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Andalucia, Southern Spain

Hard to believe, but just inland from the beaches and golf courses of Malaga and Fuengirola lies ranges of small mountains and hills ideal for a winter mountain biking retreat.

Ahh, Southern Spain... home of the lager lout, the lobster coloured tourists and now some beautiful mountain biking!  Yep that's right, although you would never believe it, just a few miles inland from the lobsters on the beach lie some great tracks. 

It all started in February when we were discussing where to go on our annual ski holiday.  The snow for the season so far had been far from ideal and faced with the prospect of swapping crappy British weather for potentially crappy alpine weather, we decided to look at other options.  With over 300 days a year of sunshine, descriptions like “the California of Europe” and nearly 270 pesetas to the pound the decision wasn’t whispering to us, it was screaming – ANDALUCIA.

The trouble was, where were we going base ourselves and how would we find the tracks.  After all, it wouldn’t be like  visiting a ski resort in summer where the tracks are just laid out in front of you, and have you seen Spanish maps? 

A bit of hunting around in the back of the mountain bike mags, talking to friends and searching on the web identified Mountain Biking Espana.  Situated in a hill side town, 30minutes inland from Malaga, Mountain Biking Espana offered 6 days guiding, bed and breakfast board and a relaxed “make yourself at home” atmosphere.  They would even pick us up from the airport!

A quick ring round for confirmation and we were set.  One week of glorious sunshine, mountain biking to our hearts content away from cold, wet, foot and mouth infected England awaited us!

After a late night flight on Friday, a late breakfast and lazy ride seamed the best course of action for Saturday.  Fortunately, Colin had just the thing planned with a couple of hour fire road bash leaving straight from the house.  As none of us had ridden off road for over a month, this gradual introduction was ideal.  There was still the odd technical section to wake you up, but gentle was definitely the best description.

Fired up by the first days ride, we wanted more – the brief was clear - we wanted that sweetest of mountain biking pleasures – singletrack.  Colin smiled; tomorrow we would go to the Lakes region…

After a 40minute drive through stunning countryside, we parked up at the side of one of the numerous lakes in the area.  Fortunately, the start of the trail coincided with a small bar and restaurant, so café con leche all round was the order of the day.  The relaxed air that developed whilst sipping our coffee was soon replaced with anticipation – singletrack had been promised, a lot was expected!

The ride takes in three loops, the first is the least technical, with a lot of the narrow stuff and a couple of nice rocky short downhills, more cross country than full on, but with rocky, rooty, twisty singletrack, the trail was a gem.  

After a 6km road downhill to El Chorro, (don’t worry, you don’t need to ride back as Colin takes the van down the road), you're ready for the second loop.  This starts with a long, lung-busting firetrack climb (500m vertical ascent) that goes on for just short of what seamed like forever! However, it’s worth persevering as the track that follows is one of the best.  All downhill, all singletrack, through the woods, and with a cool place to stop and take in the view – you’ll get that “Sound of Music” feeling!

The track spits you out at the café in El Chorro – must be lunchtime!  After lunch we loaded the bikes up for the third loop, again another 500m vertical ascent, but this time we would split the climbing up:  half before and half after the downhill.  The downhill starts innocently enough, doubletrack with hairpin bends, but about a third of the way down it all turns technical.  Rocky steps and a steep and lose surface ensure that you need to concentrate hard!   At the bottom of this fine piece of track lies a bar where a well earned drink awaits!

We liked the lakes region so much, we even persuaded Colin to take us back up there later in the week.  Other rides included a day riding in the hills above Malaga with some awesome views and the last day included a huge singletrack play area and lunch on the beach what more could you ask for?

With fantastic riding, near perfect weather and great hospitality, why haven’t you been yet? – and if you have, when are you going back?

Links

Mountain Biking Espana - Our favourite Spanish Mountain Bike Holidays

Rutas Bike - Spanish Mountain Bike Routes Website

Babel Fish - If you need some translation help

NH, 2001


Our week was expertly guided by Colin (on the left)


Hard to believe Malaga is just below that tree on the right!


The tower behind was built for that disastrous soap El Dorado


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We went expecting firetrack everywhere, but there really is some nice bits of singletrack


Singletrack near El Chorro


There's plenty of nice trails if you know where to look.... fortunately our guide did


A "Sound of Music" type moment somewhere on top of a hill over El Chorro

 

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