paper, that’s what it seems: just over 15 kilometers with a 9.7% average slope, but with ramps of 20%. All ascent, ramp after ramp, without speed bumps, without recovery sections, one slope upwards, a drop of more than 1400 meters to more than 1700 meters of altitude. A hard nut to crack that part of Pla de Lena, in Asturias. The landscape and the satisfaction affirm that they deserve much the penalty after crowning this mountain port, the highest peak of the Mountain range of the Aramo.
JITU DE ESCARANDI
You leave from Puente Poncebos, at the gates of the Throat of the Cares and in plenary Picos de Europa. Perhaps one of the most beautiful of all the national panorama. A lighter average than the Gamoniteiro, of 7.4%, and a drop of just over 1100 meters. Nothing more and nothing less. This mountain pass, of 15 kilometers, reaches an altitude of 1317 meters and yes it has a central part, especially the 8 and 9 kilometers, to something less than 6%, which serves to oxygenate the legs somewhat. The rest, always above 9% on average, with a kilometer 11 to 11.2% on average. Of course, as we say, the landscape and the views are for the memory. A mountain pass to frame. If you catch it snowed even more.
COLL DE LA GALLINA
If you go up Fontaneda, you will learn of its hardness. This mountain pass of the Pyrenees, already in Andorran territory, reaches 1907 meters of altitude and is the border between Spain and Andorra. It became more popular this year, with the victory of Enric Mas in the Tour of Spain, but it had already been run in the Vuelta itself in 2012 and 2013. With the Pyrenean print in the background, your soul opens up to see its last curve at right to crown him. Before that, you have had more than 12 kilometers with ramps of up to 18%. The best, in addition, is at the end, in the last 4 kilometers that are born from a kilometer 8 to 12.1% on average. From that point, which coincides with the town of Borda del Gastó, we must take the rest, because what is left is almost 10% on average.
PUERTO DE ANCARES
In Lugo, this Galician port was the final stage in La Vuelta 2014. 1100 meters of positive height gain, 9.2% on average and 7 of those kilometers to more than 11% on average. Of course, if you get to Pan do Zarco, at kilometer 8, you have it done, because the end is the softest part. From the banks of the Balouta River, the prize is at the top, with an imposing view. A cyclist port worthy of praise and enjoyment.
ALTO DE LOS MACHUCOS
He also gained fame with the final stage of La Vuelta in 2017. And it is also known as Collado de la Espina. It is a challenge for any cyclist, with ramps of more than 28% that force you to put all the development and zigzag. If you see a pasiega cow, you have reached the top, because a stone monolith pays homage to them at the top. Before, in a concrete and tar pavement quite changeable and, of course, cracked and without any shoulder, this Cantabrian port will have taken your last drop of sweat. Do not trust yourself, because it starts off smoothly, but starting at kilometer 5 it bursts you, because in fact that same kilometer already achieves an average of 14%. From there until kilometer 11 is the hardest part, with a short break at kilometer 7. If you get there, spend the last two kilometers of descent and occasional slopes enjoying the scenery. And of achievement.
The Vuelta has been the judge of the Vuelta in the years in which it has been presented. In the Sabero valley, this port of León has a history. It was a refuge in the middle of the Civil War and a meeting point for the mayors of the districts of the area to analyze the territory. Because from there you see half the world. The natural area is dedicated to grazing, so be careful because car traffic is not much, but animals. It is a crossroads and also an exit of parapentistas, that are going to laugh enough of you when they see you semiparado in its final section. Because it reaches ramps of 24%, but is that in addition, its last 3 kilometers have 15, 17 and 10% on average respectively. So be careful, the procession is long. If after more than 9 kilometers crowns, that you know that it is of Special Category.
Did you think we could forget it? Really? The Angliru is the surname of mountain biking in Spain. This Asturian port, baptized as the lake that encloses the Sierra del Aramo, is located at an altitude of 1570 meters. Since the Vuelta a España in 1999 became a queen stage, it went from being a route for cattle ranchers and hikers to become a mythical port of national cycling. 12.6 kilometers with an average that exceeds 10% and a maximum that is around 24% on some ramps. Little rest, except in Via Pará, at kilometer 5, with 2.1% average slope. But beware, because from there we list average slopes of each kilometer: 13.7%, 11.9%, 12.1%, 14%, 17.5% (yes, yes, you read correctly, 17.5% of average at kilometer 10), and 13.6%. 6 kilometers that you are going to do very, very long. Prepare the plate of 32 and go loose legs, because the road is going to hold very strong.
There are many more ports throughout the Spanish territory worthy of praise. Of course, we can not highlight them all. What is your favorite mountain pass?