This autumn we have been biking the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees. Or indeed the world if you listen to our guests! First of all lets explain something about our Pyrenees mountain bike holidays. The High Pyrenees used to be called the Backcountry Pyrenees. It causes a lot of confusion but really it´s simple, the High Pyrenees is run in October and uses the higher mountain bike trails which are good at this time of year. The Backcountry Pyrenees is run in April and May and uses slightly lower trails but is wilder in feel.
What holiday offers the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees? The answer is simple, both of them! Both of our Pyrenees trips (High and Backcountry) are really similar in technical and physical level, have a similar format and offer the same amount of descending. Hopefully that explains that for everyone! In simple terms you can book either of these trips and you won´t be disappointed.
This year we only ran 4 High Pyrenees trips because we had a lot of bookings on our popular Basque Coast mountain bike holidays, read on to hear all about them…
Normally we make these trip reports using lots (and lots) of photos. If you want to see photos you can read any of the previous trip reports, or check out our Instagram. This year, for a change, I´m going to make the trip report using the videos from BKXC and McTrail rider. To give a bit of history, Brian first rode our Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday around 3 years ago and loved it, rating it the best trip he did that year. The following year he rode our High Pyrenees mountain bike holiday and this year I invited him and McTrail rider back for another trip together.
Hopefully these great videos help to give you a different perspective of our mountain bike holidays. For us these are a selection of the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees, but the truth is that we have had to leave out other amazing trails just because they don’t fit in this years holidays. Maybe next year!
In the past we have tried using GoPro to tell the holiday stories ourselves but the truth is that we just don’t have time to do the job properly. The level of editing work needed to make these videos watchable is huge and the GoPro is too much of a distraction from the actual work of guiding. Fortunately Andrew and Brian do a fantastic job. Give them a subscribe and a thumbs up for the videos, it´s all appreciated.
Today we drove to the furthest point from the Basque Coast. The idea is that over the next 6 days of mountain biking we work our way across the Pyrenees mountains, gradually working our way back towards the western side of the Pyrenees. Our first day of riding is in the Val de´Aran in Catalonia, a strange valley because it´s part of Spain (for just now at least!) but extends to the Northern edge of the mountain range. This gives it a totally different character to the other valleys we use on our trips; more earthy and moist.
Today we ride 5 uplifts, with a little bit of climbing, to give around 3000m of descending with around 300m of climbing. At the end of the day we have a tranfser to the Benasque valley where we have a big day planned.
After a nice meal in the hotel and one of the best breakfasts of the trip (amazing coffee!) we have a day full of uplifts planned. We work our way up and down the valley, carefully choosing the rides to minimise the uplift times and finish back at the hotel. The trails here are amazing, with some descents over 1200m, and over the day we rack up over 4000m of descending. 5000m is possible but nobody has ever wanted to ride that much!
After the ride we organise a tasting of local produce which we include. Local meats, cheeses, beer, wine, pate, chocholate and lots of other things. It´s a great way to spend the early evening after the ride and the atmosphere is usually great. Normally afterwards people decide to skip dinner although if you fancy dinner there are lots of choices.
Day 3. It´s a big one. This is one of the routes on our High Pyrenees mountain bike holiday which seems to stress people out but which they end up enjoying the most. We have a big uplift from the hotel and from there we are going to ride in a pretty straight line to arrive close to Ainsa. It´s a great day out and one of the stars of the trip for us. We have two big 1000m-plus descents to look forward to but the first part is a 2 hour hike-a-bike. It´s really not as hard as you think but you are right up in the High Pyrenees mountains. The first hour there are lots of places you can pedal, after that you have a 30 minute push and a 30 minute carry. The descent is worth it and so is the lunch.
After a big lunch we have another big uplift and then a long, long descent which I vote as one of the 3 best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees at the moment. The other guides all have their own personal favourites. Sometimes it just comes down to the last memory of guiding a great group down that trail, or a few corners you linked up perfectly the last time you rode it! We finish the day with a beer just up the road from Ainsa and then transfer into Ainsa where we spend the night. Today wasn´t the biggest day in terms of descending, we “only” ride about 2500m down, but it feels like a massive day on the bikes.
Day 4 is all about Zona Zero. You know the area, the EWS has been here a couple of times. This is where we run our Ainsa Enduro mountain bike holidays. Ainsa does not have the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees for shuttling, you need to really know the area to work out how to shuttle it effectively. Luckily we have been riding and guiding here for over a decade now and know the area better than anyone. That lets us use a bunch of clever uplifts to give a big day out, with around 3000m of descending, as we work our way around Ainsa and out towards our next destination; Biescas. People love today, it´s less steep and it gives a chance to relax and enjoy the skills that have been honed on the last few days of intense riding. Brian said this was his favourite day this year. (Last year he chose another day and the year before that he chose a day of our Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday as his best trail ever!).
After riding we have a short transfer to our next stop where we have a hotel with a bar just for us. We also have a special menu we arrange in a restaurant which opens just for us. Eat up, your body needs it!
Day 5 we wake up in Biescas and we are riding with our good friends Andres and Bea who run uplifts for us. Today is a big day, we work our way up and then back down the valley enjoying a huge variety of trails. The last descent is spectacular and it takes us all the way back to the hotel and we actually ride our bikes into our hotel´s bar where we can have a beer.
Over the course of today we have racked up over 3000m of descending again and the honest truth is that everyone is feeling tired by the end. Tonight we have free choice for dinner but usually we head back to the same restaurant as the previous night because it´s that good! These trips are not just about finding the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees, we are also looking for the best food!
Sadly today is our last day on the High Pyrenees mountain bike holiday. Today we ride until around 2pm and then have a big picnic lunch. Afterwards we have to transfer back towards San Sebastian to facilitate the transfers on the Saturday. Don´t worry though, there is plenty of riding and we will rack up over 2000m today using two big uplifts and two of my favourite trails of the week. The last descent in particular is always a favourite. It is an old one but for me it is one of the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees, it is long and rough but has so much flow all the way to the valley floor.
If you´re thinking about a trip it´s worth watching the videos to get an idea of how everyone has enjoyed this trip. One person might say that these are the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees, or the World, but also we have had people who have not enjoyed the trails. Not many, it is true, but some. Hopefully this post will give you more of an idea about what our Pyrenees mountain bike trails are like. We only guide in the Pyrenees and we will continue putting together what we consider to the be best trails in this area, and hopefully everyone will keep enjoying them!
It is pretty clear from people´s faces through the week how much fun they were having, and the guides too! Here are some comments from the riders as well.
“Probably the best mountain bike holiday in the world”BKXC
“Epic. I know thats not useful for the site but thats all I have right now.”Brian from the USA
“Take care that as a rider you must be fit and experienced to take part in a trip like this. It’s intense (as well as the amounts of delicious dinners). I will definitely be back next season.”Mark from the Netherlands (who apparently didn´t like guided trips!”
“I’ve no other feedback to offer other than keep doing what you’re doing. It’s clear there has been a huge amount of hard work to get where you are today, but from a guest perspective it’s seamless and couldn’t be better.”Nick from the UK
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