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Sierra Cycling has been in this business for over 20 years. Prior to our booking, Sierra answered promptly to all our question that we emailed to them. Sierra's base is located in Fuengirola, about 20 minutes from the Malaga airport. Airport transfers were included in the price of the Sierra's holiday package and they worked perfectly both upon our arrival and departure. Inconvenient transfer times at around midnight were no problem at all for Sierra to arrange.
In Fuengirola, Sierra occupies two houses some 200 meters from the beach. The beach boulevard has good selection of restaurants. Quality of Sierra's house we stayed at was decent. No luxurious but ok. We have to admit that we are relatively picky when it comes to accommodations. Yes, we can happily spend nights in a tent or in a primitive shelter when, for example, in a wilderness. However, when in western European cities, we expect a certain standard, especially in terms of cleanliness. Sierra's house was not free from marks and stains, but decent enough for us to feel ok. Our beds were not very comfortable and they were also too short for anybody longer than 185cm. Rooms were air-conditioned. According to Scandinavian standards, we would give our accommodation three stars. Quite substantial breakfast was included in the price. Beer, wine, soft drinks and juice were also freely available. Overall, the standard of living will not stop us from visiting Sierra again in the future.
Photo: Sierra Cycling's house on the right. View towards the beach.
We were also happy with our guides who were nice, knowledgeable, helpful and familiar with the trails we rode. Uplifts with minibuses worked as well, even though we would have preferred a dedicated trailer for bikes. Instead, bike were packed to the back of vans with blankets protecting frames from scratching each other and pedals from scratching frames. This method of transporting bikes was not really an issue for us, but it appeared to be for some fellow riders.
For those wondering what bike to bring for a holiday with Sierra Cycling, we saw everything from XC hard tails and from full suspension 100mm 29er's to all-mountain rigs with 160mm of suspension. For other than pure XC riding we would suggest a 140-160mm full suspension bike with dual ply tires. During our stay there were some XC riders in a separate group guided by another Sierra Cycling's guide.
We were overall satisfied with our four day's of riding in Malaga. Flight schedules from Scandinavia made it possible to spend a long weekend with four full days of riding by taking only two days, Thursday and Friday, off the work. It was a small price to pay for somewhat exhausted feeling when we headed back to work early on Monday morning after having spent the night on a plane.
When it comes to riding itself, we felt that four days was quite optimal for us. There are, of course, much more trails to discover even with Sierra than what we could explore during our short stay. In that sense, we only scratched the surface of what riding in Malaga has to offer. Having said that, for a full week of riding we would prefer to look for destinations that are practically impossible to visit within a long weekend, either because of much longer airport transfers or due to bad flight schedules.
Regarding trails, the highest altitude where we started our descent was no more than 915m (at the Telecom Tower) above the sea. We regard vertical descent available in Malaga as decent but not great. Especially since other trails started at a lower altitudes. Also, almost none of the trails continued all the way down to the sea level. A typical trail involved somewhere in a range of 300-400 meters of vertical descent. Some trails had slightly more, some slightly less. Each descent was followed by a van assisted uplift. As such, riding in Malaga certainly doesn't compare to lift assisted riding in a bike park. It is different. Not necessarily better or worse. It really depends on what you like and what you are looking for.
All in all, we can recommend Malaga as a destination for those looking for a few days of nice riding in a beautiful landscape, and Sierra Cycling for those looking for a reliable organiser of all-mountain riding in Malaga. Holiday packages from Sierra Cycling are available throughout the year except in July and August when they are close due to the very warm weather.