Summer is made for riding bikes. Long days allow late riding in the evening , capturing the essence of the Magic hour on the photographer's lens. This shot was taken by Dan Milner during the Bike of the Year Photo Shooting by the Bike Radar crew, in the trails of Valdemanco, Madrid.
It is starting to be kind of a tradition that the MBUK and Bike Radar crew pay us a visit every year to shoot what is probably their most important article: Bike of the Year awards. This time, it was for Trail and Enduro categories. Together with photographer Dan Milner, the crew led by Rob Weaver and Tom Marvin, spent 8 days in La Sierra de Madrid ( Spain ) last February, shooting and riding our local trails. We had great conditions the whole week. A bit of mist in the morning that was rising and leaving excellent light and conditions before noon.
The huge variety of terrain and excellent weather in February, are the main reasons La Sierra de Madrid is chosen for the shooting of this article. This time,we decided to shoot mostly on the open and rocky trails of Valdemanco, in the northern ridge of La Sierra, and Hoyo de Manzanares, located in what we called " Pre Sierra". A smaller ridge full of awesome trails, closer to Madrid downtown than the main ridge. These areas are always a must in our regular MTB guided tours.
The month before the shooting, we work on the locations and schedule, being flexible according to the weather and terrain conditions.
Looking forward to working again next year on a new Bike of the Year shooting!
Photos: Dan Milner
An MTB trip is an amazing experience and to make it all the more memorable, for all the right reasons, it’s recommendable to prepare things properly. Here are our 7 tips to make your MTB trip to La Sierra de Madrid, Spain, an amazing experience...
1- Know your destination.
The Sierra de Guadarrama is the mountain range which forms the Eastern section of the “Sistema Central”, the system of mountain ranges which cross the centre of Spain.
It’s located between the ranges of the “Sierra de Gredos” in the province of Avila, and the “Sierra de Ayllón” in the province of Guadalajara. The Guadarrama range measures approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) in length with its highest peak being Peñalara at 2,428 metres (7,966 ft) in elevation.
The trail network is fully natural, with hundreds of kilometres of singletrack to enjoy throughout the whole range.
The “Sierra” as we call it offers an impressive variety of terrain, from deep woods to open rocky trails and alpine peaks, all of which shows up in the trails. While these trails require different levels of technical and physical skill, we highly recommend that to ride here you need to have at least an intermediate level in both regards.
Check some videos of the riding here on this link
2-Always wear protections.
The trails in La Sierra can be pretty rough and technical, so it´s always recommendable that you are properly protected in case of a spill. The following items are mandatory:
-MTB/Enduro helmet. (Recommendable with removable chin protection).
-Full finger gloves.
The following items are highly recommendable:
3- Pack a rain jacket.
Spain is a country blessed with tons of sunshine.
Madrid is one of the European capitals with the most hours of sunshine per year, something we love to make the most of!
That said, we also have proper mountains and the weather can be as changeable and unpredictable as in any mountainous environment, thus making it a smart decision to pack a rain jacket even in late spring and early autumn. We also strongly advise you to bring a good pair of winter gloves, a thermal layer (merino if possible), thermal socks and an evening jacket with good insulation (a puffy down jacket is perfect).
4- Hydrate or die!
Summers can be scorching hot and bone dry round here. Even in the spring and autumn, we can have very warm days and hydration becomes extremely important. We always recommend that people use a good hydration backpack with a capacity of at least 2 litres to make sure you stay in peak condition and enjoying the ride.
5- Choose the right bike.
We advise you to bring a good Enduro or long travel Trail bike in order to really take advantage of what Madrid has to offer and to enjoy your experience in Madrid to the max. 140-160 mm rear travel / 150-170mm front travel is perfect for the trails around here.
29” or 27.5” (650b) is up to the rider, although we have found 29ers roll better over the chunky trails that are frequently found in Madrid, but then there are plenty of rocks to launch off of you prefer the rides on your 27.5” to be playful!
It’s imperative to bring your bike properly serviced, with the chain lubed, gears working smoothly, suspension and brakes in perfect order and enduro rather than trail tyres to avoid sidewall damage (snakebites).
If you decide not to transport your own bike, or you fancy trying something new, you can always rent one of the bikes from our fleet!
6- Get in good shape.
Although our guides will always personalize the trail choice/distance to your skills, having a good level of fitness will allow you to really enjoy the experience to the full. Try to work up a training program in advance so you reach your MTB trip in good shape!
7. Train your stomach.
In Spain, food is a religion and we pay a huge amount of attention to properly filling our bellies after a good day riding. Delicious tapas with cold beers are our weapon of choice. Train your stomach to eat like a local!
Words by Félix Torija
Photos: Dan Milner, Ale Cubino, Vital MTB