Mountain Biking Spain: History, Heli-Drops & Heart

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October 29th, 2019

Spain - known for the running of the bulls, rich red wine, flamenco dancing, sunny Mediterranean beaches, fascinating history and football (that's soccer to Canadians, eh?) - the country should now also be known as an incredible place to mountain bike.

 

If you dream of endless singletrack trails and long descents (we're talking 4,000 metres in one day!), topped off with mouth-watering cuisine, local vino and 1000-year-old castles - visit Spain, you won't be disappointed.

 

Explore our 8-day guided mountain bike trip in Spain - The Pyrenees & Beyond. The mind-blowing itinerary includes two heli-drops in the picturesque Pyrenees mountains, singletrack riding near the historic town of Aínsa; home of the 2015/2018 Enduro World Serices, a 'glamping' experience in the alpine and so much more! 

 

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Reasons to mountain bike spain

the history 

Pedal back in time through Spain and you'll discover that your wheels are turning on ancient sea beds. Today, the small cobble-stone streets of Aínsa are surrounded by ancient sea beds rich with small fossilized creatures from before humans walked the Earth. And, when our hominoid relatives started to walk the Earth, one of the earliest known records can be found in the Spanish cave of Atapuerca, where a flint tool dating back to 1.4 million years was found. It's impossible to ignore the incredible natural and cultural history that surrounds you when mountain biking in Spain. 

 

Imagine pedalling along the perfect slice of singletrack and stumbling upon a 1000-year-old abandoned fort perched on top of an impressive lookout over native forests, lakes and a river below. The fort stands tall and is still equipped with a bell tower, a protective stone-wall and a small church where the locals used to pray and seek forgiveness. If the walls could talk, you would be amazed at the lives, hardships and stories of worshippers and warriors from the past.

 

In Spain, it's not uncommon to ride past numerous abandoned villages steeped with fascinating history.

 

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South of the Pyrenees mountains lies the town of Aínsa (host of the 2015/2018 Enduro World Series). The towns' charm stems from the unspoiled cobblestone streets and reclaimed relics of the past, including the Santa Maria Church that dates back to the 11th century and iconic castle made from fairytales. While the town boasts incredible singletrack in the surrounding hills, those trails wouldn't exist without the unique history of the area. For years, the main economic activities in the area were (and still are to some extent) stockbreeding and agriculture. The seasonal migration of livestock was necessary to ensure a healthy herd and avoid harsh weather. This movement of livestock created hundreds of trails that crisscross the hills now rediscovered and uplifted by mountain bikers. 

 

the heli-drops

The Spanish Pyrennees mountains offer up the perfect landscape for mind-blowing mountain biking and heli-bike experiences.   

 

As the natural border between Spain and France, the Pyrenees are older than the Alps and made up of sedimentary deposits, including limestone, as well as igneous granite. Shaped by glacial movements over millions of years, the mountain range is littered with beautiful alpine lakes, striking rock features and pine forests.

 

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With the knowledge, passion and network of local guides with helicopter hook-ups, it's possible to ride over 4,000 vertical metres in one day through spectacular scenery. Technical, rocky descents finish in small Spanish villages and are topped off with gastronomy experiences you won't soon forget.

 

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The 8-day Pyrenees and Beyond ride features two heli-bike experiences. The first drops you at the Punta Suelza peak (close to the French border) at an altitude of 3,000 metres. You'll drop into rocky technical terrain, roll through grassy meadows and finish close to the small town of Bielsa where eager pedallers can continue shuttling trails in the van.

 

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The second heli-bike ride drops you at the peak of Sierra Negra (2,850 metres). The descent starts above the tree-line and then weaves into pine forests before rolling back into town along the river. Before you drop-in, watch for iconic Bearded Vultures soaring above the wide-open mountain landscape. Also known as 'bone-smashers' these incredible birds are the only known vertebrate whose diet consists of 70 - 90% of bone. Wave 'adios' to the helicopter and put your game face on, this descent will leave you smiling from ear-to-ear.

 

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the heart 

Spain is a destination with heart. What do we mean by this?

 

Well, walk into any hotel or restaurant and you'll be greeted with a smile, a generous plate of food, vibrant conversation and, of course, a full glass of local wine. The local people pour their heart into their community, their friendships and families.

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In Spain, that heart and soul (and hospitality) can also be applied to mountain biking.

 

Mountain bike destinations, trails and communities don't just appear. They are the result of passionate trail builders, local guides, mountain bike clubs, community members, and people with a vision.

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Below we'd like to introduce one of those people, with a lot of heart.

 

Meet: Pablo 

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Pablo is our Lead Guide in Spain. He is a well-rounded adventurer. As a white water kayaker, backcountry skier and of course mountain biker, Pablo has travelled to the four corners of the Earth; Nepal, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Africa as a guide and adventure seeker. Always escaping with a quiver of toys, but eventually returning to the beloved Pyrenees mountains in Spain. During his 12-year forest firefighting career, Pablo worked with helicopters and met his business partner Lluís. Their friendship grew and gave rise to a dream; heli-access biking in their beautiful Pyrenees backyard. Good luck trying to wipe the smile off his face. Pablo grew up near the historic town of Aínsa and continues to explore this beautiful area. Pablo and his mountain bike guiding team are always scouting new trails in the Pyrenees, building and maintaining trails and giving back to the community with their time and sweat!

 

 

here's to your adventures!