Ride Report - Tierra Estella Epic

The day started cold and sunny in Navarra, the region sitting in the north of Spain where the Tierra Estella Epic takes place. We could see it was going to be a fantastic gravelly day ahead and we could feel it in the ambience and the participants when we arrived at the start line despite the cold. 

There were two different courses, short and long, so everybody could have a distance in which they could feel both challenged and comfortable with 91kms and 1500m and 56kms and 1200m respectively. The organisation chose a formula in which just certain parts of the track were timed. There were four segments in total and in the end the sum of the times on those four segments made the general classification. It was a very interesting formula that leaves you to enjoy the course, while at the same time making us show our competitive side in those segments, giving out the best of us on them.

The course was cleverly designed with a mix of terrain and surfaces. One of the biggest advantages of a gravel bike is the versatility, allowing you to ride comfortably and fast through a mix of terrain. I think the course of a gravel event should make the most of that versatility. This time the course flowed rapidly with many changes, some broken tarmac, some tracks, some stretches of singletrack, a bit of spice with some easy technical terrain, back to fast tracks, so you don’t get bored and used and never have the same riding conditions for a long time making it really enjoyable.

The landscape of the region also is something remarkable, especially at this time of the year. Autumn, undoubtedly is one of the best seasons for gravelling and when nature shows us all its colours. The course goes through the vineyards of this region, close to the very well-known Rioja wine region in Spain, giving us a view of endless ochre tones as the leaves are falling. Also, we had the opportunity to traverse some open fields to end up in the mountains and forests around Estella, in a landscape combination that can only be seen in this region.

At the end of the course the organisers had set up showers at a leisure center and good food to recover from the challenging course we made, although the feed stations along the way were also well supplied.

Overall, it was a nice event which I would describe as a pure gravel event in all its aspects. This race could be a perfect starting point for a visit to this part of Spain. Maybe you could stay some days in the neighbouring Rioja region, gravelling through the vineyards and visiting its wineries and villages full of history. 

All images courtesy of

Jorge padrones

Based in Spain. Jorge spends his free time going as fast as he can on his gravel bike.

Jorge Padrones

Jorge is based in Spain and is a regular on the start-line of different gravel events across Europe and further afield too.