Words and Photos – Tom @fomtaz and Laura @lauraspinneyfitness
At the end of 2018, we decided to embark on a bike packing trip together, as talk of babies was getting more and more serious, we thought that this could be the last chance for a while!
We decided that the GR247 in Sierra da Cazorla, Spain was the one. In December you have to be clever where you decide to head to in Europe to ensure some good weather and this area of Spain is one of the warmest and driest all year round. Dreams of riding single track trails shirtless and fancy free were in my mind.
The mountain range ‘Sierra da Cazorla’ is often described as the most beautiful Mountain range in Spain. The route takes in some of the most amazing gravel roads and single track hiking paths I’ve ever ridden, and there are plentiful Fountain springs to refill water, as well as lots of amazing refugio’s to sleep in.
The climbing is hardcore, technical single track, or long fire roads. This route is seriously demanding!
During the day the temperature got up to 20 degrees, but as soon as the sun dropped, it shot down to zero pretty quickly! Our expensive down sleeping bags were so worth the purchase. One evening, camping on a rocky outcrop on the top of a windy mountain, we cooked up a miso soup, huddled inside the tent, down jackets on, sleeping bags wrapped around us., and it must have been way below freezing. The next night we made sure we camped at lower altitude where it would stay a little warmer overnight.
After following a majority of the Bikepacking.com route, we then freestyled the last bit to cross the range to head back to the town of Cazorla. This is where the trail got really interesting. We had bought a map off of eBay prior to the trip, and were following what looked like the same type of trails we’d been using, but they turned into super narrow, ridge line single track with rock falls, with the added sketchiness of some crazy weather coming in.
After 5 days of epic trails, scary single track, beautiful refugio’s and mountain passes, we cruised off the trail on to tarmac, and straight past an incredible looking spa hotel, overlooking the mountains. Brakes were applied with haste, with passports in hand, we opened the door and booked in for two nights. Gotta take the rough with the smooth right?
All in all, I would recommend the GR247 to anyone. Just bring your climbing legs, and be aware, we’ve heard on good authority (Oscar Jenkinson), that doing the trail in summer is a bad idea, as the fountains are dry and the heat is relentless.
The bike I road was my Surly Karate monkey, with 130mm front suspension, Laura used her Ricthey Ultra. The trail is doable on a gravel bike, but the technical decents would not be anywhere near as fun.
@fomtaz and @lauraspinneyfitness