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June Holidays – The Guiding Report

A summary of June's holiday news from BasqueMTB. Crashes, broken kit and lots of mountain biking tales from the Basque Country, Spain and the Pyrenees.
Another very busy month for us, out here in Spain. I have been guiding every week in June, although I did get a few day off at the start to rest my legs. We have had people on holiday from Scotland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Dubai, the USA, Scotland and England; many people on holiday for the first time to the Basque mountains, but also some who have visited previously, just not for mountain biking. We have had several crashes, although thankfully no serious injuries. We have also had a lot of equipment failures, both snapped bikes and components. Read on to find out more… (For the pictures in the strips below, you can click on one and it will expand and offer you arrows at the side to read through the gallery, it’s the same throughout the site) Week 1: Bill and Craig Turner, on holiday from Scotland Bill and Craig, a father and son from Scotland visited us in the first week of June and it was hugely entertaining to find out that I actually went to the same school as Craig, although a few year earlier. Craig is now a chef in Glasgow, a city where I spend many, many years, so we spent a lot our the holiday mountain biking and gossiping! We had a mixed week of mountain biking weather. Normally if the Basque country is wet we would ride on the south side of the Pyrenees, closer to Pamplona which is much dryer, however this week didn’t offer us that option with the Spanish weather gods being unkind to most of Spain, including the Basque country. Having said that we only got wet on one day, although we did sit having a coffee one morning waiting for the rain to stop. The mountain biking was good and we rode some of our old trails along with some new ones, such as the traverse from Hondarribia to San Sebastian. Craig, being a chef, was obviously keen on sampling the Basque cuisine and it was interesting to hear his thoughts on the restaurants each morning. Equipment Breakage – 1 Bent Rotor Crashes – 0 Week 2: Tim, Richard, Peter and Peter from Bristol. Tim originally got in touch with me, at the start of the year, looking for weeks holiday, split between our base, in Hondarribia, and touring along the Basque coast past San Sebastian. After some discussions with the rest of his group, and looking at various options, Tim decided to book a single centre holiday based in our Urban Accommodation in Hondarribia.  We had another funny coincidence when Tim’s group arrived, because it turns out that Richard used to drink with my Uncle in Bristol… it really is a small world. We had some great rides this week, and the weather was perfect for mountain biking with a mixture of sunny and slightly overcast days. After some discussions with Tim’s group we also decided to try out an overnight tour to Pamplona, combining some of the Camino de Santiago and a big singletrack descent I knew.  We were also joined on our first day by Guy, from New Zealand. Guy was touring the Pyrenees and had a free day so gave me a call for a day trip. I lent him my Cove GSpot, and we rode the coastal trails. I think it’s fair to say that Guy is very, very fit and not half bad downhill! It was a struggle to keep up with him, but I really wanted to because he was telling me some really interesting stories about some cool stuff he is doing down in New Zealand with mountain bike trail building and petitioning the government to open up access. Guy left us some really cool feedback over on VORB.  I’m sure the guys won’t mind me mentioning it, but they were the oldest group I have had so far (although I have had older individuals!) but despite ages over 60 nothing held the guys back; we rode every day, with some uplift, and covered some serious mileage. For me the big success this week was the lovely emails I recieved from the group saying that they had a great time and hope to return again next year. This was all the sweeter because I knew the group had been to about 7 different places over the last 7 years, never returning to the same place twice. I enjoyed everyone’s company so will look forward to that for 2012! Equipment Breakage – 1 Hope Brake Bled, 1 Creaking Headset Crashes – Nothing serious!

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Week 2.5: Heidi Swift from the US of A
Photo taken by Heidi Swift, check her out on www.gritandglimmer.com

Photo taken by Heidi Swift, check her out on www.gritandglimmer.com

Heidi is a journalist, blogger, roadie, crosser, mountain biker,  and crafter of words from Portland, USA. I follow her on twitter and noticed she was visiting the Basque Country to report on the new Specialized road bikes. Figuring that a person can have too much of the tarmac, and assuming everyone wanted to ride singletrack, I gave her a call and offered her a day trip. Heidi writes about the whole day far better than I will ever be able to so check it out: Heidi Swift’s article, on the Specialized bikes website, about mountain biking with BasqueMTB. I would also recommend a visit to Heidi’s website http:www.gritandglimmer.com, her writing is brilliant: often foul mouthed, always hilarious and well worth taking some time to have a look at. Week 3: Tim and Ben from Belgium. Tim and Ben know the Basque country well. So well in fact that they were recommending restaurants for me! They have been regular holiday makers to this part of Spain, both alone and with their familes, but never for mountain biking. They enjoy the culture, the food and the surfing but haven’t biked in the beautiful Basque mountains or the Pyrenees. Time to break out the mountain bikes! Knowing that Belgium isn’t famous for it’s mountains, but is famous for its very fast bikers, I was expecting Tim and Ben to rip my legs off on the climbs and struggle on the descents. WRONG! I mean, sure, they could hold their own on the climbs and big mountain epics didn’t phase them, but they were happy to ride at a relaxed pace and enjoy the big views and chat. When the trails pointed downhill though they showed that they were very handy bikers, and were fast and happy on the technical stuff. That was fantastic because it meant we could do lots of the more backcountry trails and really get out into the mountains. Tim was also a SEO / Social Media genius and during his holiday he filled my brain with useful ideas for my website! Watch out for BasqueMTB taking over the internet any time soon! Equipment Breakage – Lots of pinch punctures, including one with my tubeless tyres! Crashes – Nothing Serious! Week 4: Danny, Dom, Frank, Tomas, Tim,Tore, Ed Oxley and Andrea You can find a full write up of the Great Rock Skills Week on our News and Views section. The summary is that it was a great fun holiday and it was very cool to watch everyone moving their riding on a level. It is worth mentioning here that this is where we got all the breakages and crashes! Equipment Breakage – 1 x Scott Ransom Frame, 1 x SRAM Mech, 1 x Charge Spoon Saddle, 2 x Spokes, 1 x Formula Brakes, 2 x Avid Matchmakers, Crashes – 2. First was Me = Big crash thanks to SRAM, big cuts to the arms, bruising to kidneys and general pain! but SRAM broke my beloved Charge Spoon Saddle! The second was Ed = Thanks to having fun and trying to drift too much! No serious damage.

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