Say “Madrid” to many folks outside Spain and they think: bright lights, big ciudad. But this country’s capital is only one side of an extremely diverse Community of Madrid including historic towns and cities, forested hills and mountains, rivers and lakes, and much more. Summertime is especially delicious in these parts, and one of the most fetching ways to experience this variegated region is on two wheels – whatever your level of experience or skill.
You can rent a bike in Madrid and bring it out to your starting point on the region’s excellent public transportation network (or via rental car), and some of the local cities also offer rental options. So off we go!
A great way to start is to pedal the region’s well known vías verdes (greenways), onetime railway tracks redeveloped for leisure. Running throughout a variety of landscapes, they connect a number of charming towns and points of interest. For example, the Tajuña River route in the southeast of the region is a gentle/flat 49 kilometres (30 miles) which starts in the town of Arganda del Rey, a 30-minute drive from downtown Madrid but also reachable via Metro. The paved, well signposted route takes you alongside the river through other towns such as Morata de Tajuña, Carabaña, and Orusco, passing woods, water mills – and in the town of Ambite you can even stop for a dip in the town pool, behind the old train station. There’s also a side route along here called the 40-Day Railway, through 14 km (8½ mi.) of gentle countryside filled with olive trees.
Turismo Comunidad de Madrid
Another pair of greenways are also marked by rivers (specifically the Guadarrama and Alberche). The first, 14 km (8½ mi.) from Móstoles (about a half hour southwest of Madrid by road or Metro) to Navalcarnero, passes through pine forests, vineyards, and historic bridges, while the second is a little more challenging – 22 km (13½ mi.) through valleys and past reservoirs and historic churches.
About an hour north of Madrid, in the Guadarrama Mountains, the Lozoya Valley offers a wealth of great options for all skill/experience levels, from loops through the towns of Navarredonda, Canencia, and Garganta de los Montes to more complex/challenging itineraries through mountain passes (such as the 87 km/54 mi. route which begins and ends in Soto del Real, passing through other towns such as Rascafría and Navacerrada and affording some truly spectacular views along the way).
All these are part of the Ciclamadrid project, 471 km (293 mi.) of biking greenways that are projected to surround the capital, linking with the existing green cycling ring. This still growing network both promotes sustainable tourism and a different way to experience some of the amazing places out here such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez, and San Lorenzo del Escorial), with extraordinary historic sites, museums, and summertime events. Of the twelve sections originally planned, several are already up and running.
Sounds good, right? Shall we go for a ride?