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
The Moab ride on top of my must-ride list had been the HyMasa/Captain Ahab. For good reason as I know by now. This ride is truly outstanding. Mostly on slickrock, it is technically challenging with lots of drops and climbs up and down ledges, yet, it has great flow (if you can master the challenging spots). Moreover, the scenery you ride in and you look upon is already breathtaking – and the climb will let you gasp for air even more. Much alike The Whole Enchilada, Captain Ahab is one of the greatest rides anywhere. Already, I am longing to do this ride again…
Still there are many more fun trails in Moab. I enjoyed again some evening rides on Slickrock Trail and the Mag7 Trails that are in fact magnificent. Bartlett Wash served again as great slickrock-playground and I am already looking forward to my next trip to Moab…
Fruita isn’t that big, but in terms of trails it has a lot to offer. I love the 18 Road trails. They are very smooth and easy – even for beginners – but they are a lot of fun. Zippity Do Da is simply outstanding. Riding down the ridge you sometimes feel like on a different planet. And the PBR-Trail (Pumps, Berms and Rollers) is even easier and faster.
The Kokopelli-Trails are located further west and on the other side of the interstate are little more technical with steps and drops and more rocks. The scenery overlooking the Colorado River is magnificent. My favorite trail is the Horsethief Bench Loop. The challenge is right at the beginning when you drop down from Mary’s. Well, and I didn’t dare the lower part. Instead I got a lesson from another biker, who showed me how to drop down a rock wall.
This time we took advantage of Park City’s skiing infrastructure and invested in a lift ticket with bike haul. We tried the different downhill options and concluded that the Mojave-Trail definitely was our favorite run with several berms and rollers. The biggest challenge however, brought an unmarked, rather vertical trail running right under the chairlift. Somehow, our visit to Park City felt like a skiing trip…
“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.
Frankfurt is the best major city in Germany to live in when mountain biking is the key criteria – thanks to the nearby Taunus range. The U3-line takes you from the heart of the city directly to the Hohemark, the most popular starting point for MTB-tours to the higher Taunus elevations like the Große Feldberg (879 meters).
In the recent mild winters there hasn’t been much snow, which made it possible to enjoy all-year long riding. In addition to the countless official and unoffical trails, new purpose-built trails have been added during the last year.
There are now two “official” downhill lines starting at the Feldberg and a flow trail not far away in the opposite direction. If you connect all the fun trails just around the Feldberg – Altkönig – Sandplacken area you easily end up with tour over 50 kilometers and 1500 meters of elevation gain. Quite a MTB-playground bordering the city limits of “Mainhattan”.