Spanish Pyrenees - Offroad.
I did the Spanish Pyrenees offroad trip with Trail Bike Tours last May (2006), and it was a great experience. I've been putting together a trip report, and one of these days I'll post it.
Trail Bike Tours operates out of Andorra in the Pyrenees, on the Spanish-French border, about 3.5 hours from Barcelona by bus. They furnish everything - bikes (KTM and DRZ400), gas, gear, guide, hotel arrangements, meals. All you pay for is your bar bill - which, if you ride with English guys like the ones I rode with, is likely to be considerable. (I rode with Graham, Steve and Richard, three trials riders from Yorkshire, excellent riders, and the best trail companions you could hope to have - and they do love beer.)
David Shepherd (Owner and proprietor of Trail Bike Tours) will take care of everything once you get to Barcelona. All you do is get on the bus at the airport. During a tour David operates the support vehicle, which is an SUV carrying your bags to the next hotel, and a spare bike on the trailer, in case someone has a breakdown that can't be fixed on the trail.
TBT has three off road tours they operate. (For details, go to their website at www.trailbiketours.com). The Spanish Pyrenees is about 850 -900 km over five days, two days to the Mediterranean from Andorra, a day at the beach, then two days back. You stay in hotels each night. Lunch on the trail is at restaurants in small towns, and they were excellent - the Spanish consider red wine a sports beverage!
The terrain in the Pyrenees is spectacular. The trails are somewhat similar to what you'd ride on a day at Paragon, and maybe a bit rougher in spots, though there were no boulder fields like there are at Paragon. Lots of long hillclimbs up mountain trails that go for kilometers at a time, steep downhills on goat tracks, with off camber hairpins at the bottom, steep rocky trails you go up on the throttle in third gear, hard, on the pegs - it's all there, and all good. If you go, be ready to do some strenuous offroad riding - it will pay you to be in good physical condition. That said, I'm an old geezer at 56 years old and I did it without dying (but I work pretty hard at staying in shape). Our trip was about 75- 80% off road, with some pavement between trails - and some of that pavement were the tightest narrowest mountain roads I've ever been on. Our guide was Simon Crafar, the former GP road racer from New Zealand, a wonderful rider (he's absolutely wheely-mad) and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
I would do this trip again in a New York minute, if I had the chance. The price is pretty reasonable too.
Ben Baldridge, Philadelphia, USA
As published on advrider.com.