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Plane Crashes and Mountain Biking in Spain

pamplona spain mountain bike holiday
Mountain biking, plane crashes and war heroes.
A historical village at the top of a mountain.
Another day mountain biking in Spain. This time I left the Basque Country and drove south into Spain, towards Pamplona. The trail was a remote mountain, around an hour and twenty minutes from San Sebastian. My friend Javito had a holiday so was joining me, partly to show me some trails and partly to do some trail finding. We rode until the sun set, I crashed 4 times and we rode some of the finest singletrack I’ve ridden in a long time. Throw in war heroes, plane crashes, mountain top graveyards and it all adds up to a fine day mountain biking and somewhere we might take you on your mountain bike holiday.
 Very tight singletrack through the bushes. Not many angles to get good photos.
First of all, this blog isn’t going to be full of nice photos! The riding in this part of Spain is fantastic, however the trails don’t lend themselves well to mountain bike photography. The singletrack is very tight, between trees and bushes so it’s very hard to get good angles. The technical sections, and there were a few, are big jumbles of rocks, so again it’s not very photogenic.
Crossing the fields at the start of the day.
The start of the day offered some very mellow mountain biking as we traversed under the ridge we would later climb. As we passed through old villages and abandoned houses on mellow singletrack Javito told me the story of this ride.

Not just mountain biking, some history as well!

During the 2nd World War a British plane was flying over occupied France, scouting the layout of the German troops. Donald Cecil Broadbent Walker, 28, was the pilot of this Mosquito plane and AM Crow was his co-pilot. During their flight they were hit by Nazi artillery and the plane was terminally damaged. Donald managed to steer the dying plane across the Pyrenees into Spain and AM Crow managed to parachute clear, landing in the ironically named SOS! Donald wasn’t so lucky however and was unable to escape the crashing aircraft. In another twist of fate the local village was having their annual fiesta so were all partying in the village streets as they watched the smoking aircraft pass overhead and smash into the hillside, however by the time they arrived Donald was dead. On November 11, 1943 he was taken to the old church you can see in my first picture, perched at the top of a mountain, and buried in the graveyard. Of course November 11th is now remembrance Day. There could hardly be a more beautiful graveyard, resting on this rocky outcrop at the top of a mountain, looking out over the Pyrenees. AM Crow apparently lived in the local village and was looked after until he could return home. Donald CB Walker’s family visited the grave in 1956 and placed the current headstone. To this date on the 11th of November, inhabitants of the small village, snuggled under the Pyrenees mountains, climb the 872m to place flowers on Donald CB Walkers grave.
Climbing to the church. Javito at the top.Donald CB Walkers Grave.
Of course, as interesting as it is, you wouldn’t get me to the top of a mountain just for some history! This was about mountain biking, pure and simple. The trails today were fantastic. We did three descents. The 1st loop we won’t repeat, it was a long push followed by a good but uninspiring drop. The 2nd descent however was incredible. It started off with a drop through the trees on very tight singletrack with fast corners which the bike seemed to float through. I had my first crash here, carrying too much speed into the first technical section and I ejected through the front door. Quickly we dropped out of the treeline and the trail became very different; wider with multiple line choices offering everything from a mild challenge to real super-tech. Here I managed to crash twice more, once O.T.B. and the other time I just slid off the trail.After a fairly easy climb on a fireroad we arrived at the mountain top graveyard. The sun was already low in the sky and we quickly explored, padded up and checked our bikes over for the upcoming descent. This was by far my favourite of the day, and maybe one of my favourite ever. The trail was narrow, but well cleaned, singletrack with fast but drifty corners. Two or three times I felt the bike slide sideways before I got my weight sorted and it gripped. Crossing the trail were bands of rocks, giving two options. Firstly you could slow down and pass them to the outside, meaning it was an easy roll. The other options, which we took, was to keep your speed up and hit these rock steps at the inside edge, meaning a drop of two or three feet. Despite our race against the setting sun we had to stop several times to shake out our arm pump before we could continue again. Really top drawer mountain biking and a great use of Javito’s mid-week mountain bike holiday!
Doug riding the tech. Photos by Javito, you can see his blog here: http://javitobike.blogspot.com/
More technical options, again photos by Javito.

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