Lagos de Covadonga
One of the big things of being a cyclist is that you have the possibility of riding the same places that the Pro guys ride. The roads are open for everyone that needs a challenge or just for the pleasure of riding and the reward of the views.
I’m sure you have heard about this mythical Spanish climb, Los Lagos de Covadonga. One of the big attractions in La Vuelta, each year is climbed in the race, giving us great cycling moments of pain, attacks and victories. Well, today I will show you where it is, how to get there and why it is so amazing.
A little bit of history
Lagos de Covadonga climb, located in Asturias and its inside the Covadonga National Park. It is not, in fact, a pass, there is no way out to another valley. The road takes you to the top of the mountains where you can find two lakes, Enol and Ercina. Lot of years ago, you could find a mine at the top, there are some ruins of it, now It is a place where the cattle raising walks free along the year and the road is used by the shepherds to take care of their animals. (take note of this, you can find cows or sheep in the middle of the road) There is a Sanctuary in the base, Covadonga, with a Basilica and the cave where Pelayo, first King of Asturias is buried. The mountains that surround it were the place where the Reconquest began. (or so is told)
The climb itself is 10km with a little descent before the last ramps. If we count from Cangas de Onis, you have to add 9 more km. But I will propose to you a 137km ride which will take you to the east coast of Asturias near their beaches and to this big and beautiful mountain. From Cangas de Onis to Ribadesella, Llanes, a couple of passes, Torneria, Riensena and then to the final one, Lagos. This route is the one that each year is ridden for about 4000 cyclists from all over the country, and some from abroad, in the Classic Lagos de Covadonga for amateurs.
Our ride begins in Cangas de Onis, first capital of Asturias Kingdom and takes us to Ribadesella, a little fishers town with a beautiful beach. This road is wide and the traffic, sometimes, could be heavy. It is a little downhill near the river Sella, the one famous for the canoe race in the summer. Once you are in Ribadesella, the first little climb is coming. A little uphill, not very hard but enough to warm our muscles. This road takes you to Llanes, in a hilly route, where if the wind is blowing, it will make us suffer a little more.
Once in Llanes the first pass is near Torneria Pass. We will be climbing for 5 km. In the beginning it is not a hard one, but it has some ramps at 13% and the average is 9,6%. Near the top, if the day is clear enough, you can admire the sea and the beach you left behind some kilometers before.
After the Torneria, you go down in a vertiginous descent where you have to be careful. The views are amazing. Big mountains, trees, maybe you can see some deers which run free in the mountains. The descent will be about 5 kilometers and will take us to a road cross where we take to the right into a big road for about another 5 km where we take a little road on the left to Riensena, or Torno Pass. This is a narrow road, with not so much traffic and always uphilling, slowly, that one where you have to be careful with your power because, remember, you have to finish this one and then the final “prize”. This is an easy one, not a lot of gradiente, but there is a little trap. Onces you get to the top, there is a descent, but suddenly comes another climb where you have to be ready because it’s not easy with double numbers in the gradient field of your GPS.
Once at the top, the road goes down to the outskirts of Cangas de Onis, close to the Hotel where our big cyclist, Miguel Indurain, took to an end his Professional career. One in the big roundabout, we take the exit with the Covadonga signal. Right in front of us, the road begins to point up. Slowly, you feel that keeping the rhythm is not easy as some kilometers before. Fortunately the tarmac has been repaired and the bike rolls easy, helping us a little bit. But we are not in “our” climb. It will take us some kilometers before the things begin to get serious, really serious. Before the climb on itself begins, we pass near the “doors” of Covadonga and, if you look to the left, upon us, you can see the pink stoned Basilica watching us. That´s the moment, if you´re a believer, to pray to the “Santina”, Virgin of Covadonga, to help you in the climb.
And there we go, after a little roundabout the road put us in place, 9% in the first km, and this just had begun… In between a tree tunnel, a long straight takes you to the Canonigos Viewpoint. At this place the road let us breath again. Here is where you have to look for your rhythm, cadence, power… there is a long way to the top still. Until you get to the Huesera, the gradient keeps on the single figures with some points at 10 or little more, but suddenly, you are in front of a less than one kilometer straight, and a little signal on the left which says “La Huesera”, where the hell begins, 15%, 16% some 18%… turn right, a little bit more, turn left, this never ends… for 6 km the gradient are always with two digits. Hard, very hard. A little time for relax until De la Reina Viewpoint, where the road pointo to the sky again and your brain begins to ask what are you doing there… Only 4 km to the top…Now a descent, near a kilometer, to breath, relax and get ready for the last effort. Three km more, one at 10%, 2km at 5% and you are where La Vuelta has its finish line, Enol Lake, but we go a little bit more, to the last lake, Ercina. It is a little climb, less than 700 meters at 7%, and there you are, 1190m high, beside the lake, at the top of one of the mythical climbs of this sport we love. The rest is a big and dangerous descending to Cangas de Onín with no more secret than going down carefully.
This route is the same as Lagos de Covadonga Ride. Here you can find the track to your GPS to not get lost. All the crossroads have its signals and there is no problem with that. No strange crosses or gravel roads. You can begin the ride in Ribadesella or even Arriondas, But I recommend you Cangas de Onis early in the morning to avoid traffic between this one and Ribadesella. There are many hotels, apartments, rural houses or hostels in this area. It is very touristy. Food is very nice and you will have no problem finding some good restaurants to refill your reserves for another ride.
Altimetry from Marce Montero´s website: https://www.39x28altimetrias.com/principal.htm
Write by @moi_cycling