05/02/2013 | 2 comments
Place: Zona Zero
Number of trails: 17 waymarked, over 1000km of trails
Predominant riding style: All-mountain/XC
Zona Zero is the development of one town’s passion for two wheels. Bordering the Spanish Pyrenees, the town of Ainsa is a true classic and a throw-back to old times and the mountain biking surrounding it is unmissable.
The town of Ainsa, with its cobbled streets, castle and pretty square atop the hill, is one of beauty and most interestingly one that retains a ‘real town’ feel. The charm of the area has barely been influenced by the tourism trade, which is certainly present but not overly imposing.
Coffee is strong and cheap, meals are hearty and reminiscent of southern Spain’s basic but pleasing cuisine. A tranquil and wide river flows through the lower part of the town and an arched bridge across it makes for a picture-postcard scene.
There is a small but devoted scene of local mountain bikers unlike any we are used to in the UK. Riders of all shapes and sizes share the hillside and the sport brings the townsfolk together in riding and maintaining the ever-growing number of trails.
The local government made the forward-thinking decision to signpost and advertise the area as a mountain bike trail centre and it is now growing in popularity amongst Spaniards and foreign tourists alike.
Trails vary from short loops around the town to epic descents from high up in the Pyrenees mountains, which sit as a backdrop to the town. All the rides are clearly detailed on a trail map and are well marked with coloured wooden posts and signs. The longer rides are reasonably arduous but never venture a huge distance from civilisation, so it’s easy to return to town or to a sealed road if necessary.
From up high, rocky traces of singletrack negotiate steep mountainsides with an epic backdrop of cliffs and in springtime snow too. These longer trails really are fantastically adventurous and take you on a journey from summit to valley encountering every terrain imaginable in-between, along with tiny traditional hamlets and rest-stops along the way.
Expect dusty rollercoasters down low and sometimes precarious singletrack up high. But above all, be ready for an adventure to remember.
How to get there
Easyjet fly to Bilbao; RyanAir fly to Zaragoza.
Where to stay
Guiding firms in the area
Basque MTB offer packages that visit or reside at Zona Zero.
In their words:
“We offer guiding in this area, either as part of our Backcountry Pyrenees tour or we can offer guiding based just in the surrounding area. We offer uplift to get the most of the singletrack and ride the best trails in the surrounding area. The Backcountry Pyrenees tour in particular offers what I think is the best of this area and the surroundings but even based in Ainsa for the whole week there is a large area which we can ride in, both within Zona Zero and in the surrounding area. Generally we offer Enduro style weeks with around 2000-3000m climbing and 10,000-15,000m of descending over the 6 days. We can transfer from Bilbao or Zaragoza depending on the tour.”