Ride Report - La Clandestina 2022

Under this mysterious name, a light was shone on a new bikepacking event in the southeast of Spain. The idea was to set off as the sun sets to take advantage of the night hours and make our initial progress on the course. 

The start and finish point was the city of Murcia, a well-known area for its moderate climate and warm temperatures. The city would be the start of the 380kms tour around the region, including some 4000 meters of elevation along the way. The participants had to ride in a self-sufficient way, without any external aid. There were no feed stations or assistance and the time limit to arrive back to Murcia was set at 48 hours. 

The spirit of the race was good as the distance to be ridden was in the middle of ‘just’ a one-day race and those big bikepacking events of 600 kilometers plus. This made the event very attractive as a first approach to this type of races. The relatively short distance combined with the usual good climate in the area and the attractive landscape made it a very popular with riders.

At 8 p.m. we left the city of Murcia following the Segura River. We rode beside it, accompanying the final part of its course to the sea. When the riders arrived at the coast, we crossed the Torrevieja pink salty lakes and rode on until we arrived at the “Mar Menor” which is a small “sea” separated from the Mediterranean by a narrow strip of land making it a unique area. From there we headed onwards to Cartagena, a well-known Roman city, one of the best natural ports in the world as it is almost completely enclosed by a ring of hills with just a small gap open to the sea. We climbed up and down these hills before traversing the city itself.  

From there we followed a path parallel to the coast along hilly terrain with beautiful views to the sea if you timed it right and arrived as day broke.  From here we started the long descent to the Mazarron bay where we rode one of the most beautiful stretches of the route. In the “Calas de Bolnuevo” area our track was right by the sea and linked many beautifully small and cosy sections of beach.

After this refreshing part, the course parted ways with the sea and took its way inland. We could see on the horizon a really big mountain and our minds started to think that’s the big one we will have to climb, and we were right. Collado Bermejo is a long and in some parts steep climb into the Sierra Espuña regional park. Once we left the coast we started to climb and continued until we reached 1240m on the top of the pass, a beautiful climb through pinewood forest which use to be the training place for the Murcian-based pros like Alejandro Valverde. 

A long 20 kms descent took us to one of the big hits of the route, the Gebas Badlands and as the power started to dim in our bodies, this was one of the hardest areas of the ride. This is a semi-desert area where the temperatures in April can reach the 35 degrees as it was the case on the day we competed in the event. 

The last part of the route was always close to the water, first following some hydration channels and service roads and then later taking us again alongside the water course which was with us at the start - the Segura River. This time we rode on the other side. As well as leading us out from the city of Murcia, the river took us back into town again. We soon saw the Murcia Cathedral letting us know we were close to the finish after a long 380 kms ride.

In this race there was space for everybody. The first participants to finish made it in 18 hours and there were others who almost used the whole 48 hours to make it. Along the way there were multiple surfaces, but the majority of it was a combination of unpaved, gravel and paved tracks that made it a fast course with only a few small technical parts. The route was perfectly suitable for a gravel bike with not so wide tyres.

Undoubtedly this was a very good race, not crowded, one of those specially designed events by its creator who was always looking after us and making sure we were doing good. It also seemed to be the perfect distance to test yourself for future long self-sufficient events. La Clandestina covered just one weekend and it was possible to do it in one shot without needing to have overnight stops on Friday or Saturday nights. I would recommend for anyone participating for the first time to try to have at least the first night on the bike. It was a really beautiful area and an incredible feeling to be on your own in the middle of nature, with the sea as your background, while you had a million stars as your ceiling. As the sun rises after a long night of riding, so you will feel empowered to continue devouring the kilometers.

If you fancy retracing Jorge's ride, you can see his route here:


Jorge is based in Spain and spends his free time going as fast as he can on his gravel bike

Jorge Padrones

Jorge is based in Spain and is a regular on the start-line of different gravel events across Europe and further afield too.