This article is written in English for all our Norwegian-challenged friends!
Planes, trains and automobiles
So, there we were. Standing at Malaga International Airport like excited kids on Christmas Day, waiting to be picked up by Freeridespain, the company that for the next seven days would show us the greatest trails in Sierra Nevada.
Having flown in with Sterling from Oslo, we had gotten a good view of the hills north of Malaga, and while most of the passengers were busy tightening their seat belts, we were trying to point out great singletrack in the terrain down below. Needless to say, we were really stoked and behaving like charter tourists that had taken a drink or two too much. Except we were only “out” on expectations, not on sangria.
As we had left the Norwegian below-freezing temperatures, it was great for us to wait outside the terminal wearing only jeans and t-shirts, preparing our bodies for that golden Spanish tan.
We were picked up by Simon and Emma, the couple that runs Freeridespain, and we headed off to Lanjaron, a city located at the feet of the Sierra Nevadas, about 2 hours' drive north east of Malaga.
Freeridespain is a small company. There are no flashy logos on their cars, no fancy clothing or loud talking, just a genuine and pure interest in riding mountain bikes and putting smiles back on the frozen foreigners' faces. And it shows in everything they do.
In Lanjaron we were put in a nice and simple house in the middle of the city. And what a great way to prepare for a ride in the middle of February, doing it in t-shirts on a terrace at the top of a house with a view over the city and the rest of the valley. Spirits were high. This was going to be a great week.
Only five minutes into the first ride, it became clear that this would be a week with som pretty spactacular and long climbs, but best of all, we would be rewarded with some of the best singletrack we had ever ridden. We were stoked, but what we didn't know was that the first ride would by no means prepare us for what was to come.
There are are so many different ride opportunities in this area, and each bring something a bit special to it. Allthough the climbs are long, there is always so much to look at that you forget about the hard work. The veiw is astounding. Snow topped mountains in the background shimmer against a clear blue sky, and just being out there seems like the only right thing.
Of course, when you climb 1900 vertical meters, you have to have something to think about. And while the view is beautiful, talking crap with Simon and Nick isn't a bad idea either. The guys are really friendly and their great sense of humour makes you forget the steepness of the climbs.
While the climbing is mostly done on gravel roads, the rest of the riding is pure nirvana for lovers of technical singletrack. The rides are real varied. From the most technical sections with sharp hair pin turns and steep switchbacks, to the fast and flowing sections where shifting your body from side to side is enough to steer you through the landscape.
There is, however, one ride that should be mentioned that really stands out from the rest. The ride starts in La Zubia, a suburb to Granada and takes you up to a top at about 1500m over the sea. From the top it's all downhill in some of the most scenic and wonderful terrain you could wish for. The climbing's on singletrack almost all the way to the top, and while it's not that technical, it certainly is a hard climb. The terrain changes from dusty singletrack that lies exposed on the edge of a 100m high drop, to a beautiful and smooth singltrack through a pine forest.
On the other side of the top you encounter a really spectacular valley where the singletrack just dives into it, and while there are sections that are really high speed, you need to cover your brakes as well. The turns come at you fast. The soil is sandy, and the terrain surrounding you is almost stalagmite-like in shape. And while the whole ride is hard, it's only 22 kilometers in distance, but it still leaves you begging for more.
What can you expect?
A week at freeridespain offers a lot. You and your group are catered for, and while you make your own breakfast Emma serves wonderful dinners and puts great lunch packs in your backpack. The atmosphere is so great, Simon and Nick are so relaxed but always there to make sure that you will get the best out of the ride. The whole thing seems to flow well and everything is well planned and sorted out.
And if you ever have wondered how it would be to have a friendly trail dog with you on a ride, Oscar will certainly show you how a cool trail dog should be. So far, the best trail dog this side of year 2000.
When to go?
The Sierra Nevadas are great for that spring kick off with you friends or as a round up for the season in late november. During the winter, the temperatures drops to about 14 degrees and the trails in the highest areas might be impossible to do because of snow. The best time for visiting Freeridespain would be from March to November, except for the summer months when they are closed due to too high temperatures.
Oh, did we mention that they're all great guys and gals with enough dry english humour to even dry out the soggiest of sponges? Well, they are, and they'll certainly cheer you a happy welcome if you visit them. Just contact them at email@example.com and they'll tell you all you need to know.
If you fancy lurking about and doing a bit more research yourselves; visit www.freeridespain.com for pictures, info on prices and accomodation.
Prices for a week is £325 and that covers everything you need. If you fancy a weekend with your friends it will cost you £55 pr. day.
Most companies fly you in to Malaga from Oslo, and while the prizes may vary and there might be some transfers, Sterling will take you there directly at a good price.
Remember to say hello from the staff at terrengsykkel.no
This is Nick, one of the excellent guides. Sveinung in the background is trying to do one of his Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull fame, impressions.
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