So it’s got lots of mountains, few people and loads of space – what a great place to go mountain biking!

But let’s not forget the climate! Spain’s Southern European location means mountain biking is a great sport all year round, depending on your location that is!

The Spanish are passionate about all things on two wheels – 

  • Tour de France Winner Alberto Contador (2009 and 2010)
  • Moto GP – 2010 World Champions in all three Classes – Mark Marquez, Toni Elias and Jorge Lorenzo

And they are no different about Mountain Biking, every weekend and evening you will see packs of mountain bikers of all ages and abilities out enjoying the stunning, and often scenic, Spanish countryside.  But this said there is so many miles and miles of epic tracks it’s unusual that you meet them out in the hills!

And don’t forget its not just the mainland – The islands like Mallorca, Tenerife, Lanzarote, etc all make great locations for off road bike fun.

Hints and Tips

When to go: This tends to depend a little on where you plan to visit the climate in the Canary Islands in the south will be a lot different to those in the Green Spain region in the north.

Mountain biking in Spain is an all year round activity, but bear in mind in the hot summer months (especially July / August) you will be more comfortable in the North of Spain, at altitude or on the coast.  In the south down at sea level, and especially inland, it will be unbearably hot and dry!

Equally if you are at altitude in the mid-winter months (December to early March) bear in mind Spain has several ski resorts (including Sierra Nevada, the Picos de Europa and the Pyrenees).  If you are mountain biking in these areas bear in mind a key factor of a ski resort is plenty of snow!  It’s going to be cold.  And whilst it will be great and stunning during the sunny days, on a night when the temperatures plummet it will be damn cold!

So be prepared and do a little homework on your location and its climate – Spain’s a very big place and the overnight winter temperatures by the sea in Tenerife, and up in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Granada could vary from +18 to -12 respectively!  If it’s going to be too hot or cold check your accommodation has either heating or air conditioning – Many Spanish properties are designed to let out heat, not retain it!  Unlike colder places like the UK, in parts of Spain if it’s a pleasant 8 degrees outside on a night in the winter months, there is a good chance it a pretty cold 8 degrees inside too!

My personal recommendation, having lived in the south of Spain for 6 years is to visit spring (April – May) or autumn (September – early November).  For the softies among you spring is nicer as you have a stunning array of wild flowers in bloom.  Sorry I’ll man up again.

How hard a cyclist are you?  As stated above Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe, and most of the places chosen by Mountain Bike Operators are in the ‘proper’ mountains, not your girly hills.  Climbs of 20km are not hard to find!  This is great for those looking for as much uphill and downhill, but if you prefer going down to going up then check where you are going offers plenty of uplifts!

What to bring:  Wet weather gear!  A surprising 1st item on the list but contrary to popular opinion it does rain here in Spain!  Not that often in most parts, but when it does rain it can come down pretty ferociously.   And on the same subject some warm gear – don’t be fooled by a local weather forecast at a nearby coastal town, if you are up in the mountains!  Altitude will mean its much colder up in the nearby hills, especially on an evening!

But this said if you are visiting the south of Spain from June to September you will be pretty safe to leave your waterproofs and warm gear behind!

In case you bend yourself! – The Spanish do ask for your proof of insurance before they start work on you!  If you qualify get your free E111 health card and keep it with you when out and about on the bike!  If not get insurance, or ride safely with the round black bits at the bottom!

Fancy a challenge?:  How about entering a few of the Spanish Mountain Bike events – a few local to me include:

  • the Ronda 101 – a 101km 24 hour off road bike race around the pretty mountain town of Ronda (also known as the La Legion 101) held April/May  time each year (entries open in December, and you need to enter fast as it sells out each year).
  • Cortes60 -. A pretty tough 60km race from Cortes in the south of Spain.

It really is a great place to enjoy the sport - Mountain Biking in Spain is highly recommended!