Gone are the days when I was young and carefree, when I I followed my heart, travelled the world and had a go at anything that involved getting the pulse racing and the legs shaking. It wasn’t that long ago, however, that I visited one of the most epic destinations for mountain bike riding in Europe: Andorra.
Consisting of three steep sided valleys, the area offers huge diversity and an awesome combination of steep rough tracks, flowing high slopes, bike parks, and ‘techy’ fun trails. Full of jumps and berms, all of the trails are made all the more accessible by the well set up lift system in Andorra, which functions throughout summer.
The town itself seems as if it was born to be a destination for mountain bikers, with its numerous bike shops and excellent bars and hang outs for post riding drinks and chats. Not only that, the challenging terrain has given this venue a reputation on the World Cup circuit, which arrives here again in September this year.
My Guide To The Three Riding Areas in Andorra
A short gondola followed by a remote chairlift gets you to the top of the trails in Soldeu. After admiring the view for a moment, don the helmet and session the top part of the mountain. Full-on tracks with gnarly jumps and kickers offer some challenging elements while the tree runs take in a wicked mix of gradients bursting with natural features, a load of jumps and technical turns.
Ordino and Vallnord
After purchasing a mountain pass in Soldeu, your trail options open up hugely. Ordino, famous for its steep sided valleys, forest trails and stunning scenery is only a five-minute easy ride down to La Messana, home to the gondola that takes you direct to Vallnord Bike Park. If you are a park fan, then this one is worth a spin, but for a real adrenaline kick, head up the mountain to the amazing steep rocky tracks. My favourite is the Pic del Cubil, that links to loads of other flowy and ‘techy’ trails. One of the real flat-out downhills is route 66, so if speed is your thing, this is one to check out.
You have to love this place because it is full of guys and gals who are so passionate about this sport. Locals and visitors alike are hammering out runs all day and hanging out sharing beers in the evenings.
La Massana’s Mon Bohemi is the ‘go-to’ place for ‘après-riding’ get togethers. Smiles, laughter and friendly gossip are the name of the game here, and I just love the chilled out atmosphere that takes you through to the end of the night. The Sports Bar is another place for beer and banter, and somewhere everyone heads to for a post run pint!
Andorra is great for its incredible riding, wicked singletracks, great value food, cheap fuel and welcoming locals. What more do you need for your mountain bike break?
How To Get There
Toulouse and Barcelona are the two main airports serving Andorra, with easyJet, Jet2 and Monarch, the budget airlines offering the best deals depending on when you travel. Remember to declare your bike when you book, as it needs to be paid for separately.
If you want a stress free transfer to Andorra from either of these airports, Shuttle Direct are an excellent company to choose. The team are familiar with dealing with large luggage, such as bikes, and will take great care when packing and transporting it. You’ll be met at the airport in arrivals and taken in your own private vehicle to Andorra. The three-hour trip from Barcelona costs around £230, and from Toulouse around £260, but travel with friends and the trip will be cheaper.
Alternatively you could travel form the UK by train, via Paris, into L’Hospitalet-Pres-l’Andorre or La Tour de Carol. Shuttle Direct offer transfers from train stations too, so no need to worry about battling with onward public transport.
Where to Stay
Sport Hotel – This is a real mountain hotel with great access to the lifts. There’s a restaurant onsite serving great breakfasts and good value meals with big portions. The amazing spa is the perfect antidote to a hard day on the slopes. Free Wi-Fi is a huge bonus if you like to stay in touch and upload photos to make all your mates envious. Storage for your precious bike is also available at Sport Hotel. What more could you need?
Hotel El Pradet – Vallnord is just a 20-minute drive from this property, which is located in a stunning spot in the heart of the Pyrenees. Rooms at Hotel El Pradet have TVs and free Wi-Fi, as well as a big bathtub, ideal for relaxing the weary muscles and getting them prepped for the next day. The onsite restaurant is typically Andorran, but in summer you can use the BBQ facilities and cook up your own hearty feast. There is a bar here too, as well as plenty of secure bike storage.
Hotel Naudi – Perfectly located close to all of the best tracks and trails, Hotel Naudi is the go-to place if you love your scenery. The restaurant is good value, has a stunning terrace for al fresco eating, and the meals are healthy, hearty and delicious. Wi-Fi is offered at a basic level but you can upgrade for a surcharge. Hotel Naudi is excellent value for money.
About Shuttle Direct:
The team at Shuttle Direct understand that travelling with your precious bike can be a strain. It needs careful handling and must be packed with care and attention. Make your onward journey from your chosen arrival airport to your hotel as hassle free as possible and book in advance with one of our professional team at Shuttle Direct.