‘Bloody hell, you’ve got to be kidding!’ Edging off the massive rock steps on my frankly inadequate mountain bike, with only my frankly inadequate skills to protect me from going over the handlebars and disappearing down the mountain, was quite a wake-up call on the first morning of our 6 day descent from high in the Pyrenees all the way to the Med. Why oh why did it have to kick off on ‘The Ridge of Doom’ of all places?
I would say it was nothing like the brochure, but part of the problem was I hadn’t even read the brochure, I had just put up my hand for the trip with my mountain biking mates in a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ fit of enthusiasm- after all, how hard could it be?
I fancy myself as a reasonable mountain biker, but no riding in the UK had prepared me for this- thousands of metres of grinding climbs and screaming, loose, rocky descents with brakes grabbed so tight for so long that the discs were singeing grass by the bottom- every single day for six days straight.
But make no mistake; this was no hard core adventure ride. Our wonderful British hosts and guides made sure it was nothing short of a luxury holiday, for those of us who live for this kind of thing. Advice on everything from nutrition to equipment set up to the best sauce to have on your potatas bravas was dispensed liberally throughout the trip. Over whole careers in mountain biking and nine years in the Pyrenees they have become absolute experts in the very best way to do this, and it shows at every stop we make, every trail we fly (/fall?) down and every view we get lost in.
Much as I normally relish forging my own path when I travel, even I concede that there is no substitute for someone who not only picks you up at the airport, books you into great value hotels and sources excellent local food but more importantly can get you to that speck of sea hundreds of kilometers in the distance on world-class trails, and patch up your bike (and you!) when everything goes a bit wonky, as it invariably does. It means that you can just kick back and concentrate on trying not to go over those handlebars until you finally arrive; tired, bruised, grinning and buzzed up, to plunge into the Med at the end of a truly epic adventure.
Get in touch with Ian from Altitude Adventure if you fancy a go (and say hi from me).
They’ve got excellent bikes you can borrow but your skills need to be pretty sharp (or maybe go for a more gentle option they can arrange?) You’re looking at about £1,000 all-in including flights, transfers, excellent food, drink, accom etc, so basically the same as a ski/snowboard trip.