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Mountain Bike Your Way Into Europe

Oct 9, 2007
Mountain biking by its very title would suggest it to be a sport that requires the use of a mountain. This is a sport that has gathered worldwide interest and a vast majority of its following originates from the UK: strangely a country that is not exactly known for its mountain ranges.

Devoted riders have painstakingly built tracks and trails in forests and woodland throughout England, Scotland and Wales, which has certainly boosted the sport's awareness and accessibility - even to city dwellers who are never more that half an hour away from a manmade or natural track or trail.

But this seems a poor alternative, and still doesn't make up for the fact that UK riders are not often able to involve mountains in the pursuit of their passion.

However when some bright spark realised the potential of an otherwise redundant summer ski lift system in the French Alps, the sport has been taken to new levels. It has opened up a wealth of terrain that simply cannot be found anywhere inside the UK.

It has also attracted a new breed of rider; a rider who is not content with the uphill slog in order to get his or her highs on the downhill runs which define this sport with its 'adrenaline-junkie' status. Perhaps this is why over 400,000 bicycle orientated and mountain biking holidays were booked from the UK last year?

However ten years ago only one ski resort allowed bikers to carve up their beautiful French mountain side. This resort was Morzine and Les Gets, a low level ski resort which was hot off the mark to promote their summer industry, and today is still regarded as the jewel in the crown of potential destinations for mountain biking holidays.

But Morzine and Les Gets have gone about it in a clever way. They realise that the summer trade is not entirely made up of dirty great mountain bikers. They have created a resort that appeals to all, and the balance of holiday makers that ranges between families and active sports enthusiasts has allowed a very friendly and beautiful mountain town to flourish.

Many other resorts have now followed suit and offer a broader, more appealing holiday, which of course allows Mr Mountain Biker to find something to appeal to the family when he drags them all away in search of his annual mountain bike fix.

The most popular destinations for mountain biking holidays are Chamonix, Alpe D'huez, Tignes, Morzine and Les Gets. These resorts all offer a good range facilities for riding and an equally appealing level of activities for the non biker.

But riding the alps is not as straightforward a notion as one might think. It takes planning. If you want to gain a true insight into the potential of the mountain, then riders need to really make use of a local guide. Mechanic support and a full workshop facility with a steady supply of parts is also necessary to maintain the complexities of a modern day mountain bike.

Bikes being transported from the UK also require trailers and transfers to and from the foreign airport, and carriage on the plane is becoming ever more complicated with the greying of rules from the various budget airlines, as they strive to better their profits.

Furthermore, bikers require jet washing facilities and secure bike storage that stands up to insurance company small print. After all a bike can cost upwards of 3500 pounds, and obviously provides an easy and attractive picking to the well informed opportunist.

Fortunately however, the industry has spawned a handful of dedicated mountain bike tour operators who can provide all these extra necessities for a successful and hassle free mountain biking holiday.

Working professionals with limited time can book a package that will give them all the facilities required for their mountain biking fix, whilst offering the family an alternative fresh-feeling holiday in the mountains that stacks up very well against the relative stuffiness of that same old beach holiday; and certainly beats the b'Jesus out of pedalling up and down the local forest trail!
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been providing top quality Mountain Biking Holidays for several years to hundreds of satisified customers. For more information visit www.alpineelements.co.uk
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