Sometimes overlooked by tourists and riders alike, the Moorish history of Jerez gives it a special vibe. Horse shows, sherry and flamenco music are all famous attractions, but less well known is the city’s stunning scenery around its racetrack, Circuito de Jerez.
The host track to MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, Circuito de Jerez is set in a valley on the outskirts of the city and surrounded by lush Spanish countryside. Blessed by sunshine for most of the year, the circuit is famous in a city that loves its sport.
To celebrate the track’s beauty and success, we teamed up with Peter-Jan Willems from Motorcycle Diaries to find an on-road route that gives riders the best view of Jerez and a sense of what it’s like to ride its famous motorcycle circuit.
“In the 50s and 60s some riders used to enter multiple classes, so they’d be in the Moto 3, 2 and GP,” says Peter-Jan. “To give motorcycle riders a sense of what that was like to ride, I’ve added up the distance of the three races to get a 309km route in the area around Jerez.”
A full day’s ride, the route starts and ends at the Circuito de Jerez, near the town of Torre Melgarejo. Heading east down the A2003 and then taking the A2201, riders can enjoy some great views of the white villages and countryside and take on some fast surfaces and good straights.
Enjoy a mountain view
Although the A2201 is small, it offers riders a good flow past the Embalce de Guadalacin, a turquoise-coloured reservoir, up past the town of Algar and then on to El Bosque, where you can get a great view of the mountains of Grazalema.
Named after the town that’s set in its rocky side, the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is a rugged limestone landscape that’s popular with walkers. As well as being the rainiest place in Spain, the mountains are home to some unusual birds and lizards, so keep an eye out as you ride past.
Ride the road of the king
Although the CA 9104 road from Grazalema to Zahara is famous for its twists, turns and wildlife spotting, Peter-Jan recommends an alternative route if you’re looking for a riding experience that has the essence of the Circuito de Jerez.
“To feel the spirit of the Jerez track, take the CA 8102 up past Prado del Rey, or Meadow of the King. The Spanish king used to be at the Jerez race every year. It also gives you the chance to try out a few straights and slightly faster roads, with some great views to enjoy.”
Take in the lake
As you approach Zahara de la Sierra you’ll come to the edge of Embalse de Zahara (another reservoir), which sits against the Grazalema mountains, and see the beautiful white village of Zahara itself.
“Again, don’t head up to the mountains. Take a lap of the lake via the A2300. There’s some very fine corners here and plenty of places to stop and check out the water. Or even stop in Zahara town and enjoy a coffee in one of the little cafes.
“From there, take the loop back down towards the Prado del Rey and continue your journey on the A372 towards Arcos de la Frontera.”
Castillo and tapas
“If you leave Jerez at 9am, you’ll arrive at Arcos just in time for lunch. Ride up to the top of the town and enjoy a beautiful view across the landscape that your route has just taken you through. Take a look around the cobbled streets or head up to the sandstone castle, Castillo de los Arcos. Then enjoy some tapas, or maybe something larger, at one of the restaurants in the town.”
Balanced on a limestone ridge, Arcos de la Frontera’s whitewashed houses and castle walls are striking. They’re also why the town was declared a national historic-artistic monument in 1962, making it a ‘must-stop’ location for tourists and a delightful final stop on this ride for food and rest.
Many thanks to Motorcycle-Diaries for photography and info.