We get a constant stream of work experience youths coming through the Singletrack offices. Once here, we slowly crush their dreams and mangle their idea of ‘work’ beyond all recognition, smothering it under a pile of innertubes that must be mended and bikes that need cleaning.
Every once in a while we unchain their ankles, shout at them to “imagineer some concepts”, throwing a laptop from 1998 at their feet and scowling at them if they ask any further questions. Our current work experience lad Ben responded well to this, writing us his Top Ten of places to ride this summer. Without further ado, here’s Ben’s Top Ten.
Chamonix holds the key to your typical French summer’s mountain biking: steep, technical downhills, beautiful views, long ascents (if you want) but best of all: chairlifts and gondolas. Taking the Brévent lift into the clouds really give you a sense of the scale of the landscape; the Alps tower above you and the Chamonix valley spreads out below. There is a clear view of Mont Blanc and the sun is shining; paradise. Then you get to the top and the fun really gets going. Chamonix offers several mountains with steep technical trails or beautiful road rides depending on what you’re into. But don’t be afraid to ask the locals (most of them speak English anyway) as there are many places that aren’t on the map.
For information on how to get to Chamonix and more on Mountain Biking visit www.chamonix.com/
Whistler holds a whole range of activities in its multi-skill-level bike park. A range of biking skills is accounted for, from novice to expert downhiller, you will always be able to find something to suit your needs. A downhill ride of more than 100km with lift-serviced trails; large berms, high speed sections, jumps, and drop-offs of every description. The Mountain Bike Park also features a BikerCross Course and 3 skills centres. Pair this up with bright sunshine and amazing views in summer and you’ve got a premier bike riding destination. What more could you want?
For more information on Mountain Biking and how to get to Whistler visit www.whistler.com
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is the place to be when heading over to Australasia for a holiday of mountain biking. Like most places it’s hot in summer and thanks to the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club has some very good, well maintained trails. It’s next to a huge mountain range known as, The Remarkables, one of only two mountain ranges from north to south. But it’s not just the look of the mountains that is astonishing, it’s the trails within them. Here also we can see a wide range of mountain bikers taken into account, from people who just want to try it for the day to experienced riders. They’ve even found a balance between them, Seven-Mile for example is good f or beginners but fun for experienced riders. If you’re in that hemisphere, pay it a visit.
For more information visit www.queenstownnz.co.nz
Livigno is a beautiful Italian town in a high valley. It is surrounded by mountains in a distant corner of the Italian alps and provides fantastic bike riding, it has an awesome bike park for those who enjoy dirt jumping and some neat trails for the more cross-county and downhillers. But the best thing is that the whole area is tax free so that meal you’re craving after a bike ride, or that nice cold beer comes 20% cheaper than it would here in England. Don’t worry about where to go either, the tourist offices all have leaflets and guides on the best places to ride. Don’t forget the amazing views either, like most of the little towns in the alps, the views up and across the valley are incredible. Definitely a dream biking destination.
For information on how to get there visit www.livigno.co.uk/
Tegernsee is a classic Bavarian town with old Gothic buildings and amazing mountain ranges but best of all, a good brewery. In the summer Tegernsee transforms from a ski resort into a pure mountain biking destination. On the 2nd and 3rd of June they are holding the ‘Tegernsee Mountain Bike Festival’ with a variety of routes for levels of biking from amateur to pro. But if you’re not into the racing or the Bavarian Meal as a prize then take to the hills on your own or with a friend. A popular mountain bike destination is Mount Wallberg with 1,722m to cover with mixed forests leading up to the Wallberg chapel.
For more information visit en.tegernsee.com/
Coed y Brenin, Wales
Coed y Brenin is your classic trail centre. A variety of trails and trail types, some for the very experienced, some for the inexperienced. If you live in Wales or Britain, it’s comparatively close to home compared to some other places on the list and with great trails like ‘The Beast’ and the ‘MBR’ trail, it’s definitely worth the drive/train-ride. With some recent additions and a great centre, Coed y Brenin is one of a kind and is not to be missed. They aren’t natural trails but they’re damn good man-made ones and in summer, amongst the pine trees, you could almost think you’re not in Wales.
For more information visit www.mbwales.com/en/content/cms/Centres/Coed_y_Brenin/Coed_y_Brenin.aspx
Kirroughtree is one of the Seven Stanes, a set of formidable but awesome trail centres. This is one that stood out for me when I visited Scotland and riding round the black run, there was nothing that I thought needed improving. About two thirds of the way round there is a unique trail feature called McMoab, in fact you could call it a feature on the trail, but it’s hardly a trail feature, it’s more like a trail all of its own. It’s a huge slab of rock that juts out of the ground and you have to ride over it. You get a vague idea in the video but it’s nothing like you experience it in real life. Set yourself a challenge and try to ride over it without putting a foot down. The rest of the trail provides no let up with some awesome down hills and some tough ups and after only 18 miles I was knackered. Don’t be put off though, it’s an awesome trail centre and should not be dismissed.
For more information visit www.7stanesmountainbiking.com/Kirroughtree
Peak District, England
The Peak District; typical English, natural trails. There’s so many places to go that I can’t describe them all to you. The best way to discover is to go and find out; you’re in England here so you don’t have to worry about any awkward-language-conversations with the locals and most of them know several good trails. I went with a friend of mine and he showed us round. We started by ascending a long and technical Roman road for a long time but there was a rewarding descent known as the Beast at the top. This is basically a river bed of rocks and boulders all the way done, you’re not going to go much faster than 10mph but the challenge is great. This basically sums up the Peaks, up and down, but I’m talkin’ good up and down.
For more information visit www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/
Yet another of the seven stanes in Scotland and holds a similar style to Kirroughtree. This trail centre is defined by its granite and rock riding with a ride range of trails on offer you’re in for a great experience. There are several trail features on the red/black run that change the attitude you have towards the trail. There’s the slab with its qualifier, a huge, namely ‘slab’ of rock with a near very steep gradient but don’t be scared off, it’s pretty easy and don’t worry about the qualifier, it’s harder than the actual thing! There are also the ‘Terrible Twins’, two very steep slabs of rock that are similar to The Slab but shorter. A trail centre to get your blood pumping and your heart racing, if you’re up in Scotland, then all Seven Stanes are definitely worth a look, Dalbeattie especially.
For more information visit www.7stanesmountainbiking.com/Dalbeattie
Cannock Chase, England
This trail centre is one for you if you live down south and don’t want anything too far away or too difficult. Now I live in Hertfordshire with no major hills or descents so this is my kind of trail centre. The trails are all unnatural (unfortunately) and there is nothing too technical but it’s a nice pedal round if you’re looking for something more than your little local route but not anything too challenging or four hours drive away. The centre has no giant up hills and several fun descents. You’ve got trails such as ‘Follow the Dog’ and the ‘Monkey Trail’. To be fair the forestry commission have done a good job in keeping these trails well maintained and providing a good days out, not one of the best, but a good central location.
For more information visit www.visitcannockchase.co.uk