Although the beauty of nature contributes a lot to the fascination of mountain biking, man-made optimizations or purpose-built trails simply raise the fun level. No surprise, bikeparks are booming and new purpose built trails are created by local bike communities. So, I have visited some of the most renowned fun spots this year to get a taste: Bikepark Winterberg, Bike Republic Sölden and Finale Ligure.
Winterberg and Sölden are skiing resorts that utilize their ski lifts and cable cars in the summer months for mountain biking. Flowy lines on hard packed dirt are carved into the hill featuring berms, wall rides, jumps, drops and all other kinds of fun elements.
The trails in Finale Ligure are nestled into nature and built or optimized without usage of heavy machinery. To get to the top you book a shuttle or you pedal up to access the epic descents through the coastal mountain landscape.
The verdict: I had a blast in Winterberg and Sölden and almost got addicted to the signature runs like the Teäre Line. However, for a whole week I definitely prefer Finale Ligure. Not only because of its mediterranean flair, but also because of the spectacular natural setting, e.g. on the Cro Magnon Trail. Sort of natural fun. I can feel it still…
The glacier-shaped Norwegian landscape is unique and stunningly beautiful. It can be labelled as the Great Outdoors of Europe. But what about mountain biking in this rugged terrain?
There are numerous great MTB-spots. In the Telemark in Southern Norway you can ride for miles on smooth granite rock and several skiing resorts have remodeled their slopes into bike parks in summertime. There is a cool app for the smart phone called trailguide.no, that shows all the MTB-spots and helps you navigating the routes.
We chose Ål in Hallingdal as our MTB-hot spot. Ål is about half way between Bergen and Oslo and it hosts the Hillbilly Huckfest, a big air event, in July. Knut, the organizer of the Hillbilly Huckfest, helped us to hit some of Ål’s MTB-trails. So we gave the Hillbilly Enduro Trail literally a trial. Knut drove us up the hill to a place called Nyset where we hiked our bikes up for about 15 minutes to cross Nysetfjellet and to gradually descent back to Ål.
Due to the rain on the previous days the trail was in fact a creek in some sections. And with the trillions of rocks the trail was quite challenging. After a while we found our flow while the trail was still soaked. On one of the ladders across a swampy spot I lost balance and had to step off the pedal with the consequence of wet and cold feet for the rest of the ride.
All in all we had a cool 15 km long trail adventure that encompassed most of the typical Norwegian characteristics: lots of rocks and water, natural beauty, really nice people & fun. Skål.
Portes du Soleil is the skiing area south of Lac Léman that stretches across 2 countries (France and Switzerland) and encompasses 12 resorts. It was one of the first skiing areas that opened the lifts during summer for mountain bikers. And on the 3-days lasting Pass’Portes du Soleil Event you can cruise (or shred) a good portion of the 650 km MTB-trails. More than 6.600 riders participated this year in the 12th edition.
Usually, I am not a big fan of crowded events or crowded trails. However, I had the area anyway on my “must ride list” when a friend told me how much fun he had at this venue in recent years. So, I did the inscription as soon as the gate opened to make sure I will be a Pass’Porteur this year.
As a group of three we started from Champery (Switzerland) with the cable car up the mountain to go downhill the trail with huge berms the other side to take again another lift up and across the Swiss/French boarder on the downhill slope…
Following the well-marked P’PdS course we got a impression of most resorts, collected roundabout 80 km and 6 or more thousands of meters down and had a blast! After all the 2.200 riders on this (smallest) event day were well distributed across the numerous downhill slopes and we had to line up for a lift only once. Although, we did a couple of extra runs there are still lots of lines I haven’t ridden yet in this freeride mecca. I guess, I have to come back next year to be part of the 13th edition…