Discovering Gold in the Malaga Hills

It wasn't meant to be a good ride. Yesterday my derailleur committed suicide. Getting a replacement and fitting it ate into the time that I had set aside this afternoon for riding. By the time it was done, there was no time to get out to the "proper" trails on the other side of Malaga. Instead I settled for riding up a green (as per Trailforks) trail and down again. It turned out better than expected.

Starting pretty much on the doorstep of where I am staying, this trail winds its way up into the hills above the city. It starts as a scrappy, gravelly trail. A couple of hundred metres later I came across a hand built jump line. There be downhillers here.

On the other side of a motorway bridge, the trail became a fireroad, allowing me to pick up some speed before crawling up steep inclines. It wound its way through olive groves and past abandoned farmhouses. The smell of wild herbs tickled my nostrils.

Further up I saw a trail traversing the hillside. At first it looked like an access trail to the electricity pylons but it was too narrow for a vehicle. On one distant corner I could see what looked like the take off of a nicely shaped jump. I decided it needed investigating on the way down.

I pushed on to the summit and ate a flapjack while enjoying the view of a reservoir and Malaga below it. I clipped on the full face part of my helmet and hooned down, scaring the shit out of myself on the loose corners.

On closer investigation, the trail I had seen did indeed have jumps on it. As soon as I saw the first one right after a bermed corner I knew this was the doing of mountain bikers. A few turns later I almost ran over a bloke with a pick. He was at the end of the trail and was building it further. I had discovered one of those mystical trail building pixies. Either that or he was just short.

According to Duo Lingo, my Spanish is 19% fluent. In real terms, this means it is shit. He didn't speak any English and seemed confused when I asked him if he mountain bikes. I then asked if the trail was for walking or biking. All I understood from him is that it would be hard for me to continue because there was no more trail. Fair enough. I pedalled back to the top.

On the way down I took a few detours to ride some steeper lines and play on rocky outcrops that I had spotted on the way up. Two hours after setting out, I was back at the apartment with a big smile on my face. This is why you should explore your backyard. Oh, and ride every day. You never know when what you expect to be mediocre will turn into gold.

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