Words by Amanda Wilks
With the summer holiday season approaching, planning your future trip seems like the reasonable thing to do. If you can't bear to leave your beloved steed at home then a mountain bike holiday may be exactly what you need.
There are, however, plenty of things to consider and many strategies to tailor before you pack your ride and embrace the great outdoors, ready to explore new trails, places and cultures, even. From picking the right bike to making sure you come back home safely, there is a lot of planning ahead you need to get involved into. Probably the first point on your list should be to know exactly what you want from your mountain bike adventure.
If you covered that already, then have a look at four sure ways to make your trip a breath-taking mountain bike adventure this summer!
1. Pick the Adventure that is Right for You
The first thing you need to decide is your destination. There are plenty of places that will offer you breathtaking scenery, physical and mental challenges to pump adrenaline and so many new places to discover, you might feel overwhelmed.
Not so long ago we talked about five wild MTB adventures in Europe, but if you want to have the experience of a lifetime, experts recommend Colorado, USA, Nepal, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Ecuador and so on.
Tips on Having the Best of Adventures
If you decided on your destination and route, make sure you are ready to overcome all challenges and take some (or all) of these tips to heart:
- If you are going solo and have a route in mind, get a detailed map and look for the best trails you are ready to take or for routes already tested by cyclists.
- Download some map apps and GPS to your smartphone to make sure you don’t get lost. Some panic apps come in handy as well in case you get lost, injured or your bike suffers from irreparable malfunctions.
- No matter if you travel solo or with a group, make sure that where you are going is safe: it’s best to avoid areas marked by political or social conflict or areas unsafe for female travellers.
- Sort out all technicalities before you leave: some countries need visas, some areas require special permissions to be crossed, some regulations might make it hard for you to enjoy the full freedom and adrenaline-pumping that is mountain biking.
- Even if you take a guided tour, do your homework: what are the proposed routes you will take? How difficult are they? Where are you going to sleep, what are you going to eat and will there be any downtime for you to have some fun?
- Check other cyclists’ reviews, opinions and experiences before you decide.
Planning and getting in control of things to avoid any unpleasant surprises is a reasonable thing to do for any type of traveller and especially for women embarking on a mountain bike adventure. A solid strategy will ensure your fun, safety and gratifying experiences.
2. Pick the Bike that is Right for You
If you're planning to spend money on an MTB adventure, the likelihood is that you already have an ideal bike for the perfect ride so keep these handy tips in mind...
- Hardtails are ideal for biking in countries where the terrain is rough, loose, undulating and less technical. If you're planning on doing some bike-packing, then a hardtail is the perfect companion.
- As the frame material goes, steel is strong and durable and more commonly used in the construction of hardtail bikes and touring bikes. Alloy frames are lighter but remain strong while your elite level carbon bikes are super light and stiff, but any carbon frame damage can result in a holiday ending moment.
- As for wheel size, it comes down to personal preference. Big 29ers are ideal for cross-country rolling action, whereas the standard 650b wheel size is versatile enough for a more all-mountain style of adventure.
At the end of the day, ride what you're comfortable with whilst ensuring your bike is up for the challenge. Whether it's a hardtail rigid single-speed or a carbon deluxe full-suspension bike, it's important to make sure you're comfortable throughout the trip, or you'll just not enjoy yourself as much!
3. Pick the Company that is Right for You
If you plan to go with a group, the company you have can make or break the deal for you.
Ideally, MTB adventures should consist of a maximum of eight riders of similar skill, training, experience and physical abilities. Unless you are decided to begin a self-discovery and initiation journey all by yourself, becoming part of a group with shared passions is the sure-fire way to have the best of times during your trip.
Besides the obvious reason of safety and at-hand help you get when biking in a group, meeting new people, making new friends and sharing the experience and the memory of an adventure should be among the goals of your vacation.
4. Pick the Enjoyment of the Trip over Personal Records
This may sound obvious, but whether you ride solo or in a group, make sure your adventure is not paced at neck-breaking speeds. As a mountain biker, you have the rare opportunity to discover less known wonders of our planet, meet cultures, places, and people you otherwise couldn’t encounter.
A mountain bike adventure is not about breaking records or hurrying your way towards the finish line. It is about exploration, initiation, discovery, curiosity and embracing the unknown.
Tips to Boost the Fun
- Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the wonders of the world.
- Even planned guided tours should allow downtime and days for leisure.
- Once you come back, besides being proud of your skills as a biker, you need to tell people back home about everything you saw, tasted and experienced out there, be they amazing sunsets or local festivals held in remote villages at the end of the world.
A breath-taking MTB adventure begins with planning, training and reliable gear, but should always end up with heart-warming memories and that feeling of wanderlust you will give in to again and again.
So where do you want to go on your next MTB adventure? Do you already hear the call of the wild or do you still need time to decide what you want from your future MTB trip?