Andalucia Spain Jan 2004
Me and Indian decide we need another dose of great moutainbike action on foreign soil, it had to be in January and it had to be cheap, Southern Spain seemed the only choice.
A few E-mails to Simon at FreerideSpain and we had a plan, they have a really relaxed set up, allowing us to take full advantage of Thursday easyjet cheap prices, hey they will even sort out a quick weekend, if you need a fix.
By an amazing bit of luck on the plane schedules, we arrived from separate airports at the same time, just time for a quick chat before Emma picks us up from Malaga airport. The 2 hour transfer in Freeride's van had us sweltering, but was ideal to get to know Emma and the setup. The temperatures were a big surprise! welcome, but we couldn't believe it was this good in January.
The base is a 3 story house in the small inland village of Lanzaron. Big enough to house a few bars, and some shops for snacks, but close enough to some great trails. Its always good to start the day from your back door, and this one happens to have over an hours climb straight up to tease you.
The week panned out to be excellent, I've never been so relaxed on a trip. The almost student household feel might not be to everyone's liking, Simons laid back ride time starts adding to that, but it made for a chilled out homely feel.
A typical day for us was to grab your own breakfast at the time you choose, first one up wack's the kettle on. Breakfast in bed is possible, but the rooftop veranda and the early morning sun always beckoned. Most days riding started at 11, and either involved the lung bursting climb from the door, or a vehicle drop before hitting miles of dry, technical singletrack with amazing views.
Back to base, its apres-ride time, unwinding with a few in house beers, Colin Macrae Rally on the Playstation, sticking on some sounds on the house CD player and being served food by the hard working Emma and Simon. Evenings can be more beers and free Tapas at one of the local bars, or a delve into the house DVD collection to test out Simons new cinema sound system.
Our hosts do a great job of ensuring you feel comfortable in what in effect is their home, In fact they go as far as telling you off if you have to ask for things. The all inclusive food, beer, and airport transfer means you have no need to spend another Euro if you are on a real tight budget.
Simon bases his rides on your ability, a quick test on some of the village edge descents left him in no doubt that we could cope with everything he had to offer, the Mutts Nutts lads, and brothers Gary and Phil, there for our week were good and fast riders too, game on.
So as the Sun shone we played, after the "back garden" climb, there are numerous trails;
The Epic ascent takes you to 6000ft, then back down to the village. Simon did not seem to have a name for it , I called it the Schizo trail, starting on fast tight forest switchback's, it transforms into tight technical sections then onto a roller coaster of a rock garden decent. The final fast loose fireroad is just about all your brakes can manage after a full on 4400 ft. descent. So good we had to do it twice, and when you realize that Ian had ridden his bike for about 4 hours since the Sleepless and was prepared to climb that hill twice, you know its top 10 material.
The Cactus run involves only part of the climb, affording great views of the village below and the coastline. The drop then comes fast and very loose, big ruts suck you in and eventually spit you out, usually on your ear. Its almost scree like, and so dry. A road burst back up to the village gets you ready for a cool beer.
For the Mountain to sea run, we all drive up to 400 ft. for a coffee to start the day, then spend over 4 hours ripping some cool singletrack down into a valley. Climb back up on what was a scorcher of a day to Freerides other base in Lujar, before descending all the way to sea level. Coffee and Ice creams in Castell de Ferro are then the reward as our guides have to go and fetch the transport to whisk us home.
Just outside the village is a climb to an Aqueduct. from here you can climb again for miles, but the trail down to Bubinon is a technical beauty. The legs-cratching tight start through the gorse bushes, grabs your legs as the rocks grab your big chainring. The descent has numerous routes and is a real challenge to clean, we had numerous attempts at some sections for the camera, and some top little videos were shot too.
Again a road climb from Orgiva back to base was not enough to stop us sampling this 2 hour round trip when we had some spare energy. A nice evening run, oh nearly forgot getting dark at 6.30pm in January is yet another bonus.
Our big day out started with a drive up to the Sierra Navada national park peaks, all the cold gear then donned for a final sometimes snowy climb up to the dizzy heights of 6800 ft. Its here that my Fox fork decided it needed holding together with band Aid and cable-ties as the damper adjuster made an attempt for freedom. Didn't let that stop the fun though, the first descent is a rock and wilderness forest drop, this turned out to be a bit of a tyre killer for some, Oscar the dog came with us and he showed us all how to corner in style.
Simon then introduced us to the 57 hairpin drop to Bubinon. The great thing about Spain is the free access, it lets you do trails like these. Tight rock slabs and steps the walkers have carved out over the years make for fantastic tracks. We all set off one at at time, our own technical TT but the test was on dabs and not speed.
With Oscar showing me the lines and the Santa Cruz's Superb Balance I came away with only 1, the crashes from some on the final rock chute, including our guide, showing how tough it was.
Again Simon had no name for this beauty so over our lovely restaurant mid ride dinner, I decided it had to be called Heinz 57, it sure had all the varieties.
After dinner the decent continued, some great urban tight village drops, and the most amazing twister of a wind that had us stopped dead on one corner. Livened up the rest of the long drop to Bubion before the return to base on road.
Click the profile pic left for an idea of the terrain, bigger versions of the photos can be found on in our photopic Gallery in our photopic bank
If that's not enough, a few hours spin in the company vehicles takes you up to the base of the Sierra Navada ski runs. For about £30 all in for the kit and lift pass you can indulge in a days Boarding or Skiing on your rest (sic) day. Emma or Simon need no excuse to show you there skills.
We had a great time and it's lsft us with the feeling of an almost must do trip to start the year. There are many companies in the same area running trips, but FreerideSpain do it all above board and thiese guys love their riding. If you need a specific training week for a big event i could think of nowhere more ideal to push your limits, if you want some of the best trails in Europe they have that too.
Don't forget to bring some fleeces though it gets bloody cold at night, you can't have everything.
|Simon keeps a diary of all his visitors weeks - check out more photo's from ours CLICK HERE|