One of the most important parts of booking a bike holiday, what’s the riding like? Can I handle it? Is it too much or am I looking for more? It’s not easily answered, but this guide will hopefully help. It will also assist us best match you to the destination, evenly skilled riding buddies and an all round better holiday experience.
The key is being honest with yourself, a photograph or a GoPro run can make things look more easy than they actually are, your local woods maybe easier or harder than you realise and one holiday destination will vary from another in terms of difficulty. If you have the question in your head, is it right for me? Then this assessor will help to make sure you get the most out of your bike holiday.
The levels we suggest are what we advise as a minimum to fully enjoy the trip. Doesn't mean you can't go, but they'll help you in booking something where you'll be pushing your absolute limit or something that fits just right. Those we mark as compulsory should be more strongly considered. We propose them to make sure you have the best and safest time possible.
Morzine and the Portes du Soleil. Europe's most varied and vast bike park. Everything is here, jumps, roots, steeps, rocks, fast, technical, berms, you name it, you'll find it in one of the resorts connected by this incredible lift system.
You can find something for every technical ability around the Portes du Soleil. Numerous World Cups, National and International events such as Crankworx and IXS Cups boast a vast array of purpose built downhill tracks. Huge jumps lines crafted by the likes of Nico Vink in Chatel, aswell as cleverly designed greens and blue runs around the sloped of Super Morzine. That doesn't even count the huge number of hidden trails dotted around the mountains, or the marked, and not so easy to find enduro routes. It's a paradise.
Finale Ligure is quite simply one of the best places to ride an all mountain bike. The key to how much you will enjoy it is defining your idea of all mountain. Here, the trails are hard. These are mountain bike trails made from the mountains and the features upon them, namely, rocks. This is a bike park unlike any other, with it's long descents over a vast array of terrain, it's physically and technically challenging even for athletes at the top of their game.
The Aosta Valley is vast. You could spend a lifetime riding here and still not conquer everything. If you step out of the safety net of the bike parks, it's frankly mind-boggling how much there is. From the natural bike park, gnarly single track in La Thuile, host to the Enduro World Series on multiple occasions, to the high alpine peaks of the surrounding Aosta Valley and Pila's epic backcountry ridgelines, Aosta has the spirit of adventure covered.
The scope of riding on offer in Britain is huge and incredibly varied. From the numerous official bike parks that are scattered up and down the UK, to the trail centre's born from the work of dedicated local trail builders that have put in years of hard work in places like the Golfie near Innerleithen. That's before we get into the great outdoors and the vast wilderness of Scotland and Wales.
Ability and Fitness levels
Skills and Technical
1 - Casual
You're comfortable on smooth, flattish singletrack. You’d pause if there were a rock in the trail and the a drop over 2 feet tall is a big challenge. A set of brake pads is likely to last a days riding over steep terrain. You couldn't stop on the trail without putting a foot down straight away.
2 - Weekend Warrior
You are all about charging, you taste the dirt more often than you’d like to admit, but it’s worth it to bring a grin to your face. You’ll happily take on table tops, even attempt a short double. Small rock gardens of 2 - 5 metres in length are intimidating but you’ll try. You can handle modest roots and off camber terrain but it takes a couple of attempts to feel confident.
3 - Dedicated
You’ve developed skills on the bike that give you confidence in most situations. Drops over 4 foot, technical rock or root sections over 5 metres in length and rooty, steep sections of trail may need a look before riding, but you’re happy to hit them. Jumping and being in the air is comfortable. You have good knowledge of your body position on the bike and are comfortable shifting your weight about to get the bike moving should you find yourself in a tricky situation.
4 - Semi Pro
You relish slow, technical trails as much as fast. The feeling you get when you nail a section of rocks and roots is “I could nail that way faster”. You can handle jumps of most sizes and shapes, throwing some style in there aswell. You are centered and solid on the bike over rough terrain, in corners you don’t have to tell yourself to keep your eyes up.
5 - Pro
You see lines at speed others can’t see standing still, and you have the skills to ride them. You can track stand, manual, wheelie and hop your way around anything on the trail at any speed. You rarely see a section of trail you’ve looked at and thought, maybe tomorrow. The bike is an extension of your body and it does whatever you tell it to. Riding a bike is completely natural to you, you’re that mate everyone talks about, the local hero.
1 - Casual
Your idea of a big ride is a couple of hours in the local bike park on a Sunday afternoon, with a can of energy drink to get back to the top. The granny ring is your best friend, E-bikes look like a way easier option but just aren’t cool enough. Your hands blister at the sight of a braking bump.
2 - Weekend Warrior
You love a good shred, but don’t have the time or energy to ride anymore than afew hours on the weekend, when you go out, you work up a sweat in no time but you don’t care, you give 100%. Your hands and arms would get tired under repeated rough terrain but it’s still worth it.
3 - Dedicated
You’d be able to ride most of the day, pedalling up a local trail centre to get to the descents if there’s no space on the uplift. You’ll finish the day tired but you could do it all again tomorrow. Your palms have the start of tell tale callouses of someone who loves to ride whenever they can.
4 - Semi Pro
Not only do you ride pretty much everywhere, you actively train to get fitter for riding. The uplift being a luxury you only take so you can push more laps. Road bike to work, gym when you can for strength. The idea of an epic pedal fills you with joy. Determination and dedication to the shred is all that’s on your mind and the challenge of descending non-stop for 20 minutes over rough terrain only makes you wish the trail wouldn’t end.
5 - Pro
Up or down, it will take nothing to stop you. We’re talking Greg Minnaar levels of fitness. It doesn’t mean you don’t tire out, you just don’t care, pain isn’t in your vocabulary, you compete with Nino Schurter on Strava.
From Single track to ridgelines, roots to rocks you are happy riding all types of terrain mostly keeping two wheels on the dirt.
You love technical riding, going up is good, coming down is better. Natural jumps, gaps, and transfers are all good.
Jibber / Bike park
Man-made berms, gaps, drops, ladders and everything in between that are found in most bike parks. You’d be popping and styling your way down everything.
Spirit of Adventure
You’re all about adventure, happy riding any kind of terrain, endless descents, hike a bike or technical climbs it's all in a day's work.