In October I celebrated my 30th birthday in style, up a Spanish mountain on a Pure Mountains holiday. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had and one of the very best holidays too!
Pure Mountains is a mountain biking holiday company run by the very brilliant Jenny and Tim. They moved out to Spain 10 years ago to set up a home in the Sierra Nevada mountains from which they could run the most fabulous guided mountain biking holidays. And that is exactly what they have achieved. Everything about the holiday was well thought out and wonderfully executed – from the easy-for-the-guests airport transfers, to the food, to the rooms, to the truly epic mountain biking.
Tim and Jenny know the mountains and the trails inside out and took us on some really beautiful, testing, exciting rides. They alternated who guided the group of eight of us and whoever wasn’t acting as guide drove the Landrover to regular pit stop points, where they pulled out refreshments or lunch and offered us lifts on the big uphill climbs if we felt we needed the help.
Our group of eight was a mix of Brits and Swedes and we all got on really well. We were also a mix of abilities, with some excellent climbers and some who were brilliant on the technical stuff. I was by far the slowest climber, as I struggled with asthma at the altitude, but no one was worried about waiting for me at the tops of the climbs and everyone was really encouraging.
The riding was a happy mix of double track and single track on mainly natural trails. The terrain was something that was new to me – dusty, loose and rocky. I’d taken Star Girl, my Giant Anthem, out to Spain with me. But it quickly became clear that a bit of a beefier set up would help me over the loose ground. So, I was set up with a Giant Trance, one of Pure Mountains’ hire bikes and got on really well with the increased travel and fatter tyres. In fact, I loved the bike so much that I bought it off Tim and Jenny at the end of the week!!
The holiday wasn’t without drama, as I took a bit of a tumble towards the end of the week. I was whizzing down some double track and ended up in a gulley caused by rain water (not that we saw rain while we were there), hit a rock and went over the handlebars. I landed heavily on my right elbow and cut my chin. I couldn’t move my elbow and it was throbbing with pain. After a trip to a health care centre, A and E and an x-ray, I was assured that nothing was broken. I needed a nasty cut to be dressed and couldn’t really move my arm for a couple of days, but event that didn’t ruin my holiday!
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Jenny and Tim (and Lucy and Jimmy, their gorgeous dogs) for what really was one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on. They were patient when I was slow, encouraging when I was nervous, and were all round great company. If you get the chance to go on one of their holidays, take it with both hands!
Here are a few pics from my trip: