Queenstown is not only home of Bungy Jumping, it is New Zealand’s center for all adrenaline sports. And accordingly it is the mountain bike Eldorado of the South Island. The riding area closest to town is the Gondola assisted Queenstown Bike Park plus Fernhill Trails offering a wide variety of trails and lots of downhill fun. However, on most of my runs I found myself on the “Original”, a fast trail loaded with roller-coaster berms and tabletop jumps.
During winter Coronet Peak is a skiing area and in the summer months the resort is frequently visited by mountain bikers. There are a couple of trails in the area, however, the Rude Rock Trail is the outstanding trail. It is perfectly sculpted into the contours of the mountain and pure flow. A must-ride trail…
The 7 Mile Riding Area just a few miles away from downtown Queenstown is another bike park that guarantees for good entertainment on two wheels with its nicely shaped trails. The trailhead is on a beach of Lake Wakatipu and offers pleasant après-bike cooling on hot days.
Cardrona is another ski-resort in winter that opens their lifts for mountain bikers in summer. It is a 40 minutes drive away from Queenstown and is one of many more options to explore more awesome MTB-trails in the area.
New Zealand is probably the nation with the highest MTB-affinity and Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is the epicenter of it. More than 160 kilometers of finest trails built into fascinating nature with lush forest and volcanic phenomena make it a true MTB-mecca.
After three intensive days of riding there were still numerous trails I haven’t ridden. The Taniwha downhill lines I simply had to ride more often and it still wasn’t enough….
I really loved the shuttle system with well-aged buses and their large trailers. And actually, it functions quite well when all the buses are up and running. In terms of trails Rotorua offers everything you want, from natural trails with lots of roots to smoothly shaped flow trails and hefty jump lines. AMAZING. I could have spent many more days here…
The island of Réunion is not only famous for its active volcanoes and spectacular landscapes, but as well for being a mountain bike hot spot and battlefield for the annual Megavalanche race. We didn’t bring our own bikes to La Réunion to avoid the baggage hassle – and it was a wise decision as we got superb material from Stephane our guide and his company Bike Aventure.
The bike adventure on La Réunion usually starts with a shuttle lift to Le Maido, one of the older volcanic peaks on the island, at an altitude of about 2200 meters above sea level. The following downhill feast is served on rugged lava rock as a starter and continues in lush jungle forest for the main course. The final descent to the beaches is in a savanna like setting – sweet dessert.
The trail through the jungle becomes muddy and slippery in some spots during the rainy season (starting in December) and therefore more challenging. This is why the Megavalanche is staged in December. There are different trail options leading down from Le Maido and the choice is between more roots or more mud. Anyway, both are options were big fun. Actually, I was surprised how easily I could handle even those tracks that consisted of roots only – thanks to Stephane’s neat Intense.
To explore more of Réunion’s stunning nature you need to put on hiking boots, since the trails in the other parts of the island are simply to steep and not really rideable. All in all, La Réunion is a fantastic place for all kinds of adventures from mountain biking, to hiking, to canyoning and surfing.
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…
Azores, the mid-atlantic archipelago lies literally between Europe and America, as the westward islands Flores and Corvo are situated on the American continental plate while the other islands of the Azores are part of the European plate. With its volcanic landscape and its lush vegetation it is somehow the Hawaii of the Atlantic and offers accordingly an array of opportunities for outdoor adventures.
On Sao Miguel, the main island, our local guides Andre and Rafael (Azores Mountain Bike Holidays) showed us the best spots for our Azorean MTB-adventure. We shuttled up twice above the Lagoa do Fogo, to hit nice singletrack that led us down to the crater lake, slippery and overgrown in some places, sometimes alongside irrigation channels and sometimes encountering hikers, cows, doves and other common species.
The race track near Furnas is a sweet downhill fun ride in a lush jungle setting with bumps and berms. This run has a length of 2.4 kilometers and was for us the icing on the cake. We closed this adventurous MTB-day with a beer and hot bath in the thermal springs in the Terra Nostra Park. Pure indulgence.
The small town of Faial da Terra in the southeast of Sao Miguel used to have a MTB-friendly mayor who encouraged the construction – or better signage – of a trail network on both sides of the steep valley. All in all, the Azores provide a nice playground for serious MTB-fun in very moderate climate in the middle of the Atlantic.
The Sella Ronda is the tour around the impressive Sella massif, either on skis in winter time or on the bike in summertime. The Sella Ronda Hero is known as the hardest mountain bike race in Europe with about 4500 meters of climbing and a length of 86 km. I didn’t want to become a hero there, so I bought the Dolomiti Superski Pass that let me use lots of lifts and cable cars and allowed for loads of fun without the hardship. I still had to climb for about 1000 meters myself to complete my loop around the Sella after 63 km including 4100 meters of descent mainly on trails.
I loved the variety of trails from purpose built to all-natural and from easy flow to gnarly steep and rugged. The runs of the Fassa Bikepark can be easily integrated into the Sella Ronda and provide some extra fun or adrenaline particularly on those lines down to Canazei, e.g. the Northshore. Altogether, an outstanding bike adventure with breathtaking views, a great variety of trails and epic fun.
Bike lift from Corvara
New MTB-playground under construction at the top of Dantercepies
Viva Las Vegas! The Sin City is not only good for gambling and partying. Vegas is as well a mountain biking spot.
The best trails are located southwest of LV in the Blue Diamond/Spring Valley area. I took “Good Call” to climb uphill. At the top of the mesa it connects to “Ike’s Peek” with gorgeous views on downtown LV. “Legalize It” runs mildly exposed alongside the cliff and connects to “Menny Thanks”, a fast downhill trail with jumps over ledges – somehow like Rock’n’Roll.
“Around the Mountain” is the name of Idaho’s arguably best MTB-ride. Located in the Bogus Basin Recreation Area near Boise this trail – guess what – runs around the mountain and it takes 16.4 km/10.2 miles and 375 m/1230 ft of ascent/descent to complete the loop. The trail is nicely maintained and there are several options for the final downhill. The “Morning Star” seems to be the most fun-track downhill with a couple of jumps and berms. On MTB-Project.com “Around the Mountain” was even temporarily rated among the top ten rides in the US. So, if you come to Boise, ID, it certainly is a must-ride.
Bend in Central Oregon has grown rapidly during the last decade and I guess the great trails in the area contribute significantly to this development (together with decent climate, fascinating nature and good micro breweries) . Most of the trail system has been created by the local MTB-community and is really hard to beat in terms of flow and fun. So, I was delighted to be back in Bend to rip the finest trails together with my son. Of course, Tiddlywinks and Lower Whoops were our favorites. However, there are so many miles of outstanding trails, that I should spend simply more time when I am back in Bend.
What about a trail ride in dramatic scenery in the midnight sun? The Lofoten archipelago lies within the Arctic Circle, so you could enjoy 24 hours of sunshine during the summer months in good weather conditions. Yet, your body’s need for sleep remains the same at 68° north.
The Lofoten Islands combine dramatic mountains and peaks with open sea, sheltered bays, beaches and steep fjords to one of the most spectacular landscapes. There are a handful of trails that are as well good for mountain biking, however, hiking your bike is sometimes inevitable. The biggest challenge though, is to find a decent bike to rent. It is a good idea to bring your own rig.
One of the best Lofoten rides starts just south of Leknes in Bergsdalen and winds up to Smordalskammen (437 meters elevation). It is an out-and-back ride on a ridge with a fun way back downhill.
A real classic trail is the Keiservarden near Digermulen. The last German emperor Wilhelm II enjoyed the view on the Raftsundet already in 1889. The ride at the top is partially on granite rock.
Kleppstadheia in the Kabelvag/Svolvaer region offers great views, but requires to hike your bike for a while.
Trailride.no is a very helpful app to locate MTB-rides in Norway.