"Those who know me are aware that I have a particular enthusiasm for epic climbs...."
Luisa Werner shares her experience climbing the Pico Veleta after finishing Badlands

Those who know me are aware that I have a particular enthusiasm for epic climbs. One of the most legendary climbs, and indeed the highest pass in Europe, is surprisingly not in the Alps, but in Spain.

The Pico Veleta pass, 3.396m above sea level, is located in the Sierra Nevada and was even part of the Badlands circuit in the first year.

It was not part of the race last year and this year, but it was recommended to cycle back over the Pico Veleta from the start to the finish after the race. At first I was disappointed that Pico was not in the race route. In the end, however, it is more reasonable and enjoyable to ride Pico after a rest and not directly in the race, and instead to take in the spectacular scenery more consciously.

After arriving at the finish in Capileira, I had some sleep but I was still tired and hesitating to climb to Veleta in the morning. But since Justinas Leveika and Gautier Bonnecarrère were also motivated, I couldn’t resist.

The beginning of the climb is an easy gravel passage. The last 10km are similar to alpine climbs with lots of single tracks and rocks. We made many photo stops and enjoyed the great views of the sea and the surrounding desert and mountains.

We were especially lucky with our timing! We arrived at the top of Pico just in time for sunset and had a spectacular evening light during the endless tar descent.

If I have to choose a highlight at Badlands, Pico Veleta was my highlight (even though it was not part of the race).

The scenery, the amazing sunset, but also the exuberant atmosphere after the race with Justinas and Gautier made this ride very special for me. A successful end to an adventurous week!