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Spain’s Big Mountains and Long Days

This weeks mountain bike holiday report from the Basque Country, Spain... big mountains, uplift and some great mountain biking!

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

It was another busy holiday week in Spain for us all at Basque MTB. Simon had booked a holiday for himself and seven other mountain bikers, making it a full uplift van again. These guys had been on mountain bike holidays with other companies in Spain and Italy and this year they fancied riding in the Spanish Pyrenees and Basque mountains with Basque MTB. I knew that it was going to be a good week when they all started unloading their bikes at our accommodation in Hondarribia; bling isn’t an adequate word! The guys were also here in time for the fiestas of Irun, called San Marcial, and also for the longest day, Hoguera de San Juan, a type of pagan celebration of the shortest night so there was plenty of party opportunity. The Spanish weather was very kind to the Basque Country and we enjoyed some perfect days for mountain biking. We even managed a run down from The Crosses, not something we manage with every holiday group. Read on for lots more words and pictures from the guy’s mountain bike holiday in Spain with Basque MTB.  
A video from a few trails we used on the guy’s mountain bike holiday
Start of the Holiday and some uplifted mountain biking on the coast of Spain.
Uplift, Dust, Sidra and Stunning Views. Check out the video to see how to pour Basque Sidra!
In a slight change to our normal mountain bike holidays we decided to do some uplift on the first day. Tom was here to guide so it let us start the guy’s holiday in Spain off with some downhill biking. We started off with a couple of runs on the coast, on All Along the Watchtowers where there was some drama. A Spanish mountain biker, Ian, a friend of my friends from the Spanish Pyrenees, had injured himself at the top section and was down with a suspected broken leg. We offered assistance but the police and medics had it all under control and were just waiting for a helicopter to evacuate him. It was a sobering sight to see a fellow mountain biker down on a trail we use so often. Ian’s a very good rider and “All Along The Watchtowers” isn’t too challenging so it just goes to show it can happen any time and anywhere. Fortunately for me my group were all well and enjoying themselves. I felt it was wrong to be riding there during that incident so after lunch we went to ride some natural and downhill tracks on a nearby mountain. We rode the Blue Pill a couple of times and finished off with a very steep downhill track which gave everyone something to think about and most of us ate the shrubbery at least once!
Day 2, Big Mountain Riding in Spain, Basque Style!
Big mountain biking in the Basque mountains.
Day two was another departure from our normal mountain bike holidays. I offered to take the guys up a big mountain, somewhere I took Mark from Singletrack and he wrote that he struggled with the climb and the descent almost killed him! I had worked out a way to uplift the hill a bit, giving us around 450m climbing for the 1000m of descending. It doesn’t sound much but nothing is easy when you get into the bigger Basque mountains.
I don’t take many people here on their holidays.
The climb took us about 3 and a bit hours, with lots of riding but also some pushing and carrying our bikes. When we got to the top of the mountain we were rewarded with a stunning panoramic view over the Basque mountains, and down to the coast of Spain where we could see the waves breaking on the shore some 20km away.
 Panoramic views from the top of The Crosses! Drag to rotate.
Of course, when you are at the top of any mountain with your bike you know that the best bit is still to come! We had around 10km, and 1000m of descending to do before we reached the bar at the bottom of the hill. It took us around 3 hours to descend, stopping for photos and to session a few parts and it was all very varied mountain biking. Fast and flowy combined with rocky and technical meaning that all aspects of our mountain biking skills were tested. When we reached the bottom of the hill I left the guys having a beer, (or some beers!), while I cycled back up the 500 or 600m to get the van. It was quite late when I returned so we decided to eat out together in one of the little Basque villages. Food was plentiful and tasty, as it always is in this part of Spain, and the chef even gave us some cheese his shepherd brother had made from the local goats milk. In one word? Strong! Day two of the guys mountain bike holiday was over and I really felt that I had shown them some of the variety which means a mountain bike holiday in this part of spain is never boring!
Day 3: Drive to Pamplona to Mountain Bike in the Desert.
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Hot weather in Spain and we go mountain biking in the desert!
Normally we use “The Desert” when the weather is bad in the Basque Country but I decided to go today even though the sun was shining hard on the Spanish Coast. Everyone was tired after our big day biking in the mountains and I felt that we would benefit from a little bit more uplift and a big meal. The desert is perfect for that. It is very much Enduro trails, with ups and downs but I can use a little bit of van uplift to take the sting out of the climbs. There is also a fantastic restaurant where we can get three courses for €12 which is just the thing for the middle of a biking holiday when all the bikers are starving and need something substantial to eat. We rode a few trails in the morning, had a big lunch with everyone exclaiming, “best trail EVER”, and then rode some more trails in the afternoon and this time everyone really did insist that the trail was the best ever! It was interesting for me to borrow Tom’s Cotic Soul, my first time on a hardtail in years, and I was really enjoying the acceleration I could generate by pumping the corners. It was really hot but as the day wore on the temperature became perfect and we finished riding around 8pm with perfect evening conditions. I raced up to get the van back, leaving the guys drinking in the evening sunshine. It was late when we got back to Hondarribia, around 10:30, so we went for a beer and a take-away Pizza before dropping the guys back at the accommodation. Another long day but a great one!
Rest Day! Spa and Mojitos in San Sebastian.
Wednesday is always a rest day on our mountain bike holidays. Occasionally we can guide people, or mark up a GPS or map for them but we really encourage everyone to take a rest day and either surf or visit San Sebastian. San Sebastian has to be one of the coolest city in Europe, it has three beautiful beaches and an old quarter with the highest density of bars and restaurants in the world. The guys this week headed into San Sebastian on their day off and chose to visit a beautiful spa to ease the inevitable pains that a mountain bike holiday brings! I wasn’t there but apparently the spa was followed up with mojitos on one of the bars above San Sebastian… sounds like a good day.
Day Four of Our Mountain Bike Holiday, Misty Mountain Biking in Spain!
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Misty mountains on the coast in Spain.
Today we had some low cloud on the hills but we believed the forecast which predicted it would lift in the morning leaving blue skies. It didn’t. The weather all over Spain had been so hot recently that it was a relief to be mountain biking in Spain’s now misty mountains and we had a couple of great descents planned. The first one, Nutcracker, is a technical rocky trail with a pile of switchbacks higher up leading into a wide open fast trail in the bottom. Lots of fun although there were a few crashes. The climb is up an old Roman road and  is very technical with several river crossings and slippery rocks. It has to be one of my all time favourite climbs! We had lunch in a restaurant at the top of the hill, steaming and sizzling hunks of steak. Actually I say “we” had lunch but I grabbed a sandwich, moved the van to the bottom of the trail and rode back up… it’s the way I do the uplift on this day. After lunch people were obviously tired and energy levels were low. Once we started descending most people perked up but I think that some people had eaten too much meat… you know who you are! There was also one accident today, Tom crashed his Cotic Soul into a tree and folded the downtube. Poor Tom, he loved that bike but it’s definitely beyond riding just now. Just as well he has a new Cove G-Spot on 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. We did it the same way as last week, using Tom to give a bit of uplift in the morning and then riding into San Sebastian after lunch. Beers on the beach and Richard had a little sleep on the wall. It was warm but not too sunny so the beach wasn’t too full but there was some great surf and we watched the surfers hitting the waves. That night we ventured out into the fiestas of Irun. The big day started at 5am on the Saturday but we finally made it out around 11pm on the Friday so it was the quiet before the storm. There were still plenty of people out. Probably those hardy souls who were planning staying up through the next day! The atmosphere was great though and we ended up staying out until well after 3am. It was great to spend some time with the guys and have a chance to drink some beers, and even a Patxaran, with them. Good times this week!


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