For 2017 The Spanish Biker LLP is offering three HISS off-road riding events; HISS v1 in the Catalan Pyrenees (June 12 – 16th), Challenge (June 19 – 23rd) and HISS Aragon (September 11 – 15th), both of which are located in Teruel Province in southern Aragon. And following the success of last year’s event we are once again Event Partners with Horizons Unlimited’s HUMM Sierras de España navigation event, which has three formal riding days over the 3rd, 4th and 5th of October as well as registration on the 2nd.
The term ‘v1’ derives from the original HISS in 2012 and its format is the blueprint for all HISS (Highly Informal Sojourns in Spain) events and draws heavily on the ‘Adventure Bike’ concept, being based at camp sites and in which participants are responsible for their own resources, i.e. their bikes, licences, insurance cover, etc. The HISS itself provides all the background; maps, guides, satnav files, etc. for up to five days’ off-road riding experience in locations that are specially selected for their stunning and varied scenery – the best in Spain!
During the HISS riders form groups – subject to local rules about numbers, up to five in Aragon and seven in Catalonia. These often change over the course of the week as there are no fixed teams and no competition, so that although some groups of friends stick together there is no ‘pack drill’ about changing groups as riders gain skills or conversely more experienced riders join groups of novices and share their knowledge.
HISS trails are arranged into ‘sets’ according to their various locations, either parishes or landscape features, sierras, etc. These are interconnect, often at ‘nodes’ where several trails meet, say at a mountain passes or summits, or are linked by short, often spectacular, road sections that are also used to ride off the mountains for fuel, food etc. so that groups of riders can make up itineraries for their day’s riding – often changing their minds along the way! – sometimes exploring one particular area in details or devising long routes crossing the region.
The satnav files are mailed to participants a few weeks before the HISS so that they can be uploaded in advance whist at the HISS itself the trails are presented on a Monster Map which works in conjunction with detailed reference guides and shorter field guides that list the ‘vital’ statistics; start and finish points, proximity to the other trails, fuel, etc. The trails aren’t rated for difficulty as such but are described in detail in the reference guides with notes about specific hazards of riding conditions. Terms such as ‘technical’ and ‘difficult’ are used as adjectives rather than objective definitions.
The v1 HISS has trails to suit all tastes and abilities and has evolved and expanded over the years to include the entire length of the Noguera Pallaresa river, one of the fastest and most powerful in the Pyrenees and famous for slalom canoeing, white-water rafting, etc. from its source on the Pla de Beret ski station – a stone’s throw away from some of the numerous sources of the Garonne river to its confluence with the Segre river near the village of Camarasa, where the Pyrenees stop abruptly with dramatic cliffs that rise vertiginously above the plains of the great Ebro Depression – a distance of some 90 kms as the crow flies – and span the surrounding sierras as far as the Noguera Ribagorzana and Segre rivers which run parallel to the Noguera Pallaresa about thirty kilometres respectively to the west and east.
In contrast to the HISS v1 both the Challenge and Aragon events, which are new for 2017, are devised to be more specific, the Challenge consisting almost exclusively of difficult ‘technical’ trails whilst the Big Tread combines more accessible trails with some of the best road sections in Spain.
The Challenge trails are located to the southeast of Teruel city in and around the Gúdar-Javalambre comarca, or county, which with one person per 3.3 square km2 is one of the least populous areas in Europe so that the ‘challenge’ also includes logistics such as finding fuel and fodder as well as riding the trails themselves. Although the Challenge is a response to the popularity of the HISS events for riders bringing smaller ‘enduro’ bikes the trails are also accessible to large machines, albeit increasing the difficulty level considerably – one big bike category team, veteran winners of the Pyrenees events from 2007 – 2010, described some trails at the 2016 HUMM event, which shared some of the territory, that were rated at the maximum ‘Level 5’ according to the HU system, An expert rider on a 1200 GSA will be working hard. as, “Those trails should be rated ten!”
In contrast the Aragon, which has trails and road sections in the a circular territory that radiates for about 60 kms around Teruel city, combines ‘easy’ trails that are accessible both to large bikes and ‘novice’ riders as well as the Challenge trails. The territory is much larger than the Challenge area so that larger bikes can benefit from their greater range and faster road speeds to reach the more distant trails.
NB serious incidents, accidents, etc. must be referred to the excellent local emergency services which have a dedicated tracking system called Alpify, which is available free to download onto mobile phones.
For 2017 we have new camp site location for the Challenge and Aragon events that have accommodation options available. As well as bungalows the site has ‘apartment’ rooms and has room for our exclusive use as a HQ. Please note that apart from the courtesy of providing lists of participants’ names The Spanish Biker does not have any direct ‘relationship’ with the owners of the accommodation.