Mountain biking is one of Britain’s favourite sports and the majority of kids have a bike these days. UK cycling was the star of the Beijing Olympics, bringing Britain loads of silverware. The Tour de France and other events also have strong British contenders each year.
It is no surprise then that mountain biking holidays are very popular and are well catered for, and resembles what skiing is to winter sports. It’s not a difficult thing to learn, in fact it’s as simple as riding a bike, and is relatively cheap to buy what you need as a beginner. The vast areas of good terrain mean you’ll never have to visit the same place twice unless you want to.
For the dedicated enthusiast, or those who simply prefer to follow a sense of adventure, planning a mountain bike holiday from the bottom up can be a great experience. Numerous sources of information and advice will help construct a holiday that suits you down to the ground. Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and other travel books are always good, given that they have info on biking but also all the other aspects such as accommodation and travel routes.
Mountain biking magazines regularly run features on certain areas that can be really useful. But perhaps the easiest way is to choose a resort that is known for good quality mountain biking, book flights and accommodation, and get the local knowledge of where is best to ride when you get there.
One thing to make sure you take with you if you’re going to bike abroad is travel insurance. Because of the nature of mountain biking, most standard policies won’t cover all aspects of the sport, particularly things like downhill racing or cross-country in extreme areas.
This is because insurance is based on risk and the more skilled areas of biking are very risky. The chances of injury are greatly increased the higher the speed of the rider and the mor difficult the ground on which he is travelling, not to mention risk of damaging expensive equipment. Personal liability for accidents can also be an issue, given that cyclists can cause an accident just like any other road user.
Fortunately the vast majority of insurers will have a policy to suit mountain biking, perhaps advertised as an adventurous sports package. They might cost more but paying a high premium sure beats paying the hospital bills for a broken leg when you take a fall off a high saddle. There are other aspects as well, such as early flights home and alternative accommodation.
Closer to home, there are several popular long-distance routes in the UK, such as the coast-to-coast route in Northern England that starts on the West coast in Cumbria and takes in such wonderful areas as the Lake District, on the way to the East coast. The ride can be done in three or four days, staying in hotels along the way or even camping.