After the little "meltdown" we experienced at the last XC race, partly brought on by the realisation that we would have been in Colorado and not cold wet Ireland and the resulting feeling of needing to "get away" we booked a last minute break to the Sierra Nevada Mtns in Spain. This region has become a recent favorite of ours, partly due to the fact that if your time stretched and only have a week to spare you can be pretty much guaranteed good weather, and partly because you can spend an entire week in the high mountains.
So at the end of August off we headed to Guejar Sierra a little village just northeast of Granada. While the most popular part of the mountains for tourists are the southern slopes and villages like Lanjaron (full of old dolls and men trying to rejuvenate themselves with the spring water), Orgiva (full of hippies, crusties and wasters) and the high mountain villages of Capilliera and Bubion, Guejar is our personal favorite as it is fairly non-touristy and has easy access to some fantastic high mountain walking trails which can also be ridden.
We enjoyed a week of all day rides, chilling in the sun and enjoying the relaxation of tapas and mini beers. A highlight of the week was our Wednesday spin from Guejar Sierra to the refuge Pena Partida, a 3hr climb to 2500m, which after lunch was followed by a 2hr mixture of open field single trail descents and alpine forest descents back to the local river ravine followed by an undulating and sweeping ride along the Vereda del Estrella back to Guejar. We also spent a a day over on the other side of the mountain range climbing from Capiliera towards Mulhacen to try and figure whether it would be possible this year to ride between Guejar and Capiliera. Unfortunately Conor started to suffer from some serious IT band induced knee pain so things didnt quite go to plan. On our penultimate day we did the obligatory trip to the top of La Valeta at 3400m - it would be remiss not to!! - with the hope of going further into the mountains and taking lunch at the Laguna Caldera Refuge, again a late start and and the realisation that we were probably quite knackered after a week of biking scuppered that plan, however we enjoyed the banter with all the other bike tourists got a good look at the trail towards Capiliera from the top of the mountain, something we were never quite able to do as our previous visits had been blighted with snow cover. The views that high up and the landscape are just unbelievable, its like being on the moon or mars!
On the last night we made a final trip into Granda - only 30mins by bus and a decent priced taxi ride back - for a little bit of nightlife and craic. Not to be disappointed we came across a culture night which involved a live spanish band with loads of grannies and grandas dancing away, a couple of spanish hen and stage parties - very subdued compared to uk/irish ones but still dressed up in some mental getups - and the only place I have ever come across which sells ice cream, donuts, coffee and alcohol until 2am in the morning! Next day we finally made our way back towards the hot, humid and resort filled coast - yuck - and decided to make plans for epic mtb rides and overnight mountain adventures for the next time we venture south.