Tuesday, July 15, 2008

La Molina 2008

Last Sunday PJ and I headed up to La Molina for some biking action. It was my second time there this year, but PJ's first ever experience of getting to the top on a gondola! You never forget your first time...!

My first trip on a gondola with my bike was in the French resort of Morzine, about 5 years ago. Suddenly, everything I knew (or thought I knew) about mountain biking flew out of the window as this wonderful world opened up ahead of me. It's not that I don't like riding uphill - there are some very satisfying moments to be head battling your way up an incline to the reach the top - it's just that I would much, much, prefer riding down! Since then I have been back to the alps several times, and last year made the short journey to the Pyrannees a few times. This year I'm committed to riding up here as much possible - there are three bike parks open in the area during the summer, and my motivation to ride is sky-high.

Anyway so we both had a great time; while it was sunny on Sunday, there were massive thunderstorms over Catalunya the night before, so some of the trails were a little slippy. Other sections were perfect as the heavy rain had washed away all the dust and dried to that lovely grippy consistency. The photo above is taken on what is probably the longest trail at La Molina, a fantastic trip down the far end of the resort. La Molina Bike Park is now officially sponsored by Kona (one of the largest bike manufacturers) and so has money to improve, and it shows. This year it is considerably better than last year, and they just keep building more and more things. Here's a video of PJ on the north-shore* corkscrew:

Next weekend we are hosting a raiding party from Britain - Muir, Paul and Rhys are coming over to see what the fuss is about. I'm pleased as it's always good to have friends over, and I'm sure we'll have a great time. We'll spend most of our time in Andorra - the parks there are bigger and better than La Molina, but about an hour further away. We're there for five days though, so plenty of time, and we might drop by La Molina on the way back to Barcelona. Can't wait!

* wooden structures such as these are referred to as 'north shore' because the first people who had the idea to build such structures were the mountain bikers of the forests on the north shore of Vancouver, Canada.
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Thursday, July 10, 2008


It's funny how motivation to do things comes and goes in waves. Not so long ago I was crazy about climbing, going training in my lunch breaks, feverishly devouring guidebooks and planning trips. Now the motivation has waned and I'm distinctly not bothered. Maybe it's the heat, as I mentioned in my last post, summer has hit with a bang and temperatures have barely dropped below 25 degrees (even at night) for the last month. It drains you of energy, and I when I went sport climbing in Montserrat a fortnight ago, I realised that I really could not be arsed. I'm not down about it though, the same thing happened this time last year, and I pretty much stopped climbing for several months. Then I got back into it and led my first E5. If you've reached a level of fitness once before in your life, getting back to it (or getting back near it) is much easier than 'breaking new ground'. You just need the motivation to train. I'm going to the Swiss Alps soon, which will be nice, as it will be mountaineering and long rock routes, which will make a pleasant difference to hard sport climbing.

So anyway all this means that I've had time to lots of other fun things. Jack Johnson came to Barcelona a couple of weeks ago and we went to see him - along with about 10,000 others. Perhaps aware that his latest album's a bit rubbish, he played a varied set with all the best tracks from his previous albums. We really enjoyed ourselves. Here's a poor quality video but it gives you an idea of the scale of the venue.

Then of course it was Euro 2008 finals, which we watched down the beach. Adam sets the scene:

But the best thing about summer, of course, is that the chairlifts are open again. you may remember reading last year about my exploits with a bike in the pyrannees. This year I intend to get up there a lot more, and last weekend I took my first trip up to La Molina. The trails were as good as I remembered, and I'll be back there this Sunday too. Then in late July, Muir, Rhys and Mr Paul are coming out for a (very) long weekend of riding. Should be bloody good fun!