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Trail > This Week’s Trail News

The latest trail news from the Basque country. This week I have been in the mountains most days, checking out some singletrack on the Spanish coast, and some mountains further inland before heading into the Spanish Pyrenees for some weekend skiing. Some of the local Basque riders had holidays this week so I had some company for my biking, something of a luxury as normally mid-week rides are a solitary affair. It also works out well for my blog because the pictures are a bit more varied.

These photos are from one of my absolute fabourite routes, Etch-a-sketch, which I have written about several times. The route starts in a cool, traditional Basque village, climbs up to a ridge, follows the ridge for a few kilometers with some great scalectrix singletrack descents, before the final big descent. It’s not technical but is very fast with corners that need technique and commitment to carry speed through.
The climb is tough, really tough in places, but my 63 year old Dad managed it all. I always tell people that if they are struggling! This was my first big ride with my new Cove Gspot, I mentioned that I’d got a new bike, didn’t I? The bike performed amazingly, everyone was on fairly light XC rigs but the Cove climbed beautifully, and I easily climbed the steep parts. On one, unconquered, steep climb on a loose rocky surface I climbed higher than I had ever done before, I’m putting that down to the great traction the GSpot has at the rear wheel. It’s definitely not down to me! Everyone commented at how little the bike bobbed on the climbs even without ProPedal.
The descents on the ridge were so much fun, they are mostly rocky scalectrix singletrack, by which I mean the trail is about 6-8 inches wide and slightly rutted, giving edges to the singletrack which mean you can carry big speed through the corners. A stiff bike is a real advantage here because it tracks so well through the ruts, not twisting at all and keeping everything accurate, and the Gspot was incredible here. I’ve dragged my STD up here before and it’s the same, but the trails undulate, rather than being purely downhill, so the weight of the STD reduces the flow a bit; with the GSpot that wasn’t the case and I was flying on the downhills and laughing all the way!
This blog isn’t meant to be another GSpot review though, and I will stop talking about my new Cove soon – I am even starting to bore myself! The real reason for the ride today was just to check the trail was OK, since I hadn’t ridden it since last year and will be using it for guiding soon. I was glad to see everything was OK, there are a couple of trees down across the trail but nothing major.
The second big-ish ride of the week was a blast from my house, over a local mountain which stands right by the coast and is easily reachable from my door. Rides from the door are always something special and this hill holds lots of techy singletrack with several 500-600m descents, making it a favourite of mine. No pictures I’m afraid, I rode for 5hrs without really stopping just ticking off the descents and checking everything was OK after a recent storm.
My final big ride was on the coast, just here in Spain. It was meant to be a quick refamiliarisation with some trails which I don’t use for guiding much, but I ended up having such a good time I rode all day, including dropping into San Sebastain for a bite to eat and cold beer on the beach. I know that sounds terrible, I’m meant to be working, but I couldn’t resist!
The trails on coast here are really nice. The reason we don’t use them so often is that there is some pushing required with some short rocky sections that are good for going down but are near to impossible to climb. I love this hill, the nature of it makes it very tiring and it’s a bit more suited to an attitude of trying sections out rather than that of doing a long route. The fact that it’s possible to drop into San Sebastian makes it a great way to spend a day though.
The ride starts with a short ferry ride across the mouth of a bay, and ends with a very difficult descent down some steps to arrive at the ferry again. I think I was out for about 6 hours finally and was quite tired and dehydrated by the time I got back to the van. I squeezed in another short ride on Friday, making 4 rides this week, but the weekend was taken up with a weekend skiing trip to the Spanish Pyrenees.

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