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Trail > Holidays in June, Spanish Storms and Sunshine

It’s been a while since my last update… we’ve been busy riding and guiding over the past 3 weeks so I’ve not had a chance. Last month I got the chance to visit Andorra, courtesy of Commencal, to check out their new bikes and have a play on some of them at the Vallnord bike park. Then the last couple of weeks I have been back in the Basque Country guiding.
Andorra was great. I didn’t take any photos though! It’s about 4.5 hours from here so it’s totally practical for a couple of days riding. It’s a beautiful place, very alpine in feel, but there are a lot of regulations on new housing so there is a nicer feel to the villages than I’ve encountered in the Alps before. It’s also cheap, not stupidly cheap but cheap enough. Having said that we didn’t really pay for very much thanks to the generosity of Commencal! We rode all the main trails but were lucky enough to hook up with “So-So” from Cedric Gracia’s bike school who showed us a lot of ‘local’s only’ tracks which were amazing.
It was fantastic to put on the big body suit and ride the big bike (and some Commencal DH bikes) downhill for a few days and the tracks there are great fun but after a couple of days I was very ready to get back to the Basque Country and our virgin singletrack where you won’t find braking bumps and ruts caused by riders skidding. I’ll definitely go back, probably for a weekend at the end of the season. . After Andorra I spend a lot of time clearing ‘The Hives’ which has suffered from the high winds over winter and then the invading vegetation of spring! After 3 fairly heavy days it was riding amazingly, so much better than ever before.
We then had four guys from England visit for a week. Dave had visited us last year but returned this year for a second visit with his friends. We had a great time, the company was fantastic with constant banter and ‘races’ or ‘challenges’ to the top of the hills! The guys can all ride well and were fast, fast, fast to the top and definitely by the end of the week were fast on the way back down too!
The downside to this week was the weather. We were hit by storms that meant we had a wet week. We were actually quite lucky because in the South-East of France a lot of people were killed in the floods and further west in Spain a lot of people lost houses and cars. We chose our trails as best we could to ride in dryer areas and spend hours studying the weather maps each night. All that meant we stayed reasonably dry but it wasn’t the basqueMTB experience that we love to show to people. The trails hold up well to wet weather though so we did some good riding. The guys are already planning a return trip next year though, and we will do our best to show them a great, DRY, time!
The afternoon that the guys left the sun started to peak out of the clouds! By the next day we had our next group here and we were riding in the sunshine. Stu and Alzy from Glasgow were here for a week and we enjoyed weather that is more usual for this time of year… warm sun and great biking temperatures. Stu was here last year as well but we rode mainly new trails, doing Ulia and Jaizkibel, Los Locos, Cross the Streams, The Hives (fantastic!), Etch-a-Sketch, Cheeky Larrun and lots of other trails that slip my mind at the moment. I think that Etch-a-Sketch was their favourite, it’s a brand new trail for this year and is proving very popular with people so far! . The guys were lucky as well to be here for the big fiestas in the local town, Irun, which involved the streets being packed from evening all through the night with dancing and partying Basques! We had a great night out on Wednesday and another one on Saturday where we rode all day, went out about 1am and got home around 5am. It made the bike packing a bit interesting but at least we were better than Amaia who finally left the still-packed-streets around 8:30am! . It’s a great atmosphere in the fiestas with a friendly feel which is probably partly to do with the fact that people don’t drink as much as they would in the UK and are generally “happy and dance-y” but not “drunk and shout-y”!
After Stu and Alzy left I guided yesterday, returning to Etch-a-Sketch for a ride with Craig from Scotland. He is involved with trying to increase the number of people who cycle in the area just north of Glasgow and it sounds like he’s making real progress. It was funny because I used to ride a lot of the trails that Craig rides now so it was great to hear how they were doing! I think it’s fair to say he was fairly impressed with the riding here and was grinning a lot at the end of the day! He also took some headcam footage so we will hopefully have that on the site sometime soon.
So, what’s coming up over the next few weeks? Well, I’ve got a few days off now and will be getting some trails ready and spending some time with Amaia. Then we are pretty much working every day from the first week in July onwards which we are really looking forward to!
So, some thanks in this post! A big thanks to Commencal who showed us a great time in Andorra and I really enjoyed their big DH bike a lot! Also a big thanks to So So from the CG Bike School, a very likeable lady who not only rides beautifully but even with a language barrier managed to help me improve my riding. Thanks to all the guests this year, we’ve had a great time having you to stay, it’s been great to ride, drink, dance and eat with you all. Photos in this post include some of Stu’s so thanks a lot for those Stu, really appreciate it!
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