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Trail > Spring Holidays, On the Bike, In the Mountains

The mountain bike season has kicked off and I’ve been guiding for the last couple of weeks. It’s been great to have people on holiday and get some new bikers on our trails. We’ve been riding on a lot of new mountains for 2010 but , of course, the old favourites are still there and it’d be a shame to miss them out! My biggest highlight of the season so far was when we came upon some fresh carrion,  surrounded by about 20 vultures. We approached from downwind so they weren’t aware of our presence and we managed to creep up within about 20 feet of them before they all raised their heads and flew away. I’ve never seen them so close before and I was stunned by their size.  They grow to over 3 meters in wingspan and the noise of their wings as they take off is impressive. I wish I had time to get my camera out but it was all over before I even thought about it. They really are magnificent birds. There have been a lot of fires in the mountains, with parts of Jaizkibel, Larun and some surrounding mountains suffering burning. Partly these fires have been caused by the dry conditions and strong winds we’ve had but some of them have been started deliberately. While I am appalled at the stupidity of the people starting these fires, I have to be honest and say that the loss of the gorse bushes at the bottom of Sibourne Weaver didn’t sadden me at all. I was going to clear them next week but it’s saved me the work. Silver linings and all that! I have a pile of new routes for this season and I have tested a few of them over the last few weeks. We have used ‘The Blue Pill’, which I have blogged about before and it was recieved very well. I felt it worked very well for guiding, it’s long and has a lot of different styles which I reckon makes for a great descent.  We also stopped half way down to do an ‘out and back’ into a beautiful valley which I need to get some photos of. On one side is a big fall to a river and occasionally on the other side the earth opens up to reveal a big fall into some caves! The trails is really simple so there’s no danger of falling really but it is spectacular. Pics to follow! Two more new trails have made it onto the schedule this year. First of all is a trail that leaves from the centre of San Sebastian. We take a train to San Sebastian and have a coffee on the beach before climbing, initially on roads but very quickly picking up nice technical singletrack. After a couple of hours the trail reaches an old lighthouse and we drop down on some very technical steps which switchback to the coast. Most people will walk a bit of this section but it is possible (just) to ride. We then put our bikes on a wee boat to cross a bay between the cliffs. On the other side, after lunch in a special place I know, I have the van waiting to take us up the hill where the singletrack continues in spectacular style! We wind along a clifftop before the last climb of the day to the peak of Jaizkibel. The last descent is my favourite! All singletrack with a lot of swoopy off-the-brakes biking all the way back to a pub where I left the guys having a drink while I retrieved the van. That evening we drove to the coast, at Biarritz, for a drink. I don’t think that I have the language skills to describe it so just look at the photos! The second new trail is a special one! I’m not going to give too many details of it’s location because it’s a very secluded and special place. We take the van up really high and ride along a beautiful ridge with spectacular views to the sea on one side, the Basque mountains on the other and the Pyrenees in front. We ride along the ridge on a mix of grassy trails, techy singletrack and wooded singletrack before the first big descent. We follow a poorly defined trail (you wouldn’t find this I promise!) before dropping into a gully made by storm water which switchbacks down the hill with wide, bermed switchbacks giving lots of opportunity to slide the bike about or take a chance on some wallrides! There are sections that are hub deep in leaves where you can surf the bike down with the greatest “sssssssshhhhhccccccrrrrrrrssssssss” noise I’ve ever heard! This trail will probably be used on a lot of holidays. I just have to name it now…

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