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A Full Uplift Van for Basque MTB

Mountain Bike Holidays Spain June
The latest mountain bike holiday report from Spain with Basque MTB.

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

It was a full van this week with 8 holiday visitors. Four were repeat customers and although this wasn’t the other 4’s first mountain bike holiday in Spain it was their first time on holiday with Basque MTB. This week I had Tom guiding with me and over the weekend Carlos also joined us while I ran transfers to Bilbao. Through the week my friend Antonio also guided us on his mountain bike trails further south, near Pamplona so it was a really varied holiday with respect to the guiding and the mountain biking. It also let us try out some new things, so read on to see how it all went as well as the usual pictures from everyone’s mountain bike holiday in Spain with Basque MTB!
Day 1, Uplifted Mountain Bike Holidays on the Coast
It’s important to keep hydrated during you mountain bike holiday!
We picked Bill and Craig up in Bilbao airport on Saturday morning and Jasper and Kirsten drove from Belgium on the Saturday evening, however Paul, Paul, Calum and Murray weren’t arriving in Spain until the Sunday afternoon so it was just four people for mountain biking on the Sunday. Since there was space in the van Jim and Esther from the previous week’s holiday asked if they could join us, and so we were 6!  Jasper and Kirsten were staying in the rural accommodation and the rest were all staying in the urban place and I picked everyone up on the Sunday morning for a morning of uplifted mountain biking on the coast. Carlos and Tom were guiding and I was stuck on uplift duty. It wasn’t long before I received a call for help… Bill had a tumble and snapped his brake lever right off! A quick dash to my garage and I was able to pick up a set of XT brakes I had bought but not got round to fitting and over lunch I was able to swap the brakes over for Bill. Holiday rescued! Despite the morning being sunny the weather closed in a bit over lunchtime and there was a bit of rain. I dropped the guys off at the top of the mountain after lunch and they spent the afternoon riding back down to their accommodation.
Day 2 of the Holiday: Damp Mountain Biking… in Spain?!
Photos from Day 3 of our holiday because I didn’t take any photos on day 2. It was a bit wet.
For day two of the holiday we were joined by the Aberdeen guys, Paul, Paul, Murray and Calum, meaning we were up to 8. The van seats 9 so with me driving that was us full for the week. The weather was a bit changeable looking in the morning but we decided to risk it and stay local, opting to ride the trails around Stinky Goat, Joshua’s Tree, Celtic Flo and the others packed into that little area. We all ended up getting wet as the rain closed in around us and most people had a tumble or two on the slippy trails. Despite that everyone was smiling and laughing at the end of the day when we loaded ourselves back into the van and headed back to Hondarribia. When I checked the weather that night it was raining across all of northern Spain and much of Europe. The Paris Open had just been rained off and there were flood alerts in many countries! Time to get on the phone and find somewhere dry to ride. “Hola, soy Douglas. Que tal el tiempo en su pueblo?” went the phone calls that night. Pretty quickly I found one small corner of the world where it was dry, and set to stay that way. Even better my friend Antonio runs his own guiding business, is a great guy to spend the day with and could join us and guide us on the trails.
Day 3: Drive to Pamplona to Mountain Bike out of the Rain.
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Mountain biking on the rolling hills amid ancient history in Navarra.
It was raining pretty hard in the Basque Country that morning. The guys were all waiting for me with waterproofs and extra layers and their faces were a picture when I told them to take short sleeves and suntan creme. I think they thought I was joking! We drove for around an hour and arrived at Antonio’s village under blazing blue skies. There were ominous clouds on the horizon but above us it was sunny. Here I have to take a short second to gloat; I received a phone call from a British guy on the way down. They were on a biking holiday in Hondarribia, opting to do a self guided holiday, and it was pouring with rain and they’d broken their bike… could I help? The answer was no, I was on my way to ride with my group, in the sunshine, and even though one of them had broken his bike I’d sorted it for him. Sorry, I know it’s not good to gloat but I like it when I feel like I’m giving my holiday visitors more than just showing them the mountain bike trails. We met Antonio in his village, a stunning medieval village built round an old church. We weren’t far from La Rioja, just south and west from Pamplona in Navarra. We left the village and quickly picked up the dry, dusty and defined singletrack that was going to be the hallmark of today’s mountain bike trip. The trails were really nice and we made our way to another medieval village, with ancient walls standing on a upcrop of land. Here we ate a massive lunch and the restaurant owner even patched up Paul, who had cut his leg slightly! The trails in the afternoon were even better than the morning. The morning trails were good but these were world-class. Endless singletrack rising and falling a hundred meters or so with lovely technical descents followed by little sharp climbs, all on buff singletrack. It was so good that we rode way past the 4pm that I’d promised and we weren’t back at the van until after 7pm! When you’re having a good time it’s a shame to cut it short. Sadly though we had to leave Antonio and race back to the Basque Country because we were being given a rare treat that night; a dinner out in Esteban’s Sociedad. Esteban owns the accommodation we use and is a famous local fisherman. He’d had a bumper catch that day and offered to cook some of it up for us in his Sociedad.
Traditional Basque Night Out in the Sociedad.
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Sociedad; a very traditional Basque night out that not many tourists get to see.
A sociedad is a traditional club for Basque fishermen. There is a big kitchen, which only the men use, and a dining room were you can eat. The idea is that you take your friends there, cook for them and then sit down for a big meal. There is a fully stocked bar and you all divide up the cost of the food and drink at the end of the night. Esteban, the owner of our accommodation is a famous Basque fisherman and it’s fair to say he’s a fantastic cook too. Craig, one of our guests is a professional chef as well, and he was keen to get into the kitchen and learn some techniques from Esteban, (or maybe teach him some too!). We had a great meal with everyone and it was a real privilege for us all. This is something that not many holiday makers get to experience, the real Basque country experiencee, not something you can book at the tourist office! After dinner we retired to local bar where we had brandies as big as our heads!
Day Four of Our Mountain Bike Holiday, Disasters in the Desert!
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Great mountain biking in Navarra but a day of disasters.
The groups spent the rest day of their holiday recuperating in various ways. Bill and Craig went for a boat trip with Esteban, the Aberdeen guys wandered into San Sebastian for a few drinks and Kirsten and Jasper relaxed and had a nice dinner out. Everyone was back up to top speed and ready for another day of mountain biking. I decided to take everyone down to an area near Pamplona we call the desert. The trails there are fantasic and it’s a nice figure of eight around a nice restaurant where we can get coffees in the morning, lunch and the beers at the end of the day. We can uplift each of the uphill legs in the van or, as was the case today, climb on a lovely little bit of singletrack. The day started badly, Kirsten and Jasper had slept in and were forcing down breakfast when I arrived. The next disaster came as we left Irun and a guy cutting the grass on the verge threw a stone up which smashed the back van window. The next disaster was just round the next corner, literally, as we were stopped by the police. After some fast explaining about the window they made me go back to the guy cutting the grass and get his insurance details! Finally an hour later we were on our way again! Antonio was meeting us again today so we could split the group and it seemed that all our bad luck was behind us. Until we arrived at “La Losa”, a steep roll down. We took a few goes at it and Kirsten was just looking like she would get it when she had an O.T.B. moment and hurt her shoulder. Kirsten is recovering from a broken collarbone and we were worried that it was broken again but after a quick x-ray she was given the all clear, it was just a big and painful bang on the original break. The nurse almost slapped me when I asked if she could bike the next day though so it was the end of Kirsten’s mountain biking holiday. I’m alway really gutted when anyone hurts themselves and, although I was glad Kirsten hadn’t broken anything it was a real shame she couldn’t manage the last day. I was glad to get into bed safely and hopefully we had got all our bad luck out the way!
Mountain Bike Trip into San Sebastain.
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Mountain biking along the Basque coast on the last day of Bill and Craig’s mountain bike holiday.
For the last day of Bill and Craig’s holiday we did our mountain bike route that ends in San Sebastian. I used Tom, our new guide, to give a bit of uplift at the start of the day and then we rode into San Sebastian on the afternoon. The trails there are always great, buff singletrack with big views, and it’s a fantastic way to end the holiday with a beer on the beach. It was a fantastic way to end a very pleasurable week with Craig and Bill.
Last Day of Mountain Biking with the Aberdeen Boys
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The last day in Spain for the Aberdeen boys, mountain biking on the Basque coast.
We still had the Pauls, Calum and Murry from Aberdeen for the last day of their mountain bike holiday in Spain and, after an early transfer for Bill and Craig, we set off for a mellow day of mountain biking on the coast. We stopped at a little delicatessen and picked up some food and wine and set off on the coastal trails leaving Hondarribia. We took a little detour from the more trodden path to get a quieter spot for lunch and Tom demonstrated his excellent guiding skills by producing a cork screw! Good work that man. After lunch we took easier paths back home and Tom finished the last bit of guiding while I broke for the van and my bed! A fantastic week and all three groups were talking about a return holiday so I’ll very much look forward to welcoming them back.

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