Editor’s Choice | Our Favorite Trail Discoveries of 2014
Discovery is the soul of our sport, no matter if we are discovering a short new trail in our home town, or burning brakes on a new epic alpine trail, we live for those moments. For us bikers, the whole world is a single, amazing playground; full of new adventures as we endlessly search for the perfect trail. Where “normal people” just see woods, rocks and hiking paths, we see trails, lines and jumps. Our editorial team brings you their highlights from a year full of travel:
Robin Schmitt, Director, Stuttgart (GER)
I knew already that Scotland knows to impress, with its great landscapes, impressive architecture and tasty whisky. But I had no idea that the trails in the Tweed Valley were so amazing! Tight, steep and technical – on seemingly endless trails we circled around trees, plowed through loose soils and slid over countless wet roots.
Always on the limit, always with a big grin (and mud) on the face! Long combinations of rollers demand good bike handling skills for maximum flow. Those who are familiar with pumptrack riding, will pump harder than Arnold Schwarzenegger in the gym! Off camber corners and steep sections that have become extra-slippery due to the rain round off the perfect trail fun! In Scotland, you will reach and redefine your personal limits – but you will always fall on soft ground! If not, there’s still the Whisky in the evening…
Trev Worsey, Chief Editor UK, Innerleithen (UK)
Picking a new discovery from 2014 is hard for me, as it was a year where I was lucky enough to travel to some amazing places. But perhaps the one that burns the brightest for me is the trails around Boulder City, USA. After spending far too many days trapped within the artificially lit, air conditioned casino tombs of Las Vegas, I was literally climbing the walls!
So I could not have been more surprised when we jumped off the bus in Boulder to see rugged mountains with ribbons of trail cutting through the sharp stone. Yes, I was riding a bike with the brakes the wrong way round, yes I hit the deck, and yes it was hot as hell, but I was having a blast! The loose, sketchy trails seemed to have a split personality, flat out fun one second then unfinished blind death jumps the next. Everything was either spiky or hot, some things were spiky and hot, but it was the perfect release from the excesses of Las Vegas, and will stay with me forever, especially the scar on my elbow.
Aaron Steinke, Web Director, Stuttgart (GER)
In 2014 I spent about 16,000 km on the road, traveling to races in central Europe and got to ride in lot’s of areas I haven’t been before. Many of them suprised me with fun trails; especially Terlago which was just outstanding, and home to the first round of the SSES. Despite the bad weather the region just a few kilometers north of Lake Garda, amazed everyone with great landscapes and even greater trails – so much better than the overrated “Lago”! (Seriously, don’t got there!)
But still, my absoute highlight this year was the hike-a-bike actions arround Garmisch, where Christoph lives. Steep climbs followed by a demanding hike, with my bike on my shoulders to get to absolutely amazing, technical trails. Love it!
Jim Buchanan, UK Editor, Shrewsbury (UK)
I am getting to ride so many places over the UK now, plus I have ridden loads of places in the good old days of UK DH. One of these Old Skool places of UK DH was Innerleithen back in the day. When we ventured up there for my first EWS round earlier in 2014 some of the trails we were sent down on the Golfy side were like nothing I had ever ridden. I mean we’re talking steeper and gnarlier than anything I ever did back in the DH days. Not only were they steep, they consisted of bike breaking rocks strewn down the tightest of bike catching turns, ‘touch your front brake and you die’ kind of stuff that raised your heartrate and got the old sphinkta going going faster than a shit-house rat!! When went back there at the end of the season for the mud tyre test, we rode the same trails again. Knowing what was coming up was such a relief and the trails were so much scary fun, this time on the long’n’low Alpine 160 650b and not the short and tall Intense Carbine 29er.
Joe Parkin, Chief Editor USA, Chicago (USA)
I had some amazing and new experiences this past year — riding XC rigs in the bike park at Crested Butte, Colorado, riding fatbikes and camping in the Arizona desert, riding Moab Slickrock for the very first time, doing hot laps with some old friends in Winter Park, Colorado. But by far my favorite rides this year were from the Top of the World trail in Whistler, B.C. I’d ridden the Top of the World previously, but being able to experience it with my wife (she hadden’t ridden it before), and then with some of her coworkers (also first-timers), made one of the coolest trails in the world even better.
Hannah Roether, Trainee, Freiburg (GER)
My discovery of the year isn’t a single trail but the trail centre infrastructure in Ireland and Scotland. I’ve never been to either before and was completly stoked by this trail concept which in germany and its neighbour countries doesn’t exist. There are bikeparks of course, but the idea of having a legal singletrack network in one place without chairlifts was new to me. Not only are the trails awesome, but there is a possibilty to camp in the parking areas for little money, and the bikeshops and facilities make roadtripping so comfortable. – I always felt welcome as a biker! If you are lucky enough to meet some locals, you will even discover much more hidden trails close to the official ones. I think many Europeans from the continent don’t even know how under developed our mountainbike tourism infrastructure is, compared to these little mountainbike-Disneylands. These places are definetly worth many more journeys!