Over 200 cyclists took part in the Via Verde ride

More than 200 cyclists took part in the cycle ride between Alcoy and Gandia on Sunday along the old disused railway line in an effort to show how the Via Verde can be used for sports and tourist enjoyment.

The ride started in the Plaza de Al-Azraq in Alcoy and picked up riders as it passed through Cocentiana, Muro and Gaianes before reaching Beniarrés for a scheduled stop.

The ride then continued on through the village of L’Orxa until reaching Villalonga at a total distance of 46 kilometres.

The mayor of sports for the city of Alcoy, Alberto Belda, thanked all the municipalities involved in the organization of the day out for their collaboration adding: “There are many requests that have been made, but the councils insist that negotiations must be resumed so that this Greenway is another tourist element that adds to what we already have.” He was very proud with the number of participants and indicated that “it is gratifying to see people of all ages pedalling for the same cause while enjoying the great outdoors.”

Upon arrival in Villalonga, those present talked about “the train dels Anglesos” and its use from 1893 to 1969. In addition, they once again highlighted the importance of not letting this important section die for the history of industry and commerce and that it should be utilized as a greenway to help promote sports and tourism.

History of the old railway line

The rail operator, founded in 1882 was the English company Alcoy y Gandía Rail and Harbour Co Ltd, with offices both in Alcoi and London. Several investments of this type were made by English companies in Spain during the late 19th century, and typically in smaller cities. In this case, the main motive for the investments was to promote the export of coal from England to the growing industry of Alcoy

The locomotives used on the route consisted of 8 type 1-3-1 steam locomotives manufactured in Manchester by the firm Beyer & Peacock between 1890 and 1891. Each locomotive was named after a station on the line.

Locomotive number 2 “Villalonga” has been preserved and is on display in the Plaza Al-Azraq of Alcoy, which was the terminus of the line.

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