Biking The Basque Country

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On an overcast, slightly cool day this summer we spent the morning biking around the Plazaola Valley, close to a small town called Andoain here in The Basque Country.  I had found an offer on a web-site called Deskontu, which is similar to Groupon or Living Social in the USA.  As soon as I saw the plan, I knew it would be something fun and different to do one day.  For only 7.20 euros (each person) we got a 4 hour rental bike, safety gear, an explanation and map of the trail and a guided tour to the Water Interpretation Center.

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The main trail is 20 km from the starting point to a small town called Otieta.  The path is well marked and almost impossible to get lost.  There are quite a few tunnels (22 in total if I remember correctly) and most are lit to guide you through them without any problems.

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We started out first thing in the morning with the intention of completing the 20 km in about 2 hours, having a picnic and then returning.  The girl at the information center told us that it was an easy trail and not difficult to finish as it was mostly flat with not much of a climb.  As we began, it seemed she was right.  It didn’t appear hard but after about 20 minutes I discovered that there wasn’t an immediate climb and then flat rather a slight climbing for the entire 2  hours.  I also soon discovered that my ass was not prepared for a 4 hour bike ride!

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Unfortunately I had to stop more than we expected because of my ass burning as well as to take pics of the beautiful surroundings.  At the end, we only did 15 of the 20 km but I was proud of myself for that.  It’s probably been about 7 years since I have ridden a bike so I wasn’t exactly in great bike-riding shape.

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The best part of the day was doing something new and seeing all the greenery.  As you can see from the photos, it’s an incredible place with gorgeous views of the mountains and rivers.  If you want to spend a morning or afternoon doing something active while getting to see a different part of the Basque Country, I would highly recommend this.  Passing over old stone bridges and past Basque farmhouses gives you a view of this lovely region few get to discover.

Information: Leitzaran Visitors Center / Open 9:00am-6:00pm every day / Price: 10.00 euros for 4 hours/ Reservation recommended

Suggestions: Bring enough water for the 4 hours.  There are a few fountains with potable water but I would recommend bringing your own just in case.  It would also be a good idea to bring a snack or picnic to have along the way.  There aren’t any marked picnic spots but a few places with grass to stop and relax.  Go on a day when it hasn’t rained recently otherwise the trail will be wet and you’ll end up like this:

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