I’ve not done that many MTB marathons in the UK, but of the ones I’ve done, I’ve never been given a huge box of vegetables just for finishing. Check out that produce! Looks good eh? Unfortunately there was no room for 3 aubergines, 4 cucumbers, 3 courgettes and half a dozen peppers in my luggage so I left this little haul with the guys at www.puremountains.com who had arranged our entries (which involved much arguing in Spanish) and put us up for the long weekend. If you’re their next guests, you’re in for a treat!
The race was great and I’ve included the GPS route here. Check out that first climb – from just about sea level up to 1550m in around 40km of riding. This climb alone took 2.5hrs. Ouch!
The descent was great fun though and I’d taken advice that you needed to be at the front of your group going into the singletrack, so this is what I did, sprinting for my life to get to the bottleneck first. Being one of the only riders in the race on a full-susser, I left my climbing companions for dead as soon as we hit the downhill, a rocky, Peaks-like descent that had you working almost as hard as the climb.
I eventually finished the race in 20th place, in 3hrs 56mins, 25mins behind the winner (a former pro roadie who wins most of these events by all accounts). With the heat, the sun and the wind, I was absolutely exhausted by the time I crossed the line. Fortunately, another benefit of racing in Spain (and Europe in general) is that the town likes to ply you with food and drink as soon as you cross the line. And that includes the local lager – lovely stuff! Jenny from Pure Mountains was doing the driving so we riders could enjoy the magical rehydrating properties of Cruzcampo beer.
Pure Mountains does a race weekend every year, for details check out www.puremountains.com. The results of the race can be found through the previous link at the website of the organising club. Here’s the route – and don’t forget to check out that climb!
We’ll be running a feature about riding in the Sierra Nevada with Andy McCandlish’s excellent photos later in the year. Keep ’em peeled for more.

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