Frequently asked questions about your mountain biking holiday....
There are often questions about your holiday. In this section we hope that we can answer a few. If you have others please don't hesitate to get in touch.
1- Why flights to Barcelona?
We ask all clients who require a pickup/ transfer to fly into Barcelona (BCN) airport. If you are self driving or planning to rent a car or coming by train I will cover this later.
We only pickup and transfer from Barcelona (BCN) as it is the closest international hub to us. This means that the majority of clients can get flights from their home departure airport to Barcelona with the minimum of hassle. There are other airports in the vicinity but we cannot organise pickups on a Saturday from multiple airports as this is logistically impossible, so we ask all clients who require a transfer to arrive at Barcelona (BCN).
2- Can I fly in/out on aternative days?
For week long reservations we only offer transfers on a Saturday as for the rest of the week the vehicles are generally in use for daily riding transfers. You are at liberty to arrive and depart from Barcelona before or after the day of your transfer and we will happily pick you up /drop you at an airport hotel (but not a city hotel!) on the Saturday.
We will discuss any Long weekend or Short week group reservations requirements and try to be as accommodating as possible, but this may not always be possible.
3- Alternative transfer methods?
Hire car- You can generally rent cars from any arrival airport to drive up to us. Remember that your car needs to be big enough for you, your luggage and your bikebox. If you are renting in Spain be sure to advise the rental agency that you will be going into France as this may have insurance implications.
Train- You can catch the train direct from the UK to Perpignan where you will need to organise a transfer up the mountain. You can catch the train from Barcelona to Puigcerda, from where you will need to arrange a transfer with us (30mins) as a taxi from here will be a little difficult. From Toulouse you can get the train to La Tour de Carol/ Entveig where again you will need to organise a transfer to us (30mins).
Transfer company- You are free to organise a transfer from any airport direct to us with a transfer company, but be aware that this is not as simple as in other regions and you must inform them you are travelling with bikes.
4- What will the weather be like?
Our region is often referred to as the "Sunniest in France" and not without reason. We can expect over 300 days of sunshine a year, but it can rain! it can also get cold in Spring and Autumn. We suggest that during the week leading up to your trip you check the forecast using the links on our website. This will help you plan your kit packing. If you are still not sure then give us a shout.
Spring and Autumn trips can expect cool mornings then daytime temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees centigrade. Summer trips can expect daytime temperatures in the high 20's or mid 30's.
5- What clothes should I bring?
In general we recommend that you have a few changes of riding shorts and short sleeved tops. A long sleeved top can be useful both in the case of cooler weather or mornings and as a protective layer from the sun if you are prone to sunburn. Again in Spring and Autumn the weather can be cool in the mornings and evenings, so think about something as a warm layer for those times.
Do not forget your waterproof jacket for on the trails, this is a "MUST" bring safety item.
For evenings, non ride wear bring your standard summer casual wear. In Spring / Autumn you can add a jumper or lightweight insulated jacket. Swimmers for the hottub.
We ask clients to bring some indooor footwear to keep the dirt outside. Slippers, flipflops, crocks, whatever floats your boat.
6- What bike kit should I bring?
Riding clothes as above.
Unless we state otherwise your normal trail riding helmet. You must wear your helmet at all times on the bike, it is a requirement of our insurance. A full face helmet is too hot on the climbs and most of the time on the descents as well. For those of you that feel more comfortable in a full face helmet the new generation of helmets with removable chinguards work very well.
We cannot stop you having a crash but padding yourself up as if you are in a bikepark will probably lead to you getting heatstroke, so we recommend that you ride with at least kneepads on the descents (elbowpads can be very usefull too) which you remove for the climbs. Remember you are riding on "natural" trails, so back it off a bit and enjoy the ride.
Glasses will stop dust, branches and other unmentionables getting flicked into your eyes.
Suncream is really useful. In general you willl be riding in a much harsher sunlight than you are used to (a mix of the altitude and the lack of polution), so suncream can stop your holiday being spoilt by a case of sunburn!
For your bike remember to bring spare brake pads and a spare mech hanger as these parts are often unique to your bike and impossible to get at short notice here. Some tubes are essential and even a spare tyre for your wheel size is a good idea.
Make sure your bike has a decent set of toughened sidewall trail tyres. This is not the place to be riding lightweight tyres. We also recommend that you run tubeless as in some areas thorns can ruin your day on tubes.
7- What type of bike is ideal?
You will be most comfortable riding a typical trail/enduro bike. That means a fully suspended bike in the 140mm to 170mm travel range depending on your wheelsize. We strongly recommend the use of a dropper seatpost as this dramatically increases your safety in the mountains due to the ability to raise and drop your saddle where nescessary without stopping.
8- How fit do I need to be?
All of our holidays are demanding! This is not cycling for softies.... The fitter you are the more you will enjoy your trip. The weather, altitude and trails can accentuate your fatigue, so we strongly suggest that you prepare yourself for your trip. You will be riding for at least 5 days and on some trips 6 days without a day off. You need to be comfortable doing this.
For each trip there is a description of the trip and trails. We once had some clients suggest that a 30km day was going to be only half a day!! They didn't want to do anything extra that evening.... Do not underestimate the terrain.
9- How good a rider do I need to be?
As a famous coach once said to me "Anyone can pedal but it takes skill to RIDE". This is mountainbiking, in real mountains and not in a groomed park area. To get the most out of your trip you should be comfortable riding on natural singletrack, in a natural environment. If you only ride in areas that are manmade (trail centers or bikepark) you will struggle here, so get out and practice and you will enjoy your holiday much more.
You also need to know your limits. There is no shame in not riding a small piece of trail as you do not feel comfortable doing it. If we have the time we can help you in these situations, but if we are on the move and time is short knowing your limits can stop you having an accident somewhere where you really didn't want one.
Depending on flight times it is sometimes possible to ride on the arrival or departure day.
Wednesday is a day off from guiding. Clients are welcome to make the most of our home "Enduro" tracks, built by ourselves and waymarked for your pleasure right behind our base at "The Mouli" or you can use the day as an opportunity to try canyoning, via ferrata or just relaxing in one of the local hot springs!
10% discount for bookings of 8 or more riders.
From 2018 onwards the format for our "Adventure Trails" trips have changed a little. We have taken the best of the old "Adventure Trails" and blended it with the best of the old "Gravity Enduro" trips to bring you this new and awesome format. Enough climbing to remind you that you are "trail riders" but with more uplift than before to get even more value from the incredible trail network and mountains that we have available to us. Not a shuttling holiday, just more access to bigger and better descents!
This area which takes in the Cerdagne and Capcir valleys is singletrack heaven and lends itself perfectly to classic trail riding with about 400km of marked VTT trails and endless unmarked trails - that's where our local knowledge comes in. We live here permanently and work with the locals on developing the trail network. We know routes to suit everyone from short steady rides to epic downhill adventures adventures. Due to the shape of the valleys and the height of the plateau we have an amazing variety of trails on offer, from singletrack descents of awesome proportions, alpine bike parks and all day rides which are truly epic. With singletrack descents of over 20km available to play on, you are sure to finish every day with a huge grin.
We tailor each week to the group's desires and capabilities. To get the most out of our trips we recommend that a good standard of mountain biking skills in natural rocky singletrack terrain is needed. An ability to comfortably ride red and black Welsh and Scottish trail centre trails is good, but we are riding natural singletrack! You should be comfortable riding all day for multiple days to get the most out of your trip. This venue is not ideal for beginner riders.
We recommend that riders wear knee pads as a minimum on the descents as the trails are rocky! other protection is at the riders discretion.
What we do on our guided rides is up to you. We use our transport to give you the most "funtime" we can riding a selection of the best trails in our local area. We don’t set out with a specific plan at the beginning of the week. We will make the best use of the massive variety of trails available to us to ensure that each day gives great riding and a different perspective on the area. Our aim is simply to take you somewhere you may not have found without us. We know the area inside out, where to stop for lunch, where the good views are, where the next drinks stop is. Whilst on the trails we often use our years of experience to help clients improve their riding skills in real world situations. For example if you would like to know how to really attack hairpins/switchbacks then we have the knowledge and trails to help you perfect them.
To give a flavour of what is on offer below are details of a few of our favourites.
The Madre Madness
The definitive "all mountain" epic. To give you an idea of the locals’ view of this mountain, the Madre translates as "the murderer". To us it provides an all-day ride of epic proportions. Climbing 700m on both fire road and mountain singletrack (with a couple of portages thrown in for good measure) gets us to the summit of the Madre at 2469m. An exciting "passage" gives us access to the lunch spot with incredible 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and all the way down to the Mediterranean. We then start the 25km of trail back down into the valley with over 2200m of descent to reach Olette. The trail varies from rock strewn mountainside to buff flat out singletrack on an old packhorse trail and really is something not to be missed.
Circuit of the Galbe
A classic big mountain day which defines the term "Mountain Biking". This ride has it all. Fantastic scenery, a big climb and an amazing 1100m singletrack descent. We start at the Ski station of Formigueres and climb up and over the Serra de Mauri (2412m) before descending to a well-earned coffee stop at the beautiful Refuge de Camporells. Another climb then leads to the famous Estany de Diable (the devils lake) where we stop for lunch and then start our descent. 1100m of the finest mountain singletrack you will ever ride leads us back down to the valley floor and a well-deserved beer at the bar in Formigueres to finish. An epic day out!
The Border Crossing
Possibly the hardest one-day ride you will ever do! A true epic in every sense, the border crossing starts with a very tough two hour climb followed by a portage to reach the summit of the highest mountain on the border ridge (Puigmal 2910m). That is the easy part done, now for the descent. 2000m of all mountain trail descent to test even the best riders’ bike handling skills and nerve. The trail descends for 23km back into France passing the famous mountain sanctuary of Nuria before plunging into the ravine of Llo. After approximately 3 hours of descending we bottom out at the town of Saillagouse for a well-earned beer and a van transfer back to the Mouli. Due to the nature of the descent which is at least extreme and more, we do not offer this trail to everybody.
The Border Crossing 2 Aka "The Ying and the Yang"
This trail has rapidly become our firm favourite. Only accessible when the telecabine at La Molina is working it is well worth the effort. After a spectacular uplift to 2400m we crank up the last 150m under our own steam and at this altitude and steepness this small section packs a punch. That done the stunning view from the summit of the Tossa De Alp makes it all worthwile and the knowledge of what is to come gets the adrenaline pumping. From here we fly down an ever changing trail of your fantasies. Plummeting and flowing towards the valley floor 15km below with 2000m of drop gives you plenty of time to reflect on the majesty of the mountains we are in. But just remember, it is always better to be stopped when you are admiring the scenery to avoid becoming part of it!
The Descent To Olette
Check out the video of this descent below.
This is the classic local ride with our own special trail added on to make it even better. We start the ride from "the Mouli" crossing the valley to Mont Louis and then climbing up through the Commando firing range (keep your head down!!). Once up we stop for lunch with a spectacular view across the valley towards the border ridge, before starting the descent. What a trail! The descent starts at just shy of 2000m at the Serre de Clavera and we drop 1400m (about 12km) all on amazing singletrack (including our own cleared trail named 007 as it is a well kept secret) to finish at the bar in Olette. This is a favorite of everyone and people come back again and again just to ride it.
Named after one of the local Pyrenean semi-wild sheepdogs which took a liking to one of our friends (if you know what I mean), this trail cruises up hill and down dale through some stunning scenery giving a 3ish hour ride on trail which leaves you amazed at its quality. A steady climb from the village of Angoustrine gets you up to the start of the first descent which is a technical affair weaving its way down through rounded granite boulders until your arms are as pumped as your legs. You pop out into the village of Dorres with its Roman hot baths before starting a challenging singletrack climb to the “Chapel de Santa Maria”, perched in a beautiful location overlooking the Cerdagne valley. From here we cruise on some wild singletrack past ancient farmsteads to the top of the descent down to La Tour de Carol on the pass to Andorra. This descent is a mixture of hairpins and flowing trail letting you really open it up. When we hit the bottom we pick up one of the many irrigation canals that traverse the hillsides for some exciting riding back to the awaiting van.
The Cami Ramader
Once the drovers way up the valley of Evol this trail now offers an incredible one hour, seat of you pants descending trail. The "Cami Ramader" is just the last piece of this big day out which features big climbs, amazing scenery and a heap of singletrack. We normally run this trail from an uplifted start to reduce the climbing required from 2 hours to 1, but it is still a beast of a day out and worth every ounce of sweat!
The Roca Foradada
The Roca Foradada translates from Catalan to "the rock with a hole in it ". On this day we jump in the vans for a quick hop over the border into Spain and head up into the Sierra de Cadi range. A change of rock gives us scenery made up of huge limestone cliffs littered with old drovers and miners trails. A climbing start gets us warmed up for a fun rolercoaster trail to and past "The Roca Foradada" then under the spectacular headwall of the "Cadi". The second part of the day traverses under the cliffs climbing to our high point before we connect into the highlight of the day. Over an hour of undulating then descending singletrack sees us flying along one of the spurs coming out from the main cliff and descending back down to the town of Bellver over 1000m below.
These are just a few of the trails you might try in any one week. There are many more on offer - we estimate we could ride for 3 weeks without repeating a trail!
This is our flagship trip. Only the best of the best from this immense region make it onto this trip!!! Spectacular trails, incredible scenery....
To get the most out of our trips we recommend that a good standard of mountain biking skills in natural rocky singletrack terrain is needed. An ability to comfortably ride red and black Welsh and Scottish trail centre trails is good, but we are riding natural singletrack! You should be comfortable riding all day for multiple days to get the most out of your trip. This trip is not for inexperienced riders.
We recommend that riders wear knee pads as a minimum on the descents as the trails are rocky! other protection is at the riders discretion.
Backcountry Tour of the Pyrenees Orientales
Are you looking to ride some of the best singletrack on the planet?
The Pyrenees Orientales were recently described as "Massively underrated as an MTB destination" and in the opinion of the US Editor of Singletracks magazine Greg Heil "Better than the Alps" where he was blown away by the quantity of "high quality singletrack". High praise indeed! Danny Milner from MBR magazine stated after his visit, that a trip here was like "a journey through the world’s best singletrack" and based this opinion on the variety of types of trail brought about by the changes in rock type and vegetation as we move from alpine, to sub alpine, to mediterranean scrub areas available to us.
Check out what Swiss rider Tina Gerber has to say about this trip in her report on PINKBIKE. CLICK HERE
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you might say and why is that? Well the answer lies in the history of the region which has a tradition going all the way back to prehistoric times as being traversed in all directions by its population for many reasons which has led to a trail network of incredible proportions. This plus a long history of subsistence farming and smallholdings or hamlets dotted all over the valley sides gives us a mix of natural mountain trails and manmade cobbled packhorse type trails to choose from.
On top of the quality of trails the region has had very little modernisation or large modern industrialisation to change its feel of really stepping back in time.
With all of this in mind we have been scouring a larger area than we would normally ride in a trip based solely at our boutique hotel "The Mouli del Riu" to bring you the opportunity to taste the best that the region can offer in a week of uplift assisted riding. We say uplift assisted because, rest assured, to access the most spectacular trails you will still have to put some effort in. But this trip is really about getting to grips with those long mind blowing singletracks.....
Our home base is on the French side of the border in Saint Pierre dels Forcats, but on this trip we will spend time in both Spanish and French Catalonia as the Pyrenees Orientales make up the dividing line between the two countries. This gives us the opportunity to explore not only trails in two countries, but also two different cultures during our weeks riding. With excellent cuisine and wine featuring highly in the lifestyle on both sides of the border we eat and drink like kings of old as a reward for each days efforts.
If you like your riding to be a mix of "steep and techie" and "fast and flowing" all on natural trails then this trip is for you!
Saturday- Arrival in Barcelona. Airport pickup and transfer to "The Mouli del Riu" roughly 2hrs drive to St Pierre dels Forcats. Bike build up. Welcome dinner at "The Mouli".
Sunday- Warm up day! A nice climb to get your legs moving followed by 9km of singletrack downhill from the Valley of Planes to St Thomas les Bains (1300m drop). After a late lunch by the hot springs we shuttle up for another 1000m of descent before the van picks us up to head home.
Monday- Heading out! A shuttle up to 2200m gets us to the start point for the climb. Another 500m of uphill gets us to our start point at 2700m. We cross the border and head down into Spain, 1500m in the first descent.
And on it goes like this..... On this trip there is no rest day! We keep it coming until you beg us to stop.....
On average we will ride around 12500m of descent during the week with around 4000m of climbing. All on natural singletrack!!! To put that in perspective it would be like riding down Mt Everest one and a half times! ;)
For avalable dates please check the top of the page. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch.
We look forward to showing you around a very special region....
Just a quick note to say thank you once again for a memorable holiday last week. The trails are truly amazing and the overall mountain biking experience was topped off by the fantastic hospitality you extended to us. There were a lot of glum faces on the plane home!