Epic Mountain Bike Holidays | Spain | Basque Country | Pyrenees

Latest Posts

Trail > Scouting for Our 2015 Backcountry Pyrenees Mountain Bike Holidays

Scouting for Our 2015 Backcountry Pyrenees Mountain Bike Holidays

basqueMTB mountain bike holidays
Some photos and stories from our trail finding expedition to the Pyrenees.

Big Mountain Riding, Pyrenees Style

When I put together our Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday it was never meant to be fixed in stone. The idea was always to develop it, change the route some years and generally keep it interesting for us and fresh for all the people who return year after year. Yeah, we will keep some trails as a core but we don´t want to be doing the same thing year after year, no matter how good it is! And, let me be honest here but please don´t tell Amaia, it´s great to load up the van and head into the mountains to ride bikes, eat good food and drink nice local wine all in the name of trail scouting.

If you would like to join us on a Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday then we have sold out 2014 and the next trips are starting in April 2015. We have already taken lots of bookings for the spring trips and availability is starting to get a bit limited so, particularly if you are a group of people, please don´t leave it too late to book! Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday Give us a shout to book for 2015

The Orbea Rallon, Finally Set Up Perfectly For Me

Very early on Friday morning Carlos arrived and we loaded the bikes into the basqueMTB van, along with more kit than seemed possible for two people. I was a bit excited, I´ve been riding the Orbea Rallon for a few months now but I have finally got it set up how I wanted. I changed the brakes for a set of Shimano XT´s, partly because they are so reliable and partly so I can use a supply of the fantastic Rahox brake pads which I already have. New white hoses and perfectly bled by my local bike shop, braking was set to go. I had also added a fresh set of Schwalbe rubber, Magic Mary front and Rock Razor back both in super gravity guise, to the Mavic Enduro wheels. The Mavic tyres I found good, the front is amazing and I liked the back one well enough, but they wore out quite quickly and when it came time to replace them I thought I´d try some Schwalbe for a change. I also had a new set of pedals. The Rallon is really low so I decided to get some thin pedals and went for the Raceface Atlas ones. New kit, new rubber, a bike I love, lets just say I was excited to put in some descending.

2200m Up, Over 1300m Mountain Biking to the River Below

For our first trail of the weekend we loaded our mountain bikes up into a public bus and took a journey up into the mountains and from there we had to climb 500m on our bikes, up a very easy fireroad. We hadn´t spent much time together recently so the climb passed easily as we caught up on each others news and adventures. The views were amazing on the way up but when we turned around to start descending it really took our breath away. We were over 2000m up and had to descend down to below 1000m on a long singletrack, this is real Pyrenees mountain biking. The biking started off exposed and steep, with several trails winding and interlinking. Why do they always put the hardest part of the trail at the top of the mountain, where we haven´t had a chance to warm up and relax?!

Switchbacks Galore, Mixed in with More Flowing Sections

Soon the trail opened up a bit and flowed. The switchbacks were tight and required plenty of scrubbing off speed to negotiate them safely. The switchbacks were spaced out by long, interesting sections with more flow and wider corners before the speed dropped for another switchback or two. That rhythm continued to the valley floor; brake, switchback, flow, pump, jump, braaake, switchback, switchback, flow, pump, carve, braaaake, switchback, switchback, switchback. You get the idea, it was a really fun trail. When we finally joined the river we were greeted by an amazing section of trail which flowed along with the ice cold water. I had ridden this section before, without doing the technical upper section, and I found it a bit boring but it´s amazing how including the technical upper section changed how I perceived this riverside trail. This time I found it flowy, lots of fun and a welcome counterpoint to the technical trails above.

There are no NextGEN images that could be displayed. After lunch we took a big uplift, 1000m up into the Pyrenees mountains and rode a subliminal piece of singletrack back down to the beers which we had left cooling in the river below for us. You know those special moments where everything feels perfect? I had one of those which lasted the whole 1000m descent. The trail was steep, really steep, and very technical but it just seemed like the bike did exactly what I wanted it to and I seemed to find a flow that I haven’t really found for a while. It was emotional! The trail is difficult but it rewards everything you put in. I think that this will definitely be included in our Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday for 2015, maybe even in 2014.

Big Uplift In Ordessa

The next morning we stayed in a beautiful little town called Torla, tucked right under the National Park of Ordesa. You mustn´t mountain bike in Ordesa, please don´t try or you may be shot down from orbit. This is a very special place, a massive glacial valley which, unusually for the Pyrenees, runs east-west meaning it gets sun all day in summer. Some people say that it is the most beautiful area of the Pyrenees and I can´t deny that. It is the sort of place where you drift off as you enjoy the views and when you suddenly jolt back to reality you realise that you have lost an hour. You are allowed to mountain bike around the park, so long as you don´t enter the limits and as I am so fond of saying it´s often better to mountain bike next to the beautiful places, rather than inside them, so you can enjoy the view more.

Riders on the Storm: 1200m of Descent Being Chased by the Lightning

The descent was epic, Pyrenees mountain biking at its best. We followed a well used trail which was rocky and tough with the odd section of perfect flow. Big fixed rocky slabs with switchbacks and drops was the order of the day but that is what these bikes are made for; tough descents! We added in a section in the middle on an unmarked hunters path that a local had told us had just been cleaned for the wild boar season. That was a fast, loamy interlude, hidden deep in the forest where few people ever go. As we arrived back at base for lunch we got trapped in a thunderstorm and got soaked. We made it back to the town but we were too late for our next uplift and without phone signal to call we had to send a message to cancel it. Once the storm passed, and we had dried out and eaten, we ventured out into the town square and were lucky enough to see a guy we knew in a 4×4 who took up up the next hill. Disaster averted!

The Onioner: Apparently One Of The Best Trails In The World!

The next trail was one I already knew, we had taken journalists there this year and it will be in some mountain bike magazines later this season. The journalists declared it one of the best trails they had ever ridden but I wanted to go back and ride it without a thousand photo stops to get an better feel for it before I included it in our Backcountry Pyrenees mountain bike holiday.

The verdict was clear and the journalists are right. It is a trail with a bit of everything. Starting up high with an exposed traverse, a section of perfect woody singletrack with tight corners, big loose rock chutes, fixed rocky sections and finishing at a bar… it´s a definite for inclusion!

The final day was a bit different. We opted to ride some trails which have been cut and cleared for a new enduro race in a local town. The climb can be uplifted but we opted to climb the 1000m on bike to get a bit of a stretch for our legs which were cramped from so much descending. The climb was nice, beautiful even in sections and without too much pain we arrived at the top. The first part of the trail was really mellow, following an open ridgeline in a high pasture, but it quicly changed! Imagine what would happen if you gave a bunch of lifelong downhillers a digger and a 900m hill and told them to build an enduro track! The track is wide and rough, with a lots of carvey corners, plenty of small jumps, drops and lots of line choice. On the Orbea Rallon with it´s slack´n´low geometry and fantastic BOS suspension I was coping, having fun even, however on Carlos´s Intense Carbine 27.5″ he was definitely getting beaten up by the trail and, unable to carry as much speed, the track was even tougher. It´s a comparison of two different type of bikes rather than riders but it would definitely be interesting to see what type of bike wins that enduro race. I have a suspicion that if you were able to push a DH bike up within the time limit you might be at an advantage!

After the top 200-300m the track changes again and offers up a beautiful section of fast, forest singletrack which must be natural but has been touched up by bikers in places. After a very technical section which is steep through handlebar-width spaced trees, we got back into the final section which had been purpose built for the enduro and again it was steep and fun, spitting us out at a bar. Carlos wanted to continue to the next descent but I threw my toys out the pram and made him stop for a cold drink and something to eat! Afterwards we climbed an easy 150m and descended the final 300m back to the waiting van. This last bit is worth mention, it´s an old path again with hundreds of easy switchback, it´s going to be a great one for practicing. Overall this day might make it into our holidays, for people looking for a challenging day out. I thought that the trails were fantastic and I´m smiling just typing this, but it´s definitely a tough descent and maybe not the most flattering one.

Overall it was an amazingly successful scouting trip. We did 5 big descents in 3 days and there wasn´t a bad section of trail the whole time. It isn´t often that a scouting trip has such a high success level. None of the days would be out of place in our Backcountry Pyrenees trips.

Thanks to Orbea for helping us with the fantastic Rallon bikes this year. Thanks to Mavic for some clothing and for their fantastic wheels which I still haven´t managed to destroy despite them being light and me being heavy! Thanks to Rahox, a new brake pad supplier from the Basque Country for letting me test their amazing new brake pads. Thanks to Osprey for giving me a pack for the season as well. I forgot my pack this trip and it is only when you use some of the other packs that you realise how fantastic the Osprey packs are.

Tags: , , ,

The comments are closed

© 2009 - Basque MTB, IRUN, BASQUE COUNTRY, SPAIN, Tel. +34 662 614 470
Mail. doug@basquemtb.com