This is a brief description of the daily events on our Trans Andaluz mountain bike holiday in Spain.
Sunsets and Cervezas, Celebrations and Seafood
Imagine being in terrific company, eating your favourite pudding and getting the cherry on top…, or to put it another way, if you were a luddite and a mega virus struck the computer world you’d be the proverbial cat that got the cream.
How else could I feel when I get up for work each morning? What a job….. seeking out new routes in my favourite areas of Spain and then inviting groups of lovely people to come and cycle the trails again. It’s not bad for a lad who once cleaned out ventilation shafts in woolen mills as a kid!!
Anyway, a couple of days ago I was out exploring for an exciting new mountainbiking trip we’ve got scheduled with a few top mates (this is work, remember) and my phone rang. It was our lad Strawsy, (El Jefe) on the other end. He tells me he’s after a few words to promote the Spanish Trans Andaluz mountain biking holiday, on the lines of why I think it’s such a great trip. ‘Just a few words ‘ he said ‘…it doesn’t have to be War and Peace’ ‘oh and he mumbled, ‘I need it for tomorrow’.
Right then, I’m supposed to be out for a few days ‘working’ but at the same time I really want to help promote my trip! So whilst taking on another character building climb in the wild Sierra Nevada I let the mind express itself, after all it was fuelled with plenty of adrenalin.
This is what went through my mind:
So for a start the trip is in Spain, and wow what a country. They say it’s the second most mountainous country in Europe with 24% of its land mass over 1000 metres, giving rise to the reason why Spain has more ‘wild’ areas than any other country in Europe.
Andalucia is no exception, with lofty ranges, culminating in Mulhacen (3482m), criss-crossing the region creating diverse and dramatic country. Four Natural Parks, six mountain ranges, deep gorges, vast forests and a wild coastline create the blank canvas for fantastic mountain biking holidays and is the reason we’ve been exploring the area for 12 years and every time I’m out find new trails that entice me to explore them.
On reaching around half way up the climb, I stop, prop my bike against the knarliest of ancient oak trees and begin to make a list of the bits that I need to tell you about the Trans Andaluz trip:
Istan, close to the ever to get to Malaga Airport, beautiful scenery on the edge of Sierra de las Nieves, views to the Med are splendid, very relaxing evening, great local restaurant, huge log fire.
Bright sunlight, the giant Torreon limestone massif, processionary catapillars, stunning Rio Verde, Sebastian’s fantastic picnic perch, top scran, never ending descent to Tolox, Hotel www.cerrodehijar.com/, what a view, Jacuzzi beers!
Sunrise to die for, a touch of gentle yoga with guide Steve, straight into fun singletrack to the river, olives and almonds, terracing to Yunquera, swooping descent to the Rio Grande, chewing fat with goat herds, deep into the pine forests, ‘the best natural singletrack we have ever ridden’, El Burgo, succulent goat stew, maybe a night-cap in the bar opposite.
Tired legs, a steady long warm-up, electric blue waters of the Rio Turron, tricky switchbacks, refreshing river crossing, Griffon Vulture spotting on the cliffs, the challenging Lifa Pass climb, incredible views east and west, not seeing a soul except the very friendly shepherd, giant mastines, an urban cruise around Ronda, ice cream and Moorish legacy, a shock to see so many people, leaving Ronda on special fast singletrack, top of the last climb to Montejaque, stony switchbacks to this most stunning of white villages, the wonderful hospitality of Romi and Angel.
The splendors of the beautiful Grazalema Park, shimmering craggy limestone set on a bright blue backdrop, the seemingly endless ribbons of singletrack that descend the beautiful Guadiaro valley, oranges and lemons, Sebastian’s succulent spread, siesta with a view, fast and flowing, lost and wild, first views of the vast cork forests, soaring birds of prey, http://www.casaruralahora.com/, a post ride swim in the river, maybe a massage, Paco’s organic food and wine, a most relaxing and comforting evening.
Perfect spot for a yoga stretch as the rising sun warms us, home baked bread, not wanting to leave Paco and Rebecca’s paradise pad, the killer climb into the most dense and beautiful forest, wild boar, imperial eagles, views to the mountains of Grazalema to die for, sitting and snacking in the shade of a giant holm oak. Traversing along the ridge, a view untouched by human hand, deep into forest to test our skills on tricky singletrack, not seeing a soul, wilderness picnic, 800m of fun down to Rio Hozgarganta, http://www.hostalanon.com and its fantastic food, getting lost in flower filled patios, a stroll to watch the sunset at the castle.
Incredible views across to Gibraltar and down the Med, watching vultures soaring below!, exciting singletrack from the very top, incredible views to another continent, a lot of fun on descent to the shores of the Straits of Gibraltar, final tasty picnic at a great swimming spot, group super relaxed and staring out to sea, the final flurry along the wild coast, sweet singletrack to Tarifa, who fancies a dip?, hotel in incredible position http://www.hotelartevidatarifa.com/, sunset and cerveza , celebrations and seafood.
Stroll along beach, strong coffee, pack-up and head back to Malaga, farewell to new friends, see you all soon!
I reached the top of the climb to be met with another splendid Sierra Nevada singletrack. Come and join us and maybe add to my list!!