This week we’re off La Alpujarra, in the Sierra Nevada to meet with Friend of FINDRA Jenny Mayhew. Jenny and her partner run Pure Mountains mountain bike holidays and she shares with us what life’s like in the mountains of southern Spain.
Hi Jenny, and to start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
I’m Jenny Mayhew. I live and work in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, in the south of Spain. Tim Kirkus and I run Pure Mountains, premium mountain bike adventures. We built the cortijo (farmhouse), where we live, and where our guests stay. We welcomed our first guests in 2005. I run the business side of the operation and work as a guide too.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
Although I had always ridden a bike, I never thought of myself as particularly outdoorsy until I discovered mountain biking in my twenties. I was completely smitten with the thrill and adventure of it.
Now that I live in the mountains, I spend a lot of time outdoors for fun, exercise and just doing the everyday chores. Sometimes I stop mid-chore, just to admire the beauty of the landscape.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
Every Pure Mountains trip that we run is an adventure, in one way or another; usually for good reasons, along with the occasional mishap!
As a participant, a wonderful recent adventure was Trans-Nomad. It’s an amazing, three day mountain bike enduro race, in the high Spanish Pyrenees. There were some huge climbs with long sections of bike carrying, followed by endless, tricky descents through incredible mountain landscapes. I loved the challenge and camaraderie of the event. Enduro racing is a great format for getting to meet other riders, as you have the chance to chat on the liaison stages.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
With my mountain bike guide hat on, my work involves being active, which is fantastic. But with my business hat on, I’m in the office and, especially in the winter (which is our low season), I have to designate time to get out on my bike, or the day can slide by. I don’t have many family responsibilities, except for our three dogs (plus the odd foster dog). They are great motivation for long hikes.
When your passion is your work, you have to be careful not to take it for granted and to remember to get out and ride for fun, too.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
Not that I can remember. Nowadays, my friend and sometimes MTB racing partner, Tatiana Broman of BikePacking Oslo, inspires me. She rides in ice and snow and sleeps in a tent in -10ºC!
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Definitely! Outside exercise is so beneficial for fitness, heart and bone health and for mental wellbeing. That’s especially important during this pandemic, when you can get gloomy, if you’re not careful. I find that if I don’t get outside for a day or so I am very out of sorts.
What is it about mountain biking specifically that you love?
The magic of mountain biking is that it combines the effort of climbing, the joy of descending, the satisfaction of negotiating obstacles and the wonder of exploring new or familiar landscapes. I’m amazed that it’s not more popular!
When did you discover FINDRA?
FINDRA seeped into my consciousness, as I started to see clients from the UK wearing lovely items of merino clothing. I couldn’t believe that such gorgeous garments could be subjected to the rigours of mountain biking, but they can!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Keep pedalling! It can be applied to actual or metaphorical pedalling, especially in pandemic times. I often say it to myself.
In this post, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?
It’s not all about huge adventures, especially at the moment. Plan a solo micro-adventure in your neighbourhood, whether it’s urban or rural, on foot or by bike. Take a flask of tea/coffee/ brandy and something nice to eat, so that it becomes a treat. You’ll be glad you did!
Thanks Jenny – and we're all very envious of you in sunny Spain right now!
La Alpujarra, Sierra Nevada
My favourite trails are my local trails in La Alpujarra, on the southern face of Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. They’re ancient, rocky and, in some places, designed more for goats than for bikes.
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
A painting that moves me is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. When you see it in the flesh (in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid), you’re overwhelmed by the scale and intensity of the piece.
It’s a three by seven metre depiction on of the horrors of war, inspired by the 1937 bombing of the Basque town of Guernica, during the Spanish civil war. It still serves as plea against the barbarity and terror of war.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Despacito by Luis Fonsi
Despacito by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee. 7.1 billion YouTube viewers can’t be wrong, can they? ¡Pasito a pasito!
Luis Fonsi – Despacito