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”.
The Vinschgau bureau of tourism loves to rave about the 315 sunny days per year they allegedly have. So, when I was heading to the Val di Senales for a ski touring event end of November I just threw my bike into the trunk as well and took off a bit earlier. I read about the newly built Propain Trail and was keen to get it under my tire knobs.
The surrounding mountain ranges were all snow covered but the Vinschgau trails on both sides of the valley were in superb condition up to an elevation of 1800 meters. It was sunny and dry, but cold. The trails were covered with fine larch needles that added a soft golden shimmering finish.
The Propain Trail is a sweet purpose built trail to descend from the Sonnenberg down to Schlanders. In order to get up to the trail head at an elevation of about 1400 meters you either pedal up from Coldrano via Vezzano on paved roads or you cross over from St. Martin am Kofel. The 800 meters climb from Coldrano was all on paved roads and somehow relaxed due to the warming sun and nice views. The downhill on the Propain Trail is excellent: technical with tight turns, but full of flow.
The next morning I chose the Holy Hansen as morning ride. It was even colder, the climb up the Morterer Leger tougher and longer (1200 meters elevation gain). Yet, as well this fun trail was in very good condition to have a blast downhill with a big smile (on the half frozen) face. Looks like I will return for more sunny days in the Vinschgau sooner or later…
Just two weeks after the Enduro World Series came to Finale Ligure to stage the final round of the season we continued our series of trips to Finale. This splendid, complete package that Finale has to offer is simply hard to beat: besides the unique Trail network with its flowy, roller-coaster-like trails there are nice beaches, cool cafes, good restaurants, plenty of shops, historic buildings, organic olive oil plantations, fantastic ice cream and much more to excite the whole family.
The local committee to maintain and develop the trails has done an outstanding job over the last years and has shaped or reshaped numerous purpose built trails. There are plenty of alternatives when you start your descent at the NATO-base or from Melogno.
The Kill Bill lines down to Calice Ligure are a thrilling alternative to the Caprazoppa Trails to finalize a tour from Melogno to Finale. Kill Bill is a sort of climax to the Roller Coaster Trail from Melogno as it is even steeper and tighter.
The Supergroppo Trail starts from the old NATO-Base but is longer than the other runs and includes as well some uphill parts. It was built in 2014 and served as an epic stage in the Enduro World Series race. Altogether 11 km of beautifully flowing singletrack trail that ends in Orco Feglino.
I have the strong feeling that this wasn’t my trip to Finale Ligure…
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.
The Dolomites feature the most dramatic mountain range in the Alps. That’s why I’ve been there a couple of times for work attending photo shootings. The bizarre rock formations and the via ferratas – often a remainder from World War I – make the Dolomites the classic hiking and climbing destination on the Southern side of the Alps. Of course, this is as well a great area for mountain biking and you can even combine biking and climbing.
The legendary rides in the Dolomites tend to circumnavigate a mountain range. The Sella Ronda is perhaps the most popular tour as you can do it on a road bike, on a mountain bike and in winter on skis. I did the tour around the Latemar with an total elevation gain of about 2.900 meters and total distance of 56 km/35 miles. With the usage of 3 lifts, the ride wasn’t that tough, though.
Carezza Flow Trail
The trails are a mix of single track, dual track, gravel roads and small portion of paved road. Some steep, root strewn, challenging sections, blended with easy trails and forest roads make the Latemar circumnavigation a great, scenic ride that can be varied for different skill levels.
On the Latemar Tour you would use the new Carezza cable car to avoid most of the gnarly climb up the Catinaccio (Rosegarden) Range to the Carezza Pass. However, going down the freshly built Carezza Flow Trail is so much fun that you want to use the Carezza lift multiple times.
What a blessing that our hotel in Welschnofen was directly located on the mountain and literally on the Carezza Flow Trail. So, all those berms, jumps and wall rides – that offer great downhill fun even for novices – became a sort of daily routine to me for one week.
According to the legend the rocky walls of the Rosegarden are King Laurin’s sunken kingdom. Noble trails, I’d like to say…
No doubt, Portes du Soleil is one of the finest mountain bike meccas. The skiing area in the western alps, was one of the first to open their lifts and slopes to mountain bikes through the summer season to grant for fat tire fun on two wheels and big smile on your face 🙂
This video documents just tiny piece of the fun I had at the Pass’ Portes du Soleil 2015 event.
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…
So, after riding all these renowned, magnificent trails this year, which one was best? Websites like singletracks.com or mtbproject.com rank the world’s best mountain bike trails based on the ratings of users, so I used these rankings as an orientation. However, it is obvious that those highest ranked trails aren’t necessarily the best for everyone. It pretty much depends on the criteria and actually on personal preferences. Technical difficulty makes a trail challenging but not great. And the beauty of nature is even more difficult to rate. Anyway, here’s my take:
Whole Enchilada, UPS
Thunder Mountain Trail
Corviglia Flow Trail
McKenzie River Trail
Best trails with both breathtaking nature and trail fun are
Thunder Mountain Trail (near Bryce Canyon, CO)
McKenzie River Trail (Central Oregon, OR)
Tahoe Rim Trail & Flume Trail (Lake Tahoe, NV)
Best trails in terms of fun and flow are
Corviglia Flow Trail (St.Moritz, Switzerland)
Bend Trails, e.g. Tiddlywinks (Bend, OR)
Sandy Ridge Trail System (Portland, OR)
Best trails in terms of overall experience are
Whole Enchilada (Moab, UT)
Melogno Roller Coaster and NATO Base (Finale Ligure, Italy)
MAG7 Trails (Moab, UT)
Phil’s World (Cortez, CO)
18 Road Trails (Fruita, CO)
Although I am tempted to add more categories to list even more great trails I think it is better to stop here. My bottom line is: The best trails are where mountain bikers are to make them great trails, by painting dots on rocks, by shaping berms or by just riding on…