Andalucian Cycling Experience, Montecorto, Malaga Province, Spain
The Andalucian Cycling Experience is a friendly, fun, family business run by my wife, Claire, and myself, Ashley. We pride ourselves on providing tailor made cycling holidays to all levels of rider, many of our clients become good friends and come out for their annual ‘fix’ of the Ashley and Claire Experience of great cycling, great food, great wines and great fun. Whilst the guides and myself take care of all the riding, Claire and Erika look after all the office work and Cristobal is our resident bike whisperer, fixes any problems that we or you may have with our/your bikes. I have enjoyed riding for as long as I can remember; for many years in the UK, also in India, and now, Spain. I am a Mountain Bike Instructor, Bike Mechanic and just simply love riding my bikes. On the other hand, Claire really has only started cycling since we met in 2001, but, Claire has been bitten by the bike bug too.
What brought us to Spain
During the festivities of Christmas 2002 my family was at my parents house and my dad and uncle where talking about moving to Spain or Portugal in their retirement years. Claire and I listened as ideas were discussed; however, my mum and aunty in the end decided it was not for them. On the drive home, Claire and I simultaneously said, ‘We should move to Spain’. Claire’s Grandmother had travelled through Spain, the Balearic Islands and Morocco in the late 60’s and 70’s and wrote and had published a travel guide about Majorca. On a few occasions Claire had travelled with her Grandmother, to Spain, and has fond memories of her grandmother, Flamenco music and of course Spain and in particular Andalucia. So we had made our minds up to move to Andalucia, but what would we do for a living? On the same drive home, Christmas 2002, I had mentioned my dream of setting up a cycling business and over the following few weeks this dream became ‘our goal, our drive and our focus’.
Over the next two years we spent every holiday coming to Spain, hiring a car and visiting cities, towns and villages across Andalucia in our hunt for the ideal base for our cycling business and our course our home. We stumbled across Ronda on the way back to Malaga airport on one trip and instantly fell in love with this beautiful historic town. Whilst here we discovered Ronda has a large cycling community with four cycling clubs which meet each week. So, in 2003, we had then found our location….more or less anyway. We spent a few more trips looking at properties in Ronda and the surrounding white villages. When we found Montecorto, in April 2004, our decision was made. From the first time we came to Montecorto it felt like home. The combination of beautiful scenery, great countryside and this tranquil white village complete with friendly locals was, for us, our heaven. In November 2004, having sold both our houses, we moved lock, stock and 4 cats to Spain. The first part of this fantastic journey was complete. The best, and sometimes the hardest part, was still to come.
Once in Spain we enrolled at language school for 3 months ‘intensive’ studying and started setting up our cycling business, which of course needed a name, so, it was to be the ‘Andalucian Cycling Experience’, possibly the longest business name we could have come up with but another important mile-stone for us both. We launched the website in August 2005 and have never looked back. It has been, so far, an interesting journey of discovery, a real adventure and a life changing few years but one which Claire and I are, so fantastically happy and proud, to be taking. In 2007, we had our first child, Sophie, & in 2011 we had our second child Oliver, both Sophie and Oliver completed their first bike rides along the Via Verde in a baby seat aged 8 months.
We are based in a beautiful ‘pueblo blanco’ (white village) called Montecorto, in the heart of Andalucia. Montecorto has a community of 650 people, which is supported by two grocery stores, two bread shops, a fishmongers, bank with cash machine and several bars and restaurants to eat out in. Life in Montecorto is best described as ‘tranquil’; the village is surrounded by mountains and is on the edge of Grazalema National Park, which, all in all, gives us the most fantastic area for cycling. The choice of routes, and types of cycling terrain, are broad and varied as a consequence. Ronda, famous for its incredible gorge, is our nearest city and only 18km away.