Epic Mountain Bike Holidays | Spain | Basque Country | Pyrenees

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Trail > Trails and Incredible Hospitality in Riglos

This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited, by my friend Carlos, to a gathering of a group of Spanish bikers called La Vieja Tronca; “The Old Trunk”. The first stop was a canteen in a gym, on the outskirts of Pamplona, for a screening of their anual mountain bike film along with drinks and food. Eating and drinking local delights we were treated to a fantastically well produced video from Peio, a local photographer who’s work I think is incredible. After the second screening we headed back to Antonio’s place for a comfy bed and an early night because the next morning we needed to have an early start and be fresh for the drove to Riglos, east of Pamplona which would take us through some spectacular countryside.  Coming from the UK, where each part shares a roughly similar climate, it is still hard for me to believe that we can drive from the green Basque country to the desert in less than an hour but the mediteranian vegitation and dusty, rocky soil kept reminding me of that fact. We arrived in Riglos around 10am to find the most incredible scenery. We were under red conglomerate cliffs, over half a kilometer high, in a river valley and at the end of the valley were the snow capped Pyrenees. Alongside the hundreds of climbers there were 20 other bikers getting ready in the car park; La Vieja Tronca! People had driven from as far afield as Murcia and Barcelona for this meeting and were busy catching up with old friends and admiring new bikes! The ride was great. Totally different to the majority of the riding in the Basque Country with loose ‘baby-head’ rocks and smaller pebbles which took a bit of getting used to. Exiting the car park we dropped straight into about 8kms of singletrack, dropping a few hundred meters to the river below. The next long fireroad climb went by in a blur of spectacular views and fumbled Spanish and soon we were at the top admiring the views to the snow and cloud capped Pyrenees. After padding up we started descending on fireroad and my heart sank; I honestly thought that we were going to have an unspectacular descent back to the car. I should have known better. We soon turned off onto a technical singletrack along a high plateau which dropped, twisted and climbed for miles before we emerged inbetween two of the 550m high rockfaces that give the area it’s world famous climbing. The last descent was incredible! Really, really technical and loose with drops, switchback and wide turns that were carved with the tyres drifting and the inside foot in full moto mode! I almost wiped out several times and only just managed to stay on the bike. Great fun. What came next was incredible for me. We stopped at a local bar and had some beer, no great surprise but then a barbaque in the corner was lit and a platter of meat was produced. Tables were pulled together and covered, wine served and huge bowls of salad laid out. All this had been organised before and the meat and everything had been left with the local bar to keep cool. We had a banquet of epic proportions and drunk our fill and more! I have to say that I was totally humbled by how I was treated; everyone was friendly and supportive of my poor Spanish, my glass was never empty and everyone was constantly making sure I had enough food. Any time I wasn’t talking to someone I would feel a hand on my shoulder and someone would be speaking to me, checking I had food or drink or someone to talk to. I was nervous about going on one of these rides becase I am a giri, a foriegner, offering bike tours to other giris in somebody else’s country; I worry that people will think that I’m going to steal their trails and wreck them with the extra traffic but I couldn’t have felt that this was less of an issue this weekend. In fact I think it’s a testiment to the general hospitality of the people that I have met in the Basque Country and the rest of Spain that I have felt so welcome in their country, I hope that I can continue to find new trails and clear old ones and generally give something back.

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