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Trail > Trail Finding and Building in Spain #5

More on the above picture at the end of this blog, suffice to say it’s been sunny in Spain this week! I’ve been a bit quiet on the trail finding front over the last week, I have been doing a bit, as always, but after three pretty hefty weeks on the bike I was in dire need of a bit of a rest. I searched out some new singletrack on foot, including a new ending for The Blue Pill, and spent some time catching up on office work. This week however it was back to the bike, the Spanish mountains and more hunting for singletrack for your next holiday! I have been exploring mountains in parts of Spain (and France a bit too) which I’ve never been to, so it’s been quite an exciting week for me.

I don’t have any pictures at the moment, however I have found a new end for the “Blue Pill”. If you’ve been on holiday with us before you might have done the last descent of the Blue Pill, it’s very steep, loose and rooty… ring any bells? I still like that part but I’ve found that people find it quite a bit harder than The Blue Pill, hence the search for a new, easier ending.The other area I have been exploring is a part of Spain I have never been to before. It’s about 30 minutes from my house but quite a long way off the beaten track. I happened to see a picture of the mountains there and was stunned at how beautiful they were so I’ve been exploring them a bit.
The track I worked out looked good on paper, I would start at 800m, climb gradually to 1100m and then descent down a big ridge to just above sea level. There then seemed to be a good path to climb the 800m back up to the van.
Everything started out really well, lots of singletrack , technical in places and the views were stunning. The higher I climbed the better it got until I reached a Col; here a great trail dropped off to the east but my trail climbed through a rocky scree slope, leaving me no choice other than hefting my bike on my shoulder. This continued for about an hour with impossible climbs and hugely technical descents. Eventually I reached the start of the big descent but by this time the sun was already low in the sky and I was only 50% of the way round with an unknown big descent and climb to come.
It’s at times like this that you really have to sit down and weigh up your options, putting the macho desire to finish to the back of your mind. I was half way round, that was true, it was a warm day but I knew that the temperature would drop to around zero at this height once the sun dipped below the horizon. Of course I had plenty of spare clothes and a survival bag but I would rather not use them! The way forward was all unknown, and for all I knew unrideable; the way back however was a known quantity. The final straw was that the climb up was deep in a valley and I was unsure of whether I would get a GPS signal, I had map and compass but that was going to add time onto my route. Finally I put aside my burning desire to complete the route and know what was round the next corner and turned around and rode back to the van. Good job too, I arrived just as the sun was setting and if I had pressed on then nothing is surer than the fact I would have been searching for my way in the dark! Like Arnie says (incorrectly) “Hasta la Vista”.
I have also been doing a combination of exploring and filming around Ernio. So far I have made movies of our coastal trails, our forest singletrack and now I wanted to show the big mountains in this part of Spain. All the photos here are stills from the video so there are some defects in them but hopefully they’re good enough.
I climbed the 1100m to the summit of Ernio with my big Cove STD. The way that bike climbs isn’t right given it weighs 45lbs, you have to spin away but it just keeps on going. Sitting at the summit I was watching the vultures circle around the paragliders – amazing! Passing the metal hoops from the crosses over you is meant to give you good luck… we have 10km of techy singletrack to come so I always make a point of doing this!
The first bit of the descent is all I was filming today; I’ll return later for more. It’s very rocky and I was working hard to try and ride fast enough to make the video look OK. In places I was going a bit faster that I’d have liked and I was glad to have a STD between my legs. If you know what I mean.
I really enjoy the process of filming. Ride, check how it looked and repeat if necessary. It’s great to take the time to look at the trail and try to ride it quickly because all too often we just hit everything blind as we race from top to bottom. Of course that’s good too but it’s definitely good for your riding to split the trail into smaller sections and focus on them.
So, I’ve dragged you all the way to the bottom of this blog to see what the hell that top picture is about! Last weekend I couldn’t ride, it was Amaia’s birthday and we visited Bilbao for the weekend. It was fantastic to spend some time with Amaia and Bilbao is a cool city, I’ve popped in a couple of pictures at the end of this blog, but I missed a great ride with the locals. They did “The Canal Ride” which I’ve written about before but this time the decided to do some swimming and messing about. The wall they’re riding along there is about a meter wide and on one side you fall into the canal but on the other it’s a big fall that would leave you needing rescued. It cracks me up to think of them having to call mountain rescue to evacuate a naked rider all broken and tangled up in his bike! The photo is by Antonio, he takes stunning photos of the riding around here and it’s well worth taking the time to have a browse through his flickr account… don’t worry he’s fully clothed in most of his photos! Girls if you want anyone’s contact details then just let me know!

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