Why Mountain Bike Riding in Galicia Spain should be on your list
I recently read a quote on a blog from Sacred Rides founder, Mike Brcic that said: “A bad day on a mountain bike always beats a good day in the office.” Mountain Bike riding isn’t just a sport or hobby to many it is a way of life and after my recent press trip to Galicia Spain, I completely understand why people love it so much.
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It allows you to connect with nature, escape a desk job, breathe fresh air, go on an adventure, explore a new place and have fun. Not to mention it is great for your health, as it strengthens one’s self physically and mentally while being challenged.
BTT Galicia has launched a product called the MTB Centres, which are based around creating environmentally-friend tourism (keeping it green) through Mountain Bike Riding. It is a network of centres with designated routes designed to enable riders to discover the stunning rural landscapes, at their own pace. You can do it on your own or enjoy it with friends.
Eco Bike ( Electric/E-bike)
I have been asked a few times now what is an Eco Bike (also known as Electric or E bike) and to be honest, I would have asked the same thing before I rode one. The best why to describe it is an integrated electric motor that works with the gears on your bike to assist and give you more power when pushing forward. It is like having an extra pair of legs that does all the hard work for you when pedalling, making your life easier especially when going up a hill.
Eco Bike are not used just for Mountain Bike Riding and are becoming more and more popular being used as everyday transport. Apart from being great fun to ride Eco Bike are good for the environment, compared to motorcycles and cars.
You still get the benefits of exercise when using an Eco Bike but if you want to work harder and get your heart pumping. Then all you do is turn off the motor and you’ve got yourself a regular mountain bike.
The TBC Center routes.
Over the course of the trip, we rode sections of two different MTB Centres. Both very different experiences with very different scenery. One was part of the MTB Centre of O Salnes through the beautiful green forest and the other MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra, across the open spaces atop the mountains overlooking the Sil Canyon.
Bike Route 1 MTB Centre of O Salnes
We only completed a small section (only 8klms) of the MTB Centre of O Salnes route on the first day because when we woke, there were thunderstorms and it was pouring with rain. Unfortunately, it does not matter how much you can prepare for something you can not control the weather. As the weather cleared the guides had a discussion and comprised a new planned route. We set off on a flat path (also shared with pedestrians) through the forest along a stream, stopping at a little man made village in a park used as a picnic area with a small waterfall.
Then it was time for the hard part and the bit I was not expecting, we climbed 6 (or maybe more) steep sections and I fell right off the bike in the mud. But to be honest, I was still getting used to working the electric gears with the normal gears and I did not really know what I was doing yet. I ended up putting the bike in walk mode (yes, there is a gear to help you push the bike along) and walking up the steep sections with another rider.
After this, it was back to flatter ground through a village and past a winery, before finishing at the Mosteiro de Santa María da Armenteira. We were picked up and taken to the golf course to shower (one of the services offered at the MTB Centres) before our wine tour at Mar de Frades Vineyard
Bike Route 2 MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra
On our 2nd day, we completed some of MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra sections covering 35klms in open wide spaces up above the Sil River Canyon. We rode through some spectacular landscapes and had some stunning views, which at some points remind me a little of the Fjords in Norway, especially from the viewing point.
We started our route from the Parador de Santo Estevo, a famous converted monastery with a beautiful courtyard which when lit up at night looked magical. From there it was all uphill through the forest but not overly steep like the day before. I was struggling a little and I could not think why as I had worked out how to use the gears correctly. As we got into the open spaces, the guide realised that I had a punctured tire, once fixed, it was all uphill from there 🙂
We passed the wind turbines and made out way to the viewing point to overlook the Sil Canyon, where we stopped to take in the views and take pictures. From there, we made our way back down to the meeting point where the Van was waiting to pick us up. I thought coming down a mountain on a bike would be much easier than going up but I was wrong.
It took more concentration and I think more control not to put the brakes too much and flip the backend out. For a second, I forgot how powerful these mountain bikes were with the electric gears and I flipped right off into a puddle. This did not discourage me though and I was back on the bike, continuing my ride down the mountain to our pick up spot.
Galicia in the north-west part of Spain and has 3 international airports Santiago de Compostela airport, La Coruna Airport and Vigo airport. Flights from London are roughly 2hrs to any of these airports, making it super easy to get to and great if you want to go for a weekend trip.
Beware though that flights are not as regular from La Coruna or Vigo airport and tend to be more expensive than from Santiago de Compostela airport. There are also more options in regards to transport and car hire from Santiago de Compostela airport
- You can download the cycle routes and make your own itinerary
- It is compulsory to wear a helmet, which can be hired if you don’t have one.
- If you have time, spend a few days in the capital of Galicia Santiago before or after your bike trip. It is definitely worth it.
- Select the appropriate routes based on your physical and technical abilities. Not only will it make it more enjoyable for you but it is less risk of getting into trouble.
- Take one of the boat tours along the River Sil and River Mino canyons to discover incredible scenery, especially if you are doing one of the routes in the MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra
- Just like when you go hiking, let someone know what route you’re going to take and roughly how long it will take
- Try to fit in a visit to one of the many wineries in the region, like Mar de Frades Vineyard(Not recommend while riding though :-)).
Stay at Parador Santo Estevo and wander around the beautiful Monasterio. It is truly a beautiful place overlooking the mountains.
Be prepared and carry a repair kit, water and a mobile phone.
I have to admit, I am usually a hiker when it comes to going up mountains and exploring the open spaces. I love bike riding but I have never really gone mountain bike riding too much before. When I was approached about exploring the new MTB Centres on a mountain bike I jumped at the chance. Once I figured out how to use the two sets of gears correctly, I really enjoyed it a lot. So much so that I am already planning my next Eco bike trip next month.
From waterfalls and monasteries to the spectacular views of Sil Canyon, there are hundreds of reason why you should try Mountain Bike Riding on the Eco bikes through Galicia. If you are worried that you can’t read a map, not a problem because there are graphical maps, technical information and tourist attractions for each route that you can share with friends.
For more information, please feel free to visit Galicia Spain.
If you are interested in discovering more of Spain you can check out my post A day in the Campo Viejo Winery for the start of the harvest season
Have you been to Galicia before or Mountain Bike riding? I would love it if you would share your experience in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Even though I was invited by the Spanish Tourism Office. All views are my own and based on my own experience.
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