Val de Tena – Day 5 – BasqueMTB Pyrenees Mountain Bike

Mountains of Single Track in Spain with BasqueMTB,
Fall 2018

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.

Spain Mountain biking with BasqueMTB High Pyrenees. Val De Tena Oct 26, 2018

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.

Full breakfast at La Rambla Hotel in Biescas. They went out of their way to accommodate us and our bike-repair needs; which after 5 days of hard-riding were getting rather pronounced!

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.

Pickup by Andreas in the morning. Andreas also runs PirineosMTB providing focused enduro riding tours locally — busy guy!

Shuttle to Lake Piedrafita in Valle de Tena

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.

Piedrafita Lake

Jaunt along the alpine

Steve and Joel alpine jaunting.

Borja leading things out as we drop in off the alpine and down to valley floor

The late fall light in the Spanish Pyrenees is really something special

On the road where you can go to France! as this valley joins France further North.

Setting up for the second run off Panticosa

The trails were mint! Even covered in leaves they were fast and flowy.

Borja railing

Coming into Panticosa for lunch.

The town of Panticosa was deserted in shoulder season but will come alive shortly for the ski season

Lunch Lee, Rob, Mark, Matt, Paul, Raymond, Finn

Lee and Borja enjoying the afternoon sun.

Loading up and heading out for run 3.

We came out at this fortification that was built in the Franco years. Just in case France wanted to invade…

Run 4! Santa Elena

Back in Biescas we had beer at the hotel, vegged a bit then went to La Borda del Bosnerau for a special Spanish dinner of many plates! Pasta, Fish, Salad, Bread, Meat. So much food. How are these people not fat!

Even Lee had a beer!

Overview of the area we rode today

Elevation profile for the day.

This entry was posted in 2018, BasqueMTB2018 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.