8 Breathtaking Mountain Bike Destinations Made Famous by the Enduro World Series

Kate Ball
19th July 2018

One of the best things about mountain biking is the places it can take you. From rainforests to deserts, from the mountains to the coast, there’s really no better way to explore than on two wheels. And if you’re thinking of saddling up this summer, but don’t know where to start, then look no further than the 2018 Enduro World Series (EWS) calendar.

Now in its seventh year, the series’ mission statement is to “find the best mountain biker in the world”. But don’t let that put you off, because it’s not just pro athletes that compete in this series – there’s a whole lot of amateurs taking part too. Since its inception six years ago, the series has become a pretty reliable barometer of where the next big riding destination is going to be.

Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series, explains: “When we choose a race venue it’s not just because there are great trails; there has to be a strong local riding community as well. Our locations are more than just race venues: the travel, the people you meet, the local riding scene – that’s all a really important part of the experience.”

So without further ado, let us guide you through the EWS’s eight 2018 stops – it’s pretty much a bucket list of some of the best mountain bike riding the world has to offer right now.

Lo Barnechea, Chile

Sitting high in the Andes mountains but just a one-hour drive from Santiago, Lo Barnechea hosted the first EWS round of the year back in March. At an altitude of over 2,000 metres the air may be thin up there, but there’s lift access available if you want to save your legs and lungs for the fast, dusty trails. Lots of the tracks here are long (up to 11km), but if you’re after something a little less strenuous, then the La Parva Bike Park on site has you covered. Wherever you go you are guaranteed stunning views of the surrounding mountains and to see some of the region’s famous condors circling overhead.

Olargues-Montagnes du Caroux, France

This quaint village in southwestern France is well known by the French, but will be propelled onto the world stage this May when the EWS pays a visit. This ancient little village may be sleepy, but the riding is anything but. Raw, rocky single track criss-crosses the surrounding hills, with the expansive trail network stretching for miles. And with a warm, Mediterranean climate, you’re almost guaranteed to be riding in the dry.

Manizales, Colombia

This thriving city in the heart of Colombia was the second stop on this year’s EWS tour. The city itself is flanked by rainforest-covered hills and mountains, all of which are just a short drive from the city centre. Sitting right on the equator, Manizales’ tropical climate means you’re guaranteed moist loamy trails, many of which make their way through some of the world’s most iconic coffee plantations. The city is crazy about cycling and plays host to both a myriad of big bike brands concept stores as well as local independent shops, meaning you’ll never be running low on supplies.

La Thuile, Italy

Nestled in the shadow of the iconic Mont Blanc, this small Italian ski village is big on adventure. Lift access means you can save your legs and take in the breathtaking Alpine views en route to some of the most scenic trails in Europe. The EWS will be visiting this resort for the third time this summer and with good reason – the riding is a huge hit with professionals and amateurs alike. Just a couple of hours’ drive from Geneva airport, it’s pretty easy to get to this beautiful part of the world while still escaping the crowds that flock to its flashier neighbour, Chamonix.

Petzen–Jamnica, Austria/Slovenia

If you’ve ever fancied riding in two countries in one day, now’s your chance. Petzen is an established ski resort and bike park in southern Austria, with trails of all levels from blue (easiest) right through to black (most difficult). Across the border in Slovenia awaits more trail, including some beautiful hand-cut single track. The region is home to the longest flow trail in the world at 11km long, and there’s even an underground trail that goes through the mountain if you fancy a completely new two-wheeled experience.

Aínsa, Spain

Perched atop a rugged cliff in the Sobrarbe region of Spain sits the tiny medieval village of Aínsa. Completely contained within ancient walls, walking into Aínsa’s cobbled alleyways is like turning back the clock – a theme very much reflected in the area’s riding. Here the trail builders call themselves “trail archaeologists” because they’re not so much creating trails as rediscovering them. Ancient trading routes criss-cross this region – some dating back to the sixth century – and one by one they are being lovingly restored by hand and repurposed as mountain bike trails. The landscape is fascinating, with many trails taking in abandoned villages that offer a glimpse into the region’s past.

Whistler, Canada

The iconic Whistler resort in British Columbia needs very little introduction, such is its legendary status. Home to the most famous bike park on earth, this place is essentially Disneyland for mountain bikers. With everything from beginner trails to huge jumps and drops, it’s not hard to see why this place is revered by riders the world over. But away from the park it’s not hard to lose the lift queues on some of the lesser-known trails that span the Whistler valley. And no Whistler trip would be complete without the obligatory post-ride lake swim before heading out to the resort’s equally legendary bar and club scene.

Finale Ligure, Italy

Located on the beautiful Italian Riviera, Finale Ligure is fast becoming one of Europe’s most talked-about mountain biking destinations. This bustling town on the shores of the Mediterranean has it all: sun, sea and spectacular single track. Steep hills drop down to the shoreline, and with lots of dedicated uplift services on offer you don’t even have to break a sweat to get to them. As famous for its gelato shops as its trails, this place serves up the perfect balance of riding and relaxation. With numerous guides and tour operators in the area you’ll never be short of routes, and if the hot Italian sunshine proves too much you can always just head to the beautiful town beach.

For more information on these locations and the Enduro World Series, head to enduroworldseries.com

All Images from Enduro World Series

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