A breathtaking bike trip

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Those of you unfortunate enough to be my Facebook friends and Twitter buddies will already have been bombarded with photos of BasqueMTB & Great Rock’s recent ‘South Pyrenees Tour’. The trip was conceived as a week touring round the most stunning sections of singletrack in the Southwestern Pyrenees. This was to be the first ‘prototype’ trip. With the first 4 lucky guests duly signed up we set off, and our guests were treated to what they unanimously described as their ‘best MTB trip ever’.

Along with the 4 guests were 4 BasqueMTB staff – Doug of course, Ed Oxley doing his Great Rock coaching as part of the holiday, me on various duties including uplift driving and Ed’s son Nial, a downhill star in the making to record the trip on video and basically shred every trail that was put in front of him!

The week was to feature 10,000 metres of all mountain vertical descent with only about 2,000m of climbing. My kind of riding!

The trip started for me with an 8 hour trip from home in Guethary, to Bilbao airport to collect 2 guests and take them on to the first town of the trip. The road trip was highly eventful with extreme rain, floods, rockfalls and a spooky dark winding mountain pass.

We were staying in luxury apartments in Ainsa, a beautiful old natural-stone town in Aragon. On arrival, exhausted, we were blown away by the beautiful town square lined with bars and restaurants! A sight for sore eyes!

Ainsa – snapped by Ed, clock strikes beer o’clock!
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Early morning in Ainsa, setting off for the first day of riding. View spoiled by grubby MTBers van!
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Church tower strikes #ridetime

Day 1 was a tougher than expected XC loop near Ainsa – unfortunately in the rain! I was driver/uplift guy that day so stayed dry. The morning ride was planned to be fully uplifted, but due to torrential rain the day before causing a small landslide which blocked our ascent, there was a climb to start the trip! A few babbling brooks had become raging torrents too, causing some wet feet!

After lunch, this was followed by 2 uplifted runs which although I didn’t ride, judging by the beaming smiles must have been pretty special even in the rain. Everyone one who rode it was buzzing, but it was then quickly back to the apartments for a hot shower! (Let’s not mention the curious lack of hot water that night shall we?)

The closest I got to the trails on day 1 (and the rain!)

Day 2 was a day of massive uplift. We were to meet a local guide in town with his 4 wheel drive VW Transporter and trailer at 10am for a one-way (steep and sometimes perilous) trip to the summit of one of the nearby epic looking mountains. 1600 metres of down featuring the most perfect, technical and testing singletrack imaginable, combined with the most stunning views! Easily the best ‘trail’ I’ve ever ridden!

Nial recording every detail
Snapping from the uplift van – everyone excited!
Unloading at the summit
On the trail
Edus Oxleyus in its natural habitat
Careful lads! (And lady)
Nial showing ‘the line’
Nial off ‘exploring’ another line!
Happiness is a perfect trail with a downward gradient
Me living life on the edge. Biggish awkward drop onto the trail just out of sight behind me!
Nearing the bottom – thinking it’s all over…
Then we get THIS to finish off!!!! Amazing natural jump park!

We finished the ride by rolling into Ainsa for a beer. WHAT a day!

Day 3 – Guara

We stayed in a really cool, painfully picturesque hostel for one night to be near the gorgeous bedrock of Guara. Another epic day’s uplifted riding featuring steep rocky switchbacks and endless bedrock with multiple lines…

Ed also held a couple of skills sessions, on rocky chutes, switchbacks and the dreaded ‘Eurohop’.

Beautiful digs for the night
Admiring a truly stunning view as the sunshine hit the autumn tree filled valley, and girding my loins for a day of switchbacks, rocks, chutes and uplift. (Photo courtesy of S.B.)
Another day another summit unload
The camera really doesn’t do this view justice etc etc.
Doug rented the local town hall and gardens for lunch and a skills session
Bedrock
Ed coaching a seemingly impossible rock garden. Impossible no more!
More bedrock perfection – Jumpy!
Spot the Spanish hilltop town
Great Rock on a great rock

From here – onto Day 4 – Spanish Utah

Don’t think I need to say anything – just look at the pictures!

Nial shredding Spanish Utah
Let’s hit it!
Doug snapping
Brraappp
Ed flying high
Convoy…
Gut-wrenchingly beautiful trail
Robbo on manoeuvres
…and again…
Nice! Kids eh?
Bikes parked in the ultimate bike park?
Dropping in… (nod to camera)
Trail perfection? Spoiled only by beardy Yorkie bloke.
Nial recording the return of the 3 amigos
Son films father
Trail’s end

Days 5 and 6 were spent heading west and showing the guests the jewels in the crown of Basque singletrack – first the great Blue Pill, and finally ending the week with a day hitting uplifted singletrack on Jaizkibel with awesome sea views to San Sebastian and Biarritz. A great way to end the journey. These final 2 days allowed the guys to sample the very best of our regular trails and also to sample the unique Basque food and culture.

A gratuitous shot of me on top of Jaizkibel with my beloved TR250. This was the trail we hit on the last day, and I did guide on that bike though:)

The atmospheric closing dinner at a high class Sideriola (?) restaurant was truly a memorable way to end the week. Good food, entertaining banter, limitless cider. Great, great trip 🙂

To book up your place on the next trip talk to Doug or Ed here:

http://www.basquemtb.com/mountain-bike-tours-spain/spanish-pyrenees-mountain-bike-tour/

http://www.great-rock.co.uk/courses/backcountry-pyrenees-trip/

Montage by Ed of the whole team at the top of the last run of the last day! Do you think Nial likes the TR250??
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