Two years ago, I found myself treading mud at the bottom of my self-built well of self pity. It was autumn, the rain was hammering down, and I could barely walk to the printer at work. I was sincerely fed up with it all, and I felt very, very sorry for myself. My planned trip to Monachil in Sierra Nevada, Spain, was not enough to cheer me up. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike, and that the cold rain would follow me wherever I went. It turned out that the rain actually did follow me down to Spain, but Sierra Nevada with it’s loose and thorny trails, combined with the warm welcome by Shaun and Csilla at Ride Sierra Nevada (and Martin, and a bunch of very nice Scots) still managed to drag me out of my well and transform me from a grumpy ogre to a very happy hen.
October 2016. I can both walk and run (admittedly very slow, and with clenched teeth, but I do actually run). What does Monachil have to offer me, queen of Norwegian mountains and fjords?
Well, perhaps some sun, beer, wine, cheese, chorizo, olives, and really tasty tomatoes? Yes, probably. I was actually so hungry for all of those things (and too busy eating and drinking) to waste time taking proper photos. I’ll just post some pretty landscapes instead.
Perhaps also some warmth, dryness, dust, and steep switchbacks?
Most definitely. Autumn i Tromsø has been relatively sunny and warm, but it would be truth stretching to say that it has been warm and dry as in proper warm and dry, more like arctic luke warm. I definitely had a need to warm up my skeleton. And as always, I needed to get my head back on the ground and accept that I’m still driving from the back seat and that doing that is neither very pretty or very efficient when it comes to steep switchbacks. I did manage a couple more than last time though. Victory!
Sierra Nevada also offers a big plate of rolling cat sculls, loose gravel, narrow ledges, and various sized thorns. Could that be something to satisfy my appetite?
Well yes, of course! Who doesn’t like to make the valley echo by giggles of delight (when you just barely manage to nail a tricky section), yelps of fright (when you barely manage to nail that tricky section), and by various grunts of pain (when you get a bit to closely aquatinted with the bushes next to the trail and thereby get very nicely striped legs)?
Finally, who doesn’t need some bleeding blisters up their arse, a shipload of fart jokes, and a bunch of not half bad Scots?
I definitely do. I perhaps didn’t realize that I was in dire need to grow bleeding blisters on my buttocks, or to scuff on the scabs of those blisters for hours at a time, but I did. Or at least I needed the whole backstory to those blisters. Part of that story is told by Christina and Sam Wood (another part is told by the lack of saddle sitting friendly trails in Troms, and me being oblivious that not sitting on a saddle for a year or two gives you a very tender ass). The combination of a two Scots on parental leave, with the strength to climb for hours uphill, the skill to throw cat sculls around on the downhill at an impressive speed, and with a humor on as low level as mine to entertain me all day through, is a nearly perfect cocktail for a bikeover. Add to that an enthusiastic hobbit from Sweden, and possibly even more enthusiastic expat Scots for guides, and you get the full frigging Monty.
Two years ago when I came down to Monachil, I was happy that I could ride at all. This time around, I experienced days that are on my top-ten list of best rides ever. Perhaps even on par with the rides down Mount Elbert and the Wasatch trail in Colorado. The trails down in the Sierras had a big part in making this one of my best bike trips ever, the company was the secret ingredient.
Thank you Shaun, Csilla, Concho, Martin, Christina, Sam and the rest of you all! You are definitely not half bad. I would say that you are all bloody fantastic!