Words: Tina Gerber
Photos: Saskia Dugon
Riding in the Pyrenees was a completely new experience for me and somehow redefined riding on natural hiking trails. The Pyrenees are just a bit wilder and more untouched than anything I’ve ridden before.
At the end of October, English photographer Saskia Dugon and I met up with Ian and Angela Pendry from Altitude Adventure in the Pyrenees. The goal was to ride the best trails the Pyrenees have to offer within one week. Before this adventure I hardly knew anything about the area.
Ian and Angela are originally from Great Britain, and are passionate mountain bikers. About 12 years ago they left the UK and set up a new home base at the Spanish/French border in St Pierre dels Forcats. They bought a small hotel “Mouli del Riu” and started their own little tour company.
We flew directly to Barcelona where we got picked up together with three other guests. On the way to St Pierre dels Forcats we stopped in a small Spanish village. Lunch break, tapas and beer. We reached the accommodation a short while later, built up our bikes, and looked forward to a week of first-class trails.
The “Backcountry Tour of the Pyrenees Orientales” is one of the tours offered by Ian and Angela: six days with shuttles and gondola uphlifts through the Spanish and French backcountry around Bagà, as well as all overnight stays and meals.
You should be mentally and physically prepared to tackle 12’500hm of downhill and 4000hm uphill in the six days. Always on technical singletrack, with some hike-a-bike involved.
The trails are technically demanding. They are all natural hiking trails that are not, as we are used to in Switzerland, well maintained and often used. Every storm changes the trail again, which can lead to the fact that it can hardly or only partially be ridden. Generally speaking, the terrain is very rough – 90% of the trails are very stony. Going full gaz may involve serious consequences. This makes the whole thing exciting, but can also be exhausting, because not every day is full of flow.
It took me three days to get used to the riding – but after realizing where the limits are, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the trails.Adventure and team spirit
You spend a lot of time in the group – daily on the trail and also in the evening with dinner, freshly cooked by Angela. The hospitality of the people touched my heart – I felt very comfortable and welcome wherever we went.
Safe to say we enjoyed this week. Not only because of the beautiful weather and all the riding, but also because of all the short breaks for coffee at small restaurants, great tapas, and those views!
The Pyrenees challenged me and I wasn’t happy with my riding at first. But with time and riding I learned to adapt to the terrain. It has its charm to ride in such terrain and to deal with its nature and conditions. I was impressed by the unbelievable views over those mountain ranges. The amount of trails the area offers and the unlimited hospitality of the locals and the wonderful Spanish food. It’s a culture I like, it’s an area I’ve started to like and I want to strengthen this young love.
Words: Tina Gerber Instagram
Photos: Saskia Dugon Instagram
Altitude Adventure: Instagram