5H ride in High Andorra Mountains, on a SHAN Nº5

What a steel full suspension frame has so special? Come with me for 5H ride, 32KM and 2300m of vertical drop to understand what means Steel is Real!

SUNDAY 15TH OCTOBER 2017. 10H45.

Today is the last day of the season for the Vallnord Bike Park, after a wonderful summer season. The weather has been extraordinary, the attendance has seen a constant rise, and the trails are getting better every year.
For this sunday, the sky is blue, sun shining and there is a lot of people waiting for the chairlift to open.

Photo taken a the Serra chairlift

The goal of today’s ride is to use the chairlift to climb up rapidly the first part, but then to get out of the bike park. The planned itinirary goes through the crest featured on the middle part of this picture, and situated at a 2300-meter height.

Is the Stig around?

I am about to get off the chairlift at the Pic de Cubil, the highest point of the Vallnord resort. I make a turn right, towards the Col de la Botella, where I will start a 6-kilometer climb, to finally get to Port de Cabus.

That 6 kilometer ride upward has been an easy one. The Shan nº5 has a great position for pedalling, thanks to its 75,75º seat tube angle. The rider is sitting just above the bottom bracket, and it allows a great pedalling efficiency. Furthermore, we have designed the Shan nº5 to be rigid around the bottom bracket so that all the pedalling power is transfered to the rear wheel. The Shan nº5 climbs real fast, and I am already at the bottom of the first carrying section. In the distance, I can see the trails of Pal, that I have left a few moments ago.

Is that graff on the rock the reflection of a motorbike/hikers cohabitation problem? In Andorra, there is a real trial motorbike culture, and those are tolerated throughout the whole moutains, with the exception National Parks. I don’t know what history is behind this “No motorbikes” inscription, but it reminds me of the same kind of tags we can find againt mountain bikes.
Personnally, I think that the moutain has to be shared by all in a peaceful cohabitation, respectuf of all the mountain users. Everywhere, it would be necessary to hold debate so that all the moutain enthusiasts could meet and set up new rules, about how to come and go in the mountains, how to protect them, maintain them, and enjoy them in all serenity.
As for us MTB users, we have to do our best to preserve our sport, which is magnificent! In a time somehow confused regarding regulations, when we hear about quarrels and cohabitations problems, when MTB ban threats look every time more serious, we have to be proud of our sport that is resolutely “green”! More than a colour, a fact ! Let’s be proud of MTB, that has remained a simple, human, non-polluting and unpretentious sport. Let’s promote it, let’s put it in the spotlight! We MTB users, should not let nothing and no one risk to compromise this freedom we have to go on mountian trails, when we do it with respect, pleasure and an inmense joy.

An absolutely magic moment, this trail feels like a dream, this is so good that I start laughing under my helmet. The sensation of riding this trail, otherwise hardly ever treaded, is a real pleasure!

I finally arrive at the top of the first real downhill section, which turns out to be pure madness! Fast, flowy, with natural jumps everywhere, this single track is a blast! (We can’t see it on the picture because the trail goes down a hollow.)

Once again, the Shan Nº5 handles this type of trail, where you have to ride “by sight”, perfectly well. The idea here is not to spare seconds at each braking, to make a KOM on Strava (there is no Segment here) or to beat your mates (they are still sleeping). The goal here is to make the most of the trail without fearing to go over the bars. When you ride alone at 2500 meters, it’s not recommended! 
The SHAN N°5 was developed so that its steel frame is able to absorb the trail profile thanks to finely controlled flex in its chassis. It is more tolerant & forgiving, offering increased confidence and more cornering grip.

A quick look on the map while I eat my first sandwich allows me to confirm my itinerary, I have to go left.

The resort of Arinsal, where we snowboard in winter, is not exactly on the route, but I just had to come and say hello during its autumnal break.

The Arinsal resort is behind those two summits. I am in the last part of the day where I have to push the bike. The finish line is in my back.

After more than 45 minutes in this desertic landscape, swept by a strong wind, I have to confess that the paint mark on the rock (signalling a registered route) is a comfort to me.

Royal Eagles have been with me for a part of today’s trip. I can’t believe how silent they are as they glide over my head.

View of the Comapedrosa Park. This is a protected natural park, where all motorized vehicles are banned. Mountainbiking, as often in this kind of place, is frowned upon, but is tolerated, as MTB are not motorized.
In any case, given the difficulty to get up there, there must not be a lot of bikes around here… There are a lot more hikers coming here in summer to enjoy this wonderful National Park, which includes Andorra’s highest peak, the Comapedrosa (2942 m)

I have arrived at the higest point of today’s trip, Portella de Sanfons (2575m)! What lay before me is 1300 m of descent, that will lead me directly home. 
The Shan nº5 is in good shape!


After a first steep descent, with numerous switch-backs, followed by a single track full of speed and pleasure, I find this wonderful landscape. The golden colours of the fall gives this valley an air of Mongol steppe, but only a few minutes away from home. I stop there for a minute, absorbed in the beauty of the landscape, bathed in calm and serenity, alone in the moutain. Magic moment.

The descent towards Arinsal has a different shape, and colours. It is most of all super technical, hard, slow. Numerous sections can only be passed on foot (maybe not for Leo Nobile). Once again, to be able to trust one’s bike in such situations is a real asset, and the Shan nº5 remains tolerant and forgiving even at low speed and in rocky sections. This is when you understand the magic of a steel chassis, when you start to be tired and less efficient, then the Shan nº5 is your best friend. So easy to ride, he will take you by the hand and lead you wherever you want.

Only a few kilometers left and I will be home. The landscape now ressemble Canada. 
In the end, I have been out for a 5-hour and 32-km ride, with 2300 m descent, and a wonderful moment.
Thanks for existing, MTB.