Eñaut explained the morning to the rest of us intrepid riders, we were in for a big climb and a big descent, riding from just to the east of Pamplona.
An anticipation of lots of stops on the way up – an expectation even – turned out to be just two as we climbed for over 676 meters. There should be no surprises at this news – by now we should have known that descriptions could vary from reality!
The long climb consisted mostly of tight singletrack and switchbacks taken in bottom gear but we reached the top in about an hour and a half once we got into a steady rhythm. Much as I hate to admit it, and contradiction in terms it may be, but it was an enjoyable climb.
By the end, my switchback technique was much improved as I challenged myself to hold or regain Elliot’s wheel after any switchback fail (we all had some, even Eñaut!). The kind of Type 2 fun on offer here basically involved the satisfaction of getting up in good order (i.e. not dead).
At the top it was misty, cold and windy so we did not hang around for long. The descent was a blast; steep, swoopy with occasional rocky, rooty sections and trees to dodge to keep you on your toes – this was very much Type 1 fun but the aim was the same – get to the end in good order (i.e. not dead!).
In the afternoon we were back in the high mountains and the trails seemed to flow better, although they were very similar to previous days.
On one descent we hit a very narrow section with a sheer drop to the left. Brian very thoughtfully remembered me mentioning not liking heights and shouted ‘Don’t look left!!’ as he followed me down the trail. So of course I looked left (its natural isn’t it?). Notwithstanding the well-meant advice, I kept it clean all the way down.
Elliot on the other hand was not so lucky and managed to pick up a rare pinch flat on a rocky section on the way down.
It was the best day’s riding of the week with not one bike/rider separation, despite some fast and challenging downhills which even brought a little cherry to top off the day. Spirits were so high that Brian bought everyone an ice cream on the way back to the hostel.
Now that’s a special day indeed!