It can be easy to hibernate this time of the year but with a little bit of effort, a winter ride can be just the ticket to get you through the darkest of seasons. Of course, this time of year is not all about bluebird mornings, hard packed trails and post-ride hot chocolates, it’s also a great time to ride some of the world’s most loved trails away from the crowds that the northern hemisphere summer often brings.
Here’s our pick of where to find your inner glow this winter.
Forestry Commission Trails
With over 2,500km of bike trails across the UK and too many centres to mention them all, if you live in the UK, the UK Forestry Commission provide easy access for all types of cyclists. From beautiful family trails through some of the UKs most beautiful woodland to challenging mountain bike trails for the more experienced. And nearly all of them have fantastic cafes to boot so there’s always a hot toastie and latte waiting at the end if you need an extra incentive. Our favourites include Cannock which with xxx of untouched woodland, it’s hard to forget you’re 10 minutes from the M6 and The Forest of Dean where the mix of hardcore trails and family rides is unbeatable for a fun Sunday for all.
Bike Park Wales
For more extreme terrain head to Bike Park Wales and an uplift. A favourite of Hiplok co-founder, Ben Smith, this is the UK’s first full scale mountain bike park, lying at the heart of the South Wales. It’s built by riders for riders and while the network of trails offers something for all abilities, you’ll often find some of the pros hitting the trails here. And there’s no sign of the fun relenting with a professional trail building crew on hand building the next best ride.
Considered by many to be the mecca of British Mountain Biking and as the only UK stop on the UCI World Mountain Bike Cup in June, Fort William needs little introduction. Yes it does lie high up on the west of Scotland in some of the most beautifully wild scenery in the world and so can be more than a day out for many but it’s worth the trip. Fort William’s own website describes the downhill trail as “Fast and Rocky” so it’s certainly not for the inexperienced (or faint hearted) but with a 2.6km long and testing downhill trail which includes a vertical drop of 525m, it could be just the challenge you are looking for this New Year.
With many cheap flight companies offering daily flights to the Portuguese island and moderate temperatures throughout the winter months, Madeira is fast catching Majorca as THE European winter cycling destination. The island’s geography means that there is a lot of challenging uphill with a summit 1818m (Pico do Arieiro) and road riders have been enjoying the challenges of the twisty mountain roads for years. But now, mountain biking is quickly developing with a couple of local companies leading the way allowing visitors everything from single guided tours to all inclusive packages.
The testing place of the original Hiplok bike lock, the canyons of Southern California are well known to many top athletes and home to some of the legends of mountain biking. Certainly, not putting himself in the same bracket as these greats but a former resident of Southern California nonetheless and a regular on the trails, Hiplok co-founder Ben Smith is a big fan of the year round warm climate and labyrinth of trails. “As an outdoor enthusiast, you can’t beat SoCal, the proximity of world class surf and high mountains means you can even ride your bike, surf and ski in the same day – life doesn’t get better than that!”
With Colombia’s road cyclists gaining worldwide recognition and the country really opening up to tourism, Colombia is fast becoming a check box on every cyclists “bucket list”. And what better time to go and escape the North Europe freeze? There are a number of companies offering packaging cycling tours but don’t overlook the Mountain Biking. The Barbosa area in Santander has trails with slopes over 3,000 meters high, dizzying descents, jungle areas, and nature reserves. And in May, the Andes Epic Race 2017 takes place and comes highly recommended by our friends at Tempo Cycling as a truly epic experience giving amateurs the chance to ride alongside the professionals.