Last week I had the absolute pleasure of providing a couple of days of guided mountain biking. My clients were both experienced bikers and outdoor enthusiasts, originally from USA but now living in Switzerland. They had designed their own bespoke trip and we had worked together to ensure that the biking element of their holiday was exactly what they were looking for.
They had begun their holiday in the beautiful city of Valencia where they´d enjoyed the vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere this very special city provides. They then spent a few nights at the rural retreat Refugio Marnes before ending their holiday at the coast.
Our first mountain biking day began in the village of La Drova. After the usual introductions, briefings and safety discussions, we started out on the trail. After a stiff climb we were soon up on the Sierra de Marxuquera. A relatively simple ride along gravel trails followed by quite a fast descent took us to the farming village of Pinet. Late autumn is a very special time in this area as the olive harvest is well underway. The groves that are situated at lower levels are the first to be harvested, whilst the higher mountain groves are usually left until December or January. Some of the harvesting techniques haven´t changes for decades yet the Valencia region produces some of the finest olive oil in Europe.
After a coffee in the village square we headed out on a fantastic rocky loop trail through the Albaida Valley, quite flowing, quite quick but demanding of some attention. Back in Pinet we had lunch before taking on another climb followed by a long rocky descent into the Barxeta Valley before the final few kms back to La Drova. We´d covered 40km and had seen some beautiful hidden corners of rural Valencia.
Despite a forecast of rain, Day 2 dawned bright and sunny. We´d chosen to ride a little further south so met up in the village of Xaló in the province of Alicante. The first 12km of the route was all ascent albeit at a comfortable gradient and with the advantage of placing us up high on the Sierra de Bernia. The air temperature had dropped considerably and cloud was beginning to blow in so we made a brief stop to put on extra layers of thermals and windproof clothing before we began the first section of descent.
This was a great trail, rocky and quite demanding in places but all bike-able and with some great views all the way down to the Mediterranean. Having re-grouped safely at the bottom of the trail we took a narrow lane that lead up into a little known valley high in the Sierra. From there we had a strenuous climb up inbetween a couple of limestone peaks from where we began the long descent back to the Xaló Valley. The first section of descent was on a wide but quite steep rocky trail. After a brief stop to enjoy the views across the mountains and down to the sea we took to a short section of relatively demanding singletrack that put us within a short road ride back to the van. We´d covered 32km with over 800 metres of ascent. The ride had been extremely varied both in terms of terrain and views and despite the forecast, we´d not seen a drop of rain.
The day ended with a very kind invitation to lunch by my clients. We enjoyed a typical Valencian vegetable paella and toasted a couple of superb days on the bikes. The weather had been kind, the trails had been fun, the views spectacular and the company excellent. Many thanks to L & S for a couple of great days.
Written by David Warrington.
Mountain Bike Guide & Instructor at Mountain Biking Valencia.