I set a tall order for myself when I visited Spain: mountain bike the very best enduro-friendly singletrack trails that the Spanish Pyrenees has to offer. It was a tall order for my guide as well, but he confidently rose to the challenge. Jordi Bonet of MTB Dreams assembled a complex 5-day itinerary that involved a van shuttle for every one of our 11 rides in 6 different valleys, totaling 114 miles of riding, 8,100 feet of climbing, and a whopping 40,600 vertical feet of descending!
Jordi is one of the foremost experts on mountain biking in the Pyrenees, having made his home in these mountains and guided here professionally for over three years. He assembled our 11-ride itinerary from the very best singletrack that the region has to offer. From the routes that we rode, already the best in the Pyrenees mountain range, here are 5 of the very best that you just have to make sure you ride before you die.
5. Rabaltueras, Benasque
Length: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 62 feet
Elevation Loss: 3,446 feet
Rabaltueras wasn’t nearly the longest ride of our trip. While the top portion was gorgeous, we dropped out of the high alpine quickly. In fact, we almost didn’t do this ride, as it made for a chock-full three-ride day, leaving us exhausted and battered at the end of it.
Despite what could be considered strikes against this trail, the stats do tell an incredible story: 5.7 miles, 62 feet of climbing, and 3,446 feet of descending.
Rabaltueras has to be the steepest, most sustained, all-out bomb of a descent with the least amount of climbing I’ve ever ridden in my life! (Outside of a ski resort, that is.) In the States, most trails with this much descending require at least one good push of climbing—even if you have a vehicle shuttle to the top. Heck, if I so much as walk up the stairs from my basement to the top floor of my house I’ve climbed half of 62 vertical feet. Never have I ridden a straight-up ripping descent like this one in my entire life—and after we finished, I wished we could go back up and do it all over again!
This ripping descent began with a van shuttle to a parking lot located in the saddle of a mountain pass. After an obligatory group photo, we dropped into the steep, grassy alpine singletrack—perfect territory for a few absolutely gorgeous photos with jaw-dropping views of Benasque down below us and another mountain ridge directly opposite.
We quickly dropped out of the high alpine, funneling into some dry, dusty back-to-back switchbacks, before the trail straightened out as it descended into the deep forest.
Eventually we dropped into a green tunnel of a trail—smooth, loamy, and straight, through a tight grove of trees that didn’t allow any light to pass through. The trees were a fast-motion blur in the low light, and catching a handlebar on a tree trunk was to be avoided at all costs.
After a quick 10-second pedal up a dirt road, accounting for the 62 feet of climbing, it was back into the forested singletrack, where we picked up speed quickly. However, that straightline speed was accompanied by a raucous variety of endless rock gardens, drops, and general chunder, which punished and brutalized the bikes for the remainder of this wicked descent!
Nice write up. I have ridden in Switzerland and France (Holland too, but mostly that was weaving from one coffee shop to the next, Ha!) and the Spanish/French boarder is way up on my list. I spent a few minutes looking over the site, but couldn’t find what time of the year these tours are offered. When did you go?
I went in late August, which was too early for some areas, particularly Ainsa–still too hot. You don’t really want to go in the heat of the summer, so spring and fall are best.
Stay tuned for more on the MTB Dreams experience, but basically you can book a tour whenever you’d like. This company offers an all-inclusive mountain bike vacation catered to your schedule and what you’d prefer to do! Just drop Jordi an email, and he’ll be able to sort you out!