A Tour of the Pyrenees' Endless Trails - Photo Report

Jan 24, 2018 at 6:11
by teeneegee  

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.

Stunning view from Puig de Comabella

Ailsa riding in front of a stunning panorama

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.

Adrien and Angela

Ian riding the la Molina tour of day one

Ian in his natural habitant

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.

Getting the bikes ready

The group is having a good time

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.

Tina riding a corner on day one at La Molina Ski Resort

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.

There may always be a bit of a "hike a bike" part

Amazing landscape at the Spanish and French border

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.

Ian and Adrien riding a technical part of day three

Tina taking the inside line

Riding on red earth is one of the big highlights

The trails are rocky and demanding

Adrien and Tina having fun on a early morning ride

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.

Group ride on red earth

Lunch time in a small spanish village

You'll have more trails in the woods around La Pobla de Lillet

Nick and the cows

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!

Everydays coffee break

Angela shares lunch with a kitten

Say hello the all these beautiful street doggos

Tina having fun on one of so many super nice trails

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 / Website
Photos: Saskia Dugon Instagram / Website
Altitude Adventure: Instagram / Website


50 Comments

  • + 33
 please more articles like this, it is great to see more options how to spend a week on the bike, somewhere with no ending trails. it looks really great and their offer looks very interesting.
  • + 3
 Certainly more on their way. Check out the Adventure section under Top News for more of the same and to give you some trip ideas.
  • + 11
 Great article! Always make me want to try and put together a little photo article of my own trips!
  • + 4
 I rode here two years ago with Ian, Angela and Adrien and I can honestly say these are the best singletrack trails I have ever ridden. The hospitality is first rate and their knowledge of not only the trails but how to ride them is first class.
  • - 1
 Compared to where else ??
  • - 1
 @flyingfox49: Exactly
  • + 2
 yeah man because I didn't saw any spectacular or good technical single track pictures. Where was the technical element hidden ?
  • + 2
 @Serpentras: believe me, I won't oversell me, but compete the Trial Worlds a while ago, ride with some EWS french lads : they are technical. Hit them slow or fast, they have good flow but can be damn dangerous if you're just a silly no-brainer.
  • + 0
 @BenOnTrek: Well can you compare it to the Mega Avalanche? Because the Mega was the last thing I did and my hometrails are far more technical and dangerous then that.

"The trails are rocky and demanding" this picture looks to me like a joke if I am honest. If that is really rocky and demanding then I dunno haha....
  • + 4
 I cannot recommend more this Altitude Aventure's trips : tried both different versions, but always the same grid. Customer service oriented, Ian and Adrien knows to "size" their guests to accommodate to the demanding trails ; Angela is a gem and brings such good vibes to the group ! See you soon !
  • + 2
 Good article and it looks like a great experience. Having lived in Spain 6 1/2 years I must say that you definitely should go on a guided tour if you want to discover the great trails and not get lost. Presently I am living in Switzerland and I have to tell you that so far I'm not so impressed and I find the trails a bit blah.
The trails in Spain are much more wild and exciting. Btw so that your readers can get a better perspective of the region and culture of the area you should mention that you are in Catalonia. Thank you!
  • + 3
 I have been lucky enough to stay with ian & ange on a few occasions & was first class from start to finish. great customer service & amazing trails. really need to get back there tbh.
  • + 5
 yes more article like this please....
  • + 5
 The ads are getting smarter
  • + 4
 Looks amazing, but I couldn't imagine white/grey knee pads.
  • + 4
 That does look super nice!
  • + 1
 Thanks ????
  • + 1
 I was lucky enough to visit Angela and Ian twice. Both of those times I was blown away by how amazing those people and trails are !!!
  • + 4
 Looks amazing!
  • + 4
 Please let it be summer!
  • + 3
 Great riding ..and more beside.
  • + 2
 Exact same ad on mtb-news.de yesterday Big Grin

I would love to be there right now tho..
  • + 1
 Will be great to have details of the 6 days. Gpx or at least a map. This article looks like a commercial for the travel agency.
  • + 0
 For sure, some Trailforks data would have been awesome to see. Maybe @teeneegee can help?
  • + 1
 @fecom because it is a commercial?
  • + 3
 I don’t really see the issue with a commercial oriented article if it covers something relevant and objectively worth looking into.
  • + 1
 @metareal: No not at all but it should be made clear that it is a commercial. Nonetheless I like that she stated that the trails are not for everybody. More pictures of these trails would have been nice.
  • + 8
 @brianpark: we dont publish our trail info as it has taken countless days of searching to find the ones we use. This has a pretty large cost to our operation and our way of recovering these costs is to sell our guided trips. Sorry.
  • + 1
 no way you will find those files on any site : this is a full time job to design this trip. Would you give it away for free ??
  • + 2
 Awesome article, properly done. I have been there, enjoyed some great days of riding superb trails and company.
  • + 2
 I'd like some of that. My ideal job!
  • + 2
 What is the cost for this trip? Looks amazing
  • + 3
 Hi, the trip is GB£950.00 for the week excluding flights and transfer. We pickup from Barcelona airport.
Thanks,
Ian
  • + 1
 These destination pieces are my favorite. Thanks PB. Now I have another place to add to the ever growing list.
  • + 0
 Give me a free holiday and I'll give you more than 800 words...... Perfickt grammer and everyfink...!
  • + 0
 Interested to see if you are using the same trails as Doug's Basque MTB and just jumping onboard with your own business?
  • + 1
 @wobbem I think the destination she talks about is east of the basque country.
  • + 3
 Not the same trails as us, don’t worry. Ian runs his cool looking trips a bit north and east of us I believe. We are from the middle of the Pyrenees to the west really. The Basque Country as well of course. There could maybe be a bit of confusion because we have been doing our “Backcountry Pyrenees” trip for quite a few years now but it’s a totally different part of the Pyrenees.
  • + 2
 @DougBasqueMTB: Love the Pyreenes/Basque country. One day I’ll bring my bike ...
  • + 1
 @Gamsjaga: don’t wait for one day ;-)
  • + 2
 @DougBasqueMTB: I usually go there to surf - so the bike has never been top priority. But then there are the days when the waves are flat ...
  • + 1
 Hi, no we are in the Eastern Pyrenees and therefore a fair way from where Doug guides his fantastic trips. We have been running trips here for 12 years.
  • + 3
 @DougBasqueMTB: thanks Doug. We do need to get together for a beer sometime. Cheers, Ian
  • + 4
 @altitudeadventure: a bike ride then a couple of beers I think :-)
  • + 1
 I love the Pyrenees!
  • + 0
 where can we find a guide to these trails? they look awesome
  • + 2
 Hi @cmedoper , sorry there is not much written about the trails in this area or much on the internet. Most of what there is is old style xc mtb on fireroads. I guess that is one of the great things about the Pyrénées, so much of it is still to be discovered. Whilst running our other trips we spent years testing trails on both sides of the French/Spanish border in Catalonia to put together this trip. Cheers, Ian
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