Mountain bikes…they come in all shapes and sizes – like their owners. If you want to get fit for winter, there’s no better way than going up and down varied terrain in the Alps, Rockies or nearer home. At the same time, you get to enjoy the scenery, good food and myriad other activities such as walking, fishing, golf, horse-riding, watersports and adventure parks.
Here are a few trips, trails and tours to get you going.
Beginner Bike Tour in The Tirol
The hilly terrain of the Wilder, Zahmer and Nieder Kaiser offer a unique biking experience among beautiful pastures and mountain lakes. Familiar resorts on the Drei Kaiser Loop Tour include Scheffau, St Johann in Tirol, and Fieberbrunn – and you’ll travel across the Kaisergebirge Nature Preserve. The 136km loop consists of easy mountain biking that’s suitable for beginners.
For more on mountain biking in Austria see our posts Biking in Westendorf, Why You Deserve A Summer or Autumn Holiday in the SkiWelt and A Glimpse of Biking Paradise.
Drive to Cycle in Les Gets
Les Gets is a top resort for mountain biking and there’s a new MTB School here. You can either hire bikes locally or transport your own by car. In the summer, tour operator Peak Retreats has road cycling programmes, but these operate in areas where mountain bikers – from novice to expert – also have a wide variety of marked trails to follow.
Biking for Foodies in Alta Badia
Dolomite Biking School have guided excursions from late May to early October, of varying difficulty and for all levels of skills.
For those not keen on riding difficult uphills you can use the lift system and focus on the downhill trails. And for people more interested in food and culture there are trips designed to fill you up on both. Finally, for those wanting to push themselves there are the Dolomites’ most daunting routes to tackle.
Stay at the four-star Hotel La Perla in Corvara which, as well as having lavish rooms, spa and cuisine, focusses on cycling. The hotel has been run by the Costa family since the 1950s. Bike rental is available at Breakout Sport.
New Bike Programme in Champoluc
Did you think that Ski2 was just for ski holidays? Well, you’d be wrong. The launched Mountain Bike Weekends, a tailor-made bike programme in the pretty Aosta Valley resort of Champoluc last summer.
There are three- and four-night weekend packages for groups of four people or more, which include return airport transfers, accommodation and all meals, uplift by Landrover or chair-lift/gondola, a qualified guide for each group and high quality full-suspension bike hire.
E-Biking in Val d’Isere
Val d’Isere bike trails are accessed by two lifts, the Olympique gondola from the centre of Val d’Isere and the Borsat Express which also gives you access to the trails to Tignes, where there’s a new bike park. La Val Bleue is a long blue trail that finishes with some great tracks through the forest at La Daille.
This July the resort held its second Salon du Vehicle Electrique (The EV Show), demonstrating what eco-friendly vehicles can do for a tourist destination. For example, if you decide to climb to the top of the Col de I’Ilseran – at 2270m the highest paved mountain pass road in Europe – you’ll be able to manage it easily on an e-bike.
Family Cycling in Verbier
The four-hour self-guided Parcours des Familles Verbier-La Tzoumaz itinerary is particularly suitable for families and less fit bikers using the lift network. After going up in the cable-car to Les Ruinettes at 2200m it’s then an easy ride along the route de la Planie to the Croix-de-Coeur.
After this, it’s down to La Tzoumaz at 1510m to catch the cable-car back up to Savoleyres at 2350m. A long 8km descent then takes you back to Verbier via Les Planards. If you’d prefer to follow a guide, Verbier Bike Club organises tours and guides in the area.
Stay at the three-star Hotel L’Ermitage. Alternatively you could book one of the MTB Verbier short breaks including accommodation, packed lunches and snacks, guided bike rides, local lift pass, bike maintenance, back-up vehicle. Bike hire is available at Mountain Air.
Try the Bike Park in Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole is every bit as beautiful in summer as it is in winter. The trails at the Jackson Hole Bike Park are designed for riders of all abilities. Mountain Sports School can get you riding single track in no time with their Bike Park 101 entry level lesson tailored for first-time downhill mountain bikers ages 12 years and over.
If you’re after something more challenging, the Jackson Hole Mountain Bike Park has everything from jaw-jarring rocky descents to banked corners. But there are also smooth trail beds and terrain suitable for every level of rider including total beginners. Guided Mountain Bike Tours are available in the Yellowstone-Teton area, providing incredible scenery and some awesome terrain.
Bike Clinics in Whistler
Whistler Mountain Bike Park is regarded as the world’s best bike park and is a must-do if you’re visiting Whistler this summer. It’s for intermediate to advanced riders and the trails are lift-accessed, so you’ll need a lift pass.
First-time mountain bikers can join one of the Bike Park clinics where you’ll get up to speed on correct stance and breaking techniques as well as downhill bike control. Then you’ll get started on easy trails like Easy Does It to get a taste of the excitement of MTB.
Stay: You can stay in a wide range of accommodation, which varies from the HI-Whistler hostel – which was part of the Whistler Athletes’ Village during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games – to The Four Seasons Resort Whistler at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain. Bike hire from Whistler Bike Rentals.
The above is a selection only! Other good places to go mountain biking in the Alps and Rockies include Tignes (see Val d’Isere, above), Les Arcs, Meribel, Les Deux Alpes (the resort has partnered with Giant – the world’s largest bike manufacturer), and Alpe d’Huez in France; Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy; Sun Valley and Mammoth in the USA; Red Mountain in Canada.