The Great Basque Adventure (currently on hold)

I sit here after working at Basque MTB for around 7 weeks. Unfortunately, the last 3 of those weeks have been spent looking rather forlornly at my broken thumb… More of that later…

For those that don’t know, earlier this year I managed to convince the corporate hierarchy at a multinational corp, that my disappearing for 5 months to ‘ride my bike every day’ was ‘a good idea’. It took the best part of 7 months of whinging and griping and begging emails, but they relented in the end. Maybe I should be in Marketing…

The GreatBasqueAdventureProject was initiated last October after spending 2 weeks as a paying customer at Basque MTB. A great time was had with owner and guide Doug McDonald and the other guests as we explored the best mountain bike trails that the Basque country has to offer (as well as some of the nightlife). So much so, that upon my return to the UK, plans were soon afoot for a long (or even) permanent move out there. Doug was the voice of reason and suggested the career break route, working as a guide with Doug, to see ‘what it’s really like’. So after gaining my guiding qualifications, here I am!

I am lodging in a shared house in the French Basque village of Guethary, this spot was chosen because a) I speak a bit of French, but no Spanish b) It’s near the beach c) It’s really pretty, and most importantly d) It was the only place I could find. It’s worked out really well, lovely house, big garage for the bikes, parking for the bought-for-the-trip Vito van and some cool housemates. And WiFi.

The new gaff

The first few weeks of ‘guiding’ were pretty intense. It is VERY HARD WORK. The first week was some nice introductory family riding, but straight after that Doug was running 2 consecutive ‘Skills Weeks’ with the (in)famous Ed Oxley of Great Rock fame. These weeks were pretty intense for all for of us at Basque MTB (Doug, fellow guide Tom, Ed and me), but the guests were great and a good time was had by all. Highlights included riding to and from the summit of Erlo, with its super steep and techy rock descent. I learned a lot myself that week from Ed and can thoroughly recommend him as a coach.

Doug (plus my bike) at the summit of Erlo. He was asked to ‘look epic’
My good self receiving some coaching from Ed, on Erlo’s descent…

Following the Skills Weeks there came the August lull, so Tom and I headed out for a week’s fun riding with Tom’s brother who had flown out for a short break. We hit some of the very best trails, saving the best to last – The Desert – the trails near Pamplona featuring the dreaded ‘Slab’ which I was yet to conquer… You can probably guess what’s coming…

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