Mountains of Single Track in Spain with BasqueMTB,
Day 4 – Ainsa
Locations were Val D’Aran – Day 1 || Benasque – Day 2 and Day 3 || Ainsa – Day 4 || Biescas Day 5 and Day 6
Then we spent three days riding in the Basque Coast
Then we spent another two weeks driving around Spain
We are now on Hump Day of the trip. Day 4. This is the day that makes or breaks riders on these multi day trips. With the amazing weather, great riding partners and these insanely great Orbea Rallon 29er wonder bikes to ease the days getting on the bikes was easy.
This is a day where being on a guided group makes things easy for travellers. There are a lot of trails in Ainsa and the surrounding area, with many variations to ride them. Being with people familiar with the area allows you to make the most of the descents and that we did! After eating a huge breakfast with more fine Spanish coffee of course at Hotel Sanchez
BasqueMTB’s six day High Pyrenees trip had us sample riding in 4 Pyreneean locations from approximately the Central to West Pyrenees. Trails were the best we’ve ever had the privilege of riding in the high alpine in Europe. Travel was tight and well-organized, accomodations were well-chosen; FOOD was amazing (and copious); service was superb, and weather was incredible.
Our day of riding at Ainsa was characterized by uplifts interspersed with pedalling. All in all we had 2400m of descending on a variety of trails covering a lot of ground. Some of the trails are in the EWS. Some are local trails. Many are linkups on routes designed by BasqueMTB with the help of the local Zona Zero trail organization (Doug of BasqueMTB is one of the local trail org’s big supporters).
Our rides were dominated by views of the limestone massif of the 2295m high La Pena Montanesa but never got into the alpine. It had rained only very recently and the local trails that can sometimes be loose and dusty were beautifully tacky. It was hard to believe our sheer luck with weather and conditions and we literally rode till our arms and legs cramped. Today was a day for railing perfect dirt. Laps today were El Cantone to Maxi Avalanche, Cuello d’os Muertos, El Cerro de la Cuesta and Senda Precosta.
Ainsa is the natural gateway to the Pyrenees from the more inhabited southern regions sitting in the southern foothills. It’s reputation as one of the best areas in Spain for biking generally and for mountain-biking in particular is in large part due to weather. It has over 300 sunny days a year. Indeed the weather is so good that BasqueMTB even runs entire dedicated enduro Ainsa weeks in the Spanish winter.
Zona Zero Pirineos is the locals heart and soul. It’s beginnings were born from the desire of a few volunteers local to the District of Sobrabe (where the town of Ainsa is located) to recover an existing but abandoned and unmaintained network of kilometres and kilometres of traditional trails. The Pyrenees had lost its people as the Spanish economy of the 70s and 80s led to work being only in cities and consequently mass-migration of people to find work. This led to the accident of social-geography that the Pyreneeian legacy of old trails used by people for transportation between towns and villages had become overgrown and underused.
These local volunteers had the brainchild of creating value in this massive and underutilized trail network through promoting sustainable economic development oriented towards active outdoors tourism. At first hikers came. Then came mountain-bikers. Then of late, came the EWS which really put Ainsa and the region on the map. Now Zona Zero is an organization of over one hundred entities (hotels, bike rental companies, shops, ski lifts, MTB guides, massage therapists etc) all of which provide services for outdoor activities, for tourism and for recreation. In turn tourism has transformed the region bringing year-round jobs and rejuvenating towns and trails. Truly an economic success story.
Overview of todays ride at Zona Zero