Including a mountain biking holiday checklist
In this series of short articles, we share our “wisdom” to help you deal with fateful, non-critical issues. This time, after returning with more tales of adventure from another cycling trip to Europe, we gathered a few tips on organizing and living together in green, cool escapism with your riding buddies.
- A well-known iron rule is to gather a homogeneous group of riders in terms of fitness and abilities. In practice, for the benefit of heart/lung endurance, you may want to bring along one or two weaker riders, which will make the whole ordeal a bit more relaxed. What’s even more important is that the group members will all be like-minded people, or in other words – friends: people who won’t care to wait up a bit, help someone fix a flat tire, and of course laugh at anything that moves – including them.
- And if we’re already on the topic of like-minded friends, from the moment you set out on your vacation, any topic is fair game, and be sure to talk and laugh about everything … except politics! Really, why do you need that while you’re out there? You’ll be returning home soon enough anyway. At least enjoy the escape while you’re away.
- What to pack for your mountain bike trip: Let’s go back to pre-planning and organizing. First, if you don’t have one already click here to get our personal Bike Holiday Equipment List. Let us just also stress that earplugs to battle your mates’ snoring should be standard; a backup drive for your Go-Pro camera is important; extra brake pads and some zip-ties are mandatory; and a flask for branded whiskey is both stylish and a desirable accessory when the temperature drops … actually, when is it not?
- If it’s already past the very-last-moment and your bike still isn’t ready, quickly head to your favorite bicycle mechanic (provided s/he’s really good of course). If you need to take care of your shocks/ brakes/ bleeding/ tubeless – anything that goes beyond lubing the chain and inflating the tires – you owe yourself a short test-ride before packing the bike for the flight. A dusty bicycle is always better than one which doesn’t stop.
- Pack your bike by yourself, and not merely because you may asked about it in the airport. Remember: the only person truly responsible for all your equipment being properly secured and protected from the hands of careless porters is you – and no one else!
- You’ve arrived, unpacked your equipment, assembled your bike, strapped on all your branded gear, adjusted your look – you feel tip-top and ready to begin the shredding… Before setting out every day, take a moment with a local guide to match your expectations for today’s trails. This is vital for understanding what to expect and making sure the guide and the group members see eye-to-eye. It is critical for the guide to know in advance whether you mostly like to hit the drops, are addicted to long, technical climbs, or you’re actually here to sample the local beer and hot dogs.
- …And here it comes, the first singletrack trail! As always (well, almost always), there’s that guy you don’t particularly like that just has to be up front, ahead of you. Our advice is – let him push forward. Any and all ego games should be left back on your local trails; you came here to enjoy yourself, not battle your Strava demons. So wait a minute, then head out after him relaxed and cool.
- Today’s popular culture of Facebook and Go-Pro compels us to go after the action shots, and the more amusing the captions added while filming, the better (otherwise it’s admittedly pretty boring for those who weren’t there). However, there is nothing like quality still photos, so if one of the gang is into amateur outdoor photography and extreme sports, you just earned a lifetime souvenir at the price of a bottle of beer – not a bad deal at all.
- Lunchtime has incredible allure – and we’re not talking specifically about Wiener schnitzel, lavish hamburgers, European beer and scandalous desserts, but rather the combination of them all. It’s difficult enough to jump back into the saddle after a short rest, let alone when you have to do it with an extra two pounds of food and beer in your gut, all screaming “Schalfstunde”! In short – be easy on the meals.
- Evening has come. A quick brushing down of the bike and lubrication of the chain, replacement pads for those who need them, a nice shower, and of course storing shoes and other malodorous equipment outside the room. Eating, drinking, and after we’ve laughed we’ll proceed to the performance section of the evening… but seriously, how many more helmet-cam videos can a person take at the end of a long, exhausting day? For fun entertainment when everyone is beyond tired, we strongly recommend bringing along some idiotic films to view (here’s looking at you, “The 40-year-old Virgin” and spinoffs).
Bonus: It is of great virtue to praise, applause, and cheer while watching this day’s highlights; it is also extremely satisfying to serve those people who stayed back home their hearts on a platter. Remember to upload a few super-green, extra-wet pictures from your trail at the end of each riding day, and to rub it in for all those who stood you up a week before the flight.
This is how you do it right: