By Dave Camus
Photos by Dave Camus and Milan Reknagel (Ed)
On a cold rainy day in November, Milan Olivier (Ed) came up on my Facebook messenger excited about booking a five day trip to Barcelona. At first I thought a few things - a) how the hell I was going to afford it on my student budget, b) What even was there to ride in Barcelona anyway, and c) was the weather even going to be that great in February?
All of my doubts soon vanished after some frantic messaging and googling; the flights were only 90 quid return and La Poma Bike Park, just outside of Barcelona, looked incredible! Flights were soon booked and all we had to do was wait until February rolled around.
We jetted off from Liverpool with Easyjet at a silly hour in the morning, but that at least meant we could cram in a few hours at the bike park on arrival before the sun set. An hour journey via two trains from the airport to Premia de Mar got us to our hotel, which was located on the seafront a 15 minute ride from La Poma. We frantically assembled our bikes and sprinted up to the bike park, eager as hell to ride dirt for the first time in months.
First impressions of La Poma? Incredible. So many different lines, a pump track, huge kickers, a downhill BMX track and a monster foam pit to keep all the trick monkeys entertained, all overlooking the sea with blue skies above - what more could you want? The only downside was the wind, so early morning and late evening sessions were definitely in order for the holiday.
We quickly got comfortable with the main line, which started with a couple of trails style hips before dropping into a little step down and a roller to set you up for three trick jumps with wooden kickers, which weirdly all rode a little different to keep things interesting.
The main attraction at La Poma though is the big line. Frequently featured in videos, this line has some hefty jumps well out of our comfort zones. I rocked up to the roll in first after vibing off these German lads we were sessioning with who had just started riding the line. The wind had picked up by this time so my stomach wasn't as settled as it could have been but I knew it was time nonetheless. You can't come all this way and not send it right? With Milan pointing the camera at me, after one pedal stroke off the run in I was off. I found the first two surprisingly easy, then I hit the long-and-low before the biggest jump in the line. Shit. This was it. I hit the kicker and pushed through a bit to make sure I cleared it... When I realised I was going to come up a little short I had a bit of a might-need-to-change-my-trousers moment, but I held on and rode it out. The full line would have to wait until tomorrow when the wind was down. Milan, although gutted about waiting another day, took my advise to hold out. Tomorrow.
It was Sunday, and Milan still hadn't hit the big line which was obviously bugging him. It also meant I had one up on him at breakfast. Many expressos later we were awake and ready. On my second attempt at the line I went straight through with a bit of a case on the big one but I didn’t mind as I knew I'd get comfortable with the line after a few more runs. The airtime was just insane, way bigger than anything I'd ever ridden on a dirt jump or even a downhill bike. The pressure was now on Milan; running 24' wheels and rigid forks he had less bike to save him from any mishaps. I’d never seen him so scared. After a breather he was ready and dropped in, missing half the landing of the first jump but getting it back together over the second before sailing through the rest of the line, going ridiculously high on the biggest jump. He went higher than I’d seen anyone else go all week. Crazy. Our stoke levels were now through the roof.
The session that Sunday evening was the best of the holiday. The locals were loving the trails style we brought to the jumps and joined in on our trains all evening. Everyone was riding all out, vibing off each other and generally having a great time. FMB rider Jakub Vencl from the Czech Republic was also in attendance, completely shutting down the big line in the wind on what would have been a casual ride for him. La Poma locals are some of the friendliest and most stoked you will ever ride with. Do a trick or go particular high or sideways and you’ll know about it. It’s a shame not every scene is like this.
Over the next few days we mixed up La Poma sessions with some street ventures along the coast and into the city. We’re about as far from street as they come but that didn't stop us airing the infamous concrete wall by the sea front and finding things to manual. We didn't get as much out of the street riding as perhaps we could have done as we found finding spots that suited our style a little tricky, but the city was just awesome to explore and experience anyway. The locals also seemed to enjoy watching our antics, which is not a reaction you’d expect from the general public in the UK when riding street. Maybe all the sunshine makes everyone way more chilled and accepting?
So if you’re after an affordable winter holiday in the sun - Barca is an obvious choice. The five day holiday cost under £300 each all in. The bike park costs five euros to ride all day, and the hotel was booked via La Poma Accommodation on Facebook. The guys at the park were extremely helpful prior to the trip and are all great people (thanks for the sun cream).
Full Barcelona photo album here.