This week was special for me. Not just because we enjoyed some great trails, new routes and fantastic Spring weather, but because I spent the week with two long standing clients who have since become friends. Scott and Alain live in Montreal, Canada and this was the third time in three years that they have visited us for their mountain biking holidays in Valencia.
A few weeks before their trip, we discussed various options and designed a bespoke holiday for them. This included a return to the mountains of La Safor for the first few days of their trip. The second half of the week was spent in the Sierra de Mariola, a new area for them and one that I´m developing for this coming season.
On their first day, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed out into the Sierra de Marxuquera and did a route through the Albaida Valley before returing along one of the areas best trails through the Sierra de Buixcarro. We visited an old farming village when the bar owner prepared a local dish of fresh herbs and home made pastry. Whatever it contained was fantastic as for the following 40 kms we didn´t feel any signs of hunger!
As they were familiar with the area, on their second day they did a self-guided route through the Albaida Valley and returned via the Serpis Valley, a long but very varied and enjoyable route.
We began our last day in the area with a route that started in the beautiful and historical village of Simat de Valldigna, before biking out through orange groves to the town of Alzira. From there we began the long climb onto the Sierra de Agujas where we enjoyed a great trail through a high, hanging valley before a fast descent back into Valldigna.
That evening Scott and Alain enjoyed dinner and their last night at Villa Florencia. The next morning, we set off for the relatively short journey south west to the Sierra de Mariola.
We arrived at the beautiful Casa Rural +Qi, a luxury rural retreat that offers organic home cooked food. Having checked in we set out from the house on a relatively short but demanding ride through the valley then up onto the shoulder of the area´s highest peak, Montcabrer. A great descent took us back down to the Font de Mariola where we rested in the Spring sunshine before heading for home.
Our second day in the Mariola was our toughest route. We set out on some technical singletrack down to the ancient village of Bocairent, then biked through the valley, passing the farming village of Alfafara and onto Agres, a historical village perched on the steep mountainside of El Teix. After a reluctant descent through the village we found a bar in the square where we rested and ate prior to the day´s big climb.
There followed a long and steep climb, up through the forest, out of the tree line then up onto the 1246m summit of El Teix. The hard work was rewarded by stunning and far reaching views across the Albaida Valley to the north and across the southern Valencian sierras down to the peaks of Alicante and beyond. We sat on the summit for a while, watching Alpine Swifts soar overhead and enjoying views to the adjoining 1400m peak of Montcabrer.
A superb descent along rocky trails took us past some ancient ice-houses before we took to a long and flowing descent back to valley level. The day ended with a superb section of trail that took us right back to +Qi. The route was only 46kms but we´d climbed a total of 1862 metres. After a good rest and hot shower we met up for a dinner of freshly prepared seafood, fish and organic vegetables.
Our final day was to be a long one but absolutely fantastic. We opted for a short but demanding ride through the lower stretches of the Vinalopo valley before a steep climb up onto the hills.
After a rocky descent we repeated a trail that we´d particularly enjoyed earlier in the week, then headed back to +Qi where we had a leisurely lunch.
We then drove back to the city of Valencia where, having rested for a while we met up once again for a farewell dinner in the historical Barrio Carmen.
It had been a full and demanding week but one that I´ll remember…great biking, superb trails, fantastic views, beautiful food and fabulous company.
Written by David Warrington.
Mountain Bike Guide and Instructor at Mountain Biking Valencia