Espagne, Mallos de Riglos

Spain, Mallos de Riglos

A world-famous spot for climbing, Riglos is a small village in Spain located in the province of Huesca. Here geology has done extraordinary work, carving monumental sandstone cliffs, some 300 m high. Focus on this space on the way to becoming as good to ride as Ainsa!

I don't know much about Spain, so it's decided, I must now catch up. In 2017, I visited Ainsa by mountain bike, in 2018 Andalusia (without the bike) and in 2019 a little road trip was necessary. Head to the land of the sun for a week of cycling. After the Bardenas, here I am in Riglos in the province of Huesca

We can wrongly believe that it is always hot in Spain, that the climate is very mild. Of course, when you look at a map, you see that the whole country is further south than France. But this forgets the local geography, the relief and the influence of oceanic inlets. Here in Riglos, it's a pure continental climate, we are already at an altitude of 600 m, halfway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Well located south of the Pyrenees, the small village is hit by significant temperature swings. I arrive on Riglos in the afternoon.

And in the middle of winter, the sun doesn't take long to set very early. I don't really have time to go riding. I just decide to stretch my legs in one of the local vie ferrates. Given how late it was in the afternoon, I chose the easiest and shortest route in the area. After an approach under the cliffs, I start climbing. The route is really simple, but allows you to appreciate the beauty of the site. At the top, I enjoy an incredible view of these stone colossi. The belvedere is also ideal for observing vultures, there are masses of them in the area, impossible to miss them. The descent is even more beautiful than the climb, I complete this walk at night. As soon as the sun goes out, the temperature drops by almost 10 degrees, freezing!

I head to the hotel to take a good shower. In the evening, in the streets of Ayerbe, the cold is intense, the wind rushes through the alleys. Not a cat outside, but the restaurants are crowded. The advantage of Spain is that you can eat late!

The next day I am hard at work, in the center of the village, the sun is already up. I preferred to wait until it warmed up a bit, I planned to spend the day outside, so I had time to enjoy the area. I calmly go back up the track followed the day before to go to the via ferrata. The slope is perfect for warming up, I pass a lot of hikers. It's the weekend, and people come to enjoy this beautiful day. The site is very popular with climbers but also hikers. There is a lot of traffic in the car parks, they are quickly full.

When the track stops, a path takes over. And it gets steeper and harder. I regularly have to get off the bike. For once, with an electric bike and by mastering your machine well, this would pass without putting a foot down. I continue the ascent, I finally emerge from the valley and take the full brunt of the sun. A real treat in winter. I'm taking this opportunity to take a good break, I don't particularly want to rush. The more I meet Javier from Trans Nomad, a 4-day Spanish enduro race, the connection immediately passes.

He briefly shows me all the local potential. And listening to him, there's some very good stuff out there. And Javier is a character locally! A tourism consultant, he has developed a Puro Pirineo mountain bike center which, according to him, is very close to the quality of Zona Zero. This information sharpens my curiosity, I feel that I will have to come back to Spain. Especially since Javier is currently working in the Riglos sector and is thoroughly developing the mountain bike trails. He wants to make it a reference center for mountain biking very soon. It just goes to show that things are moving in Spain!

I continue to climb, the passage on the north slope acts as a fridge, in the shade the ground is still frosty, in the distance the Pyrenees are adorned with white! Gorgeous. I reach a pass guarded by an army of hunters. I'm slightly worried about what's next. I ask, body language replaces my Spanish. From what I understand, there is no danger, the planned descent is not under crossfire. The light is magical, it is starting to fade.

The king vultures of the air and cliffs circle on the peaks. The single is superb, fast, sometimes technical, you have to stay mobile on the bike. The hook is just perfect. Further down, I reach a small building, I take another break, facing the sun, like a lizard. It feels good. The descent continues, it is quite technical, not to say very hot at times.

After a beautiful crossing under the trees, I dive to the left into a magnificent valley framed by these very tall sandstone towers. It was Nicolas Watteau, author at VTOPO in the Pyrénées Atlantiques who pointed this passage out to me. And he was not wrong, he is excellent! The path is playful, sometimes stony, sometimes rocky. You have to use the entire width, thwarting the best trajectories. I take turns facing the setting sun.

Arriving at the bottom, I enjoy the last rays while observing the climbers playing with the rock. The atmosphere is peaceful, I speed up so as not to get dark, I want to continue to stay in my t-shirt! After a good shower and a good meal, I head to bed. Because tomorrow there is also cycling.

Still this great weather to start this new day in Riglos. Direction Castillo de Loarre. This magnificently preserved castle was used as a location for the film Kingdom of Heaven by Ridley Scott. And we understand why, it is superb. The surrounding countryside is just as beautiful, arid, rocky, it takes me to the Alpes de Haute Provence, notably the Forcalquier region. After a good climb, I arrive quite early at the castle parking lot.

There are already hikers. I spot an opening in the southern wall and enter the castle grounds. How lucky to be able to ride in such a setting. However, I'm not hanging around too much, I imagine that when the building opens to the public, I won't last long here! I discover a pretty path under the castle. Despite its very rocky side, it is very playful, a real joy.

I take my van back and head a little further north for my afternoon tour. I park my vehicle near the Saint John de la Pena monastery, one of the most touristy places in this part of Spain. The weather has already changed, I arrive, the parking lots are full. I chat with one of the site guards who tells me the rain is coming in the afternoon. I spotted an interesting route which climbs along a track to a refuge chapel perched on a ridge at almost 1500 m altitude.

As long as I stay in the woods, the temperature remains bearable. It's already been a long time since the sun disappeared behind the clouds, I pass a few patches of snow then emerge on the ridge. A crazy wind sweeps the mountain, the cold is freezing and I put on my jacket and take shelter in the chapel. Once warmed up, I get busy and cover the entire ridge without stopping. No question of hanging around here. The route is magnificent, too bad I don't have the expected views, the snow-covered Pyrenees must be magnificent. As soon as we arrived at the parking lot, it started to rain. The tourists have logically deserted the site, I take advantage of visiting this magnificent monastery nestled under a cliff just for me.

GO :

We come to Riglos by car, you will have no other means of access. Depending on where you live in France, the access is really different, either directly crossing the Pyrenees when you come from Tarbes or Toulouse, or via Pamplona if you arrive from Bayonne, or via Huesca and Girona if you arrive on the Mediterranean side.


Cycling of course but also climbing and via ferrata!


Riglos becomes full very quickly, we can fall back on Ayerbe, I slept at the Villa de Ayerbe hotel, very correct!


Riglos, there is the central grocery store and a terrace, often crowded on weekends. Once again, in Ayerbe, we eat very well!

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