Perhaps you’re already a mountain biking enthusiast, or maybe you’re new to the hobby – whichever way, you are sure to be interested in how to go above and beyond the normal, and instead pursue the extremes of this sport. Regardless of whether or not you ever make it there (or even want to), it’s always interesting to see just how far an activity can be pushed.
The world is home to so many amazing mountain biking trails, parks and landscapes that it can sometimes be difficult to see how any one could top the others. However, we think we’ve got a pretty good idea about which mountain biking trails have the potential to be the trip of a lifetime. Spread out across the globe they all have one thing in common: they’re guaranteed to give you a wild ride.
Now, to the destinations!
USA – Sun Valley, Idaho
The USA’s vast land mass has a wide variety of mountain biking trails to explore, from the standard to the extreme to the bizarre. Sun Valley in Idaho is a well-known destination for all sorts of bikers and cyclists, containing, as it does, over 400 miles of single track (up to a whopping 700 miles if you count the surrounding area). Whilst that’s a lot of ground to cover, it is worth taking a look and deciding what tickles your fancy. As the gift that keeps on giving, you needn’t worry either about completing it all in one go, or not being able to come back and explore further at a later date. This area has a longstanding history of sporting visitors (mostly skiers), leaving a legacy of top notch amenities there including places to eat and specialised bike mechanics.
Top Tip: Visit Sun Valley during the Spring months of the year and you’ll be treated to an astonishing sight: endless fields of wildflowers, stretching as far as the eye can see. Species such as arrowleaf balsamroot, fireweed, lupine, western columbine and western spring beauty carpet the hillsides with their beautiful, colourful displays and are truly a rare sight to behold. Despite this spectacular display of Nature’s bounty, trails tend to be quieter at this time of year and so it’s actually a great opportunity to hit the trails uninterrupted.
Europe – Tour de Mont Blanc, Switzerland, Italy, France
Obviously, Europe includes a vast area of land, populated by many differing landscapes and climates. However, the Tour de Mont Blanc is a great opportunity to experience just a taste of Europe’s potential as a mountain biking destination. Be warned – this one is not for the fainthearted. It’s a 6 day undertaking covering approximately 160km of travel and taking in some of the most breathtaking mountain country in the world. If you’ve never ridden at altitude before then you’re in for a treat (and a challenge). Also, because this trail is frequented by both hikers and cyclists, there are plenty of amenities available en route, including accommodation and food. It’s the perfect destination with which to really test yourself.
Top Tip: On trips such as these, it’s a good idea to take along some alternative portable entertainment with you. As well as travel time to your chosen destination, there may be a wait time before you can set off, whilst you’re waiting for friends to join you, or at the end of the trail when you’re taking a well-deserved rest. Thankfully, the advancement of smart phones means that we can now travel light in these situations. Whether you are an audiobook nerd, prefer the mental workout of gaming or can’t get enough of quizzes, make sure that you have your favourite apps downloaded and updated before your trip. This way, you’ll never get bored and you’ll have something to turn your attention to once the riding is over and done for the day.
Africa – Nalut, Libya
In complete contrast to the above destination, Nalut in Libya is an immense, sandy desert populated with plenty of decent-sized hills, designated biking trails and fascinating ruins connected to the local Berber people. For those visiting from Europe or America, the landscape feels almost otherworldly. It is considered by many to be a mountain biking haven, popular with enthusiasts from all over the world, and because of this there are plenty of bike shops and other helpful amenities around. Part of what makes it so perfect for biking is the weather: warm, sunny and clear without any of the dreaded humidity which can ruin a cyclists day.
Top Tip: Even though you are primarily there for the awesome biking trails, the mountains and the relative solitude, make sure to visit the historical sites in the area. The Old Town of Ghadamès is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a beautiful white city slap bang in the middle of the surrounding desert. Sometimes referred to as the Pearl of the Sahara, it really is worth a visit along with the ancient castles found near Nafousa Mountain and the Berber granaries which still exist on the land.