What do you see?

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

I look at this picture and what I see if far less important than what I remember. Sure the backlit horizon is coloured a blue missing from ournorthern latitudes. The trail has rocks, dust and not insubstantial exposure. The rider is rocking some mismatched colour scheme most notable for shirt sleeves in December.

You cannot see the big grin. You cannot go back and live in that moment. Solet’s seesome more.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

To your left a 3 foot fallinto a culvert. To your right a drop of about 300 feet into a valley where they’d collect your remains with a spatula. Want to know the difference between living and being alive? It’s on this2 foot ribbon of trail which narrowed to less than half that without reducing the exposure. You heart maybeat 3500 times in an hour, but you notice it only for the 5 seconds it’s banging against your ribs.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

Elevation is everything. We shuttled 1000 metes from the valley floor before climbing another few hundred metres on dirt tracks to access the one of the best half kilometres of trail I’ve ever ridden, Took me a couple of attempts to ride that line. I’ll not bore you with the details but its pretty much encapsulated in ‘don’t fall right’.Stuff of life right there.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

Sometimes it’s hard to take your eyes off the 3-D problems demanding instant solutions, but really you must. Because even in the lower reaches of Sierra Nevada, this is what lies beyond your trail focal point.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

Even I can acceptthe view from this bar is even better than a view from a Bar. I loved this trail, steep and nasty at the top bisected with deep washed out gulleys. Be brave here and the bottom section rewards you with a relaxed flow of perfect curves. Drag you eyes from the dust kicked up by your tyres and burn that image into your retinas. Because a 100 days of grey awaits on the other side of a 3 hour plane ride.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

Riding on brilliant trails under shadow parabolas cast by endless sun isn’t enough of course. Half the joy of riding mountain bikes is where you are. The other half is who you are with. My good mate David rode lots more than his head told him he could. This is my favourite photo of the whole trip.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

Obviously being atedious narcissist, it’s back to being all about me. Although a proper rider would have taken far more wall than that. Quite enough for me though thank you very much.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

As with all good things,every day ended with beer. And more beer. And occasionally brandy. To be honest not thatoccasionally.

I felt terribly guilty abandoning my loved ones for the third time in a single year to selfishly ride my mountain bike. But by God I came back a better person. And after 2000 kilometres and 7 months, finally worked how to ride the bigbike properly. Also learned some important stuff about friendship, while beingreminded of theendless joy of being in high places.

You can see more pictures of dust and general tomfoolery hereand if that’s motivated you to try something similar, David and I would recommend getting in touch with (another) Dave athttp://bikingandalucia.com.

Orgiva is a fantastic place to stay, it’s essentially the administrative centre for this side of the mountain. This makes it a non-tourist bustling town full of great bars and restaurants chock-full of lovely people. The riding is immense and endless. The trails are lumpy and bedrock hard at higher altitudes changing to fast and loose lower down.

Spain MTB 2015 - Sierra Nevada

This is the route back to Orgiva. We are 10 minutes from a cold beer!

Much of it is pretty steep, quite a lot has a degree or more of exposure. Everything is covered in dust. It’s verymuch a mountain biking paradise.

You will be unsurpassed to hear it’s one of my favourite places to ride. The other is the southern Pyrenees. We all be back thereIn 131 days. Until then these digital memories will salve me against the grittiness of winter.

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