Spain Through a Guide’s Eyes
We hear what a mountain bike tour through Spain is like from our local guide
Our guides are great! Spain is no exception. They have years of experience, great bike handling skills and the best local trail knowledge. On any trip though, I suppose you’d hope that your leader had these practical abilities so for us these traits are almost incidental; they are what any ‘good’ guide should have and don’t necessarily make them great.
No, what makes our guides great is that these practical abilities are wrapped in a wonderfully friendly and supportive personality that will see you through the highs and lows of any adventure. What makes them excel above others is that they also have an unbounded enthusiasm for what they do.
This enthusiasm shines through when you meet with them, when you ride with them and, evidently, when you ask them to write about a ‘typical’ tour for them in their homeland.
Our thanks go to Javier Morcillo for sending us his tour diary and for being one of our guides who, like his close knit band of colleagues, is simply one of the best in the business.
It’s early afternoon as I wait patiently at Málaga airport for our next group of eager mountain bike adventurers, ready to take on our tremendous circumnavigation of the Sierra Nevada. I love the anticipation at this stage of a tour and can’t wait to meet my new riding companions for the week.
All flights come in on time and we’re ready to rock and roll in pretty quick time, as we pack the van and set off on our 1 1/2 hour journey into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Our first night’s accommodation is in La Zubia, a charming small town hotel with a great bike building area – by the pool – where we assemble bikes and chat over the coming week. After our welcome briefing and a good cup of coffee we head out on the local trails for an hour, to stretch our legs and so we can all get to know each other a bit better.
We wake on our first morning to a clear blue sky and very acceptable temperature of 15°C. Birds are tweeting, coffee is on the table and our host is handing out freshly squeezed orange juice. I love my job!
As we saddle up for our first full day on the bike in Spain, we quickly leave the village behind and enter almond blossom, olive and orange tree-lined dirt tracks that encourage the first of many photo frenzies that will take place over the coming week. After around an hour we pull off the dirt track and onto some singletrack that looks like it has fallen from heaven! It is a climb, but we still have enough breath to chat on the way – amazing!
It’s around late morning by the time we crest the highest point of today’s ride, and it blows the group’s minds! From a tree-lined climb we arrive at the open vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountains, then look down to see a pure white ribbon of singletrack running off into the distance, some 1100m below. But before we can saddle up and head downwards, it’s time for a snack stop, Spanish-style! I’ve brought a couple of crusty loaves, Spanish sausage, cheese and oranges and these don’t last long in the hands of hungry mountain bikers.
The descent after our snack is even better than everyone imagined, looking down on it from above. This flowing trail goes on for nearly two hours and leads us straight to our lunch stop. All that’s left now is an easy singletrack along the valley to our night’s accommodation, where we enjoy delicious home-cooking and a comfortable sleep.