Blog of a one-time trainee mountain bike guide, now retired.
A busman’s holiday
Q: So what do mountain bike guides do at the end of the season when they’re worn out from riding bikes for months?
A: They go on a mountain bike holiday!
And so boss Doug, sometime guide Carlos and I set off for a week’s R&R in north west Italy and SE France, biking. It was to be a 2 base holiday, the first part with Riviera Freeride in Molini di Triora (purveyors of fine uplifted DH focused holidays) and secondly with the Trans-Provence team in Sospel. Trans-Provence is one of the world’s greatest mountain bike races, and owner Ash guides on the same trails when not organising and running the race.
We set off from the Basque country early (ish) on Saturday morning, intending to drive the whole 1,000 km in a oner, and so we did, passing Carcassonne, Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille, Monaco and Nice on the way. We met our traditional road-trip biblical rainstorm around Marseille which dragged the journey out a bit getting us to our hotel in San Remo about 7.30pm…
We elected to stay in the city of San Remo rather in Molini itself as the mountain village can be a little ‘quiet’ in November. We were booked by Riviera owner Ady into a really rather comfortable hotel. Soon after arrival, we were sampling its excellent food and wine. The hotel also had a heated lock-up for storing bikes and drying gear, which was going to be needed after the first day’s riding!
An early night was had ahead of the first day’s riding. Ady and Rich collected us from the hotel in the morning and gave us a solid day of shuttling the trails above the city. These trails were sandy, super steep, super rocky, super wet (and a LOT of fun) and many formed part of the local SuperEnduro scene. I was riding (some of the time) my TR250, but was crashing a lot (I mean a LOT). Having said that, despite the bruises to body and ego, it was an amazing day’s riding with a real sense of achievement from having conquered some real challenges. We sessioned all the trails twice and ended by riding from the top of the hill, through all the singletrack and then onwards for some urban DH through the old city of San Remo all the way to the hotel. A really memorable ride! This video shows what some of the trails are like (when ridden by a pro in the dry!) http://www.pinkbike.com/video/285858/ or check out the Marco Bugnone section of the MTB movie VAST.
A soaking wet trio retired to the hotel for hot showers and more local food and wine…
Day 2 and we headed up into the mountains and Molini to ride Ady’s ‘local’ trails around the village. An ‘interesting’ busy commute through back street San Remo and 30 minutes later we were having another storming Italian coffee in Molini ahead of the day’s ride. For the next 2 days we were joined by 2 French DH riders, and the group of 5 got on really well. I crashed even more today, even after changing to the trusty Nicolai. The trails were still slippy after Saturday’s downpour, which combined with the steepness and technical challenges made for a tough day for me, but again at the end of the day we’d all had a great time. The trails were really variable, some rocky, some rooty, some super fast and some super techy, but none demanded any less than your full attention. My crash count was again the highest, but everyone had their offs!
The highlight trail was Bellender, apparently one of Dirt magazine’s favourites. A long trail with stunning views and superb singletrack.