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From the Bulkhead: Ainsa to Schladming

Part 2 of our lads' Euro road trip

Read part one of the boy’s trip from Newcastle to Ainsa here

Having trucked on into the early hours of the morning to reach Ainsa we hoped for a relaxing first day, however on our first morning we found ourselves now intertwined with the local market that had popped up along with the morning light. The locals saw the funny side and had left a passage through the stalls allowing us to sheepishly make a swift exit – soz guys!

We finally found a massive car park and set up base camp there. Being so stoked to ride I managed to get pulled by the Spanish police before even hitting any trails due to loving back wheel too much on public roads, luckily the police officer couldn’t speak any English helping us avert any fines…

Anyway, Ainsa is home to big days in the saddle climbing endless mountains in the blistering heat while fleets of vultures orbit high above. The trail network is like no other though with vast open hillsides making for some leery flat out riding weaving through vast arrays of rocky ravines and endless abandoned villages.

Three weeks had passed of slaying dusty turns and the local via ferratas. Sunburnt like true Brits and with bikes in need of some TLC, we upped sticks to migrate ‘north-ish’ to Andorra for the opening weekend of the summer lifts.

A couple of hours driving soon took up a full day of travelling as we failed to realise there were two Andorras and we obviously chose the wrong one… After what seemed like an eternity we arrived and got settled for the night next to an outdoor climbing wall.

The following day we hopped on the first of the gondolas and smashed in a couple of warm up runs on the flowing freeride trails before rolling on into the World Cup trail. My jockey wheel decided to evacuate from the bike so I ended up going chainless for the rest of the day.

We had a whirl of a time pummelling ourselves and the bikes on the endless braking bumps and ruts that strewn the track, Maurice even got to sample the local dirt a few times crippling his rear wheel in the process. Finally battered and bruised we rode (I pushed) back to the van to rest up for the night.

The guys at Mudhugger had managed to sweet talk us into a few rounds of the Trail Trophy series. For the first round a whopping 22-hour drive awaited. Stopping off at a few epic pumptracks en-route separated up the long haul and we arrived in Latsch a few weeks early (being extra pro) to hopefully get used to the trails before racing them. We camped next to the world’s most expensive chairlift and decided to ride the gruelling slog up the hill instead. Terrible idea. After a few long days out on the bikes we spent the rest of the week chilling catching rays and tinkering with the vessels leading up to the race while being mobbed by cows.

The opening round of the trail trophy series lasted three days including day and night stages utilising both sides of the Latsch valley. Riding most of the stages blind we noticed super-fast straights with endless amounts of annoyingly awkward 180 switchbacks was the name of the game for the vast majority of the weekend here. Friday and Saturday’s stages went silky smooth with me sitting in 5th and Maurice close behind however a bit of rain on the Sunday morning meant stages were cancelled, leaving only one stage and a slim chance of gaining any positions.

I noticed Maurice’s water bottle on a sharp turn laying on the floor where only a short while before he had crashed, I decided to take a closer look at the bottle and also the surrounding area of ground. However, Maurice managed to gain a few positions on his final run and I stayed 5th and on the podium.

Hearing the sound of music banging through the van late on the night following racing we trekked past the town and other nightlife and into the depths of the woods. We finally came across a awesome underground rave that locals had set up and we partied the night away till the early hours to finish off a awesome weekend.

We are now working our way through the keg of beer I grabbed on the podium and stationed in Kronplatz freeride park in the torrential rain. A quick stop off before we land in Schladming to get some hot laps in the sun…. Hopefully!!

Peace out yo

Instagram:
Joe Young – @joeyoungmtb
Maurice Raine – @mauriceraine

Read part one of the boy’s trip from Newcastle to Ainsa here

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