Looking back at so many bikepacking missions across the globe, I cannot think of something more diverse. No matter the intensity, the terrain, the people or the goal it's beautiful to see what the human experience can bring!
Welcome to this episode taking place in the Basque Country, Spain. This was during spring time, lockdown period. So Doug and I were quite free, hungry for adventures! We always talk about adventure we can do and share our experience. So after the harsh year of 2020, we both wanted some adventure. Doug invited me and decided to guide me for something nice and fun, with real riding and real discoveries ! During the quiet time Doug was really active on the trail building side of things and he was amped to design an adventure where we can link the highest mountains of the Basque Country and the Ocean in two days, using old hiking path and the trail he has been building for 2 years.
Tuesday morning I'm surfing infamous Landes beach break of the south of France, it's a good morning. The waves are 3 feet high and the wind still offshore, I surf a couple of waves and enjoy the salty moments. We have been on the coast for 5 days and it's a great family trip, we rest and spend time with friends. But today I have a mission, after days of laziness and rest it's time to pack for another adventure. So I'm back at my friend place, checking and prepping my bike, I check all my backpacking stuff to make it ready. Trying to pack everything from food, to camping gear to clothes, tools and of course my filming gear. Like in the previous episode the goal is to ride, cross the mountains, have a good time, laugh and eventually share the stoke! So I have to document the whole journey, record the emotions and beauty of the Basque Country.
After preparing all my stuff I load the van to drive and cross the border. The next day my friend Doug is there to pick me up in the morning. We load his van and head to the mountains. Doug is the boss of Basque Mtb, specialized in all mountain trips in northern Spain he is a true mountain bike lover, he has a passion for sharing and discovering. He loves rough adventure and funky situations too! We really go along well with our visions and riding preferences. Doug is also very involved with local trail maintenance, trail building, community and Orbea, who's the local bike brand. Spending time with this lad is always great!Chorrizo and Sunset
Doug explains me more about the history of the trail and itinerary while he drives me to our starting point. He has chosen a pretty unique route, from the backcountry to the ocean and he is really excited to link this different trails and places.
Our first day will only take place on old trails, some used to be the only ones to link up the villages, take the cattle to the alpine and many more ancient marks of life. We have to leave the big village at the bottom of the valley and the first climb is a solid one! But the more we climb the more we discover the landscape and enjoy the place. At the top the trails are rough and wild, it's more like an old path lost on top of the mountains helping to reach more place. This ride starts to look like a proper adventure when we finally can't recognize anything anymore. There are no sign of human, road or building in sight. This first day was a blast with the ancient trails, the loamy forest runs, the old fountains at the farms lost in the hills. We have a fantastic sunset session before heading to this hunter's shelter for the night. The bivouac spot is perfect with a fire place, wood, water, tables... Plus the view was nice and it was really quiet. IPA and Pottok
Day two starts with a nice hiking trails in balcony before reaching a dome, from that the views were spectacular! The early morning light enhances the beauty of the mountains, while in the bottom of the valley the clouds are still covering the villages. It's mystic and beautiful. We ride and drop into a tremendous forest, it's mossy and fluorescent green! The stoke is high and we fly down the hill to some lake, before crossing a gorge and climbing our next mountain. This second day is harder and the plan counts on several mountains and passes before reaching the ocean. From now Doug says we are going to ride a lot of mountain bike trails! For a European riding it's not so common because we have so many hiking trails everywhere already, that could explain why we never urged to build trails.
Doug guides me to some really cool trails with few features and really fun vibe, still following our destination: To the west! We have a stop in a restaurant and can have a proper local lunch, awesome! This is life, friends, food, bikes, mountains and a feeling of freedom. Our last mountain is part of the coastal range and is right above the ocean, it's stunning and the trail is an old hiking trails. It has a bit of everything and from the alpine in the summit to the beach, all kind of terrain. From the wild little Basque horses, the Pottok, to the bamboo forest and the waves crushing on the rocks, this last ride was so nice. We finally arrive at the beach in Hondarribia, feeling a little strange with the tourist and stuff, but we have a big smile on our face. Safe to say that the delicious IPA we had a the beach won't erase that.
We celebrate and enjoy the end of our trip, but like every time it's the moment to get back to the van, load, drive and do things. While our mind is still up there in the mountains, with the passes, the hike a bikes, the adversity, the good downhill and trails, we are back into civilization and already planning our next trip. For a little while we do thing unconsciously, with our soul still floating around in the mountains.
After dropping Doug at his place, it's time to thank hime a lot for organizing this sweet adventure and say bye!
I hope Doug will come to Savoy for our next ride together!
Follow more adventure, art and more on Instagram @titotomasi
Thanks to my partners for making this possible @urgebikeproducts
@gorewear @RockyMountainBicycles @shimano @hutchinsontires @julbo @CamelBak