Bike Trail Views and Our Reviews
Parque Natural Sierra Norte
We were planning our second trip to Seville, Spain in under six months thanks to our son’s extra semester studying in this delightful city. We wanted to be there for the Feria de Abril, and we also wanted to see different sights. I came across a tweet about a couple of bike tour possibilities in the south of Spain, and we were immediately hooked on the idea. We also did not want to spend more than one day riding, since there is so much to see and do in Seville, and Alyssa and her boyfriend had not been there before. We made a reservation with Andalucía Tours and Discovery for the five of us for the Countyside Bike Tour. It sounded like it would be perfect for us. A full day of riding, but with plenty of stopping to take photos.
We met Carlos at 8:45 am at the shop and loaded up the bikes. He talked us into trying the electric bikes, and since we did not have to use the battery powered juice unless we wanted or needed to we all agreed. Also, we were not sure of how we would do with a day long ride this early in the spring.
We all came into this activity in varying degrees of fitness. I had only done a couple of rides so far this year, but think I’m in pretty decent shape with all the swimming, walking, lifting and yoga I do; John had done less rides, but tends to ride a bit at the gym; Alex has been working out at a gym and riding the Sevici bikes around Sevilla, but not for extended periods of time; Alyssa hasn’t been on a bike or in a spin class for a long time, but is playing soccer and doing yoga; and Matt (Alyssa’s boyfriend) rides the bike when he goes to the gym. So, as much as I didn’t want to use the e-bike, it seemed like the thing to do. (And, I’m so glad we all opted for it.)
It was a beautiful day that started off on the cool side. We loaded up and headed off for the mountains of Seville, specifically the Parque Natural de la Sierra Norte de Sevilla. We pulled into Constantina, a small town, about an hour and a quarter later. Carlos got the bikes off the transport while we went to use the facilities at a bar on the street corner. I wasn’t going to use the electric, but Carlos told us to give it a try so we would be comfortable using it if we needed it. So, I turned the key to on, hopped on the bike and took off. It felt like a regular fat tire hybrid bike. Heavier than my road bike back home by a lot, but not too bad. I hit the plus button to see what the electric was like and almost flew off the back of the bike. I shot down the road like a rocket complete with G forces. Holy Moley! Everyone cracked up at my reaction to the juiced ride. I made a mental note that I wouldn’t be using the turbo boost, if I could help it.
We set off through the quaint village and stopped at a beautiful church. We walked into it and took some photos. Then, continued on our way. The village looked to me like the pictures I’ve seen of Portuguese villages with all white buildings. It was really pretty. The sun was shining and the sky was a lovely blue. We were definitely in farm country.
There were olive trees, almond trees and orange trees along the way. We came across herds of cows, sheep and passed Iberian pig farms. These pigs are very pampered. One farm had special areas for pregnant pigs to live, so they don’t have to forage for their own food. It was a beautiful area.
Carlos stopped and pointed out interesting sights and we took lots more pictures.We were on roads that were not very traveled at all. We found out as we were entering another town, smaller than the first, that we would be riding on a trail that followed the mining railroad. We couldn’t believe it! How lucky for us to end up on a Spanish Rail Trail!
The views were spectacular.
We stopped in a recreational area and marveled at the beauty and peacefulness. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail. We had a small snack to carry us through to lunch.
We stopped for lunch in San Nicolás del Puerto. It was delicious. Carlos arranged for us to try a bunch of local dishes: Salmorejo (a puréed tomato, garlic, onion soup with hard boiled egg on it); jamón Iberíco; a variety of setas (locally picked mushrooms) in a delicious sauce; Croquetas; and a plate of pork that sampled the best parts of the pig. It was served with two big grilled peppers. Each piece of meat was more delicious than the last. We washed it down with the light red wine drink called Tinto de Verano, made with red wine and lemon soda. We were also invited to do a post meal shot of pomegranate liquor. It was very comida típica!
The second half of our trip was more of a workout as we hit a number of hills. Thankfully we had the electric assists, if we wanted or needed them. I definitely took advantage of it during a couple of areas. We went through the Cerro del Hierro mining town that currently only has forty people living it because the iron mine closed thirty years ago. It was difficult to comprehend this lifestyle. No cell phones. No jobs. Many moved out in search of work. Carlos told us about a man he talked to once that had walked twenty miles in one day just because he wanted to see the view from the distant mountain. It was a stark contrast to our time is money mentality. Carlos noted that, “Here, time is just time.”
We made it back to our transport in Constantina tired, a little sore, but so happy. It was an absolutely amazing day. We enjoyed some refreshing beverages back at the bar on the corner, while Carlos loaded the bikes back up.
We would do another trip in this region again in a heartbeat. The kids loved it, too. It easily became one of the best highlights of the trip. Carlos was a great guide and we highly recommend Andalucia Tours and Discovery.