14 February 2016

Bike-hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees

Arriving back in Spain after a year and a half on the road, we made a beeline for Benasque, a small town in the Pyrenees Mountains where we could spend time with family, be in nature, and generally ease back in to 'real life' as the Canadians processed our visas. Most of the month and a half that we were there we were without a car, making for plenty of bike and hike adventures.

Happily for us, the Valle de Benasque is littered with signposted MTB trails.
Our first outing is for the signposted 'Vuelta a la Sierra de Chia' route which circumnavigates the Chia mountains. A bit tougher than anticipated but great fun!

We marvel at Spain's awesome dirt roads and vow to find more time to explore them.

The views provide a good reward.

Too often, we decide to try out tracks we find online which take us down unreasonable paths for our bike setups and/or skill level. Well, we fancied a bit of bike and hike anyway!

There are plenty of towns in this valley (Chía in the background), but it's also possible to spend a day cycling on tracks and paths and never step foot in one.
Some days we drop the bikes and hiked up easier trails with the family

The views never disappointed

Getting higher

The Aneto in the background, with its tiny glacier

Close up on the glacier...to the right we saw a line of people climbing up

At the top of "El Portillón" one can see La France and on a clear day the end of the Pyrinees. Definitely a route worth attempting as a hike-a-bike

A little easy scramble and Alberto reached the Salvaguardia at 2700 m. 

The Valle de Benasque on the left

The Aneto range to the South

Switching back to bikes, we are always impressed by some of the old doors found  in the Pyrinean villages

Another loop around the Sierra de Chía, and some of the peaks found along the way

We are most certainly in the best shape of our lives but these rides in the Pyrenees are really tough on us!

Trails reminiscent of those in the Andes

With the occasional singletrack thrown in

Friends Jorge and Fina came out to play for a weekend, so we took them up to an ibón (alpine lake)

Coming from the warm city of Valencia, they enjoyed the change of scenery

With autumn right on us, it was mushroom picking season. We all know this one, right!?

Having been eating oats for breakfast for several months in a row, we couldn´t help but mention the similarities between these mushroom features and oats

Still lushy green, but not for long

Casa de Conques, a historic place near Benasque

Some more singletrack puts Lucy to practise her skills

Switching to backpacks once again, we aim for Ibón de Cregüeña to overnight there

Hiking up some boulders

Upon reaching the lake, snow starts coming down hard on us, followed by an electric storm. Both not ideal conditions, so we retrace our steps and camp lower down

The following morning we decide to join a mushroom picking free class organised by the folks of the village of Sahún. Here´s a winner Boletus edulis (aka ceps, porcini or simply boletus) with locally made deer chorizo

In the evening, an expert identifies more than half dozen mushroom that we picked up during the day

Just before turning back to Madrid and prepare for our move to Vancouver, we hiked up to El Turbón. 

Met some foggy conditions on the way up

And eventually hit the summit in near 0 temperatures and heavy rain. Happy faces all around for a wonderful time in the Pyrinees. Until next time. See you Spain!


  1. I glad to you see you´re back touring :) Think about you guys often / very grateful for the list of links you gave me.

  2. Hi Lucy,
    You have a wonderful blog, I love reading about your adventures.
    I read your review on the Vaude Road I handlebar bag from 2012. After all these years are you still satisfied with it?
    Thanks in advance for you reply,

  3. Hi Istvan! I'm glad you like the blog. I retired my Vaude Road I handlebar bag after we finished with our big tour. By then it was about 3.5 years old and had been riding the rough dirt roads with me for over 18,000 km. It probably has close to 25,000km in all. The fabric covering the mounting system began to rip, which I was able to get fixed in Bolivia properly, and also fix another part of it myself using duct tape and some thread. The zipper also started to go, having been worn down by so much opening and closing. Nothing lasts forever and I feel that the handlebar bag withstood a LOT so I'm not dissatisfied with it. I do think that if I was planning a long tour, I would consider choosing a bag without a zip closure, since that is definitely something that will wear out over time.

    Hope that helps!