One of the pleasures of cycling in the Axarquia is the abundance of superb food and drink available to fuel your riding, according to https://cycletorredelmar.com/. In our opinion, from the produce of the sea, to the fruits of the mountains, the quality and value in this region is amongst the best in Europe. Eating out is important to Spaniards. Consequently, the range of establishments is large and varied. For cyclists in the Axarquia this is good news as the rugged nature of the terrain stimulates your need for additional calories. Whilst there are many restaurants in the larger towns and on the coast most villages also have café’s and bars that offer simple breakfasts, sandwiches, tapas and menu del dias. Village bars are often conveniently located for cyclists. They are a great way to not only refuel but observe the steady pace of daily life of the village inhabitants. Usually the food is simple, tasty and cheap. Moreover, it arrives quickly so you can continue your ride without too much disruption.
Many cyclists commence their rides having eaten breakfast at home or in their accommodation. However, if you do need further sustenance or have chosen not to eat before setting off then a brilliant option is Pitufo con tomate y aceite, (toast with tomato and olive oil). The word Pitufo literally translates in Spanish to “smurf”. In the Province of Malaga it describes a small roll. The dish consists of a roll, toasted and served with crushed tomato with a hint of garlic. Olive oil is drizzled on the toast and salt can be sprinkled on as an addition. The combination is irresistible and combined with a coffee can create an extra pep in your legs. Bocadillos with a variety of fillings are often available for breakfast or lunch. These are long filled rolls sometimes toasted.
For some cyclist’s churros y chocolate are a reliable snack. Particularly, if you want something a bit sweeter to keep you going. These are long fritters of dough that are deep fried and served with thick dark chocolate for dunking.
Coffee is an essential part of riding a bike. In Spain, the quality is usually excellent. For a short strong shot of coffee ask for “un cafe solo”; for milky coffee its “café con leche”; for the equivalent of a flat white request a “cortado”. Sugar is offered separately in sachet form and your drink may arrive in a small glass rather than a cup.
Cafes are reasonably accustomed to serving cyclists. Many are happy to replenish your bidons with water if you ask. It’s also worth remembering that many villages have at least one water fountain where you can fill up your bottles for free. For those not sure about this bottled water can be purchased in all bars, garages and village shops.
If you fancy something more substantial or different to a sandwich another option is asking for tapas. In smaller cafes a menu will not be available. As a result, you may have to enter inside and see what is available in a glass fronted cabinet on the bar. Cycling suitable options include Tortilla Espanola, Omelette with Potatoes, Ensaladilla Rusa containing potatoes, egg, tuna, and vegetables; and paella in a small portion of the famous rice dish. Most places can upsize a tapa portion to a racion of the same dish if you want.
Many bars and restaurants also offer a lunchtime Menu Del Dia. This consists of 3 courses sometimes with bread and a drink included. Prices range from 6-10 euros all in and offer great value. For many cyclists at a mid-point of their route this may be a lot of food to digest. However, portions are reasonable without being excessive. Personally, I have managed to appreciate a ‘menu’ and continue riding after on more than one occasion!
Of course once a ride in the Axarquia is over its time for rest, recovery and refuelling to maximise all the training on our challenging roads. Perhaps the best option is sampling some fish which is often fresh, excellent and good value. On the coast there are numerous wooden Chiringuitos selling barbecued Sardines, Calamari and Sea Bream cooked over a wood fire. In the mountains you may see goat, kid and lamb on the menu. Dishes are usually cooked in local almonds and wine. The quality of the fruit and vegetables grown in the area is very fresh and flavoursome. For a local drink try the local sweet Muscatel wine. This is made by drying the grapes in the sun before fermenting. Many local farmers make their own wine. You may see some for sale as you cycle round, the area. There are also larger more commercial bodegas where wine can be purchased. These include Jarel in Competa and Bentomiz near Sayalonga.
Cycling in the Axarquia can be a strenuous test. Your efforts need appropriate fuel to both sustain your efforts and rebuild your muscles once you step off the bike. Thankfully our region offers you plenty of good quality options at an affordable price. Not only will the offerings provide you with much needed energy, but they are usually fresh, simple and tasty. They are one of the true pleasures of spending time in this ruggedly beautiful area.