When clients return for a second or third time, it´s always very special for me. This report details such a trip. Birgit first booked a trip with us over two years ago, and came as a beginner. Since then, she´s become a very keen and skilled mountain biker and has returned to Valencia each year for a week of guided mountain biking.
This year, as was the case last year, she asked that we design and propose a bespoke mountain bike holiday in Spain. As I knew her level of experience, her liking when it comes to route selection, and her tastes for accommodation, this wasn´t too difficult. Therefore, we designed a plan that included a two-centre holiday, to afford maximum variation and enjoyment.
She arrived in Valencia on the Saturday evening and spent the first night in a traditional guest house close to the beach. On Sunday morning we met and made a journey of around 90 minutes south west to the Sierra de Mariola, an area of upland peaks and green valleys. We dropped of her luggage at the hostal which was to become “home” for the next 3 nights before setting out on an acclimatisation ride, largely to introduce Birgit to this new area for her and to stretch the legs in readiness for the days ahead.
Our ride began on some relaxing forested mountain trails before taking to some slightly more demanding rocky sections that provided a good opportunity for Birgit to become re-aquainted with the bike. The sky was turning a very dark shade of grey, so we made a slight amendment to the plan, and took shelter by an ancient chapel. Thinking that we´d escaped the storm, we headed back for base. However, our luck didn´t quite hold out and we were treated to a soaking, with the resulting deep mud thrown in for good measure!
Once back at base, we hosed down the bikes, and after a shower and a beer, all was well!
Due to the heavy rain on day one, we made a slight change of plan for day two. The original plan was for a big day, a long route and a peak of 1300 metres. However, I considered it best to give the trails a day to dry out, so we took to a lower level route that linked some of the areas historical villages.
Day three dawned clear so we headed out across the Sierra de Mariola on some great XC trails, taking a short snack break before tackling the big climb of the day. This took us steeply at first, up to the summit of a 1300 metre peak, where we sat and enjoyed the view whilst picking out the areas where Birgit had ridden during the past couple of years.
After lunch, we made the quite demanding descent, down a rocky trail that lead us to a section of delightful singletrack.
The next day it was time to leave the Sierra de Mariola and make the journey to another of Valencia´s Natural Parks, the Sierra de Calderona. This is a mountainous region not far from the coast, and just north of the city of Valencia.
After the drive, we parked in a small village where we enjoyed breakfast before setting out on a fairly long and demanding XC ride through the sierra. At the half-way point we dropped into a small mountain village where we sat in the shade out side a bar to enjoy a much deserved Fanta Lemon! The return leg involved a superb long, rocky descent before a relaxed ride back to the start.
For her time in the Sierra de Calderona, Birgit was to stay in the delightful guest house El Patio de las Cebollas in the historical town of Segorbe. This lovingly restored house in the heart of the historical centre makes for an ideal place to stay. Although within easy walking distance of restaurants and bars, it has a fully equipped kitchen, offering the flexibility of self catering.
The next day was a “rest day”. For Birgit, this didn´t mean rest at all! She kept the bike for the day and explored some of the local trails in the morning after which she enjoyed a walk through Segorbe´s historical quarter and the castle.
The week had been quite demanding, so for our last day we opted for quite a long route, albeit not too strenuous. This involved a beautiful riverside trail, and a section of green-way, stopping along the way to visit a couple of the region´s beautiful little villages. We ended the week with a gentle ride back to Segorbe, where we reflected on the adventures of the past days.
It had been a pleasure to welcome Birgit back, to show her some “new areas”, to do some new routes with her and to design a bespoke holiday that was (hopefully!) exactly what she´s been looking for. It´s also great to see how her skill level has increased considerably, and to see her riding confidently and safely. She´s now reaping the rewards of her determination, and often keeps in touch to tell me of her mountain biking trips at home in Germany.
Written by Dave Warrington.
Mountain Bike Guide and Instructor at Mountain Biking Valencia.