*Note: Pictures at the bottom of post!
Well, that was simply amazing.
It took half an hour to pack all the bikes and stuff, so we left at 6:30 am. We stopped halfway for a break and continued. At 11am, we arrived in Pal-Arinsal, in Vallnord. We got the bikes out and many people were outraged because the result of such bad transporting of the bikes was damage to the bikes (A guy's BRAND NEW Demo 9 had a massive scratch across the frame, one guys brake pads were simply knocked away and were not found, and sadly: etc, etc.). I took a good 25 minutes to adjust my front brake (had to take off front tyre to fit it in for transport) and after I finished, I had to hurry up because I started the Enduro event (26km of crosscountry - crazy one at that). In town, there were these skilifts (cabins, actually) and one could fit 6 bikes&riders in there. The lift went up in 8 minutes and I arrived at the start of the Enduro in time. (see that red arch? That's where the Enduro started. If you went through the arch and to the right, that's were all the DH trails started)
We started in groups of 5 and I was actually able to keep up with most of the guys, except towards the one hour mark when I was tiring after 80% uphill, 20% downhill. One thing I prided myself on is I kept up with the XC and all mountain full sussers on all downhill sections of the Enduro (I couldn't keep up with the freeride/DH bikes
) The trails were great, singletrack in the woods with hardpacked dirt, rocks, boulders, even 100m of mud on which I fell and whacked my knee into one of the boulders (thanks, shinguards). The Enduro's trails were simply great and had no too great difficulty going with a hardtail and without disc brakes.
After having reached the bottom of the trails, I came out into the city and had to pedal a few hundred meters till the bikelifts, and then go back up again. I was then told to go down a different section which was much more downhill and was harder.
I finished the Enduro in 3 and a half hours compared to most people's 2 to 3 hours but I was still happy. After having done so, at the end, I was given a coupon by one of the guys from my LBS for a DVD of the Enduro (there were many people filming). I was told to meet at the youth hostel at 3:30. I thought, hey, I have half an hour to waste but I knew I wouldn't have time to do a run so I set about to look for the youth hostal and spent 20 minutes wandering around the city.
When I was hopelessly lost, two guys who also came with the Probike (LBS) bust asked me if I was lost and told them, yeah, so they showed me the way. The two guys were around 30 years old and both had full suspension bikes (one, Albert, had a Specialized Enduro, the other, Marcos, a Rocky Mountain). Anyway, we said down at a table, bought drinks and started talking. After packing all our stuff into the dorms, we 3 decided to stick together and so went to the ski lifts together.
We went down a red downhill trail (2nd to hardest) and I was left behind slightly because of the amazing amounts of rocks and roots, though they did stop a few kilometres further down to wait. It was great, we went back up for another run, this time on an easier downhill one. Before that though, we stopped to take a peek at the 2006 Mondraker bikes. My wrists and fingers were starting to hurt on the DH (sucking up the bumps and braking, respectively).
After that, at 7, the lifts closed down and we went back to the hostal. We sat there chatting and ate dinner. After having locked the bikes up for the night in the garage, we went to the dorms and slept, but before that, highpoint of the day (=P) the shower. Anyway, the room smelt so bad (every single bit of 12 people's gear: shinguards, elbow guards, body armor, helmets, gloves, etc.
The next day, we woke at 7, had breakfast and rode to the ski lifts. We went up and went down a black DH trail (hardest) and the look on one of the people's faces was great: a sort of awe, amazed at me going on a HT and without disc brakes.
The chain kept falling off and I ended up having to run the granny gear in the front (this was after my chain nearly snapped, it fell off in such a peculiar way). The chain still kept falling off but less so. After finishing the run, I saw one of the links on the chain had opened. Albert had a chain tool and he quickly closed the link. We did a couple more of runs, you guys should have seen the grin on the guy's face when we kept meeting at the start of the black DH trail (he was one of the organisers).
Anyway, after two runs we stopped at the top and ate a sandwich while watching a bike trials event and a DJ competition. At the end there was a backflip train (4 guys in a row did backflips). We then went down a different black DH trail and I snapped a few pics (at the end of post). We then went up another few kilometres with a chairlift (very uncomfortable, but worth it) where I took more pictures.
We met with the LBS guys at 5 in the afternoon and left for home at 6:30.
Oh and by the way, each time we went down the Mondraker trail, we were elegible to win a Mondraker Level frame & rear shock. Guess what? At 4:00pm, they announced the winner and it was Albert!! Should have seen his face.
PICS: (labels refer to picture above)
Mondraker Stall, and Enduro beginning point
DJ competition #1
DJ competition #2
Marcos & Albert (no, those are not the trails
they were singletrack and MUCH harder)
Cabin lift thingy
Picture of the town
Trail pic #1
Trail pic #2
Trail pic #3 (fixing a flat)
Trail pic #4
There were many more much more spectacular trails but I didn't stop on those.
These are snapshots of the easiest part of the shortest trails.
Hope you enjoyed the pics as much as I enjoyed Vallnord.
PS: I did some spectacular face plants.
PPS: Snapped my chain, Albert had a chain tool and removed two links so it worked for the whole of Sunday but I need to replace it now because many links split open.