March, 2006

Mar 06

The rest of Spain

Singletrack at El Chorro

You might want to read part one too.

Since getting back work has been good but really busy and it’s making me not want to use a computer at home. Which means I can’t really be arsed writing anything too worthwhile about Spain and I certainly can’t be arsed integrating Flickr, which I’ve started to use for all my photos, to my own gallery for a while. So, for now, there are a couple of photos here and you can see the rest in the Flickr set.

Basic gist of the rest of the trip is that while the first week was pretty uneventful, the second was totally radge – drove over Sierra Nevada in a crazy storm; lost the hire car key (doh!); ate pasta; got bitten by some super nasty bugs when we bivvied; got pissed one night and wound up Dave’s brother on the phone (heehee); discussed the “top 5”s at great length; had an exciting ‘incident’; rode our bikes at nearly 80kmph in the wind; ate tuna; sat about in the roasting heat; got humped at table football by the cool Germans; saw a viper; finally got to ride in the Alpujarras (epic place); got big-time lost in Granada; ate peppers; cursed the roads, the maps and the signs many times; knackered my suspension forks and went for a little run or two. Dave will probably have some to add.

Dave at La Negras

I don’t think we’ll go back to Spain for a while. It was great, but we both feel that we’re running out of easily accessible quality trails to ride. Next trip will be somewhere where we don’t have to drive but do have miles of awesome trails right out of the house. So, with a total u-turn of opinion (for me, at least), look out French Alps!

Mar 06

Spain so far

I had funny stories to tell, but seem to have forgotten them. Have to make do with this:

After a few days in Andalucia, staying at Finca la Campana, hanging out with some really cool Swedish folk and riding some of the excellent trails that we had done last year, we made the drive north to Finestrat (near Benidorm). Although El Chorro to Finestrat looked like a long way on the map, we had been told that it was only a four hour drive. Let me assure you it is not – although there was some serious weather passing over the Sierra Nevada, we spent a considerable amount of time at 150kmph and the journey still took us seven hours.

We’ve been staying at The Orange House which is similar to, but a little smaller than, Finca la Campana. We don’t think it’s as quite as good though. The owners are nice, but the clientelle seem to be mostly the usual up themselves puke inducingly wanky Sheffield climbers that I had quite enough of on my occasional trips to the Peak District. Maybe we were just unlucky, but I prefer the more multi-cultural vibe at El Chorro. Still, Finestrat is a neat little place – miles better than the shithole that is Benidorm, just 10km to the south – and the mountains here are amazing. At both places we’ve been messing about on a slackline a little. We’re both still crap, but it’s amazing how much better you get with just an hour of practice. We’re also starting to wonder if it’s good for our knees though, so might stop playing with them.

The other day we rode a bunch of trails at Castell de Castells, a village over the mountains from here which is reputed to have the best biking in the area. The scenery was excellent, but I didn’t think the trails lived up to some of the others we’ve ridden (although the descent into the back of the free campsite was really good fun) and we’re not going to drive back over there again this trip (longer trip than usual as one of the roads is closed). Yesterday we went exploring locally but Dave managed to snap his super-pricey rear mech riding gently up a hill, so after I got the car to rescue him we went to find a Sram rear mech, which was easier said than done. We were lucky though and, after a few tries, managed to find our first reasonable bike shop in Spain just before they closed – enough time to buy their last(!) Sram mech. Notch that up as another reason to buy Shimano gear… ;)

We’re driving back down south tomorrow and are going to break the journey up with a stop at Cabo de Gata, seemingly the driest place in Europe, for some flat-ish singletrack. The forecast looks pretty promising (I hear it’s snowing in Britain, shame) and we’re hoping to ride in the Alpujarras if we get a chance – it’s the area we’re most excited about, but it’s high so we need to catch it with good weather.

Some stuff learned/remembered in Spain:

  • The maps are shit. I mean, all the maps are really shit.
  • There don’t appear to be any rules at roundabouts, at least none that make any sense.
  • Spain is really, really hilly.
  • The Siesta sucks (we lost a whole afternoon waiting for the map shop to open…). Sometimes (…but the shop stayed open late enough to get Dave a new mech!).
  • All this hanging about climbers has made me want to go climbing again.
  • Spain is lovely, but scaffy and they don’t seem to care nearly as much as they should about their countryside.
  • Carrefours are HHHUUUGGGEEE.