An Unforgettable 2015 Starts With a Bike Bag (or a spade)
With 2015 now here, we can set about doing what we love best: planning a holiday. Forget that the trails have succumbed to the snowflakes that are settling outside, what beats sitting by the fire and dreaming of far-flung lands? And, what’s more, the New Year marks a generous new allowance of holiday from work – of which each precious day needs to be carefully planned. Sure, while we would never turn down a spontaneous short break, the anticipation built up by scribbling some plans into the 2015 calendar is unbeatable. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite ways to spend a holiday to make your choice that bit easier. Where’s 2015 going to take you?
A ‘Club Med’ style holiday for mountain bikers: Europe’s best trail hotspots
Working 9-5 isn’t as easy as you’d hoped and you rarely have time to fit in a ride. In fact, pretty much all you want to do this holiday is let go. The solution? Opt for one of the classics like Finale Ligure, Saalbach or Latsch, where you’ll be smack in the middle of one of Europe’s trail paradises. Arrive, shred and enjoy. The ‘Club Med’ for mountain bikers, you could say.
Whether it’s your first visit, or your eighth, these are places that never disappoint. The trails go on forever and newbies won’t have a problem finding them, so you barely have to spend a minute off the bike. Certain lines and root sections are as familiar to you as your own family; they’re the kind of trails that you’ll rave about to strangers no matter where you are in the world. Fair enough, you’re missing out on new scenery and new trails if you return time after time to the same place, but each year you’ll be able to push yourself further, finding your limits once again. That drop looked much bigger last year? Those rocks looked unrideable back in 2013? It’s for exactly these reasons that it’s worth paying your favourite places repeat visits – even if you are turning into your grandparents who have spent the past 28 summers on the same campsite by Lake Constance.
Enduro racing: It’s not just for pros
Even if you only had half an eye on the 2014 Enduro World Series, you’d still have noticed just how tough the races have become. More professional. More challenging. More everything. But while that’s the case for the world’s elite, it isn’t necessarily true for the smaller, more local events, which you can find all over the world. It’s easy to forget that local enduro races can be super fun, so for all of you who are afraid of a bit of (not quite so light) competition and have thus far not dared enter a race – then go for it! Believe in yourself. The smaller the race, the more chance you have of not being the worst. While France might be the birthplace of enduro racing, it isn’t the only country to have riders of all ages and abilities competing together. Trust us, there’ll be old school bikes and equipment as well as the latest carbon offerings. You think cantilever brakes and a 100mm stem is going to keep a Frenchie from the start line of an enduro? There’s only a minority among you who are looking for victory, and for the rest, it’s about having a fun day out, riding cool trails, and challenging yourself in the process.
One of the best things about basing your holiday around an enduro race is the opportunity it gives you to discover the trails in such a short time. During the weekend, you’ll ride the best trails without even having to search for them, you’ll meet locals and – if you’re lucky – they might invite you out for a ride on their favourite and potentially secret trails. Choosing to race means you can sack off the expensive private guide. Always dreamt of riding in the Philippines? Chile? Greece perhaps? Have you overlooked central Germany on the basis that it has no trails too? Check out the map we’ve put together of one-off races and series from across the globe and take your pick.
If you’re brand new to racing then the Trailtrophy series is your best bet. Recently starting to make a name for itself, the series takes in not only the coolest trails in the Alps but also some more ‘exotic’ mountain ranges like Germany’s Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). Promising a relaxed approach to racing, each day culminates in a huge bonfire. The Bluegrass Enduro Tour is just as cool too, although you will see pros on the starting list, listed alongside locals of all abilities. The Pyrenees, Sicily, France, Scotland all feature – the Bluegrass Series unites local organisers and is genuinely the best way to get to know Europe. In Scotland, Muckmedden have even organised a new event called Funduro – the name says it all. In South Wales and England, you’ll find the Mini Enduro Series, famous for their lack of pressure and a laid back format.
Be adventurous: head into the unknown with your bike
Freedom. Adventure. Solitude. Wilderness. New worlds. New cultures. Got goosebumps yet? If so, it’s time to travel. Who said you needed two feet to discover a foreign culture? Where there’s civilisation, there are paths – and these are there to be ridden. How do the ancient shepherds trails in the Atlas Mountains ride? What’s the Great Wall of China like when you’ve got cleats on? How long can you survive on the bike during a monsoon? Things might not always run smoothly and they definitely require forward-planning, but an adventure like this will always be worth it.
We constantly get sent travel articles and stories from some of the world’s most exciting places to ride and we’ve collected the best of the last few years to show you here. But don’t get jealous. Get motivated! Every trip begins with the same small step; once you’ve decided to make 2015 the year of the big bike adventure then you’re already halfway there.
Keep it local: shredding and digging
Money’s tight, time even more so, and the car is in the garage once again? Ain’t nothing wrong with spending your holiday ripping up your local trails. Forget about the routes you always churn out, you’ve finally got time to explore a bit, try new tracks and get a new perspective on your woods. Why not have a look at an OS map and pick some routes that you’ve never tried? Get out for the day in another area, or try a different bike park. It won’t take long until you’re the proper local expert, no one will know your little patch of earth better than you – and isn’t that the way it should be?
Our series ‘Local Heroes – Local Trails’ has exactly this purpose; everyone’s home spots are worth sharing and this is the place to do it. A few days off work or school gives you ample time to explore, so you can share your trails with us.
Even if you know your home trails inside out, what about picking up a spade and digging? Sure, there are woods where it’s strictly forbidden to dig, but you can get away with some small changes, like adding some burms or digging out the drops, and we bet there are some really used trails that need a bit of TLC. We all tend to ride the trails that already exist, perhaps it’s down to laziness or a lack of time, but there’s nothing more satisfying than a day well-spent digging in the woods with friends and a beer. You can watch your project grow, big or small – even if you’re only fixing up some corners. Inspiration and tips can be found on the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s website (IMBA), which is specialised in the design and build of professional trails.
Words: Hannah Röther Photos: Nathan Hughes, Frank Wipperfürth, Diego Del Rio, Trevor Worsey, Robin Schmitt