Epic Mountain Bike Holidays | Spain | Basque Country | Pyrenees

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Photo and Video > New Route – 15km of Beauty / 10.5km of Madness

Length: Full route 31km, Using recommended shortcut 25km

Height Gain: 1500m

Height Loss: 1500m

Average Technical Difficulty: Very, very difficult.

Maximum Technical Difficulty:Extreme with serious consequence.

In 3 Words: Beautiful, technical, rocky

And In More: A remote ride through one of the most beautiful areas I have ever mountain biked in. The climb is hard with sustained sections of pushing / carrying but the reward comes in the form of breath taking views when you reach the high plateau. The descent starts fairly moderately on rocky singletrack through a grassy valley, however as the valley narrows the technical difficulty increases. The singletrack descent lasts for 10.5km, dropping 1100m in height and the last 6km is extremely rocky singletrack with big exposure to the left. There are a series of switchbacks half way down that are definitely amongst the most challenging I’ve ridden anywhere in the Pyrenees or Spain… not for the faint hearted. Don’t ask me to take you here on the 1st day!

As we are unpacking the bikes from the van you can already see the 1300m peak we are climbing, towering high above; it’s a fantastic sight! Very distinct from other mountains we ride in Spain or the Pyrenees, the mountains here are very green with striking white rock. The day starts in a local Basque bar where we will top up on coffee and purchase some sandwiches to take away on our ride. We are going to be pretty remote so now is a good time to fill the bladders to the brim and stuff in some extra sweets and maybe some more clothes because it could be cold at the top of the mountain.

The ride starts very gently with a beautiful spin through the small Basque town and a gentle climb up some bumpy fireroads which bring us to another town higher up the valley.  From here we continue to climb gently on fireroads and wider paths, watching as the views to the north open out around us. With surprisingly little effort our target peak, once so distant, seems a lot closer. Sadly the easy height gain doesn’t continue, we leave the safety of the fireroad and join some technical singletrack where we gain some, more difficult, height. The rocks here are slippery and going is suddenly a lot slower. Finally we come to the pushing section, lasting for about 30 minutes, where we gain a lot of height very rapidly but with a lot of effort.

Generally after the pushing we’ll take a break for lunch. We have reached a high plateau where ancient trees surround a green meadow littered with white stones and flowers and the views from here are amazing. After lunch the going is a lot easier as we traverse the hillside on singletrack, loosing a little height. As we bike round the hill the scenery changes, it isn’t any more beautiful but the change of view keeps everything interesting. Reaching a crossroads we have a choice, to extend the route and make it a true epic or to take the shortcut; I always recommend the shortcut as I think it is a better route. Climbing on fireroad we quickly reach a fantastic couple of kilometers of singletrack, undulating along a small valley. This must have been designed for bikes because the corners, rocks and little jumps are just perfect. We have reached about 1100m now, with only a final 200m of hard effort to reach our high point. The final 200m is tough though, a brutal climb on singletrackwhich gives way to worn out doubletrack and has most mortals pushing in places.

Finally the climbing is over. We have gained around 1200m in 14km so you know that it has been tough! The payback is amazing though. The descent follows a green valley, again littered with distinctive white stones, for 10.5km as we loose the 1100m to the van. To give you an idea of how technical this is, the descent generally takes around an hour and a quarter.It starts off in the bottom of the valley, fast and flowy with grassy singletrack littered with rocks which you swerve round and float over, trying not to hang up on them. Our singletrack start to contour on the left side of the valleys the valley floor falls away below us and we start to encounter very tricky sections of bedrock and loose stones before the trail drops to the valley floor and starts to contour on the right side of the valley. After passing some old mine works we start to reach the most technical sections. If you have ever ridden the Laggan black route then this is similar but on steroids and lasting for kilometer after kilometer. Arm pump becomes a factor in how fast you can go as the trail fires us down rocky chute after rocky chute. The switchbacks with serious exposurealmost come as a relief as the speed slows and blood can creep back into your arms and hands. After the switchbacks things stay very technical but open up a bit and the speed tentatively creeps up. After what seems like an age we reach a tar road and civilisation again. Most people think this is the end of the route; no way, there’s several more sections of very rocky singletrack hidden just off to our right 🙂 These sections run all the way down to the village we started in, literally dropping us out at the pub. It’s an intense descent, not something to be taken lightly, but if you have the skills to pay the bills then this could be one of the best trails you’ll throw yourself down this year!

I know there’s not many pictures of the descent! It’s hard to stop and get photos and get back on the bike again but I’ll try to get more next time I visit and will post them up here as I do.

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