MTB Holiday

Mountain Bike section for those who like Knobbly Tyres

MTB Holiday

Postby Adam Robson » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:10 am

Hello all!

It seems like its been ages since I have been on here, let alone been out on the road bike! After another virus/cold type thing, generally feeling shattered all of the time and a dissapointing lack of form, I decided to knock the rest of the season on the head and take a break from training and road riding and just thrash about on the mtb instead.

Feeling tired I decided it was a good idea to book a holiday, after looking around at several mtb holiday companies in Sierra Nevada, I stumbled across an article by Singletrack magazine about a company called Joyriders, it looked perfect, fantastic accomodation in a quiet village, mountain bike trails in another quieter range of hills than Sierra Nevada and a discount due to my Singletrack subscription meant the holiday was booked within a few days of reading about it in the magazine.

The build up to the holiday was less than ideal, the bearings in my rear hub were looser than a downhillers trousers, the freehub just as bad, my disc breaks needed bleeding and tyres replacing, having this all done I headed up to Fochabers for a test run and well, it didn't exactly go to plan. The bottom bracket bearings decided to give up, but more worrying the brake lever for my rear brake pulled all the way to the bar giving no stopping power, once I got home and pulled it apart I realised that the rod which connects to the master cylinder had broken, and being of Italian manufacture, getting spares is difficult at best. A combination of online bike shops and a random bike shop in Hull suppied the parts I needed and the brake was rebuilt with a few days to go, although it still didn't feel right. By complete coincidence I bumped into Russ at Edinburgh Bike Co-op the day before I was due to leave, he mentioned how he had spare brakes lying around his garage which happened to be the same make as mine, bonus! So at least I had a spare to bring out with me incase my repair hadn't worked.

The day of departure was less than smooth too, with Newcastle airport showing the efficiency of one you would expect somewhere in Africa, not enough staff to check in oversize luggage, not enough security staff at the departure area, too many flights going to the same place from the one departure gate followed by a quick change of gate for our flight, then the best mistake of all, the bus taking us to the wrong plane leaving us all wondering if our bags, and more importantly my bike, was on the correct plane, at least we wern't on the other bus which had been to two incorrect planes before finally making it to the flight for Malaga!

When we arrived at Malaga we were met by Pete, one of the guides, who then drove us and 3 others who were all roadies to the accomodation an hour and a half north of Malaga. I was staying in their second villa with two others as the main villa was fully booked, but it was still superb and we had full use of the facilities at the main villa, hot tub, bike workshop, bike lockup. Once I built my bike up we all headed out as a group for food with the guides, at this point we all began asking what the plan was for the week, which there didn't appear to be, they also made suggestions that the first ride of the week would be one which could show what level people could ride at, even though we had all filled out a questionaire prior to going there.

The first day we were taken up to the Subbetica national park, begnnning at the batcaves with a technical downhill section on some steep steps, nothing like something tricky to warm up on! This was followed by more steep, loose and fast downhill sections on Catwoman leading us to the town of Luque. It was at this point where some of the group were struggling already, with Caroline having several heavy falls on the rocky terrain with her husband understandably annoyed that the first ride had turned out to be so tricky. This was then followed by a tough 8-10km climb up to around 1300m, and once again this highlighted the less fit members of the group who had mentioned on the questionaire that they hated climbs and prefered up lift days, again some gumbling and tears followed. The rest of the ride was as technical, long and rocky as the previous sections had been which was fine with me as I enjoyed it, but as a first ride to asses the groups ability and fitness it was a poor choice, and left the group deflated with the apparent lack of organisation, planning and decision making.

The second day we headed back to the same area of mountains but took some different routes, the group was two people lighter, Caroline being unable to put any weight on her leg after her falls, and Jo feeling completely fed up after she couldn't manage the climbs. We made our way up the Gorgeous Gorge, which we had cycled down the day before, before making our way up to around 1300m once more, before plunging back down the rocky and steep descents, one in particular named Grande Cojones which our guides kept trying hype up 'you need grande cojones to go down there on a hardtail'. However Grande Cojones didn't prove as scary as first thought, it was named mainly due to the fact the surface is loose boulders, rather than massive slabs of rocks to jump off, Pete the other guide and myself, both riding On-One hardtails took to the front and showed the full suspension guys how it should be done! Again we finished in the town of Zuheros.

On the third day several of us were left confused as we headed up to Cordoba to do a ride in the hills north of the city, these trails would apparently suit my hardtail better being flowy singletrack heaven and less technical than the previous two days, and as we cycled around so it proved, but with several members of the group missing due to injury from falls and a lack of confidence, why didn't they bring us up here on the first day to asses the groups riding abilities? I however had a problem, as we returned to Cordoba and began riding around the city to find the buses, several of us began to feel rough due to running out of fluid, it was hotter further north and we were out for around 6 hours, as we stopped at a junction I had to get off the bike and ended up lying on the pavement on the verge of passing out, thankfully two of the group were in the fire service and took charge, and a passing Spanish woman who was a doctor stopped to help while a call was made for an ambulance, my heart rate was through the roof, my hands locked in place and I couldn't move, as it turned out I was exhausted and had extremely low blood sugar. After an hour recovering in hospital I was free to go, gladly the next day was a rest day!

Having spent the previous day recovering in the hot tub on the roof of the villa, the forth ride was again back at Cordoba, this time I went armed with Fruit Pastels along with my hydration tabs, sandwiches and fruit and it certainly seemed to do the trick, we had a brilliant day blasting around the dusty singletrack.

The last day again highlighted how poor the planning of the rides could be, as this was the only day we were actually given a choice of what to ride, an easy railway potter, a harder ride in local hills, or back up to the Subbetica for more mad climbs, big drops and huge rocks to ride over, naturally I chose the harder of the three along with two others, and the rest went with another guide. This ride didn't start well, as when we arrived at the start of the trails, the same place as the first day, I realised I was wearing the wrong shoes! Thankfully Pete had the same size of feet so lent me his shoes and pedals so I could ride. Again we headed down the Batcaves and Catwoman to Luque before climbing up the fire road once more, this time however we were to follow a path that 'looks like its been painted on the side of the hill' as we approached a vertical looking path we soon realised what a bugger of a climb lay ahead, but once at the top all of the effort was rewarded with stunning views across the hills overlooking all of the olive tree farms. From here the only way was down, we followed a trail which made its way through several boulder fields and hopped over walls before reaching Barry White, a large slab of rock at a steep angle with a turn half way just to keep things interesting, then onto Scarecrow, a technical winding trail through the trees which led up back to Gorgeous Gorge from day one. All too soon we were back at the vans and the mountain biking was finished for the week.

The holiday was good overall, the accommodation was brilliant, the food faultless, fantastic company and the riding (I found to be anyway) testing and thrilling, however some things let it down such as poor planning and not figuring out the groups abilities on easier routes, plus I was led to believe my non riding partner would have had plenty to do, this wasn't really the case as the villa is set in the middle of the countryside with no transport links, just as well there were so many injuries early on so she had someone to keep her company!

All of this however has given me a taste for bigger things in the stupid world of mtb, i'm currently on the look out for a big susser to throw myself down hills on, whether this is a good idea or not I will let you know after my first crash!

Adam Robson
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:00 pm

Re: MTB Holiday

Postby malcolm » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:27 am

Great write up Adam, thats another hospital to put on the Ythan CC hotlist!
Maillot Jaune
Posts: 719
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:57 pm

Re: MTB Holiday

Postby Baldieheidit » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:46 am

That was a great read, particularly when I should be doing risk assessments!! Great photo's too.

User avatar
Maillot Vert
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:10 pm

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