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Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

12.04.24 08:21 157Text: Markus Emprechtinger (translated by AI)Photos: Max Dräger, Markus EmprechtingerFive MTB enthusiasts from different nations explore the Pyrenees by bike with Bike-Guide Arturo from Flat Sucks. In addition to a substantial amount of elevation gain, they discover dreamlike trails in the Benasque Valley, stay overnight in mountain huts, and enjoy Spanish cuisine.12.04.24 08:21 179

Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

12.04.24 08:21 179 Markus Emprechtinger (translated by AI) Max Dräger, Markus Emprechtinger
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  • AI-generated translation refers to the process of using artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning models, to automatically translate text or speech from one language to another. These systems, such as neural machine translation models, analyze large datasets of multilingual content to learn patterns and associations between languages. The generated translations are based on statistical probabilities and context learned during training.
Five MTB enthusiasts from different nations explore the Pyrenees by bike with Bike-Guide Arturo from Flat Sucks. In addition to a substantial amount of elevation gain, they discover dreamlike trails in the Benasque Valley, stay overnight in mountain huts, and enjoy Spanish cuisine.12.04.24 08:21 179

A summer night in August. The crickets were still chirping, the sky was still not completely dark. We, a team of five passionate female and male bikers, were on our way to Innsbruck. In Toulouse, we picked up our Spanish guiding legend Arturo and a filmer and photographer named Jens. Now the adventure in the Pyrenees could begin.
We thundered along the highways and country roads with our bus and trailer until we finally arrived in Vielha, Spain. Here began our Explorer Trip, an X-day mountain bike journey through the Pyrenees, organized by Flat Sucks and supported by Endura, Simplon, and Komoot.

A table full of tapas and Arturo's stories about his bike trips rounded off our first day. If our already huge anticipation for weeks needed one last push - here, in this thoroughly Spanish atmosphere, it received it.

 cojonudo 

The Explorer Trip through the Pyrenees in one word
  • To the Komoot Collection *click*
  • Arrival in Vielha by bus and trailer.Arrival in Vielha by bus and trailer.Arrival in Vielha by bus and trailer.
    Arrival in Vielha by bus and trailer.
    Arrival in Vielha by bus and trailer.
  • The Spanish guide Arturo accompanied us.The Spanish guide Arturo accompanied us.The Spanish guide Arturo accompanied us.
    The Spanish guide Arturo accompanied us.
    The Spanish guide Arturo accompanied us.
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Through the Darkness

From Vielha, we headed the next morning with our bus to Arties. From there, we first pedaled up nearly 900 meters in elevation. Through short cross-country passages, we reached our actual highlight: A narrow path led directly into a rocky tunnel.
Armed with headlamps, we rode through what felt like kilometers of darkness. Afterwards, we followed flowy trails with several options for variations straight into the valley. In a small village in Arties, our day once again ended in a tapas bar ...

  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

New Morning - New Elevation Gain

Our bus struggled up to an altitude of 1,900 meters with a trailer, nine bikers, and bikes, true to the motto "Flat Sucks." From here, we had to continue on foot; we had to carry the bikes.
The longer the march lasted, the more we felt how exhausting walking can be. The weight of the bikes seemed to leave indentations in our shoulders. And then the arduous clamber over piled-up boulders and scree! Rarely before had we so earnestly longed for a sauna or a massage.
But after all: The sparse landscape, small lakes, and thoughts of a warm evening meal made the 500-meter ascent to the Refugio cap de Llausset a bit easier to bear.

  • First by bus, thenFirst by bus, thenFirst by bus, then
    First by bus, then
    First by bus, then
  • self-pedalingself-pedalingself-pedaling
    self-pedaling
    self-pedaling
  • and ultimately carryingand ultimately carryingand ultimately carrying
    and ultimately carrying
    and ultimately carrying
  • it was off to the refuge.it was off to the refuge.it was off to the refuge.
    it was off to the refuge.
    it was off to the refuge.
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

 The weight of the wheels left what felt like hollows in our shoulders. 

  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Lost in the Moon Landscapes

The sun had just risen. We crawled out of the creaking bunk beds, tired from a night at high altitude with rather poor sleep. But the coffee and breakfast helped us to become somewhat fit.
The relaxed and easy start of the tour was deceptive: After the short descent, a seemingly endless carry section began. But we were richly rewarded for the hauling: Vast moon-like landscapes, magnificent views, and endlessly long trails invigorated the group.

  • On a short downhillOn a short downhill
    On a short downhill
    On a short downhill
  • followed a long uphill climb.followed a long uphill climb.
    followed a long uphill climb.
    followed a long uphill climb.
  • But ultimatelyBut ultimately
    But ultimately
    But ultimately
  • made it!made it!
    made it!
    made it!

After a spectacular, long descent over partly very loose ground, we arrived in Cerles. We were all thirsty and craving something really refreshing. At a small kiosk, we fortified ourselves with coke and fries. Never did a cold, sugary, carbonated drink taste better than in this heat!

  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Book your trip

The Explorer Trip bore fruit. Travel provider Flatsucks has promptly included the journey through the Pyrenees as a shuttle-supported round tour in its enduro program, starting from 2,050 euros. There are two dates to choose from in 2024: May 19-26 or September 29 to October 6.
Participants are required to have solid technical riding skills at level S2 with some sections at S3, the condition for 1,000 meters of elevation gain in the terrain, as well as practice in handling carrying and pushing sections.
The package includes 7 nights of half-board accommodation in beautiful hotels or mountain huts, a dinner in Benasque, lunch on tours without dining facilities, six tours with certified guides, airport transfer from/to Toulouse, and photos from the trip. The flight to/from Toulouse is not included.
For more information and booking, visit flatsucks.at

Bike-Guide Arturo had promised us the best downhill trails near his hometown. And so there we were again, sitting in the car on the way there.
After several descents, when we finally arrived in Benasque, we carried our luggage into the apartment for the night. This time, no creaky beds at least! For dinner, we sat together outside until late into the night - we'll never forget that salad made from the regional Rosa tomatoes. Full of happiness and satisfaction, we all fell into bed.

  • Steep, steeper ... Arturo's home trailsSteep, steeper ... Arturo's home trails
    Steep, steeper ... Arturo's home trails
    Steep, steeper ... Arturo's home trails
  • led us to Benasque, where he even led us to Benasque, where he even
    led us to Benasque, where he even
    led us to Benasque, where he even
  • has built an enduro track himself.has built an enduro track himself.
    has built an enduro track himself.
    has built an enduro track himself.

The Cherry On Top

We had feared that the next day would begin with rain, but we were lucky. It was dry and the clouds protected us from another day in scorching heat.
Arturo took us to an enduro trail that he had created with friends. The ride down spoiled us with flow, forest floor, berms, jumps, roots, rock sections – everything a biker's heart desires.
To end it, in Arturo's words, the "cherry": A fantastic flow trail meandered through such wildly overgrown greenery and branches that we felt as if we were in a jungle.

  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Thunderstorms and Fireside Chats

Arturo had another trail up his sleeve - but we had to take the shuttle bus there again. After two relaxed descents, our next destination was Refugio de Marradetas near Castejon.
The hostel is located at about 2,000 meters. It started to drizzle, fog rolled in, and the stone cottage with its charm and open fireplace invited us to warm up. The hut's host cooked soup, paella, grilled food for us, and prepared fantastic vegetables, salad, and melon. We drank wine and ended the evening cozily with many stories.
But just a few hours after we had fallen asleep, we were awakened by violent lightning and thunder. A strong storm passed through the Pyrenees. We tried to fall back asleep and hoped that the next morning would not start with pouring rain.

  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Incredible Madness

And lo and behold: We were once again lucky with the weather for the time being. Despite a bit less sleep in our legs, we therefore started the next day in good spirits - especially since a short downhill awaited us at the beginning.

After that, however, came the actual climb to Punta d'Armena, and we had to push our way over many meters of elevation again. But nature and the view made it much easier for us. The Spanish word "cojonudo," which means "insane" or "incredible," perfectly describes these moments.


Finally, we reached the trail that led to Lake Ibòn de Plan. Passing by hikers and horses, we continued on a rocky path to Saravillo. Once there, we took a break. Just sitting and enjoying.

It started to rain lightly, but we had to get back into our bus anyway to reach our next destination.

  • Once again it was time to carry, pushOnce again it was time to carry, pushOnce again it was time to carry, push
    Once again it was time to carry, push
    Once again it was time to carry, push
  • by greatby greatby great
    by great
    by great
  • Landscapes towards Ibòn de Plan. Landscapes towards Ibòn de Plan. Landscapes towards Ibòn de Plan.
    Landscapes towards Ibòn de Plan.
    Landscapes towards Ibòn de Plan.
  • Downhill to BielsaDownhill to BielsaDownhill to Bielsa
    Downhill to Bielsa
    Downhill to Bielsa
  • followed the transfer to the beautifulfollowed the transfer to the beautifulfollowed the transfer to the beautiful
    followed the transfer to the beautiful
    followed the transfer to the beautiful
  • Small town Ainsa.Small town Ainsa.Small town Ainsa.
    Small town Ainsa.
    Small town Ainsa.

After an hour's ride uphill, unfortunately, it was still raining. The mood was briefly dampened by the wetness and cold, but the anticipation of the upcoming descent to Bielsa made us forget our low spirits. And indeed: A particularly rewarding trail awaited us, which lifted our adrenaline levels back to cheerful, excited heights.
Having arrived in Bielsa, the shuttle bus picked us up and we experienced an absolute change of scenery. Following the hut overnight stay in the quiet mountains, came a night in a hotel right in the middle of the city of Ainsa. Driven by hunger, we strolled into the old town. Old stone walls, narrow alleys, bars, restaurants. Everything illuminated by small lights, and everywhere atmosphere, people, life.

  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Gray Earth

For the next day, four cool trails around Ainsa and a lot of driving in the bus were on the schedule.
Directly from the hotel, we shuttled to the first trailhead. A rocky, but fairly fast trail awaited us. We were also supposed to ride through a cave, but it took a while until we found it. Then it was up and down again on fantastic trail sections.
Our next destination could then be practically sniffed out, as our bus was parked right next to a pigsty.

The other trails were no less rewarding. First, we were greeted by gray earth and a rocky Rock'n Roll. The next path welcomed us with a short uphill. It turned out to be an excellent cross-country route.
Afterward, we were surprised by spots known from the Enduro World Series, which are only half as impressive in pictures as they are in real life. And the last trail of the day provided variety with ruins along its path and a small river that had to be crossed.
Following the motto "back to the roots," there was a delicious dinner in the old walls of Ainsa.

 Pure variety 

the trails around Ainsa
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the PyreneesAdventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Trails, Trails, Trails

Pretty exhausted from the previous day, part of the group overslept, so the others set out in Bielsa in search of breakfast. Toasted bread with jam and coffee had to suffice for the time being.
After a narrow uphill by shuttle bus and the subsequent carrying section, we were surprised by a fantastic view. The landscape was dotted with purple flowers. Arturo told us that these were poisonous and hence should not be picked.

On the descent, we left the rocky trails behind us. A fast forest trail with countless, rideable hairpin bends awaited us and ultimately led us to the Embalse de Pineta. In good spirits and slightly hungry, we looked for a small restaurant by the reservoir.
Cuisine is important to us, which is why we highly recommend the lovingly prepared Kanguro Truchero restaurant just outside of Bielsa. Burgers, curries, and traditional Spanish dishes were on the menu.
We had to postpone the actual meal until the evening, but there was at least time for a cortado. The small coffee with ice gave us the necessary energy for the further journey over forest floors, hairpin bends, and steep terrain.
After climbing 200 meters in altitude, the final trail to Bielsa awaited, and these last meters over the rugged path demanded a lot of riding skill.

  • When the previous day still lingers in your bones, a shuttle is worth its weight in gold.When the previous day still lingers in your bones, a shuttle is worth its weight in gold.
    When the previous day still lingers in your bones, a shuttle is worth its weight in gold.
    When the previous day still lingers in your bones, a shuttle is worth its weight in gold.
  • Filmer Jens was always there with his drone.Filmer Jens was always there with his drone.
    Filmer Jens was always there with his drone.
    Filmer Jens was always there with his drone.
  • Auch in Bielsa war das Panorama unbeschreiblich schön.Auch in Bielsa war das Panorama unbeschreiblich schön.
    Auch in Bielsa war das Panorama unbeschreiblich schön.
    Auch in Bielsa war das Panorama unbeschreiblich schön.
  • We recommend: the small restaurant Kanguro Truchero.We recommend: the small restaurant Kanguro Truchero.
    We recommend: the small restaurant Kanguro Truchero.
    We recommend: the small restaurant Kanguro Truchero.
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees

Last Stop: France

On the last day of our adventure, we headed to France. We took the shuttle bus towards the border, and despite 700 meters of elevation gain in upcoming pushing sections, we were full of zeal to make the most of the last day.
We passed cows again, as well as many horses and sheep. The long descent in
the fog over meadows and terrain ended in the French Aragnouet.
After a short uphill on an asphalt road, we reached the trails built by locals. We had the three difficulty levels Blue, Red, and Black to choose from and tried them all. Everything from flow and jumps to speed to steep sections was included.

  • Who loves their bike,Who loves their bike,Who loves their bike,
    Who loves their bike,
    Who loves their bike,
  • pushes - even on the border with France. To the last downhillpushes - even on the border with France. To the last downhillpushes - even on the border with France. To the last downhill
    pushes - even on the border with France. To the last downhill
    pushes - even on the border with France. To the last downhill
  • it went past sheep.it went past sheep.it went past sheep.
    it went past sheep.
    it went past sheep.

Classic for France, there was Quiche to conclude. In good spirits and yet exhausted, motivated and also wistful, we left the land of cycling with our shuttle bus and made our way back to Vielha, where we had started our adventure.
With many impressions, scents, flavors, and countless fantastic trail experiences in mind, we still fondly remember our little adventures during the Explorer trip in the Pyrenees.

 In good spirits yet exhausted, motivated but also wistful  

Final Thoughts
  • Adventure Moon Landscape - MTB Trip through the Pyrenees