When we started planning an article on mountain biking holidays we were inundated by jaw-dropping photographs.
One country that offered so much variety in scenery and terrain was Spain. Instead of boiling it down to just one or two we decided these photographs deserved an article of their own. So part two of our trilogy on mountain bike holidays is dedicated to nine Spanish destinations.
1. Switchbacks MTB
“Endless singletrack descending” is the opening headline on Switchbacks MTB website. Switchbacks offer two destinations in Spain, in the Sierra Nevada for the summer months and around Malaga for the winter season. The Summer Gravity holidays in the highest mountain range in Spain promise 80% lift-assisted mountain biking with an average of 14.5 kilometres of descending over the week. Forty different singletrack trails ranging from three minutes to the 5-hour 75-kilometre descent to the beach.
The Malaga winter gravity trips, available between November and April, can be tailored to enduro riding or 100% lift-assisted downhill mountain biking. Offering a selection of 45 enduro and downhill specific tracks on terrain ranging from forest, sandy, rock gardens and bermed up jump trails. Combined with an average winter temperature of 16 degrees, this is sure to beat your winter riding experience at home.
2. Mountain Biking Spain
“With trails to die for and 320 days of sunshine every year, the Almanzora valley in the Sierra de Los Filabres hides some of the best Big Mountain Cross Country and Enduro style riding Europe has to offer.” Located in the South East of Spain, Mountainbiking Spain offers several different packages. Their most popular, Up on the Downside, is designed to give you the thrills of Enduro downhill riding without thousands of metres of climbing. That’s not to say there will be no climbing, due to the remote location of some of the trails the uplift van can only take you so far. The package includes airport transfers, accommodation, breakfast and trail food, daily guiding and transport to all the trails.
3. Unbeaten Adventures
Unbeaten Adventures operate out of the town of Ainsa in the foothills of the Pyrenees. With over a 100 kilometres of trails from the foothills right up to the High Pyrenees along ancient paths connecting old and often abandoned mountain villages. You might recognise the name as Ainsa hosted rounds of the Enduro World Series in 2015 and 2018. And you can book one or more days riding the stages from those races with the assistance of an uplift vehicle to reduce the amount of climbing. Jeroen will also organise personalised single or multi-day tours in the Zona Zero area with over 50 trails to choose from. It’s best to ride here in Spring or Autumn. While they do not offer all inclusive holiday packages, they can advise you on where to stay and from 2019 they are building a small rental bike fleet if you don’t want to bring your own.
4. Pure Mountains
If you want to ride in the High Sierras of Southern Spain, Pure Mountains can organise weekends, short trips or week-long holidays mountain biking between March and November. You can stay in their rustic-luxe farmhouse and enjoy home-cooked breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Their typical 5-night stay mixes four days of trail and backcountry riding, starting from the front door, with challenging climbing and demanding descents. Each day averages 30 kilometres, 800 metres of climbing and 1700 vertical metres of descents.
5. Basque MTB
Spain’s Basque country is situated along the North coast where it meets the Pyrenees mountains. Basque MTB make the most of the stunning and varied scenery in this area by offering different packages. Their longest running trip is the 7-night stay and 5-day riding Basque Coast holiday. The riding over the week will be tailored to your group and the terrain caters to intermediate or advanced riders.
Depending on the time of year, the Backcountry Pyrenees (Spring) or the High Pyrenees (Autumn) trips may appeal to you if you are an advanced rider. 80% uplift assisted, 4 or 5 different locations per day and with high mountain trails leading down to flowing forest tracks “this is some of the best mountain biking available on the planet”.
6. MTB Pyrenees
Staying in the Northern Pyrenees you can book the Enduro Pyrenees trip with MTB Pyrenees. Four days of riding some of the best singletrack crossing from West to East with several uplifts per day in their 4x4 to avoid as many paved and fire roads as possible.
And only available in the summer months is the Peak Riding Pyrenees combining hike-a-bike sections with long downhill singletrack down through the striking high mountain landscapes and past some of Europe’s southernmost glaciers. The longest singletrack descents of the Pyrenees combine to more than 90 kilometres of riding over four days.
7. Enduro Malaga
Back on the south coast of Spain, Enduro Malaga can tailor a week-long Enduro riding holiday to your needs. Be it uplifts to downhill tracks or a pedal up to long and flowy trails it’s your choice. With an average temperature of 18 degrees from November to January, Malaga makes for a great winter riding destination if you’re looking to escape the winter weather at home. The first day is always a coaching/initiation day adapted to the group’s level, so even if you’ve never ridden loose and rocky before, you’ll be sure to get the hang of it. Include pickup and drop off at the airport, van assistance all day, guide present at all times and accommodation with a continental breakfast. You’ll need a long travel enduro bike with heavy/tough tires to survive on the dusty and rocky Malaga trails used as a winter training ground by many pro-mountain bikers.
8. Track MTB
The beautiful Sierra de Guadarrama mountains in Central Spain were recently designated a National Park, situated just an hour away from Madrid’s international airport. Track MTB offer two days riding among the beautiful granite peaks, along with time to soak in the local culture. Perfect for experienced riders wanting a weekend mountain biking getaway.
Or you could spend a weekend riding in the Low Rioja region and sample scenery in the “Spanish Utah”. The first day is spent in this unusual location which is so reminiscent of what you’d expect from an old Western movie. The second day is spent in the very sparsely inhabited Low or Hidden Rioja region on trails only known by locals where you will struggle not to be distracted by the stunning vistas.
9. Sierra MTB
Sierra MTB have been guiding since 1992 and have been exploring the trails near the coast and in the mountains and national parks of southern Spain. Sierra MTB design each long-weekend or week-long trip to meet the needs and abilities of their guests with trails graded from green through to black. Every day will have different trails starting with a bus ride up to the start of the morning ride, descents from as high as 1000 metres, ending in time for a post-ride beer at the beach or pool. Oh, and did we mention the Sierra Free Bar?
10. Basque by Bike
Basque by Bike, consisting of brothers Beñat and Marcel, run mountainbike day tours around San Sebastian and MTB holidays in the Pyrenees and the Basque Country. They also organise Enduro MTB training camps at the beginning of the year to get you warmed up and your skills honed ahead of the race season. However, what most caught our attention on their website is the Trans Pyrenees mountain bike holiday that they offer. Starting and finishing on the Basque coast through the high Pyrenees, via Pamplona, through osme of the Basque Country’s most remote areas and stunning national parks over 6 days of riding.
This is part two of a three part series on stunning mountain bike holiday destinations. You can find part one featuring European holidays here.. The final part, with places to ride across the world, is coming soon.