A Pyrenean Paradise

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a quick release
Tasting the fine trails in the Pyrenees (Photo © Paul Aubrey)
a quick release
Luchon is the base for A Quick Release (Photo © Paul Aubrey)

As I hurtle down the narrow ribbon of singletrack that clings to the edge of the mountain I try to ignore the view and focus on what’s coming next. The fast approaching corner is a tight switchback, the entry rocky and the exit loose and dusty. I grab the brakes, slow, and for once listen to the voice in my head reminding me to look around the corner.

Slowly but steadily, knowing I should really have more weight over the front tyre which is barely gripping, I get round the corner, all the time hearing the squeal of the brakes of the rider behind me. A quick sneak at the view – not far to tea and cake now – and then pedal, pedal and the next switchback approaches.

But before I come over all misty-eyed at the thought of that bit of singletrack delight, let’s start at the beginning…

Skills courses, coaching and training, UK weekends, travelling to World Cup, European and British national races. And running a holiday company in the Pyrenees! There’s one thing in common here – a love of anything involving two-wheeled off-road action. What’s amazing though is that it’s just one couple, Ian and Kate Potter, who are the driving force behind all of the above and including A Quick Release holidays.

With years of guiding experience all around Europe under their belts and Kate a regular on the World Cup XC race circuit, Team Potter know what they are doing and have chosen the finest base in the Pyrenees. Nestled among spectacular peaks and picturesque valleys, Luchon is their based for guided riding weeks through the summer (even on into the winter if you fancy throwing a bit of skiing into the mix).

2010 will be my fourth trip to the spa town of Luchon in the French Pyrenees to ride some of the finest trails Europe can offer and I figured it’s about time I spread the word. If swooping singletrack, techy switchbacks and seemingly endless bermed descents float your boat, this is the place to come to.

From the first day trails are picked to see how guests like their singletrack: long and flowing or steep and technical? Or perhaps some Ian Potter style ‘off-piste’ to the biggest ride on offer over the border into Spain, every day will offer something to wow.

The Benque-bench ride might require a long fire-road climb to the top but the descent which changes from tyre width meadow singletrack into switchback heaven down to the lunch stop is worth it ten times over! The Crucifix Climb will test everyone to see who can clear it, but the “is that really the trail over there?” style of the downhill afterwards will entertain everyone. For the braver souls, Black Rock offers some of the best views of the week, and all just overlooking the hotel itself; what better way to get back to base than via some of the tightest rocky switchbacks you can imagine! 

Oh and not to forget the small matter that Luchon is also a winter ski resort – and the resulting cable-car to the 1800m summit of Superbagnères means that during summer weeks, a downhill day will probably be the most whoops and giggles filled day of the week as well as, surprisingly for many, the most tiring.

Returning from a day’s riding at 3 or 4 pm soon reminds you that the week is not quite all about the riding though, as choosing which of the day’s freshly baked cakes to tuck into can be quite a challenge itself. And after a few hours unwinding at the hotel or one of the many bars in town, chef Russ’ dinners are worthy of a postcard home all of its own.

If these snippets have whetted your appetite for this Pyrenean paradise, check out www.aquickrelease.com for more information – soon to be relaunched with an all new design including more information on AQR’s newest string to its bow, training and coaching from a World Cup racer herself.

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