The joy of being a mountain bike guide in Ainsa, Zona Zero
I want to thank Owen from Emerald MTB for letting me share my story on the Emerald platform.
To me, it is important that we mountain bikers support each other to establish our mountain biking dreams and Owen does so by opening his platform to me and Unbeaten Adventures. Thanks.
Ever since my studies 20 years ago I wanted to work in the mountain bike industry. I studied Product Design and when one of my fellow students started working at Ghost bikes, I wanted to work in the bike industry as well. I never landed a design job in the biking industry and I am happy it didn’t happen. Now I can ride bikes for a living instead of being in an office behind the screen 5 days a week. I needed a firm kick in the butt to make it happen. My Costa Rican wife Marcela couldn’t get a Dutch visa so we had a blank page to design our lives together. And we choose to live outdoor and combine both our passions, mountain biking and design. We now have a mountain bike guiding company called Unbeaten Adventures and a design agency Unbeaten Studio.
We choose to live in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees just outside Ainsa, the village made famous among mountain bikers by twice hosting a round of the Enduro World Series. Ever since I moved here just before new years in 2018, this place has kept on amazing me. With over 40 signposted trails and countless other trails, Sobrarbe is a mountain bikers paradise of all-natural trails. The local guys that started clearing all the trails named it Zona Zero.
I like guiding in Ainsa for several reasons. First of all, I get to explore this fast network of trails and hiking path in the lower and higher Pyrenees and discover new gems constantly. Then I get to meet people from all over the world and show them what I have discovered in Zona Zero. I am always interested in what people do and what moves them and on a day of biking, you can get to know each other quite a bit.
I could never guide in Morzine or any other bike park probably. For me being a mountain bike guide is way more than just biking. To me, it is the mix of biking, nature and culture. Zona Zero is full of history, on every ride you pass abandoned villages, hidden remains of ancient living and small towns where view people are living a traditional and simple life. The trails you ride are the old walking paths connecting those villages, farm, churches, hermitages and other settlements. Just imagine how cool it is to ride Enduro here.
Then we have something else that makes this place amazing. “The Badlands” millions of years ago Spain (the Iberian Peninsula) wasn’t connected to the rest of Europe and upon impact, it created the Pyrenees and a typical landscape scene around Ainsa called margas, aka “ The badlands” and they are amazing to ride on. Imagine a natural created bikepark flow. I have 4 badlands descents in literally my backyard.
If you like to use shuttles and do 8 to 18 km descents or you like to pedal everything yourself and discover the area on a 25-40 km loop. Ainsa has it all packed in an epic mix of natural rocky and flow trails, beautiful nature and great culture. I love to call this my home and being able to guide my clients in this special part of the world.
Author: Jeroen Spoelstra | Photos & Video: Jeroen Spoelstra