Cycling in Malaga to “La Reina”
La Fuente de la Reina- the fountain of the queen- is, for the local cyclists of Malaga what the Alpe d’Huez is to French cyclists. In fact, when La Vuelta a España (Spain’s Tour d’France) passes through this region, a climb up to La Reina often forms part of the Malaga stage.
“Subir a La Reina” (go up to La Reina) is a rite of passage for every cyclist in Málaga. “La Reina” is the name the malagueños give to the route from the city centre to the mythical fountain and Puerto de Leon.
Puerto de León sits at 900 metres above sea level and is approximately 16 kilometers from Malaga’s city centre. So even though the objective is to get to “La Reina”, it’s obligatory to go just a few more metres up to the summit of the mountain to the 900m sign of Puerto de León.
Cycling in Malaga- be like a local!
Over the years, “La Reina” has converted into somewhat of a local pilgrimage. For many a cyclist, it becomes an addiction to go up to La Reina as often as their time permits.
It’s an easy escape from the city. However, it is no easy climb. Suffering and joy go hand in hand. Punishing gradients of up to 14% are rewarded with spectacular views. Alternating on either side as you zig-zag your way up the maze-like mountain road. The city and the harbour become more and more distant to one side. To the other, the infinite nature of the montes pumps oxygen into your lungs and passion for this special place which will stay in your heart forever. I promise!
So, are you ready to be like a local and ‘subir a La Reina’?
Of course you are! Then first you will need to rent yourself one of our super cool new KONA TREKKING bikes. We provide you with helmets, a lock, lights and repair kit. (Take lights even during the day as you will pass through a couple of tunnels in the montes).
Taking a jacket for the ”bajada’- the glorious descent, is essential. The descent takes approximately one quarter of the time it takes to get to the top. Read: it’s fast-very! And can be chilly- very! Also a good idea is to take some energy snacks to help power you up the mountain.
Cycling in Malaga from fountain to fountain!
The ‘official’ start of the route to La Reina is at Olletas Fountain. (Fuente Olletas). Head north from the City Centre up Calle Victoria. Then turn left onto Calle Cristo de la Epidemia (Christ of the Epidemic Street- LOVE that name!). You´ll find the beautiful fountain on the far side of the roundabout.
Then, take Camino Colmenar and just go up!
And keep going up!
(You can find the route at the end of this blog).
After leaving Fuente Olletas, you will be astonished by how the hustle and bustle of the city is abruptly left behind. Suddenly, you are in the middle of nature. For me, this is one of the joys of cycling in Malaga. Nature is right on our doorstep.
This cycling in Malaga route not only starts and ends with fountains. Also, it starts and ends with ” a wall”. There is no warm-up on this ride. You immediately go up – steeply. Eventually, the ride ends in the same steep way to arrive at la Fuente de la Reina.
Rest stops while cycling in Malaga
Along the roadside, you will come across various VENTAS. These are mountain restaurants that serve hearty local peasant food. Two Ventas that are side by side: la Venta Boticario and El Mijeño are opposite the entrance to the Natural Park of the Montes de Málaga. The park offers infinite trails for off-road cycling in Malaga and hiking.
After a couple more kilometres of climbing, you will reach EL MIRADOR. Mirador means lookout point. Therefore, it’s the perfect place to stop, rest, stretch and have a snack. Moreover- enjoy the amazing view!
After the Mirador, if you don’t already have your lights on, now’s the time to switch them on. There are a couple of tunnels on the road ahead. Although not very long, it’s always safer to have your lights on.
The climb from hereonin is, let’s say, relentless. Fortunately, when the road starts to flatten out a liitle you will reach another VENTA called El Detalle. Usually, I stop here for a coffee to gather my strength and mentally prepare myself for the last 3 kms of the route.
Well, the last 3 kms I can describe in one word: INFIERNO! (HELL!) They will be the longest three kilometres of your life, believe me. But take heart, the ‘wall’ ends as a white wall comes into view in the distance. Shortly thereafter, the majestic Fuenta de la Reina appears.
Congratulations! You’ve made it. Well, not quite…just keep going a few more metres to make it to the summit of the montes of Malaga- Puerto de León. Don’t forget to take a selfie there to immortalize the moment!
So now you have your Malagueño cyclist’s badge of honour! You have been to LA REINA- by bike!
Why not reward yourself with the traditional dish of the area – el plato de los montes– at one of the nearby Ventas.
You deserve it!
Cycling in Malaga- SUBIDA A LA REINA- the official race
Every year in Malaga, there is an organized race to La Reina. In 2022, it is on November 19th. There will be approximately 500 participants.
My average time to get to La Reina on my mountain bike is usually around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Ov¡bviously then, I don’t qualify for the race. ha!ha!
The record to reach La Reina for the fastest male is 36′ 05″. Apparently, the fastest female so far was just “a bit” faster than me, clocking 42’16”. Amazing what a carbon fibre bike can do for you. LOL!
The web page of the official race is only in Spanish. Nevertheless, I have translated one line I love one from the home page that encapsulates what La Reina is all about:
A climb with feeling, a great challenge, your personal achievement.
It is all that- and more.
A little history about LA FUENTE DE LA REINA
Once upon a time, this mountain road where the fountain is located was the most important access to the city and its port from the interior of the peninsula for two centuries. In 1973, with the construction of a motorway, it became lss frequented.
Legend has it that the fountain of the Queen owes its name to the Spanish Queen Isabel la Católica. People say that the Queen drank from the fountain while en route to join her husband, King Ferdinand, in the year 1487. The King and his troops were holding the city under siege. As a matter of fact, Malaga was one of the last cities of the peninsula under muslim rule to fall to the Catholic conquerors. Interestingly, you can see the coat of arms of Castille at the top of the fountain.
However, another theory regarding the origins of the fountain’s name doubts that the Catholic Queen actually stopped there. The fountain served as a place for travellers to relax. Most importantly, it was the water source for the inhabitants of a small muslim settlement in the montes called ‘ Rayyana, Riniya or Riana’. Curiously enough, the name translates as Queen.
Whatever its origins may be, the fountain continues quenching the thirst of all those who stop there. Cyclists, motorbikers, hikers and travellers can stop and contemplate all who have done the same in the exact same spot throughout history.