Pedalling in full pads on day 2 wasn't nice so I was considering going back to knee pads, Simon talked me out of it, good job too. A long drive up to Trevelez - highest village in Spain and a big jamon curing centre, we stopped for coffee and I am now most definitely a preride caffeine convert, then we drove up to the crossroad above town. Bit of swoopy road then a 6k fire road climb and would you believe it my legs were finally working, felt pretty good and I was at the front with Si and Gaz (no Scottish lads today so I think they were taking it a bit easier) until I stopped to take pictures. It was a mixed climb, almost natural interval training, steep, then eased off for a bit then steep, then gentle down, more steep etc etc. Mike's phone said 2 hours of riding only 10mins stationary, good going.
Padded up for the drop into Trevelez, fire road to start then rocky singletrack a few switchbacks thrown in managed to tricky ones then dabbed on an easy step straight after, grrr. Ian our guide was spanking me on this trail, with all the twists he'd soon get out of sight then I had no idea how fast to hit stuff, whether there was a big drop around the next bend, so had to slow down more. I helped cause a tumble further down, we hit some switchbacks just after a regroup, I did my usual slow speed mince around it and concertina effect everyone behind bunched up til Tim, I think, stalled and came off. Nt the most comfortable downhill for me but was fun. Lunch at the safe cafe as morning, more gazpacho, a Spanish mixed grill (jamon, sweet black pudding, chorizo and sliced potatoes in oil) and of course coffee to finish.
Climb out of Trevelez involved a lot of height gain but didn't seem too arduous, Tim had been suffering in the morning I could see him behind me so I figured I'd better slow down, return the favour and help coax him up the climb.
It was over sooner than expected and we got set for an epic descent (albeit a bit pedally) singletrack though some trees to start which had Gaz off when his front wheel went off piste, rooty switchbacks gave some trouble then a steeeeep drop into a washed out fire road which everyone managed eventually - couple of refusals at first. Hike out then down the full length of voodoo trail. Singletrack all the way, loads of barrancos to negotiate (cut outs in the side of the hill from water erosion, old or current streams - trail turns in the side of the hill drops a little then turns out and climbs up), thank god for dropper posts we would be knackered without them, I was doing a lot of resting sat on my saddle freewheeling the flats after the climbs. Twists and turns in and out of rocks, overgrown bushes whipping your arms and legs, it kept on and on. Next we got to nemesis (unrideable corner) it has been repaired a bit by marco so not quite as dodgy, no way was i riding it without a spotter tho so I offered my services first, all the rollers managed it then Ian our guide spotted for me, was quite nervous with the audience I now had and was worried I was going to try my usual wide/endo nonsense but remembered what Ian said about looking over your shoulder for the exit and it worked, woot! 100% pass for team green, Rollers roll! Opened up a bit for some fixed rock sections then narrow again across a couple of fireroads like the grizedale descent from parkamoor. This trail just went on for ages and I got the giggles as the adrenaline was spiking, following Ian's lines (mostly) I was laughing aloud, buzzing from it all. Hit a fire road and regrouped, high fives all round, that sort of feeling that you just can't explain to other people, you have to experience it, tiring climb and then battering your way down such a long descent. Last time I felt like that was warnscale bottoms. Tim had crashed big style he told us with a grin, on the polished rock he'd lost it and ended up sliding down the rock on his front, bike still clipped to his feet. Fortunately he stopped before the edge of the drop down the hillside. I noticed my rear shock was really hot and the next section the back end felt a bit rubbish, couple of clicks of rebound at the next stop seemed to sort it. More rocky singletrack then into a village, concrete path, into stepped dusty trails, keeping tight on Ian's back wheel, pumping the trail, manualling ditches, hooping water bars, launching off kickers and sliding the back end around loose corners, woohoo. It was a bit dusty for the back runners, Mike said he was just watching Tim's back wheel, if he could see the white of his rim he knew to corner in that direction :-)
Into another village and some switchbacks I remembered, we sessioned them while Gaz fixed another flat, me and Si cleaned them mixed results elsewhere, I had endoed one corner so went back for another go to try to ride them properly, still needed to flick the back end on one of the tighter ones but that was just an spd flick not an endo. Bit more fixed rock down hill and finally we rolled into Fondales, seemingly hours after beginning the descent, buzzing, best day so far and one that would be tough to beat. Fingers crossed it can be beaten tho :-) PLenty of rocks flying around and brushing through overgrown flora I was glad of the full length pads
Stats according to Mike's phone 22miles, 4000ft climb, 5500ft descent