Saturday, 25 July 2015

The VINCE:

When we caught up with Geoff & Lee to make our final plans for route choice for the two days, it was really pretty much too late as we were all there now and we’d all four planned our routes independent of each other, however Geoff’s finish almost linked with Lee’s beginning and Lucy & I had planned hers to start from my finish point, so we had some continuity. Or so we thought...
Geoff, Lucy & I looking fairly normal
And Lee!!
However the reality was there are 80 points to collect and nobody got more than about 60 ish, with our team getting 23 in total.

Berga Map...
Set off was at 08.40am,  return no later than 20.40pm or Di Jones ruling applied, ie every minute back late meant a later start the next day...

Our score was in the lower middle of the points collected, I reckon this was down to several reasons...
1.       Geoff, Lee & lucy can’t navigate for shite in the mountains ;-)
2.       Route plans should only include the ones that link up & the 4 point ones should be in that...
3.       All the group members should plan their routes with more chat & time than we’d had!

One of the tags we were looking for!
Day 1.
So we set off on Saturday morning, arriving at the start point as the first ones... eager us.. noo! The 'start line' was Austin sat in a chair on the roundabout, watch, overalls and all!. 

08.40am, we were off... Geoff was the first to navigate, it took us until about 10.30am to find the first point and it was one of Lucy’s! Found totally by accident as some other ‘Vincers’ were at the point as Geoff rode past...

Geoff's first point found!
The next one was actually one of Geoff’s and we were off on his trail, for a bit any hoo... we were soon lost again though!!!

The trails were ace, lots of more technical stuff, plenty of steep loose and gravelly lanes, a lot of beautiful woodland and some stunning scenery from the Spanish Pyrenees. Our route covered the North Eastern section of the Berga map and took us upto towards La Pobla from Cal Rosa. The variety of the terrain blew us all away, some hidden trails marked in dashed lines on the map were some of the best...




Err wrong way here... that's an old footbridge!
I had my moment of the trip at the end of the day, we had collected our last point and was heading back, when I met a 4x4 on the trail on a blind bend... we both stopped, but I ended up on the deck with a badly bruised knee and some scrapes... motocross trousers have no protection at all!

Ouch!!
Everybody loved the day and as we rolled back into camp, with a less than mighty 12 points for the day, beers and a BBQ followed with partners & Lee’s daughter...

Meeting other 'Vincers' at the point

La Pobla, fuel & ice cream...





Lots of chat, good banter and plenty of good gossip with some of the guys we’d met on the trails during the day...

Day 2
Lee was up for navigating and after we’d had a fast road ride in the cooler morning air to Baga, (just north of Berga), he took over to get us to the first point in the North West section of the map.
First point, perfect!
This success elicited a dance of jubilation on his part, plenty of gloating to Geoff and then we were off to point two.

Lee's first point...
The view back into the plains to the South


Where the feck are we??
Point two meant a U turn, lucy had a spill on steep ground, but we got there... the scenery was just getting better and better by now, beautiful high mountain trails, winding through the Pyrenean plateau’s full of animals grazing on the lush summer grasses.

You can camp here too!

Where next Lucy?

WOW!
The climbing looks ace on this peak...


Go Girl!!
We stopped plenty to enjoy the views and relish in the joy of achieving such heady heights and sights as we passed through this fantastic landscape.

Our drama of the day came around a point called Moripol, a lost bit of a ruin in the hills, we were struggling to pinpoint exactly where the descent was, the map wasn’t that accurate and the descent took us to a newly graded road that wound its way in the general direction we wanted to head, so we followed this... the problem was Lucy’s KTM was now on reserve, we had 2 spare litres of fuel of which one had gone into her tank already and the navigation wasn’t that easy.





We cruised down the descents out of gear or with the clutch in, which was a bit hairy as they were really steep and loose, fuel was about 10 miles as the crow flies, but for us, it could have been 100 miles!
Slowly slowly we crept along, conserving fuel and at every junction we checked and re checked everything, the strain of being stranded was playing on everybodies minds a fair bit.

After a few debates, we finally fully located ourselves and headed down to the tarmac road that wound to the valley bottom and the fuel stop at St Lorenc... glorious petrol, coffee, cake and ice cream followed, it was now 4pm!


We left Lee’s section and headed into my bit in the South West part of the map, the trails weren’t as dramatic as in the higher Pyrenees, but the fast flowing sweeping bends were great fun, the little electric wire gates were a constant reminder to pay attention as they were pretty hard to see and the navigation was pretty tricky as there were more turns, but for me it was a little easier as I had planned this section so knew it fairly well from my planning stage.

We took in a long ridge line that took us to tarmac, then blasted up around a bunch of bends to get in some of lucy’s points, picking up a couple more points before heading back to get in to camp for 20.30!

11 points for the day... a total of 23 for the team! A total of 380 km ridden in 24 hours!!

Large beers, plenty of good banter amongst the teams, some seriously shite over priced food from the resort and lots of speel from Austin to all the teams as he announced the winning teams and thanked the various people who had come to the event.

Almost everyone back for 20.30pm

Beer & Wine and photos, not a good mix...
The whole event was a laugh, we have all ridden some great lanes, totally different from the UK, the bikes performed really well, our confidence in our own skills has moved on a notch again and we’ve met some great people, some of whom no doubt we’ll ride with again...

A great job well done by Austin Vince and his partner Lois Pryce, bringing all of those people together into such an amazing area, all experiencing the wonders of the trails in the Spanish Pyrenees... spoiled a little by the expensive accommodation venue which to be fair was a last minute change due to a double booking error.


Lucy & I have discussed at length on the drive through France to the Gorge du Tarn for the second part of our holiday about whether we would go again, the event is really expensive, we have spent approximately £1600 on the trip, (I’ll work it out a bit more exact when I have the time), so that is an awful lot of money for just a weekend in the Pyrenees, but the fact that we have elongated it to a two week trip to try to make the costs more bearable have helped a little... 

We both really enjoyed ourselves, met some great people and had a good laugh... it’s bloody expensive which ever way you cut it, but to be honest the knowledge about the riding in the Pyrenees is priceless to us and we will most probably try to do another VINCE when funds allow both to check out a new area and to catch up with a few people...

The next VINCE, ie 2016, is around Oliana in September apparently...

Thanks to everyone involved, but especially Lucy, Geoff & Lee as without them it wouldn't have been such a laugh...

Here's to the next adventure!!

Oh & here a couple of unedited GoPro films of some of the riding...
1. Dry Riverbed crossing
2. Lost in the bushes!


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