Ainsa, Spain: Dirt Roadtrip Part 2 / EWS Preview - Dirt

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Ainsa, Spain: Dirt Roadtrip Part 2 / EWS Preview

Ainsa, or Zona Zero as it's better known to mountain bikers, in the north of Spain is one very special place. It's a town lost in a Pyrenean time warp, surrounded by beautifully monstrous peaks and this week inundated with wide-eyed riders on an Enduro World Series trip to what we think is set to be the next big MTB destination.

As we have already talked about in Part 1 of this story – our roadtrip to scope the place out late last year with a gaggle of Dirt staff and none other than 2015 Junior World Cup Champ and World Champ Laurie Greenland – Zona Zero is buzzing with positivity for its future as a mountain bike destination. Everyone in the area seems behind the project; its frontman Jorge Ruiz de Eguilaz and everyone behind it put 110% into developing trails and a venue that will boost interest in a place that is otherwise lost in the mountains.

EWS Zona Zero

This week the Enduro World Series takes to Ainsa for the penultimate round of the 2015 series. Riders are already in town and out and about getting an idea for some of the natural wonders (trails) that Zona Zero has in store for them. What they probably won’t be getting a taste for is the amount of vertical involved in this weekend’s racing though…

EWS Zona Zero Race

Total Climbing – 3753m
Distance – 86km
Two days of racing (Sat and Sunday)
8 Stages varying from less than a kilometre to a 3.5 kilometre stage
Zero lift assistance
17 people can win men’s series title, 7 can win women’s
Weather looks dry until Sunday

Word from the EWS organisers:

[T]hough the area may be a new location for the series, the course itself dates back 800 years. It’s so old in fact, that the course builders here refer to themselves as ‘trail archeologists’ – because they are not building new trails but uncovering ancient ones instead. The village of Ainsa dates back to the 11th Century, and the trails that surround it are old trading routes, carefully brought back to life by the local riding community. 

Riders will discover these trails during eight stages of racing over two days, taking them through abandoned villages and settlements along the way. Also adding to the sense of history will be the event village itself, which is housed within the walls of the 12th Century Ainsa Castle. This is where riders will start the race, including the urban prologue that will take in the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town on Friday night.

 

Photographic Journey Through Zona Zero

Ainsa has such massively diverse landscapes and mind-blowingly varied terrain, along with a huge number of officially marked trails (currently 20, with the Zona Zero team estimating up to 50 on their ‘unofficial at the moment’ maps), that we thought we’d just go all out and put this one together as a photographic feast.

Cast your eyes over this lot, get geared up for this weekend’s racing coverage, and book yourself a trip. It will be worth it, trust us.

Many thanks to Zona Zero, Jorge and the team, and Basque MTB for help with this trip. We’ll be back. 

Laurie Greenland joined us for this trip. We like to think that's where he got his speed for his 2015 Junior World Cup and Champs demolition, but it's more likely the sort of natural talent he's displaying in this shot that got him there. This line was SKETCHY to say the least.

McKnight, MildDoom and Jones (Sam) catching a breath below 'Pussy of the World'. (Check out Zona Zero's trail guides on their site.)

Look out for the wild beast if you're heading into the hills alone.

Read Part 1 for a little more detail on the best bike ride of the year.

Ainsa is an ancient area, sparsely populated and stuck in its ways - in a good way. It's a throwback to times past, simpler living and a great place to escape from the insanity of modern life.

MildDoom getting some air on one of the most fun sections of trail, in Ainsa's badlands. There's so much flow around here.

Greenland carving one in.

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