As part of my work as a Mountain Bike Guide, I regularly get out on my own to ride the routes that I´ve designed to check the trail condition and to develop new variations. Today was such a day but my objective was to ride a regular route in the opposite direction. It´s remarkable how riding a loop “the other way round” can completely change the route, often improving it. That was certainly the case today.
As I loaded the bike into the van and set off from home the sky was beautifully clear and blue, although the outside temperature was showing as 7 degrees C. By the time I´d arrived at the start point, that had dropped to 2 degrees C although once on the move I soon warmed up. A ride in the winter sun is always such a pleasure.
The first hour of the ride took me along easy tracks through the famous orange groves of the Valencian countryside until I reached the beautiful historical town of Xativa. After a brief coffee break in an old square I set off again, this time along a track up into a wooded valley.
I passed beneath the arches of a Roman aqueduct and soon joined a riverside single-track through some very pretty woods. The valley narrowed as limestone cliffs rose up on either side. A few short steep descents and sharp bends kept my mind focused although the sheer beauty of this valley is hard to ignore. Herons fished in the river below whilst a Buzzard soared overhead.
I arrived at the valley head then began a short section of road riding to my next rest point, a typical Valencian fruit farming village where I enjoyed another coffee, this time in the setting afternoon sun. The next section of the route was one that until today I´d only ridden in the opposite direction. The 20 minutes of quite sustained climbing up a stoney track was nowhere near as tough as I´d imagined, and riding it the other way gave views previously unseen. As I arrived at the top, the sun was already heading for the horizon, casting a stunning golden light across the valley.
My final 12kms were what confirmed my suspicion that this ride was worth doing in the opposite direction. What was previously a steady pull up to a wooded mountain pass became an excellent and entertaining descent on a great track.
My only pause was to pick up a discarded inner tube that some moron had thrown away….why can´t people just take them home?!
After a total of 49km I arrived back at the van. A super day and a much improved route.