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Photo and Video > Mountain Bike Trip to “Spanish Utah”

Basque MTB take a mountain bike holiday in “Spanish Utah”, a stunningly different part of Spain.

Mountain biking would get pretty boring if we rode the same trails all the time. Variety is the spice of life. And variety was what was waiting for me this Thursday, when I got the invite to ride in a new area the locals call “Spanish Utah”. Javito and I packed our mountain bikes into his car and had ourselves a little mountain biking holiday in Utah! Read on for lots more pictures and some video of the mountain biking in this very unique part of Spain.
Dusty, drifty singletrack with blue skies and stunning backdrops.
The drive to meet the guys who were taking us mountain biking today was around 3 hours. It always amazes me how much the landscape changes as we drive south. The first 45 minutes from the Basque coast to Pamplona takes us from the green, mountainous Basque Country to the drier area around Pamplona where the mountains are more spaced out, with big ridges and scrubby vegetation. As we headed further south we passed into the interior of Spain with a big flat areas, filled with vineyards and olive groves. Soon, mountains started to appear on the horizon and the olive groves gave way to fruit trees which brought some festivity to the dry landscape with their bright pink and white blossoms. If you have eaten a good cherry recently there is a good chance it came from here. In fact there is a chance that my friend Manolo, who was guiding us today, grew it!
 Mountain biking doesn’t get much more different, or fun, than this!
We met up with Manolo and Adan, our mountain bike guides for the day. It really was a mountain biking holiday for me, I love it when other people guide me and I only have to think about turning the pedals and keeping the rubber side down. Our route today was going to be around 50km, with almost all of that on singletrack. Before we set off the guys checked several times that Javito and I had enough water; I should have realised then that it was going to be a hot one! Sure enough the temperatures reached around 30degC and the dryness of the atmosphere seemed to suck the moisture from my lungs with each and every breath. The dust also seemed to clog my already dry mouth and I was gulping water down way too fast. I spent the whole day worrying about finishing my water early, leaving my bleached bones slowly crumbling away at the trail side in a warning to future mountain bikers!
 Not all dry and dusty mountain biking, there were trees and greenery in the little canyons.
 The first couple of kilometers were easy mountain biking, climbing slowly on a fireroad. Very quickly we found our self at the top of the first descent. Adan was to go first and warned me several times to take it easy on the different terrain! Everything here is loose and dusty with a trail covering the locals call “Garbanzos” or “Chickpeas”! It definitely lacks initial grip, the tyres slip but if you keep everything loose and don’t touch the brakes, eventually the tyres reach a solid surface and grip. It’s fantastic mountain biking and the drifty loose sensation is so much fun. The trails are all carved by water so it should come as little surprise that everything just flows. The trails are little, chickpea covered rollercoasters, perfect for mountain biking on. You swoop, float, compress, drift and carve your way to the bottom and then, just when you stop, the views hit you smack in the face. It is funny how much I enjoyed it because Adan and Manolo had exactly the same experience in the Basque Country. A road trip, weekend away or even a mountain bike holiday, gives us that chance to ride a different type of trail and always serves to fan the flames of our mountain biking passions. Today was my little mountain biking holiday!
 Mountain biking above the canyons with a little bit of exposure. You’ve seen 127 hours right?!
At the bottom of the first descent we started climbing. Adan told me it was a 6km singletrack climb, all possible on bike. I suspected that wasn’t true but it turns out that Adan doesn’t lie, certainly not about important things, like mountain biking! The climb followed a canyon bottom, sunk about five to ten meters into the ground and slightly hidden from the growing ferocity of the sun. Soon we arrived at the second descent of the day… called “The Impossible Descent”! Sure enough it was a super steep, dust-filled drop and none of us managed it without a dab!
 Climbing over, and under, on the little red rock bridge and our lunch stop.
As the day wore on we found ourselves at the base of these incredible, wind and water carved, red stone cliffs. It really was breath-taking but we were all suffering with the heat and Adan wouldn’t let us have lunch until we reached the top. It turns out that it was very worth the effort and the views from up there were amazing. I cannot describe the ecstasy I experienced when my dry, dust filled mouth bit into an orange that Manolo gave me for lunch. No drug, woman, trail or spiritual experience will ever recreate the sensation that filled my dehydrated body as that cool, citrus taste filled my mouth and throat!
Playing in the canyons and biking on the dusty ridges.
Mountain biking on perfect singletrack under the carved red rock cliffs.
And finally, to give you more of a taste of the mountain biking in this part of Spain here is a little video edited up from my new Go Pro. These are a few clips from the descents. Unfortuantely for the last couple of descents my GoPro must have been knocked so was pointing too high. These were the most stunning trails, with big exposure on one side… typical that those are the ones I’d miss out on! You can see a few glimpses of them in the video where the camera aligns itself for a bit. I hope you enjoy the video and pictures!

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