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Backcountry Tour of the Pyrenees? You can’t handle the backcountry tour of the Pyrenees!


It took less than a hundred metres of gravity-assisted descending for my brand new rear tyre to die, to give up its air as it gushed sealant over my head and quickly sat the rim ungraciously down on the ground. It was the first morning of the first day of my ‘end of the season’ holiday in the mountains and I was already beginning to suspect that I was in for a hard week.

The slash to my tyre, ironically next to the ‘Reinforced’ logo on it, was unpluggable, so I banged a tube in, while marvelling at how viciously sharp the rocks were on this mountain top. And we’d not even started our descent. I had simply ridden over a smooth meadow, dotted with small rocks. If this was a taste of the week to come, then I was in trouble.

In theory, this trip had all the ingredients of the perfect week off. By mid-October, you’d hope to be in great shape, having spent the summer riding bikes, honing your trail skills, becoming one with your bike and fully dialled into the shock and tyre pressures that work for you.

As it was, the three of us arrived at Barcelona Airport worn out from a year of ‘too much going on’. Even the first morning hit us hard, as an overnight water stoppage at our hotel had turned the tap water into the kind of virulent germ-breeding ground that your parents warned you about drinking when you first went abroad. And so we lost Beate to being pale, dizzy and pukey for the first transfer day, only reviving enough to test-ride her newly built-up, newly bought Orange Five around the car park for five minutes before dinner.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: Chipps wonders what comes after the corner after the next corner. International Adventure: Soviet Singletrack: With military restrictions lifted, singletrack trails are waiting to be discovered on the very fringes of Russia. Column: A Glamorous Job: Jason Miles reveals that riding your bike a lot doesn’t necessarily make you healthy. UK Adventure: West Is Best: Pete Scullion goes wild camping on Scotland’s west coast, in the depths of winter. Bike Test: One Click Ponies: James Vincent tests out three bikes from Bird, Intense and Sonder - available to you at the click of a mouse. UK Adventure: Trail Hunter - Peaky Blinder: Tom Fenton seeks out some of the Peak District’s lesser known trails in the White Peak. Group Test: Packing Light: Antony de Heveningham checks out frame, hip and back packs in search of a bag that carries just enough for those local rides. Interview: Staying Ahead, Being Last: Rachel Sokal chats to Olympian and British Champion Annie Last about staying motivated, and cake. International Adventure: Finding Perspective In Lesotho Kristi Stump ponders the gap between her own challenges and those of the people she encounters during the Lesotho Sky stage race Column: Seduced By The TV Remote: Steve Longdon misses the days when we used to ride up hills under our own power and peel our own oranges. Wait, what? International Adventure: Internal Struggle Tom Johnstone nally makes the trip of a lifetime through Iceland’s remote interior. International Adventure: No Mercy In The Mountains Chipps takes a rather taxing holiday in the Pyrenees. Perhaps a change isn’t always as good as a rest… Last Word Barney Marsh admits he’s not getting any younger or fitter. At least he can do something about one of them.