A shambolic week with Sierra Cycling

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  • A shambolic week with Sierra Cycling
  • poly
    Member

    Eh! I thought the OP was pretty clear and I can quite see why, from his perspective, “the scene setting” wasn’t right. If you can’t provide a smiling welcome to paying guests, then maybe you are in the wrong business!
    Sounds like things got off on the wrong foot (for whatever reason) and deteriorated.

    Aye but what was important? that Mary didn’t introduce hereself? that Alan didn’t wear his baseball cap? NO the quality of the guiding wasn’t up to scratch. That is buried somewhere in the middle of the page. If the ‘complaint’ to Alan went the same way then he’d probably given up listening by the time the important stuff came up.

    There are three sides to every story and I look forward to hearing SC’s version of events…

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    I’ve been out to that area with Freeride Spain several times, the riding is stunning and I’ve done a week out there without riding the same terrain twice.

    As nickf said ^^ about Switchbacks, Freeride Spain were very laid back but also very switched on; funny, friendly and welcoming, the accommodation was basic but good (spotlessly clean) and anyway, the only time we were there was to eat and sleep! They’re also very flexible with regards to catered/self-catered, how many days you have out there etc.

    Sorry to hear your holiday wasn’t up to standard but don’t give up on the area, it’s fantastic for both road and MTB (although probably not best suited for novices).

    mark a.
    Member

    poly wrote:

    Aye but what was important? that Mary didn’t introduce hereself? that Alan didn’t wear his baseball cap? NO the quality of the guiding wasn’t up to scratch. That is buried somewhere in the middle of the page. If the ‘complaint’ to Alan went the same way then he’d probably given up listening by the time the important stuff came up.

    You have a strange definition of “buried”. If by buried you mean “90% of the post” then I would agree with you. The OP gives lots of detail on how the guiding wasn’t up to scratch, with a bit of scene-setting at the beginning.

    Do you read books by going through the first couple of pages, then the last couple of pages, then throw the book away saying “Well, that was crap”?

    poly, I attempted to put my post in chronological order of events, not order of severity. I thought this was pretty obvious, sorry if that confused you. I have attempted to be as factually accurate as possible, and avoid personal comments and “he said/she said”. It appears some have had good experiences, some less so. I am entitled to post a review to assist fellow STWers to offer balance as guiding holidays are regularly discussed and recommended here.

    woody, no I don’t recognise any of the people in the pics.

    deluded, I used to have my own account, it hasn’t worked since the hack, and when I try reset it I get stuck in a “account already exists for this email” loop.

    chutney13
    Member

    i recently went on the great rock basque mtb adventure and what you need when you arrive at the airport is a waving ed with his big bushy beard. Made me feel all special.

    the little things are important (i think).

    Your experience really are a stark contrast to mine so thanks again Doug and Ed.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    The write-up seems pretty fair to me, perhaps just lacking some indication of the response received from Alan when these issues were raised during holiday.

    toys19
    Member

    I kind of agree with poly, really the bad bits of the holiday were crap guiding, and a van issue for one day, no big deal for me.

    BUT if it was advertised as lots of guides and the repairs and first aid, and if your impression of a guide is some kind of mountain guru, and he didn’t get that, then I guess it is just wrong to provide a service that is not as advertised, even if some of us (me included) would find the reduced level of service acceptable.

    So it seems pointless to berate the OP, just because we would find the service OK, he was sold something he did not recieve.

    For a bit of ballance…….

    Went with Switchbacks last year,

    All days guided apart from one, which was designated a rest day but we did one of the earlier rides without the minibus. Guiding wasn’t the end of the world but we did get lost!

    Riding in the national park is allowed, just not off road, so we had strict instructions not to stop pedaling untill we were well into the tree line :p

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    OP – although you have outlined your problems with the holiday, you don’t actually mention what the companies response was to your complaints… you did raise your concerns with them didn’t you before bad mouthing them on an internet forum?

    toys19
    Member

    tinas, I went with switchbacks DH in march, going again in nov, awesome riding, great guides. Was yours DH or Bubion?

    FunkyDunc – Member
    OP – although you have outlined your problems with the holiday, you don’t actually mention what the companies response was to your complaints… you did raise your concerns with them didn’t you before bad mouthing them on an internet forum?

    He’s said already that he raised the issue with them at the time.

    Don’t think he can be accused of bad mouthing either. He’s given an honest account of what happened, and the company themselves regularly use this forum, so it’s open for them to make a response if they choose to.

    yossarian
    Member

    I think its also worth pointing out that the OP is a forum regular and a pretty reasonable chap (at least that’s my observation). Doesn’t seem the type to complain without good cause.

    Premier Icon Shandy
    Subscriber

    People post positive reviews on here all the time, there are bound to be negative ones occasionally. A lot of people use this forum to decide where to spend their hard-earned cash and anybody who receives a bad write-up has the chance to reply. The impression this gives of Sierra Cycling is that they just don’t try very hard and the whole point of a guided trip is to ensure that you get the absolute best out of the area.

    tinas, I went with switchbacks DH in march, going again in nov, awesome riding, great guides. Was yours DH or Bubion?

    Bubion, what’s the DH place like? I’m tempted I only climb for the sake of decending, so would quite fancy doing a holliday that involved the absolute minimum of climbing. Rideable on an ‘all-mountain’ bike or is it really for storm troopers in pyjamas only?

    [edit] wasn’t being negative about them, just wasn’t entirely sold on the need for a rest day on a biking holiday.

    Premier Icon ChrisHeath
    Subscriber

    I attempted to put my post in chronological order of events, not order of severity. I thought this was pretty obvious

    It was.

    It didn’t come across as a ‘we had a crap time, and what are you going to do about it now that we’re back and hiding behind a keyboard? Eh? Eh?’ review, but a balanced, considered review intended to inform others who may be thinking of using the same company.

    Well done, IMO. It’ll be interesting to hear the response. Hopefully it’ll be as balanced and considered as your review.

    toys19
    Member

    You can do the DH on an all mountain bike no bother. A few of the lads we were with had devinci 160mm and the like, I was on my MC battery which is 5 inch rear with 180mm totems on the front, my mate was on his yeti 575 with lyriks, and he was blistering.. Another was on a nomad with Lyriks.

    I’m going back on my tr450, but I would be happy on a 160mm bike.

    Where you at bubion for a week? Our 6 days riding in Malaga had no breaks.. Not sure about rest days, my experience with Mike is that he will do whatever you want.

    The DH accommodation is in a place called Benalmedana, which was a village in the olden days but is now absorbed into Malaga suburbs, the edge of the village is the hill so lots of rides end up outside your fave cafe/restaraunt.
    Village is quiet, supermarket some shops a fair few restaurants.
    The actual accom is a self catering holiday block with a pool, bike wash (well hose pipe) and free wifi.

    The guides were all DH racers who were always spot on, showing you the best lines, coaching, cracking jokes, never being surly or intimidating, and not drinking or eating any carbs…

    uplink
    Member

    Whatever the ins and outs were of how it was run it’s fairly clear that the OP didn’t have a good time, and this will have been obvious or at least suspected by those running it.

    I would have hoped that the people running the place would have attempted to find out why guests didn’t appear happy and determine whether or not it was a personality issue or just too laid back/chaotic for them and see whether or not something could be done to help.

    Maybe they did, I don’t know

    You can do the DH on an all mountain bike no bother.

    Sounds like the pitch/me may just about cope. Might look into a week late in the year as I’ve not been away yet this year for one reason or another.

    toys19
    Member

    What’s the pitch 150mm? I’m sure Mike would probs recommend a DH bike but we all know you can ride DH tracks on a 150mm bike. It’s kind of down to you..

    I’m not the kind of person that would ever say that you cannot ride track X unless you have a bike with Y suspension, especially as I have a full on DH bike and have problems on fire roads, and I often get smoked by people on bromptons, shoppers and the like..

    If I only had my BFe I would still go to Switchbacks DH.

    Premier Icon Andy
    Subscriber

    How many posters who are questioning (Mr) M-C’s review have actually been with SC? Having been there, I can completely understand everything (Mr) M-C is saying

    As said before, if not for the excellent guide (who has now left) when I was there, I would be saying much the same thing.

    woodsman
    Member

    I remember speaking to Alan on the phone many years ago before the internet took off, I quizzed him on the riding and location and thought it wasn’t for me. Then, it did appear fairly low grade riding and I didn’t fancy staying in Fuengirola! I went with Ciclomontana which was basic in terms accom and location (not in a bad way) but the riding was superb, I returned with a group of mates the next year ”bonkers mountain biking” as one guest desrcibed it – just how I liked it! 😉

    xiphon
    Member

    Pitch will be fine – don’t let the ‘only’ 150mm put you off…

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    ChrisHeath +1 and likewise I look forward to the response, if there is one.

    Surely someone must have let SC know about this?

    JimSu
    Member

    Thanks for an honest and helpful review.

    I have riden several times in the el Chorro area and realy enjoyed it some of the most enjoyable singletrack I have been on; great rock climbing too.

    I have seen SC there and not been at all impressed. Since Jim at Seasonally Unadjusted stopped working you need to rely on the “OK” guide book or contact John at http://www.blazingtrails.co.uk/places.htm
    who won’t pretend to organise fully inclusive holidays but does provide great guiding with local knowledge and also
    helps develop new trails.

    Switchbacks are great but were a bit scarey for me; nice guys

    Pure Mountain great accomodation, OK riding, depends if you get on with Tim.

    Trailaddiction this summer had issues with our group size due to guide injuries but have been incredibley responsive for feed back and have therefore lept up in my estimation.

    Bike Village small and very personal, realy nice people

    Bike Greece a great travel and explore holiday, lovely food and beaches but dont expect too much technical riding or technical support

    Mackem
    Member

    Whatever happened to Jim? I liked going to seasonallyunadjusted.

    The day client suffered a puncture, and the “guide” was forced to borrow one of our pumps to fix it as neither he nor the van had any kit.

    No excuse for that.

    It’s an odd one. I’ve been on a great riding holiday where I didn’t get on with the owner. His partner though was great, as was the other guide, and the riding was fantastic. I’d go back tomorrow, and just be civil to the owner. There was nothing wrong with him per-se, but he had been ill and we obviously had very different views on various things. He also knew that I’d worked as a guide, so may have felt that I was judging him (which I suppose I did a little).

    JimSu
    Member

    Where was that pimpmaster?

    Jim from Seasonaly kacked it in a few years ago and moved back to Scotland I think

    Ouch! That hurt! Maybe you could have said something during the week?

    To review your complaints:
    Guides: We normally work well with 2 professional guides with total knowledge of all our trails with myself as backup. One had an accident so had to call up a fully qualified Spanish guide. Good but not much English and limited trail knowledge.
    The other guide Dave unfortunately fell ill for the whole week and was out of the picture except as a driver for one day.
    Ash our new fully qualified guide joined us Tuesday but had no knowledge of the routes.
    Still, everyone got out riding each day.
    We gave you an option of splitting your group by ability, something you declined, it would have been better to have 2 groups of 7 given the limited resources for that week.
    Buses: Picked up a brand new bus in September thinking that would solve transport problems but second bus broke down with broken alternator. Could have rented another bus but as we were only doing local hills – multiple uplifts with one bus with a short wait seemed the solution to go for.
    There was 14 bikers out that week there was never an option of 10 persons in a 9-seater something which in any case we would not allow.
    When the second bus broke down whilst I was away waiting for the repair vehicle your group of 9 insisted in taking the new bus back with a driver making an illegal 10 persons because, once again you wanted to be together. The others came back in a half empty bus, bet you never offered them the choice of going first.

    All our guides carry full medical kit, enough spares to get off the mountain and always carry a pump. We expect you to at least bring a basic tool kit if you bring your own bike. Each of our staff is in contact with each other and with the bus for instant response to any problems..

    By the way the other 2 groups of 3 and 4 bikers not in your party praised our setup and have re-booked for next year.
    Posted On Sierra Cycling facebook page this morning
    “Hi big Al thanks to you and Mary and our brother Salva dont forget the boys Danglewood Dave and Gash for a great 2 weeks biking and beers we will be back next year long drive home but we got here see you soon Dave Dawn Steve and Sue”

    Nice to know “Cycleactive (and Rich Barnard)” are so good , friend of yours is he?

    You also came with 3 in the group who obviously liked us well enough to come out for a second visit.

    We are now back to full strength so hopefully no more problems.

    Apologies for the unavoidable problems of last week, avoidable problems will be reviewed and err.. avoided.

    I´m sure your posting will do some damage to our reputation and bookings but hopefully the 99% silent majority will still enjoy their time out here with us.

    Loved all the other companies jumping on the bandwagon!

    Some photos now loaded up onto our photo page of your week with us. http://www.sierracycling.com since 1992.

    RealMan
    Member

    There we go

    mattsccm
    Member

    No idea about any of these companies but one things seems very obvious from the companies reply.
    Things went wrong, guides and vans broke etc.
    The company should be able to absorb that with no detriment to the service offered. Poor service if it can’t.
    No client should ever be allowed to break the law. ( I decline to commment on that actually happening.) Refuse to drive them if that looks like happening. Never say its your responsibilty .
    If the large group had an agreement to stick together( with the company) then it is the companies job to ensure it happens even if it costs. If they didn’t then I would assume that the small print covers this.
    Of course now every issue that arose or possibly arose will be dealt with in the small print. If it isn’t, how stupid. Cover your arse. Live and learn.

    djglover
    Member

    Maybe he should have hired another van.

    the responce makes them sound just as shoddy as the OP made out IHO!

    crikey
    Member

    I think it would be best to shut this thread now. There has been a review and a reply, and it would be best left at that.

    I predict a riot 1000 post thread.

    toys19
    Member

    Ace reply. Like it or lump it. Personally would not apply that to my business but people do make money in strange ways.

    Gary_M
    Member

    bet you never offered them the choice of going first.

    I thought your response was reasonable until I read that line. Making a snide comment isn’t the best way to protect your reputation.

    You missed the ‘customer service’ course then?

    toons
    Member

    Well we can cross Sierra Cycling off the list.

    llama
    Member

    I don’t get why OP didn’t make his concerns known at the time, or at least contact SC directly before posting here. Why not? It’s like running to your Mum when you don’t get your way if you ask me.

    I’ve been with one of the companies mentioned many times above when they lost a guide due to injury. They managed to get by but only just and you could tell it stretched them.

    BUT It does sound like SC should have been better prepared.

    Markie
    Member

    Amen to that, toons.

    RealMan
    Member

    I don’t get why OP didn’t make his concerns known at the time, or at least contact SC directly before posting here. Why not? It’s like running to your Mum when you don’t get your way if you ask me.

    To warn everyone else? His holiday was crap, nothing is going to change that.

    mark a.
    Member

    crikey wrote:

    I think it would be best to shut this thread now. There has been a review and a reply, and it would be best left at that.

    What, and spoil all the fun?

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    ‘The customer is always right’, except at Sierra Cycling.

    Think I’ll still give them a miss. Even if the review is all lies, and as Alan suggests it was all Mr MC’s group’s doing, there is enough doubt on this thread that it is nowhere near worth me risking any hard earned cash on them.

    Dave

    Just thought I’d put a good word in for Holy Grail based in Chatel.

    Run by Mick Valentine and partner Lisa, the whole setup was faultless from start to finish. Cannot recommend them highly enough.

    mark a.
    Member

    I suppose the OP and group should have been more open at the time.

    I suppose SC should have been more open as to why things were a bit shabby.

    But the response from SC raises loads more questions. Why is it the fault of the clients for the driver letting too many people get into the bus? Why was a guide borrowing pumps off people if he apparently carries full first aid and repair kit? What about the illegal guiding in the national park?

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