San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Sierra Oeste by bicycle

13 December 2023

When you approach the imposing facade of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, it is impossible not to feel a little overwhelmed by its austere and silent grandeur. Crossing its enormous market on a bicycle, and then going around the building on the way to the forest of La Herrería, lightens a little the weight of the many centuries and the many stones that the monastery contains.

El Escorial Madrid by bicycle

Today we are taking hybrid bikes because our route will be mainly on the road. After a stop at the Casita del Príncipe, another architectural jewel often overshadowed by the work of Herrera, we continue our way through oak forests to the Valmayor reservoir, key to Madrid’s water supply.

Summer is coming to an end and the mountain air makes the midday sun pleasant, but it is time to start the return route from Valdemorillo. Our ride today is about 40 km and as we have left early we will be back in San Lorenzo for lunch. We have to regain strength because the afternoon also promises: we will visit the Royal Coliseum of Charles III, the oldest court theater still in operation. In addition, the City Council of San Lorenzo de El Escorial has organized a dramatized visits. in which Carlos III himself tells us the history of the building and the whole Royal Site with good humor: we are a group of 9 passionate pedals, but many confess that the visit to the Royal Coliseum has been one of the highlights of the trip … that’s nothing.

Walking through the town, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1984, it is time for dinner. The night is cool, but the terraces of the Plaza de la Constitución are full and with the help of good wines and good food, it doesn’t take long to warm up. From our table the view from one end of the monastery is almost magical and tomorrow we have another day of biking, what more could we ask for?

El Escorial and La Herrería by bicycle Madrid

On the second day of the route we will start again from San Lorenzo de El Escorial and we will reach Zarzalejo, pedaling through pastures. Some of us are going to use electric bikes, and that will make us not even know the difference in altitude to climb to the Silla de Felipe II… There we will have breakfast with breathtaking views of the monastery and Mount Abantos. The morning is crisp and everyone’s spirits are high. We continue our route through La Herrería and reach a stretch of trail where the presence of the expert guides is especially valuable for those of us with less experience in the saddle. After 7 km since we left San Lorenzo, the CiclaMadrid signs indicate that we can continue to Valdemorillo or to Robledo de Chavela, but our intention today is to pedal to the foothills of Las Machotas, so we head to Zarzalejo, as we had planned. The alternatives there are many and there are those who choose to test their technical skills on an MTB track, where once again the guides who know the terrain and the help of the electric motor are of great help. Others prefer a very quiet road trip, during which we find more horses than cars…

At lunchtime Zarzalejo awaits us, but we have to earn our lunch with a steep climb to the village. It is worth it, because the typical products of the Sierra Oeste taste like never before in the shade of a vine, with spectacular views of the fields that we recently crossed with our bikes.

MTB biking in Madrid Sierra Oeste

We start our way back satisfied and eager because another highlight awaits us: the Cruz Verde pass. When you put it down, the feeling of freedom on the bike is as strong as the first time, and you confirm that there is perhaps no better way to recharge yourself with good vibes.

When, a little later, we meet again the Monastery of El Escorial, he welcomes us as solemnly as ever and we greet him with complicity, because we understand perfectly why 500 years ago this place was chosen to build what some called the eighth wonder of the world.

guided bike tours Madrid

The trip we have briefly described is part of a product test carried out by the CiclaMadrid Association with the support of the City Council of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in September 2020 and can now be enjoyed by any cyclist. Our Association aims to promote bicycle tourism in the Community of Madrid, thanks in large part to the CiclaMadrid initiative launched by the Community’s General Directorate of Tourism.

From the CiclaMadrid Association we encourage you to pedal through our region to see with different eyes exceptional places such as San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or lesser known areas, but also of great beauty, such as the Sierra Oeste Madrileña. You can pedal on your own or let yourself be advised by experts such as Bike Spain Tours who organized this trip, or Las Machotas which offers routes from Zarzalejo. They, like other partners, have bikes, self-guided routes or trips with guide and support vehicles so that, whatever your level, you can enjoy the Community of Madrid by bike.

And, as man does not live by bike alone, in the CiclaMadrid Association you will also find accommodation, restaurants and specialized stores, all dedicated to the cyclist. Visit the section “tourist servicesYou can also visit the “…” section of our website to learn more about their proposals and visit the “…” councils“We will be asking how many municipalities in Madrid are already supporting us to make cycling a hallmark of sustainable and quality tourism in the Community of Madrid.

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