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After yesterday's small group, minibuses were again fully loaded this morning with at least 15 guys joining for today's ride. Riding in a small group really makes a big difference. A large group most likely brings substantial differences in riding skills, resulting in more stops and waiting, also partly due to more flat tires. But hey, this is a holiday and not a competition and therefore it shouldn't be too big of an issue, especially when the sun and beautiful landscape makes any waiting certainly less disturbing.
Montes de Malaga natural park
So, we packed our vans and left the house at 10am as usual, this time heading to Montes de Malaga natural park. The park is located north from Malaga, around a 45 minute transfer from Sierra’s beach house. The park's altitude varies between 91 and 1030 metres above the sea level. Our starting point was at 840m and offered some great views to Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol.
Photo: Getting ready for today's first descent at 840 meters above the sea in Montes de Malaga.
Unfortunately, the first 5km section of the descent to an altitude of 470m was on gravel roads, presumably due to lack of any off-road options. However, after a climb to 610m the really fun part started with a 5km single track descent to 140m. There, minibuses were waiting for us for the second uplift of the day.
The second descent started at an altitude of 290m. The straight forward single track down to 100m was short but still great fun, again with some great views down to the valley. We would have liked to continue this descend forever. Too bad that this trail was only 2km long. Once again, we packed our bikes to a minibus and headed for a lunch, which we enjoyed in a nice local restaurant with great views from the patio.
Photo: Time for a lunch.
After the tasty lunch, we were transferred to the start of the third descent at an altitude of 530m. It was a 5.5km long trail and took us down to 90m. This descent was again a bit more twisty and reading from faces it made great fun. On our way towards the valley floor we encountered some animals.
Photo: Proceeding through a herd of animals on our descent.
That was it for the riding in Montes de Malaga natural park. We liked it a lot and it was once again something different compared to what we had experienced in Mijas during the previous two days.
From here, half of our group took a van back to the beach house but we preferred to go for the last descent of the day in Mijas. Half an hour transfer took us to an altitude of 450m in the Mijas. From there, it was a 12km descending route consisting of single track, gravel roads and a final stretch on the asphalt back to the beach.
Statistics for the third riding day (based on Suunto Ambit measurements):
It was again nice to smell the breakfast and fresh brewed coffee when we woke up at 8am. During the breakfast we heard that a big group of fellows who had been riding with us yesterday had decided to take a day off from biking following their in-depth research of local pubs and clubs last night. It meant that we were only three guys, including our guide, heading to mountains at 10am.
We disembarked our minibus at 430m above the sea, thereafter first pedalling and finally pushing our bikes on steep hill for a total distance of some 1.5km to begin our decent at 600m above the sea. From there, the first stage was a 5km descent to 315m was really enjoyable single track in the forest with great views down to the valley. After a coffee break and some snacks in the sun, it was time for something different. After a few kilometers on an asphalt, the rest of the day was dedicated for XC riding. Let us emphasise that our guide was very good at listening to our preferences as regards to riding. It was our unanimous choice to ride XC for the rest of the day.
All in all, we found today's riding immensely satisfying both in terms of variation and views. Our small riding group meant that everything went very smoothly. When back at the beach, we had following statistics for the day’s riding (based on Suunto Ambit measurements):