One of the best peaks to ride in Europe actually isn’t in the Alps. Instead, it is a mountain named Punta Suelza in the smaller yet just-as-epic Spanish Pyrenees. Located adjacent to the French border, the arduous route’s short distance makes it perfect for a mountain biking climber training for one of the bigger African peaks.
From the alpine lake Ibon de Urdiceto, a short doubletrack leads straight into the belly of the beast: incredibly steep singletrack hike-a-bike littered with loose babyheads, extended slickrock sections, and little dirt. This climb will truly test a rider’s mettle; in fact, depending on which route is taken, long periods of bike-ferrying may be in line.
But every scraped knee and laborious step is worth it due to the fact that riders are gifted views of the charming alpine lake below and the nearby fertile plain extending into the distance.
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On the descent, riders, picking their way through a slope of decomposed rock and grass, start by flying down a nearby ridge. This portion of the ride will test bike-handling skills, but most advanced riders can clear the majority of it. Even if the trail disappears, don’t worry. As long as riders stay on the ridge, they will make it to the road at the bottom.
While riders can choose to end the route there, another 5,000 feet of descending in addition to the 3,000 they just did awaits on the nearby Collado de la Cruz de Guardia-Bielsa trail. The treeline quickly approaching, riders dive into a pristine forest. The trail transforms into a beautiful ribbon of dirt that punches across streams and features winding turns as it continues its sudden descent into the valley. Before long, Bielsa emerges on the valley floor, and the ride is complete.