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  1. #1
    dwt
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    Yank needs advice for UK (or other) mtb holiday

    Recently visited London and Paris first my first visit out of the USA (not counting Canada which I can drive to and do often). Loved both, and contrary to rumor, got no flack from anybody I ran into regarding my place of origin. Itching to get back!

    So, need advice as to a killer mtb destination. I'm thinking UK just for ease of travel, but can be talked into anything. Would be a group of 4 or 5 riders, one week stay. Speak English with serviceable French.

    We've done holidays in both Moab UT and Sedona AZ here, but are from the northeast USA and know how to ride roots and mud as well as sand and rocks. Looking for a challenge.

    We generally box up our bikes and ship UPS to the destination, which is pretty simple to do in the states.

    Any advice as to where to go and stay?

    TIA.
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  2. #2
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    This all depends on what type of riding you like doing?
    There are many areas of both the UK and France that cater for different disciplines.

    I myself love All-mountain / trail riding with a good bit of DH thrown in as well.
    If that's what your in to, then the only places really worth looking into for a full week (when you're coming from America) are The 7stanes in Scotland http://www.7stanes.gov.uk/ and the French Alps around Morzine http://www.morzine-avoriaz.com/index...son=1&langue=1, Les Gets http://www.lesgets.com/en/ete/index.html and Chatel http://info.chatel.com/www-sommaire_...39-UK-ETE.html

    One thing that definitelys helps, especially in the Alps is that you have someone whos knows there way around. Last time i stayed in Les Gets we met someone who showed us loads of stuff. We went from Les Gets to Morzine, then over to Avoriaz, over again to Chatel and even into Switzerland one day. Could spend a full day in all of those places, but to blast through them all in one day hit all the best runs was epic!

    There are lots of UK based companies that will probably be able to help you in booking accomodation etc and some even provide guides, just do some googleing.

    I've spent may weeks in both places and keep going back for more.

    Good Luck.

  3. #3
    dwt
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    Quote Originally Posted by mon the biffy
    This all depends on what type of riding you like doing?
    There are many areas of both the UK and France that cater for different disciplines.

    I myself love All-mountain / trail riding with a good bit of DH thrown in as well.
    If that's what your in to, then the only places really worth looking into for a full week (when you're coming from America) are The 7stanes in Scotland http://www.7stanes.gov.uk/
    This looks exactly like what we would be into. Will check it out.

    Thx.
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  4. #4
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    Wales has some fantstic rides, including the Marin trail, at least several days worth of rides if you are happy to travel about. a good place to look up is Betws y Coed

  5. #5
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    My vote is for Scotland.

    I've ridden two of the trail networks developed/owned (not sure which it is) by Scotland's Forestry Commission - Glentress (near Peebles, part of 7Stanes network) and Nevis Range (near Fort William, in the highlands).

    Both are well maintained. The Scottish borders (where most of the 7Stanes are located) is easily accessed from Edinburgh or Glasgow airports. And the fastest to get from park to park (more motorway).

    But, the Scottish Highlands have some otherworldly scenery. The towns are small, quaint, and possibly slightly less expensive for lodging. The main drawback is time to get from one place to another. Scotland isn't very large, but north of Perth, there are no motorways - some dual-carriageway and a lot of single lane, can be quite twisty (in the mountains after all). Posted limits are 60mph, but I've found I can't go that fast (locals can, they know the roads).

    The terrain is similar to the West coast of the US. Lush, green forest from the rain. The well maintained trail networks are armored where needed and hold up to the weather quite well. If you look at the trail maps of Glentress and Nevis Range (possibly listed as Witch's Trails), what they list as beginner trail is usually fire road. Intermediate tends to be flow-y singletrack that's only intermediate because of elevation change. Only on the expert routes do you start to get really technical trail features (massive rock gardens, drops/ledges, etc).

    Anyway, enough rambling. If you go to Scotland, I'd fly into Edinburgh and spend a few days in that area (hitting Glentress and Innerleithen) and seeing the city (the castle is pretty darn cool and plenty of pubs and stuff to relax after a day riding). Then head up to the highlands and hit Wolftrax/Laggan, and finish with a loop over to Fort William to hit the WC downhill course.

  6. #6
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    wales gets my vote aswell,check out mtbwales.co.uk and if you need a guide give me a shout ;-)

  7. #7
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    We're not usually nasty to Americans on principle over here you know.

    As Biffy said, the best destination will depnd on what kind of riding you like best (or basically, do you want uplift if possible?)

    You don't say what time of year, but if July/August then the Alps will give you the most riding becuase the lifts will be open and you can cover loads more miles by using them to cut out some of the climbs. It's not all DH out there by any means either.

    In the UK - there are some excellent trail centres with waymarked routes in both Scotland and Wales, some of which are challenging in both length and technically. Coed y Brenin, Afan Forest Park, Kirroughtree, Glentress and Innerleithen are all fantastic venues with great riding.

    But some of the best - and definitely the most challanging - riding in the UK are traditional tracks (bridleways) in areas like the Lake District (my fave, and truly stunning) or Scottish Highlands (also rather pretty).

    If you want lots more info (and probably offers to show you around) then post on the Singletrackworld forum.

    Other options could be a week with a catered, guided MTB holiday company somewhere like Southern Spain or Italy (or the Alps of course).

    Buy the Mountain Biking Europe book published by Footprint and digest that, it's a focussed on "official" MTB trails, but still very useful.

    Feel free to send me a private message if you have any specific Qs.

  8. #8
    dwt
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    Quote Originally Posted by chakaping
    We're not usually nasty to Americans on principle over here you know.
    Most of the Yanks who make the effort to cross the pond are not the dimwitted xenophobic jerks you hear about. Like I said, I had zero problems.

    From all your responses, I'm thinking Wales or Scotland in the summer. My mates and I are partial to fairly technical rocky terrain. I don't think we'll have any problems finding good riding.

    Thanks.
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  9. #9
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    If you like technical rocky stuff, you'll probably want the Scottish Highlands or the Lake District. The latter is closer to the 7 Stanes trail centres than the Highlands are - if you were planning on taking any of those in as well.

    Some Lakes pictures/info here...
    http://www.singletrackworld.com/foru...d-every-stream

    Have a good trip anyway!


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt
    From all your responses, I'm thinking Wales or Scotland in the summer. My mates and I are partial to fairly technical rocky terrain. I don't think we'll have any problems finding good riding.

    Thanks.

    I'll have to put in a shout out for the Climach-X trail in West Wales, It should suit your needs by the sounds of it. The best trail ive ever ridden. I haven't ridden too many Scottish trail centers though, but they all sound and look amazing.

    Also the natural rocky stuff around the lake district is some of the best stuff in the UK.

    Here's a link for Climach-X.http://www.dyfimountainbiking.org.uk.../ClimachX.html
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  11. #11
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    Peak Dsitrct is great too, great variety & its bang in the middle of the UK

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    In England you really have to be in the North, somwhere smack in the middle like Skipton on the edge of the yorkshire dales would give you fantastic local riding and at least 12 trail centres within a days commute (up to 4 hours driving). That would cover most of the north wales and scottish borders trail centres as well as the 2 in the lakes, Girzedale and Whinlatter and also Dalby, stainburn (very small but brutal), Hamsterely, Keilder. plUs a wealth of local riding with guides available at the Dales Mountain bike centre or the bike livery in the new inn appletreewick.

    For France in Summer the Portes du Soleil is excellent for all types of terrain form xc, AM to full blown world cup downhills. Other good areas include les deux alpes, alpe d'huez, verbier, les arcs... the list goes on.

  13. #13
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    If you only have 1 week,I would get a flight to Geneva, then go to Chamonix, you can get maps for the local(walking) trails, you can then go to Pila which is about an hour away in Italy,its a bit like a bike park, both are great places to ride and you hardly see another biker in cham, morzine and the surrounding area is far too busy for my liking and trails of braking bumps.
    The UK has some great riding too, but if you only have a week you are going to be doing a lot of driving, id recommend, the quantocks, north wales, Peak district(my fave), Lake district, Kirroughtree, Glentress, Lagan.
    Wherever you go, i hope you have a great time.
    Just thought another place is the French, Italian Riviera, try rivierabikes. Im going next week for a weeks riding.

  14. #14
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    If you looking for some undiscovered area Hungary is the answer. Reasonable prices, nices girls, good weather and lot of trails.
    Check out www.mtbtourhungary.com

  15. #15
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    http://www.arebikepark.se/en/

    http://www.jarvsobergscykelpark.se/

    Everyone here in Sweden speaks perfect English. Åre in itself is worth the visit.

  16. #16
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    The 7stanes in Scotland ..all day long...my local park...you'll love it
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  17. #17
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    My wife and I are heading to Scotland in September and would like to go mtn biking just one day. We plan on spending a few days in and around the Cairngorms National Park area and that is one of the places we're thinking of riding. We're looking for some aggressive XC with some great scenery. We'd be renting bikes so we'd also like some recommendations for bike rentals as well as guided vs unguided rides. We'd like to rent a couple of 6" FS bikes. We're also considering riding at Ft William as well. 7Stanes sounds good, but that's a bit out of the way as we're planning on staying in Northern Scotland. Basically we're flying into Edinburgh and then heading up to the Cairngorms National Park area for a few days. Then we'll make a stop at Loch Ness on our way to the Isle of Skye for a few days. We'll be spending our last day around Stirling/Falkirk so that we're close to Edinburgh for the flight home. Our rental car won't have a bike rack, so we'd either need to be able to ride from the bike shop or have some other way of getting the bikes to the trail head. One thing I'm curious about for our trip in general is how long it takes to get from place to place in Northern Scotland. I know there are no highways up there so I used Google maps to get some trip times and wondered how accurate they were. For example it said it would take 2 1/2 hours to get from Loch Ness to the Isle of Skye and 5 hours to get from the Isle of Sky to Falkirk. Anyone know if that's realistic? I'd appreciate any advice we can get.
    Last edited by tadrscin; 04-13-2011 at 05:38 PM.

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    You know there is only one answer.

    Check this out

    http://youtu.be/LLwBEYGQIvA


    Trail centres if you want that, easy riding if you want that, but big, challenging expeditions which can be any length can be your so easily with free access and camping a good b&b network, bunkouses and hostels. You know you want to. you know you do.


  19. #19
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    hey,

    i'm heading back to the UK this week for my nephew's wedding - i left the UK in 1992, so whilst i know my way round the UK pretty well, i have little idea about the mtb hotspots and am looking for some tips ...

    the plan - this coming sunday night in salisbury, early monday morning drive over to wales and ride mon/tues/weds. on thursday cross over to the peak district via cannock chase, ride in the peaks friday and saturday and then stop at my sister's in melton mowbray before doing the tunnel back to germany ... the lakes is an option instead of the peaks if the riding is really worth it!!

    i'm looking for highly technical mtb trails in wales, will ride chase the dog in cannock chase and am then looking for epic tours in the peaks/lakes. riding ability is broad and skilled, honed on week-long technical alpine crossings with over 2000hm per day and with the odd bike park visit thrown in. in the UK i'm looking more for single trails and flow country with obstacles and drops as opposed to boring forest road descents and bike park slope style (unless the views are stunning) ... am also gps-capable!

    i will be gleaning mtbwales (right now climachX, betws y coed and coed y brenin are options) and singletrackworld for peaks/lakes options ... all suggestions welcome.

    thx for any help ... ragetty

  20. #20
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    you have answered a lot of your own question there Ragetty. All good option. the only thing i wonder is if you have factored in the driving time. its slow going in wales for example, There are no big interstates here for you to eat up the miles. Your going to spend a lot more time driving than riding.Salisbury to Coed y brenin probably 5 to 6 hours driving for example

    So suggestions, coming from salisbury, your probably going to enter Wales across the Severn bridge which will put you close to a couple of trail centre option. afan forest is well worth a visit. the skyline trail is closing soon and is an epic so could be a good option.

    From there you could drive to coed y brenin / bets-y-coed region where there are several trail centres including the ones you have listed. Mb wales as you say is where to get the info.

    There are more natural options too and a quick search can locate some GPS mapping for these. try MBR bike magic and bike radar as well as single track world for posiibilities in Wales, the Lakes, the dales or the peaks.

  21. #21
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    thx!!

    btw, i'm a brit living in munich, i just hijacked this thread for my own purposes

    yep, well aware of the drive times in south west & wales (used to live there in pre-mtb times), which is why it's going to be a safari drive up through wales at the end of each day, as well as stopping at cannock chase on the way to the peaks.

    right now looking at afan (monday, maybe cwmcarn too) and then the north (tuesday/wednesday), canock chase thursday and so on - although i suspect all plans will be subject to juggling when en route ...

    ragetty
    Last edited by ragetty; 05-30-2011 at 01:58 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragetty View Post
    thx!!

    btw, i'm a brit living in munich, i just hijacked this thread for my own purposes

    yep, well aware of the drive times in south west & wales (used to live there in pre-mtb times), which is why it's going to be a safari drive up through wales at the end of each day, as well as stopping at cannock chase on the way to the peaks.

    right now looking at afan (monday, maybe cwmcarn too) and then the north (tuesday/wednesday), canock chase thursday and so on - although i suspect all plans will be subject to juggling when en route ...

    ragetty
    Did you do any trail centers around mid or north Wales? Climach-X for example? I heard that Skyline at Afan trail center is mostly fire road at the moment because its closing down. The Wall and Whites Level are supposed to be still good though.
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  23. #23
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    the trip is starting tomorrow, so no comments as yet ...

  24. #24
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    so, now back in good ol' germany after having survived a week of variable welsh weather ...

    the 'wilds' and 'wall' trails in afan forest park were great, even when wet. skyline is still open but we again heard mixed comments in terms of maintenance and future (we didn't ride it).

    cli-machX was not quite as much fun until the final descent (which is *not* the longest descent of it's type as touted on the web page). it is also rideable when wet, but then it is laced with many more standing puddles that just get to be annoying - thus, only recommended when dry(-ish).

    coed-y-brennin was great - many varied trails, suitable for all levels (except full-on freeride or downhill) and weathers, with ok showers, a bike wash and reasonable coffee. we rode the 'beast' twice (formerly the karrimor trail), as it had much the same character as the wall in afan but was longer and tougher.

    we also took in the marin trail in betws-y-coed - there appeared to be some sort of vertical distortion field going on here, as we seemed to be forever riding upward, even on single trail, with very little descent to compensate. luckily, the final descent makes up for the lack of fun beforehand. notably, as the outbound trail crosses the inbound just before the descent, lots of people just ride up to the intersection and down the descent, leaving out the bulk of the trail. btw, betws-y-coed is much more of a general outdoor pursuits center, so expect more competition for accommodation on sunny weekends.

    I would describe all of these trails as more or less 'make it as hard as you like flow country spiked with occasional (not always AM-friendly) enduro sections'. drops were never too big (although they got bigger the faster one rode), technical sections never too hairy, there was not much exposure and very little real northshore - but the trails were a great deal of fun, making maximum use of the limited amount of real altitude gain available, in particular the beast in coed-y-brenin and the wall in afan.

    we mostly saw hardtails and 120mm AM cross country bikes on these trails, closely followed by the 140mm and occasionally something from the 160mm category - we saw very little above this and when, then they were only riding specific sections. 140-160mm is about the sweet spot as there is a fair amount of sometimes (very) steep ascent (beast total 990hm) laced together with descents that are more fun with more travel. we took and wore arm and full leg protection - we didn't need it, but it would have been very helpful had we crashed on some of the more hairy and/or high speed descents as the majority of these are constructed from natural stone.

    we went b&b all the way - VFM and often catering well to biker needs. take plenty of grease & fluids to keep the bike rolling along in the british clime, and watch out for the midges (small flies that actually bite chunks out of you rather than poke you like a mosquito) ...

    ragetty
    Last edited by ragetty; 06-14-2011 at 03:06 PM.

  25. #25
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    I take it you didn't get to Cwmcarn? That's a bit different in that it has a decent DH track (with uplift service). Even then it's still designed to be mostly rollable if you want to so a wide variety of skills can do it. Has a nice XC trail too.

    I've done four places in Wales so far, Cwmcarn, Afan, CYB and Penmachno. Love them all except a little less so with Penmachno. More of a traditional XC place over bleak landscapes and a lot of fireroad climbs.

    Scotland is supposed to be best though but yet to do it.

    There are loads of little places dotted around the UK, some trail centres and many just local hill, woodlands and forests. If you happen to be around London and want to get out somewhere local check out Surrey Hills. A big area of mostly natural trails just south of London (off the North Downs). Loads of stuff to do there. Not quite Wales, but given southern England isn't mountainous it's pretty good. Difficult to find the trails though without a guide but can get help from the locals riding there or local shops and many UK forums that can point in the right direction (or have group rides).

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