7 March, 2018

Occam Adventure in Misser territory

I'd just got home after a good ride with my enduro bike when my phone rang and… bang!, it was one of the legends of mountain biking in Spain, Tomas Misser. ''Hey man, would you be up to come over here and ride for a few days?'''

We had talked about it last year, and now here's the call. Nowadays, Tomi's agenda is in the red for most of the year and mine is somewhat relaxed in wintertime compared to the hectic Spring-Summer pace. Tomi has just finished the cyclocross racing season and has a few days off until his next adventure. In the last years, every winter, after facing a multitude of mountain biking adventures throughout the year, he goes deep in the mud to battle on regional and national cyclocross racing. He just placed 6th elite in the last Spanish Cx nationals.

Tomi, once one of the best DH riders in the World, is currently Orbea's ambassador and member of the Orbea Factory Team. During the mountain biking season, Tomi travels around the World to race some of the best XC marathon staged events. From the Absa Cape Epic to The Pioneer (NZ), from the Breck Epic (USA) to the TransPyr and, this year he's planning to recover some of his old speed on the descents and giving a try to some Enduro events.

We agreed on the dates and I booked my ticket to Barcelona. At last, I would have the chance to discover the Misser territory, Llinars del Vallés, a small village located at a 40 mins drive from Barcelona, where Tomi's family, led by his father Josep, organized a Grundig World Cup back in 1993. The Misser family were pioneers in the Spanish mountain biking scene, being Tomi and his brother Pau the first riders in venturing into the international mountain biking racing scene back in the first half of the 90s and being the first Spanish riders in achieving international results. I was about to ride the area where Tomi and Pau evolved their skills on a bike until becoming some of the World's best descenders in the decade of the 90s.

The first day Tomi picked me at my arrival and we headed straight to his parents' house in Llinars del Valles, where they have a little bike museum with the frames that Tomi and Pau used to race in their DH days. I spent a few minutes going over the unique handmade Klein frames, the Kona Sex DH, the Schwinn…, pure history of mountain biking. This time I didn't travel with my bike. Tomi had an Orbea Occam TR ready for me to ride those days. While we were setting the bikes, his brother Pau showed up and soon we're set to go.

Within just 5 minutes we were climbing on a narrow trail with some technical sections that led us to the start of the famous -at least in Spain- DH track of 'La Ballena' (The Whale), where Tomi and Pau used to train in their World Cup years. From there we made our way to Turó del Vent, combining fun and fast trails and then riding on a dirt road, mixing flat and climbing parts until we reached Roc del Diable.

From there we faced the climb to the famous Can Bordoi, the location of the 1993 Grundig World Cup in Llinars del Valles, the first MTB World Cup in Spain. We also rode through the area where the Misser family organized for more than 20 years the 'Dos días de Llinars' event, a weekend of dual slalom and DH races that used to represent the end-of-season party for the Spanish MTB. Then we would go through La Pineda until bumping into the Jabalies trail, pure flow singletrack with some switchbacks and a couple of wallrides, super fun to ride on a trail bike, which would take us back to Llinars del Vallés.

We then went for lunch in Cardedeu and spent the afternoon putting together two new bikes for Tomi.

In my second day in the area, although we had planned to go for a ride, it rained like hell for most of the day, and it was even worse in the mountains, with a heavy snowstorm forecast. Since Tomi had to film a couple of video tutorials together with Diego Grasa from Fox Shox Europe for his YouTube channel, we spent the morning on that mission. In the afternoon, we got a small window and we escaped for a two hours ride in the Montseny Natural Park area, but the conditions out there were still miserable. I got to experience the hidden dark side of the Catalonia weather… so it happens that it's not always sunny and warm here. Before going for dinner, we planned the next day route. At the restaurant, we met the DH rider Alex Marin, who also lives in the area and enjoys training here at his local tracks most of the year.

The next day we had planned a sick route through the Montseny Natural Park. Pau Misser and Diego from Fox Europe were joining us. The morning dawned totally cloudy, but at least, the storm of the previous day already seemed to have passed. We headed to Coll Formic (1150 mts), in the heart of the Montseny, where we would start the 35kms route we had planned.

When we got to the Coll we found a crazy amount of snow all over the area. The forecasted snowfall had painted white the highest peaks of the park. Even if the plan was riding through Pla de la Calma, which is a pretty flattish mountain at the top with a gently rideable dirt road, the route was not going to be easy, we were facing some kilometers dancing on the ice and snow with our trail bikes, and obviously with OEM tires. We had to walk quite a bit and push the bike, pedaling when we could, sliding off the track every few meters. We had tonnes of fun!

We rode the whole Pla de la Calma way, from Sui to Tagamanent. Once there we hit the impressive trail of Les Bosc, sliding through some magic woods down till we reached Roca Centella, where we had already left the snow behind us. From Roca Centella we dived into a long descent through a fast natural trail, meandering across the forest until we found ourselves in the town of Cánoves. That was the finish point of the ride. We jumped into the restaurant and ordered some wood-fired oven pizzas to call it a day and refill the tanks after a long, cold and sick journey on the bike.

The last day, Tomi and I went for a short spin on the Cardedeu and Llinars del Vallés countryside area. We had breakfast and set off to the Torrassa del Moro woods, where plenty of mountain bikers and trail runners go for a spin on the weekends. Tomi showed me some of the best tracks on the mountain, with some trails of pure flow, toboggan-style, slow and fast areas mix.

We rode down a sketchy trail plenty of roots, then went on the fire road that serves as a trails connector and we headed to one of the most famous trails in the area, the Dragon Khan, a 5 km trail that runs fast and it's pure fun, and actually it was built by Josep Misser. ed.: many of the classic trails in the area were built by the Misser brothers and their father Josep. We reached the bottom at Dosrius and climbed on the dirt road back to Torrassa del Moro, where he had a sandwich with some of the local riders.

Bye for now until the next adventure. We have already selected some other areas in Spain that we want to explore. Stay tuned…