10/01/2013 | 1 comments
Number of trails: 20+
Season: June – September
Predominant riding style: Lift-assist bike park
Information: Andorran Tourist Board / Vallnord Bike Park Map
Guiding: Singletrack Safari
Andorra is a microstate in the Pyrenees. It has a population of less than 100,000 but the low taxes attract tourists not only on shopping missions but also sportspeople looking for a cheaper holiday. Winter tourism has been key to the country’s wealth in recent times, but the infrastructure of the ski industry combined with a forward-thinking population are helping to shape Andorra into one of Europe’s best mountain biking destinations.
Vallnord is the bigger of Andorra’s two mountain bike resorts. Boasting upward of 20 specific trails, the emphasis is definitely on gravity and the majority of riders have 6inch travel bikes, knee-pads and full-face helmets.
But the resort can cater for all riders. Trails are incredibly well marked and graded to indicate suitability and level, in fact probably the best grading system we’ve seen in any bike park in Europe.
Another feature that is not present in other resorts is a dedicated ‘bike patrol’ team – a revolving crew of riders equipped with the knowledge and training to not only point riders in the right direction but also to attend to any unlucky casualties.
The town (called La Massana) is pleasant, pretty and modern and accommodation is much cheaper than you would find in Alpine resorts.
Expect modern, thoughtfully designed and well-maintained trails.
High-up, trails are mellow and flowy, catering for all levels of rider and allowing plenty of space to stop and rest if needed.
Mid-station is where the majority of riders spend the day sessioning singletracks, jumps and lapping the efficient chairlifts, which whisk hundreds of riders up the mountainside on any summer’s day.
We particularly like ‘Route 66’ – a flat-out blast through the lower slopes that incorporates high-speed turns, rocks and plenty of dust.
HOW TO GET THERE
Flights to Barcelona’s Girona airport from the UK are cheap and frequent, and transfers to Andorra take less than two hours.
Easyjet fly several times per day from Gatwick and have some of the lowest bike-transport costs of any airline.
Singletrack Safari offer guided packages that show the best trails of Vallnord and its neighbour resort, Soldeu.
Their guiding and organisation is second-to-none.
Singletrack Safari: “The Pyrenees get a lot less press than their more famous alpine cousins of the north, but from the moment you arrive here you’ll wish you had visited sooner… It’s hard not to like Vallnord, the air is clear, the sky is blue. Plumes of white dust kick up and warm, dry air feeds into your lungs…jump after jump, berm after berm.”
Prices start at £210 for four nights including hotel, transfer and lift pass.