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mountain bike holiday > Great Rock Mountain Bike Skills Weeks 2013

Great Rock Mountain Bike Skills Weeks 2013

Great-RockMountain Bike Skills Holiday
Mountain Bike Skills training with Great Rock

Mountain Bike Holiday Report: Great Rock Skill Holidays

We have been running mountain bike skills training holidays with Ed Oxley, the hirstute guru from Great Rock, since 2010 and have built up from one week of holidays a year to 4 this year, two on the Basque Coast and two in the Backcountry Pyrenees. You can see all the details of our mountain bike skills holidays over here. We run these weeks for lots of reasons but mainly because they are fun; I very much enjoy Ed’s company and watching him change the way people ride over the course of 6 days riding never grows boring. The skills holidays we run on the Basque Coast always book up pretty early and it was no exception this year, although a last minute cancelation left us with a free space on the first week. Read on to find out what went on during our skills weeks or skip to the end of the post for a full set of photos from the trip.

The first week of our skills week we were lucky to have three repeat guests, Phil, Elizabeth and Graeme, who had all booked this holiday on the last day of their 2012 skills week. This year Graeme brought his friend, Darrell and we were joined by a fifth rider, Andy. We had hot weather all week, with temperatures in the high twenties, dusty trails and a bit of haze in the sky some days. As can happen on the coast the high temperatures brought some overnight rain and we had a pretty impressive storm one evening, however the overnight rain just served to leave us with perfect trails the next morning. We started off our holiday with some uplift assisted riding on the coast, getting around 2000m of descending for a couple of hundred meters of climbing. Day two was “Celtic Flow”, “UHR” and “Cross the Streams” and we looked at cornering on these twisty forest trails. On the third day we had depleted numbers as Andy, Phil and Elizabeth opted to explore San Sebastian instead of riding, and we headed for a big mountain where we shuttled up 800m, climbed a few hundred meters to the summit and enjoyed a 1100m descent to the town below. We spent today looking at front and rear wheel lifts and using pumping to work the bikes down the very rocky trails.

“It broke my body.. but the amazing trails and skills learned will last forever in my memory” – Ian

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Mountain Bike Skills Holiday: It´s not all mountains and bikes!

For the fourth day of our skills holiday we rode “Carlos’s Ridge” in the morning with all 5 riders. We looked at line choice and skills on the loose, steep chutes, with everyone showing some real progression. After a lunch we split up and Ed took a group for more skills on “Carlos’s Ridge” while Dave, my guide, took another group for a technical challenge on “Nutcracker”. We all met up at the end of the day and headed back to Hondarribia where the big Blues Festival was just getting warmed up. Day five was mostly shuttling with just a little bit of pedalling, as we enjoyed a couple of runs down “The Blue Pill” and worked on the techniques involved in the bunny hop and how to apply them to smoothing out the trail. We also looked at body position for the steep final section of this trail which was super loose after all the hot dry weather. After lunch we again split into two groups, with Ed taking a group for more skills work while I took another group for a big technical challenge on the crazy steepness and switchbacks of “The Hives” and a very steep local DH track. We met up at the bottom of the trail and finished off with some local Sidra as we talked about the near misses and new things we had learnt.

“for someone taking up mountain biking late in life (!) and enjoying it this much speaks volumes for the trip.” – Elizabeth

The final day of our holiday we have a traditional ride, we do a bit of coastal uplift in the morning but then cycle into San Sebastian where we have a swim and do a tour of the Pintxos bars with everyone. It’s a great way to finish off the holiday and it’s always fun to have a wander round the bars and show our guests some of the best pintxos in San Sebastian. We got back to the accommodation late, already full after all the pintxos, wine and sherry, and sadly it was time to say goodbye to everyone. Phil, Elizabeth and Graeme rebooked for 2014 which was a fantastic feeling for Ed and I and hopefully shows we are doing something right!

Mountain Bike Skills Holiday: The Interlude

Normally on the Saturday we have a transfer day and spend most of the day in the van taking people to their connections, however today didn’t work out like that and Ed and I had most of the day free. We both felt pretty fresh, due the amount of uplift we used the week before, and we decided to head out for a big mountain day in the Basque Country. This trail is called “Slagg Valley” and can be uplifted, or as we were doing today you can make it into a massive loop.

The weather was perfect and we headed out to a tiny little Basque town where we bought sandwiches in a local bar, telling them we would be back in a few hours and to keep us a beer cold. The climb starts mellow but there is a sustained carry in the middle before we reach the high meadows and get back on our bikes. The place is stunning and the climb is tough but really rewarding but the real reason we were here was the descent, it’s amazing! Around 11km of unrelenting technical singletrack dropping about 1100m.

“I don´t think I´ve ever done a better trail” – Ed

Neither Ed nor I cleared the whole thing, (I definitely had a couple of falls and some refusals), although we both agreed that every section was possible. We made it to that cold beer and sat in the bar looking up at the mountain we had just ridden with that special big mountain happiness you get from a big day out on the bikes.

Mountain Bike Holiday Report: Great Rock Skills Week 2

For our second skills week we were fully booked with 6 riders and one non-rider who was just here for the sun and pintxos! We had Esther, Jim and Jon who had been on holiday with me before and Jon brought his lovely wife Reena. We were also joined by Ian and Toby from the UK. Pinxtos tour was a real trip highlight – absolutely excellent. I’m not sure many people would have lent me a bike while they took mine to get fixed” – Jon We rode very similar trails again this week, although we swapped our big mountain days over and rode a huge traverse from Gipuzkoa into Navarra instead of the big rocky mountain we did during the first week. The group this week were slightly more advanced but we worked through cornering, pumping, bunny hopping, rear wheel lifts ,em>(something that switched a little light bulb on in my head), jumps and drops and loads of other things. By the end of the week everyone had either changed their riding or was starting to and everyone was noticeable faster and smoother.

“Hard riding, gorgeous scenery, brilliant food and lovely people.” – Jon

Have a look at some photos from Ian: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spodhopper/sets/72157634860743777/with/9404784914/

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