Meet our IMBA hub Member
IN CONVERSATION WITH OSCAR LACUEVA OF PRO RIDERS DEVELOPMENT
What's your history in the mountain bike sector, when and where did it start?
I come from the south of Spain and since this sport was born, I got hooked on it and immediately started competing in DH. This provided me the opportunity to travel and see other places to practice MTB. It changed my mind and I decided to build my own tracks and started new projects. One of my first big projects was the Vallnord Bike Park and many others followed. At the moment we're working on projects in Spain and Andorra like the Naturland Bike Center and the management of the Andorra Trail Center with 250km of itineraries.
International coaching has been another important part of my career. For the last 15 years I have combined trail building work with training and technical race support to professional DH and XC racers and being a coach at bike parks in Europe and Canada like Whistler Bike Park.
Andorra's reputation has been built upon its renowned Vallnord Bikepark but is currently expanding its bike offer. What can we expect in the near future?
Many bikers who travel to Andorra are attracted by the image of Vallnord Bike Park but the vast majority of bikers already go to the bike parks with enduro or e-bikes. Apart from the bike park they want to know more about the destination and discover new trails. That has been the reason to develop a network of XC / Enduro itineraries to improve the offer and turn Andorra into a destination with an offer for all types of mountain bike, XC / Enduro / E-Bike.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR YOU AS A TRAIL BUILDER WHEN DEVELOPING TRAILS IN ANDORRA?
For PRD, the most complicated thing is to find a balance to share the mountain with the different users, since there are hikers and other outdoor sports practitioners who want to enjoy the mountains. Another important point is to keep private landowners happy and avoid too many passages over private land. Before deciding that the itinerary is going to be used for MTB, an environmental study must be carried out to obtain the permits. Once the improvements have been made to the trail, it is important to signpost it correctly.
As a trail builder we have to work in the high mountains where carrying material is complicated and where the terrain is harder. Luckily, with the experience of the entire PRD team, we always find a solution to make the trails safer and more fun using natural resources. This is the most complicated day to day work but when you see the final result, you just want to start working on the next trail.
What makes Andorra special as an MTB destination? What convinced Visit Andorra to invest in better trail infrastructure?
Andorra is an interesting destination for anyone who likes to enjoy nature and outdoor sports. This makes Andorra's active tourism offer very extensive. MTB has become one of the main activities during the summer. Andorra is only a small country, but there are plenty of opportunities to discover very special corners with very different terrain and forests depending on which part of Andorra you decide to discover with your MTB.
Due to Andorra's topography which consists of rugged mountains and very small, narrow valleys between the peaks, the trails are physical demanding, but with the arrival of E-bikes and the number of rental points spread throughout the country, Andorra is a perfect destination to enjoy without repeating the same trail for days. The development of the Andorra Trail Center provides the opportunity to position Andorra as one of the best destinations to practice MTB in Europe. Together with its gastronomic and cultural offer, Andorra is a place where tourist can enjoy a multiday stay and most of them want to come back for another stay.
What's valuable for you being part of IMBA Europe's network?
Being part of the IMBA family is very important for both PRD and Andorra Turismo. For our part, being connected to the Trail Building Network gives us the opportunity to meet other trail builders and see how they develop other projects and what solutions they provide to problems that we may have in other projects. IMBA is creating a great community of trail builders and where we want to be able to contribute with our experience and share this passion with trail builders from all countries. For Andorra Tourism, PRD being part of IMBA's network helped to gain trust, security, and confidence in the Andorra Trails Center project. In addition, the use of IMBA resources and guidelines in terms of trail development and international trail difficulty grading has been important to promote mountain biking and this new project with confidence. This gives us the opportunity for this project to continue growing hand in hand with PRD and IMBA Europe. All of this makes creates added value of being part of IMBA Europe's network.