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Words and photos by Liv Ambassador Nicole Romanow

“Is there any mountain biking in Spain?” I naively asked my husband, only minutes after agreeing to join my parents there for a “post-COVID” holiday.  “I think in the North, in the Basque region, but I’ve never heard of anyone riding in Southern Spain”.  It took a while, a decent amount of research, and a lot of “this might be super complicated” conversations, but then all of sudden, we found the answer.

mountain biking

We’ve never done a guided bike trip before. We are much more the get in the truck with your gear, drive to the place, find a Trailforks route, attempt to follow it, get lost, stop a million times to look at the map and end up with a ride 10kms longer than you anticipated and sometimes not that much fun kind of people. However, after finding a guided trip with H+I Adventures that started and ended exactly where my family planned their holiday, one week before they were set to arrive there seemed too fortuitous to pass up. So we paid our deposit, momentarily got excited, and then waited…for two years.

When the day finally arrived where we packed our bikes and started the journey, it felt surreal. I don’t think I expected the trip would actually happen, and I couldn’t wait to explore a country I knew I’d fall in love with by bike.

The 8-day trip would take us through Andalucía, an area of Spain known for the Costa del Sol, cities such as Málaga, Granada and Seville, the Sierra Nevada and of course, tapas, jámon, and sangria.

After meeting our guides, Cali, Lali and Manu, we settled in as a group. We were 7 riders, the perfect group size to travel easily. Cali and Lali have been hosting mountain bike trips in the region for nearly 10 years, which has allowed them to curate the itinerary to provide riders with a little bit of everything; purpose-built single track, rocky, tight, challenging trails, technical climbs, smooth-easy riding double track, and of course, flowy descents with a few tight Euro switchbacks thrown in for good measure. We even spent time riding on ancient Roman pathways that connected distant villages through the mountainous terrain.

mountain biking

The route mapped out for the week allowed us to ride 30-60kms per day, point-to-point, with anywhere from 500-1,700 metres of vertical. After tostadas, tomato spread, jámon and strong coffee, we would head out from the hotel or take the van a short way to the first trail for the day. We rode through dense forests, rocky, semi-arid desert-like landscapes, lush river valleys, countless olive or citrus orchards, up high mountain passes over and back down through villages of white-washed stone and streets barely wide enough for handlebars. We would stop for lunch, Spanish-style, lingering on terraces for a couple hours, stuffing ourselves with plate after plate of grilled meat, roasted vegetables, seafood, papas bravas, and of course, a few “clara” (light beer with lemon, similar to a Radler). Then, back on the bikes for a few more hours, usually ending right at our accommodation for the night.

Like the route, the accommodations were carefully selected to allow us to experience the authenticity of Spanish culture. We stayed in small, family-run guest houses, traditional villages, and even spent one night in a cave house, just like the ones roughly 20,000 Spaniards in the region call home.

We rode 6-9 hours per day, 6 days in a row. If you are an advanced writer who wants to be challenged, doesn't mind a little bit of suffering, and enjoys finishing the day with delicious wine and tasty tapas then this trip is for you. As it turns out, not only is there mountain biking in southern Spain, it’s phenomenal.

Learn more about H+I Adventures here.