There are some incredible Mountain Biking Trails. This infographic show the Top 10 Mountain Biking Destinations. If you require Mountain Biking Insurance, X1 Sports Insurance can assist you.
Archive for the ‘Mountain Biking’ Category
So, its all about the bike isn’t it? To be honest, no not really. my housemate has got a cracking bike but all he ever uses it for is scooting off to work every now and again and occasionally off to town (although the fear of it being nicked often out ways the desire to use it). So, no having a rock and roll bike is good but give me a vaguely half decent one and I would rather be in the best place to use it.
It is all about the location. The adventure. The scenery. And the buzz.
I am not telling you to hit the trails and take part in the in the world’s toughest mountain bike race from Canada all the way down to Mexico but at the very least have a crack at some of the slightly easier and less manic sections surely?!?
The route itself is actually the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and starts in Banff, Canada going down the spine of the Rockies down to the border of Mexico. A total of 2745 miles- not one for the faint hearted at all. It’s not the extra 500 miles than the Tour de France that makes this so daunting its the prospect of waist deep snow in the mountains, ankle deep mud, below freezing temperatures at the highest points and over 100F in the desert in New Mexico.
The other unusual thing about this trip is that you have to carry everything with you. The trip is self-supported which means no cars, no mechanics and defintiely no masseurs at the end of each 100+ day. What’s more the prize money…well there isn’t any so you are doing this for love!
Rather than give you a blow by blow account of the route the best bet is to check it out yourself.
The route itself can be mixed and matched so if you don’t have a minimum of 17 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes (the winning time from 2009) or want to be one of the 27 non finishers out of 43 then you can jump in and out at any point. The other thing to bear in mind is that this is not a hardcore route. In fact 80% of the tour is on dirt or gravel with a further 10% on paved roads and a further 10% on trails.
If that is a bit too much for you then check out Laos.
The two week cycle trek under consideration is is designed 100% for families. Obviously the question you need to ask is do you want to take your kids away with you when you can have such fun and adventure without them? Well, yes of course you do! Everything is catered for and so you don’t need to carry anything with you. It’s not all go though as there are several days off. lots of swimming holes to enjoy and you can even have a day to ride an elephant- who needs Disney World?
The guys at Grasshopper Adventure can put all this together for you so be sure to have a look at their site.
If you want to stay loyal to these fair shores then there are plenty of options in England of course. The Lake district does sound a little basic doesn’t it? But what about flying around in the dark. At night. Would that float your boat? Cycle Active offer you a full day of activity and then let you head home to either rest in the pub or grab your lights and hit the routes again. Nice!
Just north of the border, and probably generally more expected, in Scotland can I suggest that we try somewhere a little different to the usual Fort Williams (although to be honest it is pretty spectacular there). Why not head to the remote Knoydart Peninsula for a change? The views of the mountains and sea lochs are truly breath taking plus you can have a wee dram in Scotland’s most far flung pub, The Forge. Not bad hey!
Keeping with the UK theme, albeit one that incorporates a little bit more…, the 6000km North Sea Cycle Route is defintiely not one for the faint hearted. It is apparently the longest cycle route in the world and is basically a loop down the west coast of Great Britain, hop on a ferry to Belgium then back up the other side through the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark where you then jump back onto a ferry and over to the Shetland Islands.
Although a long distance it might the North Sea route could be perceived to be a little mundane perhaps. How does 11,000m of vertical descent grab you instead then? France is a bit of an adrenaline junkie haven. It’s capital is perhaps deemed to be Chamonix. The Chamonix to Nice route has eight classic cols and winds it’s way around 565km of tarmac. It is not for the easily swayed or weak minded of you as it can be a gruesome but rewarding experience for the experienced cyclist.
Lastly it would only be proper for me to offer you something a little bit on the intense and crazy side. Head over to Costa Rica for one of the most savage races around. In 1561 the Spanish took about 20 years to tek across the mountains. The Ruta de los Conquistadores crosses from the Pacific to the Caribbean in about 4 days! The race tends to take place early November and is open to anyone with a bike, a keen sense of adventure and a little competence on a bike.
As with all of these things there is of course an element of risk attached. whether it be from traveling, damage to your kit or even yourself you should take out some travel cover so please have a look at this offering here.
So, bearing in mind its Valentines Day today I thought that perhaps I should incorporate some kind of coupley, loved up adventure just to keep people in the mood as it were.
What better then than going on a mountain biking adventure with your partner.
How many times have you thought, I’d love to go away biking but the Mrs just isn’t having any of it. She would rather go away to somewhere warmer, with a suitcase full of books and lie on a sunbed basically doing nothing. Well there is the opportunity to head up to Scotland and partake in a bit of tuition so that once and for all the “you can’t do it” argument doesn’t rear its ugly head and the “I don’t want to do it” one can take over!
Glentress is about 45 minutes south of Edinburgh with a variety of different routes to allow the novice to learn, the intermediate to improve and the experts to, well show off! The routes criss cross all around the Tweed the hills and there are over 90km of trails that ebb and flow off into the distance from the central Hub. There are flat gravel paths, monstrous drop offs and jumps and kickers with sections of routes so great they are called “Brittany Spears” (so good you want to hit one more time!)
The descent at “Spookey Wood” is a unique classic. You set off on a lactic acid factory up hill climb through the beech and holly forest to the start of the downhill part that you have just climbed up. The bank corners offer the high speed while the clawlike roots keep you on your pedals while the table top jumps offer the fun (or falls). For some other classic routes and worryingly amusing names check out the “Shane McGowan trail” (NB his lack of teeth…).
The forest and location will soon be well supported by the introduction of a new £5 million visitor centre which is being built from wood cut from the Forestry Commission land.
If you do want to actually relax a bit too then there is glorious walking as well as a couple of decent whiskey tour options too. There are several lovely B&Bs around as well as a local Castle to set the heart fluttering a little bit.
Just remember though that if you are learning the chances are you will fall off so be prepared and get your insurance cover sorted out!
Seriously though, doing something like this together may mean you can both enjoy your dream holiday together…rather than halfheartedly smiling your way through it and wishing you were with the boys!!
X1 Sports are based in the sunny climes of Bristol and consequently we benefit from being able to get down to the South West, South Coast and even up North to the Lakes pretty easily. However for me the best local resource to get away to has got to be Pembrokeshire. I love it down there as it is never as busy or expensive as Devon and Cornwall, closer then the lakes, more diverse than the South Coast and offers everything that and adventure playground should.
However, the other thing that makes it such a wonderful place is that it gets better in winter.
Did you know that the Pembrokeshire coastline is the only protected coastline in the country? It is also one of 15 national parks and has more blue flag or seaside award winning beaches than any other county in the country. OK so you probably aren’t going to run down the beach and dive head first into the sea at any opportunity but, it does mean that you are going to get some breathtaking views.
Pembrokeshire is Wales’ oldest landscape. This means that wherever you go, be it bike, walk, climb or kayak you will stumble across some kind of geological, archeological or historical stunning landscape.
The Coast Path running around the coastline snakes and meanders for a staggering 186 scenic miles. on the one side you have the rugged and often treacherous looking cliffs and drop offs while just inside that is the lush green Welsh countryside. There are 100m limestone cliffs interspersed with golden sanded beaches and beautiful ancient woodland.
I am not suggesting that you try and walk the full 186 miles as it would take a good two weeks to do that, especially in winter but as you might expect some parts are better than others for an adventure break.
The classic and most often quoted part I would say is St Govan’s. It is a climbing mecca as there are some classic routes and locations for all sorts of climbing including Deep Water Soloing
As well as the renowned climbing there is also lots to see too. The 6th Century Chapel is a must see highlight. It is a breathtaking view as it seemingly climbs for dear life at the foot of the cliffs plus there are the natural wave formations in the waves, Bosherston’s century-old “lily pond” and huntsman’s leap- the huge natural chasm between two limestone cliffs (although I wouldn’t recommend jumping off!)
For more information about what to do activity wise I would suggest having a little look at the local activity guide. This site has tidal timetables and all sorts of guides and maps to help you with mountain biking and other things too.
But remember it is not just for climbers and walkers, there is fantastic kayaking and surfing too so you need to be bold and take a closer look.
If you don’t want to rely on using your car then there is a public transport option. The Coastal Cruiser follows a circular route from the Castlemartin Peninsular stopping at all the best locations. It also stops in Pembroke so you can hop on it from the train station too. It rubs early in the morning and early evening running throughout the winter month sand even allows you to take your bikes and boards on it to.
So, as you can see, Pembrokeshire has so much to offer all through the year…so what areyou waiting for.
Right if the last lot of winter ideas didn’t pique your interest then get your mitt(en)s stuck into this lot.
A) So, you are in the mountains at a resort and don’t want to go to another location what can you do?
Loads of people head out mountain biking in the summer but how about adding that extra little twist and element of danger by doing in the snow and ice, downhill? Snow Mountain Biking has got a certain je ne sais quoi extreme ring to it doesn’t it?
I am all for a bit of downhill in the sun but unfortunately there are a couple of small modifications needed for your bike to take it out in the snow. First up you need to add some wide rims and then some fat tyres and possibly take a touch of air out to increase traction. The best place to do this is up in the US or its becoming ever more accessible in the Alps now too. If you are interested in doing it then check out Undiscovered Alps who can sort everything out for you in Orcieres. This guys will provide you with a bike so you can keep yours nice and warm and wrapped up at home. If you want to try it home after one of the current cold snaps then remember that an ice base with a soft, thin layer of snow on top. Easy!
B) Something else with a strong non ski essence that has been adapted is Snow Kiting.
Imagine kite surfing but on snow and in the mountains. Pretty cool if you ask me. A few months back I wrote an article about the TRAD Film Competition. One of the Athletes in that, Laurent Niol, has a penchant for Snow kiting and it looks wicked, although a touch tricky! Rather than the open spaces of the sea, you are a finite amount of space namely becasue of the scenery surrounding you (i.e mountains!).
You can be dragged along on either skis or boards but either way you are going to get to hit some serious speeds going downhill, or copy those kitesurfers and get some massive lift off on otherwise dull flat plateaus.
Once again Scandanavia is a top place to do it, more specifically Hardangervidda plateau in Norway with Fluid Feeling or in Switzerland the Swiss Snowkiting School can help you out too. Lastly if you want a specific snow kiting holiday then Snow Kiter can sort out a trip for you to the Langjokul Glacier in Iceland.
C) Any “alternative activity list” wouldn’t be complete with that classic activity of being dragged around by a few dogs would it now? Dog Sledding is that archetypal winter activity, especially if you are trying to get to the South Pole! Seriously though having been sledding it is great fun and very exhilarating, although I couldn’t help bit feel a little guilty about the effort the dogs were putting in! It is pretty scary grabbing hold of the reins for the first time but needless to say you get a fair amount of guidance as to how to look after and control the dogs.
However once mastered the feeling is exhilarating. the sense of raw power that you get from being pulled by the dogs is something unique and they really do fly along. Due to the accessibility options and the distances you cover these trips allow you to see parts of the the snowy wilderness you would never normally get the chance to experience. You can do dog sledding in pretty much every snow laced country and trips last from between 4 to 16 days. The typical countries tough are Finland, Sweden or several other Scandinavian options.
If you want to stay closer to home then check out the Cairngorm Sled dog Centre or other UK options
D) Last up then is something that is high up on my to do list. What with the winter Olympics on the way there is always one event that makes me sit up and say, ooh wouldn’t it be great to have a go at that. The main problem though is there aren’t that many places to do it. Not many resorts have their very own Bobsleigh run on the doorstep!
With speeds of upto 70mph, running at almost vertical angles left and right you could be excused the fear getting top you. however if you are still tempted then Innsbruck in Austria is probably the place to go. You can have go at being part of a 2 or 4 man team or, if you are really lost for things to do, take the 5 day course and learn to be a driver. For more information on how the UK are doing as well as competition results and of course the winter Olympics check out the official UK Bobsleigh team site.. There is always the added incentive that they are always on the hunt for fresh blood…I mean talent so you never know!!
I hope you enjoy these different options and of course stay safe.
Until next time
As I am sitting here looking out of the window I can tell that winter is definitely on its way. Although we have had a fantastic autumn it is time to admit defeat and accept that it is about to get very much colder. What doesn’t help is that the days are getting shorter, further emphasised by the clocks changing. that short term euphoria of having an extra hour in bed pales into comparison when you realise it is just going to get darker earlier for the next 3 months or so.
So what do you do to wile away the hours them and escape from this dark, cold cocoon surrounding us.
Plan your next trip away of course!!
At the moment if you pick up the weekend papers they are all jam packed with interesting things to do. Some are clearly focusing on the winter markets while others are spreading their wings a little further and giving advice for next summer and also interesting places to go this winter that doesn’t involve snow.
so, here are a few interesting options that i have dug up and looked into. There are so many different ideas out there that i am going to try and catagorise them. Obviously its definitely not exhaustive and there are loads of different and alternative options but perhaps these will give you just an idea.
First up is Mountain Biking:
So, close to home you have got Pembrokeshire. obviously the weather i snot ideal at the moment but do you really care if you are biking in the mud?
no i didn’t think so!
Park up at St Govan’s (or use the Coastal Cruiser) and then use the coastal path between Stack Rocks and St Govan’s Head. Admittedly this isn’t high end tip top mountain biking but it is a good weekend away in the wonderful Welsh countryside.
For more info on the area have a look at this link:
Next up Turkey.
If you are looking for something between April and October then head out to Cappadocia. There are numerous well marked trails for various different skill levels and fitness levels. Ad you hurtle down the routes be sure to have a glimpse of the local scenery as you are surrounded by rock pillars upto 40m high known as “fairy chimneys”.
If this floats your boat then check out:
If you want somewhere a little bit further a field how about the lush, jungle world of Costa Rica?
It is definitely a country I want to go to as there is so much diversity, such much wildlife and so much to do.
There is an amazing 4 day bike trek, 389km, that crosses from the Pacific to the Caribbean. Oh and I forgot to mention its actually a race…! Ruta De Los Conquistadors.
The last one I want to offer you is on the most random place I think.
Anyone I speak says this is the one of the most amazing places they have ever visited.
This trip allows you to go with the family, which obviously makes it a touch more pricey, but why not spend two weeks being active with the family.
Laos is one of the least visited country in East Asia. The only people who ever seem to visit Laos are a load of stoned backpackers who got lost on their way to Thailand or Vietnam.
This trip is fully supported and can be relaxing as there as several rest days to go swimming and even elephant riding.
have a look here:
So, fingers crossed this has given you food for thought.
Needless to say if you do any of these trips or one of your own make sure you are covered with the right insurance as it can be a really hard fall if you aren’t.
have a good weekend