El Scorchio Notio

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Do you fancy a 'big ride' sir?

Dias Uno in El Bigio Brotherio Housio! Arrived late last night to the rural B and B in an old converted farmhouse to find what seemed like a concerningly large double bed. While I’m in touch with my female side, the thought of Mark spooning sent a cold shiver down my spine. Thankfully, the room had two twin beds placed far too close together and I could breathe a sigh of relief. There would be no waking up with hands between pillows for us!

We awoke to cloudy skies and drizzle which quickly turned to full on rain. A top notch breakfast was inhaled in double quick time….going to bed hungry has that effect. Bikes were built and as we loaded the van, our amiable host Antonio asked us where we were going. “Ernio” Doug replied. Looking at us with a glint in his eye, he laughed the laugh of the knowing amusement park owner in Scooby Doo. Normally I would shrug this off but when we were met with a similar response from another local when we started the climb, I began to wonder quite what they knew that we didn’t Still, not ones to let common sense and experience get in the way of a potentially bad decision, we pressed on.

The climb itself was an XC cracker. Knowing that we liked technical riding, Doug had opted to showcase one of his favourite routes. Combining over 3000 feet of climbing with a bit of hikey bike thrown in, we spun our way up the mountainside, swapping terrible Jimmy Carr style jokes in an effort to see who could tell the worst one. Needless to say, I’ll never look at thalidomide nudie film stars in the same light again….not that I saw them in any light before! The sun made fleeting appearances with the swirling cloud making for a curiously erie backdrop. Despite the cloud, there was barely a breathe of wind as we stopped for lunch in a refugio near the cross covered summit of Ernio. Doug earned major guide of the day brownie points as he pulled three bocadillos from his bag – lomo and fried potato slices. Mmmmmmm!

Carrying to the summit, we stopped to admire the view. Well, we would have done had we not been able to see hee haw. “It’s just like Hebden Bridge but bigger!” remarked Mark. Dropping saddles, we headed down for what was to prove a fantastic downhill. Mixing sections of loose rocks and rock chutes with distracting views, we had to be on the top of our game to avoid flatting out on the sharp limestone. From there followed almost every kind of trail imaginable – loose, super slippy rock gardens, root fests, shutes of loamy soil where turning the bars made negligible difference to the direction of travel, steep and loose drops through the trees. Pretty much everything you could want in a trail. We struggled to think of an analogy to describe just how slippy it was which could be included on a blog without resorting to rudeness….so we won’t bother! Suffice to say it was slippier then the slippiest slippy thing in the year of the slippy slipper!

When we finally got back to the van, we were tired but elated. As an introduction to Basque riding, it’s left us itching to see what tomorrow brings. The evening meal of meat – think of the rarest of cuts of beef and you’ll come close to realising just how rare the dinner we just had was. I’m sure that at one point I could hear it moo! Trying my best to impress with my limited Spanish, I confidently asked for “Una bottellia de agua minerale con gas” thinking I had asked for a bottle of sparkling water. However, Doug’s girlfriend Amaia promptly pissed herself laughing and asked why I wanted a little whore of mineral water….Doh! I now knew how the policeman in Allo Allo would translate into Spanish. Roll on day 2 in Basque country…….. El Sannyio