Mountains of Single Track in Spain with BasqueMTB,
Day 5 – Val de Tena (Biescas)
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
Our 5th day on our High Pyrenees trip with BasqueMTB brings us to the quaint small town of Biescas a place with 1100 fulltime year-round residents. By now their story is one familiar to that of the Pyrenees. A population declining as people leave for larger towns and the brighter lights (and jobs) of the cities. But Biescas sees the success of Zona Zero in the Ainsa/Sobrarbre region and Biescas is expending effort to bring in tourism. Year round tourism that that can bring jobs, people, and outside money to the area.
And what an area! Biescas is at just 875m. Near Biescas is Valle de Tena, a North-South running valley carved by glaciers and home to the highest concentration of 3000m peaks in the Pyrenees. Historically an agricultural area it was hit hard during the recession when many young people left. Tourism is bringing this area back. It is a destination for skiers, hikers and of course bikers.
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 shuttle driver here is Andres. Andres is the man for the trails here and the primary trailworker getting by on the odd grant from the town and putting in countless hours of volunteer time shaping the land. He is the main trail builder, maintainer, map maker, sign poster and head janitor of the region’s fledgling sports and tourism initiative BTT PIRINEOS ALTO GÁLLEGO.
As with Zona Zero the BTT Pirineos initiative aims to bring together all aspects of the tourism industry ((hotels, restaurants, adventure tourism companies, transport companies, etc) and coordinate their efforts to provide turnkey services to area visitors. Part of their initiative is to provide signposting and trail maps of the area . However due to land ownership issues and the ever-changing nature of trails in general not all are trails or routes are present on the map. This is one of many reasons to have a guide such as BasqueMT and have local knowledge such as Andreas to explore mountain-bike trails in the Pyrenees.
Our rides today involved a traverse of alpine trails in the Val de Tena and rides in the Panticosa ski area covering both sides of the valley. By now we had gotten used to rather stunningly good weather and stupendous views. Luckily we were also used to consuming mass quantities of food in preparation for a lot of riding. Today was no exception as we descended 2500m today with one ride from the Val de Tena at Piedrafita Lake.
We then had two uplifts and mostly downhill laps off the ski areas of Panticosa and Santa Elena.
Val de Tena – in aragonese (and Valle de Tena in espanol) is mindblowingly beautiful. Even by Pyrenees standards where every valley and its peaks look like they’re carved out of the ground by worshippers of aesthetic lines, peaks and crags the valley’s lines are hard to describe in its magnificence. For skiers the place is lousy with couloirs and rowdy chutes. For hikers, there are meadows, lakes, furrows, caves, cracks and views galore. And for mountainbikers! Well there’s a reason that Andres’s PirineosMTB enduro tour sideline runs dedicated mtb trips here either via hut-to-hut bikepacking utilizing Pyreneean refugios or via town-based trips.
If anything epitomizes the relative remoteness of the Pyrenees and the relative absence of people here (a byproduct of tough economic times hopefully now in the rear-view mirror) it’s the trails surrounding Biescas and winding their way through the Val de Tena.
Overview of the area we rode today