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Three Biking Couples Visit Basque MTB

Mountain Bike Holidays: Three Biking Couples Visit Basque MTB in Spain

Mountain Bike Holiday Report from Spain with Basque MTB: First Week in June

This week we had two couples on holiday from the North of England: Jim and Esther and Judith and Steven. Despite living a short drive apart and riding a lot of the same trails the two couples had never met each other. It’s funny to think that the first time they have biked together is hundreds of miles from home, on a mountain bike holiday in Spain! Everyone seemed to get on really well so hopefully they won’t have to come all the way to Spain before their next mountain bike trip together! Read on for some words, videos and pictures from their mountain bike holiday in Spain with Basque MTB! Also, thanks to everyone for sending me some of the photos in this blog post, it’s nice to see the Basque Country from the perspective of the holiday makers and not the guide!
Arrival in Bilbao and on Day 1 We Mountain Bike on the Coast
Mountain biking into San Sebastian on the first day of our holiday.
Everyone arrived into Bilbao airport on the same flights, however Jim’s bike was in a road bike box so Judith and Steven hadn’t said hello, assuming Jim and Esther were on a road biking holiday and not realising they were also headed to Basque MTB! We got into Hondarribia in the early evening and I took everyone down to the town for dinner. The following morning the Spanish weather was perfect for mountain biking; blue skies and not too warm. We rode a nice trail that many of our previous mountain bike holiday guests will know, using a couple of loops on the coast and finishing up with a little boat trip and a ride into San Sebastian. We decided to miss out our beers on San Sebastian’s beach and took the train back to another bar where I left the guys having a post ride beer which I went up to get the van.
Day 2 of the Holiday: Mountain Bike Epic in Navarra
Day 2 of the holiday, mountain biking in Navarra on Etch-a-Sketch.
Day two was a belter. It was Etch-a-Sketch, our 20km epic which sits in Navarra, a little further south into Spain. The weather was perfect, maybe a bit warm with temperatures in the high twenties, but this route has a fantastic, (if hard!), climb that keeps us out of the sun for most of the way. The video above is of the final descent of the day which leads us back to the bar and afterwards the van. This is always one of my favourite routes, it just feels like we have biked into a little, forgotten corner of Spain and the trails are really, really nice. Everyone seemed to share that opinion as we sat at the bottom enjoying an afternoon beer. You can see more photos and a full description of Etch-A-Sketch here.
Day 3: Drive to Pamplona to Mountain Bike in the Desert.
A short video of everyone riding “La Losa” near Pamplona. Thanks Judith for the footage!
We drove down to The Desert, a lovely mountain biking area in Navarra, just north of Pamplona. We also picked up a couple more guests, a very nice Swiss couple called Roland and Barbara who turned up on some very shiny bikes! The 2 days of biking were taking the toll on some legs so I did a couple of big uplifts today, leaving everyone to enjoy the descents. And enjoy them we did! The descents here are tough in places but a lot of fun, twisty and turny with hardly any straight sections. Really fantastic and also fantastic work by Judith and Steven who nailed “La Losa” straight away. Like I said to them, if the locals give a bit of trail a name then you know it’s hard!
Rest Day for Some, More Mountain Biking on the Coast for Others.
Day 4 of the holiday, lunch stop near San Sebastian with Roland and Barbara and Judith and Steven descending to Hondarribia.
Today was meant to be a rest day for the guys but I took Roland and Barbara out for a ride on the coast. I also dropped Judith and Steven at the top of the hill with a route back to their accommodation. I’m really glad I decided to guide on my rest day because it was a really special day. The Swiss guys were really blown away by the Basque coast and the mountain bike trails and it was really good for me to see their reaction to that. It’s always a bit of extra pressure when people come from Switzerland or places which are famous for their trails and it’s always a relief when the Basque Country passes the test!
Day 5 of the Holiday and Everyone’s Back Together to Bike in the Forests.
The Singlest of Spanish Singletracks: Mountain biking on Stinky Goat and Celtic Flo.
Today we went to a few trails in an area near San Sebastian but a bit inland. There are so many trails here that it’s a great place to bring people. The descents are shorter, only around 300m, but they are really fun, snaking through the forests. We rode Stinky Goat, Under Heavy Rain and Celtic Flo. Stinky Goat is an old favourite and many people who have been on mountain biking holiday with Basque MTB will know it well. However, unless you have had a mountain bike holiday with us this year you won’t know Under Heavy Rain or Celtic Flo, two new trails for this year. If you think of Under Heavy Rain as a slightly more technical and less used version of Stinky Goat then you’ll not be far off. I love it. Celtic Flo is something that we’ve put together ourselves, it’s a traversing trail with plenty of flow, little catch berms and some testing switchbacks. We played for a while on the last switchbacks before taking the light speed ridgeline descent back to the van. Here Judith was following me, (quite fast!), and managed to explode the tyre off her bike. Luckily she held it in control but we had to limp back to the van!
Final Day of the Mountain Bike Holiday in Spain… Uplift Anyone?
Carlos guiding everyone into VietnamTom, prior to his first Basque Mountain Bike Accident!
On the final day we mixed it up a little bit. Carlos and my new guide Tom picked everyone up in Hondarribia and they rode round the coastal singletrack before repeating some of Day 1’s trails to descend to one of my favourite spots for lunch. After lunch I drove the van for uplifts and gave them a few runs down the hill. Everyone managed to escape without drawing any blood today… apart from my two heroic guides. Carlos demonstrated the ‘trials line’ at the start of All Along the Watchtowers and ripped his shin open and Tom overcooked a corner and grazed his face on a rock! Guys, we’re not meant to crash! We worked out later that the day had about 24km descending, all on singletrack. Not a bad end for a mountain bike holiday. The weather was the best Spain can produce all week and was sunny and warm without being too hot. The guests were fantastic. The extra guides did a fantastic job and the trails were riding perfectly. It’s funny how on weeks like these, despite riding every day and doing transfers on the days when I’m not riding, I feel anything but tired. It’s a sort of energy you pick up from the group which leaves you buzzing at the end of the week. It’s also hard to say goodbye at the airport after weeks like these, and I count myself very lucky that I get lots of weeks like these! So long Judith, Esther, Jim, Steven, Roland and Barbara, I hope our paths cross again!
Lunch on the hill, this is a great little hut for a quick break from mountain biking.
Very tricky, loamy, steep switchbacks on Celtic Flo.
Wheeling Judith’s broken mountain bike back, (She was riding mine!)
Steven hitting the tricky step so hard he broke it!
Tricky-ish mountain bike trails on the coast.
Beautiful Basque horses
Judith quits her bike and jumps into the Spanish Shrubbery!


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