Backcountry Pyrenees: Testing Out a Gravity Traverse of Guara
Over the course of the last few years we have created what we call the “Backcountry Pyrenees” mountain bike holiday. Piecing together the best trails takes a lot of effort, with late nights pouring over maps and early mornings driving to the trails. Another complication in testing these trips is that we run our holidays with lots of uplift and occasionally as point to points, meaning when we want to test a complete day we need to ask for help driving the van, or take turns. This video is the story of one of those late night / early morning combinations and why we think it’s worth it.
The trail in this video was a van assisted, gravity traverse across a stunning wilderness called Guara. If you haven’t been to Guara then you should go, it lies below the Pyrenees mountains, in the pre-Pyrenees buckle that formed when they were thrown up, and is a crazy, folded landscape where it always seems to be autumn. The mountain biking is amazing, with huge rocky carpets and technical switchbacks which are punctuated by rivers, canyons and mountains. All of the trails are technical but there is lots of variety and if you are prepared to push your limits slightly you will find that increased speed is rewarded several times over with increased flow.
Today’s trail has lots of options but it is generally gravity assisted. We always start off with a shorter loop to get warmed up before we launch into the first of our uplifted trails. There are three big 850m descents, ranging from flowy to techy and then we have two final descents taking us deep into the wilderness where we finally pop out into a semi-abandoned village where we are greeted with a little hostel and a cold beer. The van waits for us, (courtesy of Oriol today!), with all of our stuff and we spend the night here, continuing with our trip the next day. There are over 3500m of descending up for grabs today for the very strongest groups so trust me when I say you will feel like you earned your beer today!
The group for today was myself, (Doug from BasqueMTB), joined by long term supporter of BasqueMTB, Carlos and also Antonio, a fellow mountain bike guide who we collaborate on with our holidays. Oriol is a local rider, and a damn fast one, who we ride with a lot and who helped us a lot with van driving today. In this group there is an amazing wealth of knowledge, including Antonio who has been riding these trails since the early 80′s on rigid bikes, and it is a great privilege for me to be able to share that knowledge and without it I wouldn’t be able to offer holidays to such special places. Which is partly me boasting about how good my trails are and partly me saying a heartfelt thanks to all the people who work with me on these trips.