Our 2015 mountain bike holiday season is coming to an end and it´s been an amazing year for all of us at basqueMTB. It´s been our most successful year ever. It´s worth writing down what we mean by that because you can measure success lots of different ways. The answer is that we reached our highest ever number of repeat visitors with 25% of 2015´s guests having had a mountain bike holiday with us before. That is the best compliment that we could hope for and it is the main measure we use to judge our success. We have had some amazing reviews, in magazines, on trip advisor and in person but it´s when people return that you know you are doing it right. Although basqueMTB has only been running our Basque Coast mountain bike holidays for 7 years we have some people, (you know who you are and THANK YOU!) who are visiting us for the 7th, 8th and even 9th time. Feedback from guests continues to be amazing and all of us at basqueMTB are enjoying it more than ever. That´s what we mean by a successful year!
With so many repeat visitors, new trails are a constant requirement. This year we listened to feedback from guests, looked at new possibilities and changed the Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday quite a lot. This spring we ran V1.3 of the holiday but for the Autumn trips we went to the full V2.0 trip. Spring 2016 we will run V2.0 of the Spring Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holidays too.
“probably the best mountain bike holiday in the world.” – Rod H via Tripadvisor
Feedback was really good on the new Backcountry Pyrenees holidays, with guests who have done both trips telling us that it was a big improvement on an already great trip. That confirms what we felt, that the trips ran a lot smoother this year with more riding time and less time in the van without compromising at all on the trails.
We finished the Spring Pyrenees mountain bike holidays in the middle of May and started running our mountain bike holidays on the Basque Coast again. The Basque coast trips started with a special guest, Anna who came all the way from Whistler to do the last of our Backcountry trips and the first of our Basque Coast trips. Anna´s partner is the main instructor at Whistler bike park so you can imagine how well she rode!
“suffice to say, this was the best biking holiday I’ve been on and you will not be disappointed! I think the number of return visitors each year speaks volumes.” – Ant via TripAdvisor
The Basque Coast was amazing this year, we had lots of great weather and the trails were running really well. We didn´t include many new trails this year, more will come in 2016, but lots of the older trails were updated or had new sections built so they felt really different. Every week is special but one of the highlights for the year was when we guided a young family from South Africa around and were blown away by the ability of the two young children and their positive attitude to everything. The two kids would put almost every adult we have ever guided to shame in terms of mental toughness and positive attitude.
“Thank you again for the wonderful time we had in Spain. It was an amazing experience and definitely rate as one of our best holidays ever. To the whole team a huge thanks for your attention to detail, professionalism and care during our trip. From your first warm welcome to the last goodbyes we felt special and pampered (although often rather out of breath).” – Alida via email
The Basque Coast trips finished a little bit early this year because on the 19th of September we headed to Ainsa for the Enduro World Series round they were hosting there. We have worked with Zona Zero since it opened and the organisation gifted us with 8 entries to the race as a thanks. With that in mind we organised a holiday, offering those Enduro entries as part of the trip. The 8 places sold out in 2 hours and for the next week we had people phoning up offering to pay above the odds for a place! To be totally honest I was quite nervous about the trip. Our normal mountain bike holidays are planned well in advance and we have plan A, plan B, plan C etc etc so that I know we can cope with pretty much any situation. For the EWS trip it wasn´t like that, there was so much information we didn´t have and it really limited how much we could plan. Thankfully the local businesses were really flexible and helped us make the last minute changes we needed to as race routes and practices schedules were released and differed from what we were expecting! Again the feedback on this trip was amazing, so much so that I think we might look at options for 2017 to run a series of “Enduro” trips centered on races in the Pyrenees.
“I’ve done a lot of MTB trips and holidays (Trans Provence Race & Tour, Whistler, Queenstown, French Alps, Rotorua etc), so can safely say what Doug and his team deliver is absolutely World Class. I really couldn’t have asked for more. If you want an awesome week of riding on amazing trails with great people, then Doug is the man to see!” – The Dirty Nomad (if you haven’t read his blog it´s well worth it!)
My EWS race wasn´t the best ever. I found it really hard to get the pace right, having never raced before, and was slow despite feeling like I was really going fast. I crashed hard on stage 2, managed to finish the day but the next morning it was totally impossible to get on a bike! Next time. Apparently I totally won special stage 9 though 🙂
After the highs and lows of the EWS, and once the hangovers cleared, we started our Backcountry Pyrenees trips again. As I said above V2.0 was a massive success and we rode some seriously amazing trails with fantastic groups from all over the world. Thanks again to everyone for letting us do this and pretend it´s work. It´s a massive privilege for us.
The 2015 season finished on the 7th of November and all of the guides have been enjoying some time off. Our bodies have all suffered a bit this season and we all needed some time to recuperate. We are already preparing for our next season of mountain bike holidays and, for example, yesterday I was digging in a new trail which will offer 600m of descent and I think will be a favourite for next year. I have also just returned from a trip to the Pyrenees to meet with local riders and be shown some of their secret trails which we will offer on our mountain bike holidays next year. We are also searching out some new trails for next year and have a couple of absolute crackers in the bag already.
Next year we sadly won´t have Borja-II. It´s a pity because he was a great help this year but also because it´s unlikely we will find another guide called Borja so we will have to learn a new name. I have some plans in action for his replacement though, those of you who know basqueMTB a bit watch this space and you might be surprised!
“I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life… I´d booked onto next year´s trip before getting back to the hotel on the final day” – Mark who got this published in the letters section of MBUK Magazine!
We have two other new trips we are working on. First of all we have prepared the “Winter Enduro” mountain bike holiday. We are testing this trip in January 2016 and the limited spaces we offered filled up within two days of us launching the trip. We are only running two weeks this year, with small groups, to test the week out and fine tune it ready for 2017 when we will offer more trips for bigger groups. Yesterday someone laughed at the fact that we are planning for 2017 already, “don´t you know this is Spain, we don´t plan that far ahead”, he told me! As I told him, we are already 50% booked up for 2016, by the time I finish my season and have a week to relax we are already committed for the year ahead. Now is the time we have free days to plan and because 2016 is already committed we have to plan for 2017.
The other new thing we are working on is a special trip, called the High Pyrenees. This trip is growing all the time and we aren´t ready to start running it for 2016. In reality the trip is probably going to be split into two new trips but more details will come out. We are looking at mule uplift, heli-biking, high mountain camps and of course epic trails. More details will come out about this trip soon!
Really all that is left to say is a big thank you to everyone who has come this year. It´s been fantastic and all of us at basqueMTB have really enjoyed sharing out trails, food and drink with you. Thanks to everyone who has joined us for a mountain bike holiday and special thanks to all the people who have come back for repeat visits. It´s a fantastic privilege to show you all around the mountains and be able to call it work, thanks!
Also thanks to all the people who have helped us out with equipment, or given it to us to test. That´s you guys, Orbea, Mavic, Osprey Packs and Rahox Brake Pads. It´s been great testing your stuff and not worrying about the kit we use has helped make the year much more enjoyable. We will be putting up more review of the kit we use through the next few months.
All the photos in this article have been taken by basqueMTB and are our property. If you would like to use them for anything then please get in touch and we can help you out.
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