We'd had a nice rest on weds, a lie in, bit of fettling, lovely lunch and a chill out by the hotel pool up the road. Thursday was Enduro loop, we'd been warned this was a bit full on, one enormous climb, one big descent. We started at a village (after coffee stop obviously) a good way down the road past Orgiva. To begin we zigzagged up the pristine tarmac of the main road out of town, perfect road bike territory, we turned off up the quarry road, steeper, I was feeling good at the front with Simon, guide Matt and Dom, unfortunately halfway up the quarry rd I noticed my cranks were loose, don't think I'd loaded the bearings properly after weds fettle. Stop to tighten them then set off at the back with Rob and rearguard guide Ian. I only had a bottom gear of 22x32 tho so on the super steep tarmac soon started making my way through the group despite supposedly trying to rest my legs - should upgrade to 10speed on this big bike soon. Everyone else either had lower gears or were happy to spin a bit slower than me. The road turned to fire road but didn't ease in gradient, was mainly well packed down but needed some line choice to prevent bogging down in the loose stuff. Just as your thought your legs were gonna explode the trail started to zigzag, slightly easier gradient but battling the loose stuff on the corners (had to be really careful not to spin out or dig in at the front) got your heart rate back up to max, recover then another corner, as someone said natural interval training.
I'd been on my own through the switchbacks I caught Si, Gaz and Matt at a gate but had to fanny around with my cranks again (final time) so they rode off. I set off again climbing was bearable, came passed Matt whose head was bobbing, oops looked like he had blown, he'd been looking peaky in the van ride over here. Caught up with Si and Gaz as the trail bent right hugging the side of a valley, looking way over the other side and a long way above us we could see a trail. We all agreed that looked a bloody hard climb away and very likely to be our route. But for now we climbed our side of the valley guideless. I apologetically squeezed passed Si and Gaz citing my lack of gears Si of course could not help but take up the challenge and decided this was the time to put the hammer down, he dropped us on the next switchback and we didn't see him for a while. After the switchback was a wooded section nice and cool, easy gradient and superb views. Good job really, I was overheating, starting to get low on water and with no idea how far to go I was worried about blowing up. Below I could see Ian chasing us,
didn't take him long to catch me and Gaz. At the head of the valley we carried on to the trail we had spotted, i took some pics, was good to be able to see the trail winding up from the valley bottom and still see riders strung out behind us. from there it was an easy pedal upto the house and lunch stop at the top.
route up on the left, the rest of the route cutting the hill on the right.
looking back down the valley
A quick spin along the top got us to Spain's slowest fuente and the start of the downhill proper. More awesome views.
The trail started dusty and rocky switch backs, loads of them, fluffed a couple of the early ones, not enough speed into the corner and wrong gear to pedal out so stall and a quick dab. But I soon got into the flow (and better gear) trouble was I was knackered, noodley arms, weak hands, shaky legs, hotspots on my feet, the climb had taken it's toll big style, guess this is what proper Enduro is really about, being strong enough to climb and not be too banjoed for the descent. There were some lovely corners on here with multiple lines, steep cut on this one, outside line on that, dodge the rock here, over the big rock there. Brilliant. I stopped after while as I was suffering, got a couple pics of Simon, Gaz and Tim, quick breather then on again, faster section but exposed to one side so bit too scary to pick up proper speed. A few more switches then finally got to Ian waiting for us, a big smile on his face - ours too, only a third of the way down! A regroup the pedal down to the next bit, my chain exploded but mike had a power link. Next bit was unusual, grass with plenty of bedrock poking through, multiple lines, a few drops dunno if natural or built for the Enduro race. Finishing with an off camber rock face which a few of us rode.
Still more. Under the motorway and down some rocky chutes, some back roads and little ginnels and finally we popped out onto t he main road in town, I was gutted to be at the bottom, was thirsty for more - although admittedly probably not physically capable of much more. A couple shandies then a drive to the supermarket and hey while we're here why not unload the bikes and do back of disco and bar to home? Don't mind if I do. Matt offered to guide us down and I stuck close to his back wheel (and Simon mine) he took us on some interesting lines! Back of bar Simon and Mike went first I caught. Mike at the switchbacks so backed off to give him room then tried to catch him again by the bottom, stupid, I pushed too hard and pinch flatted, but after such a great day I didn't much care.
Stats according to Mikes phone, 17miles, 4400ft climb, 5400ft descent.