H+I Adventures, mountain bike tours worldwide http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com Delivering the worlds best mountain bike tours around the globe Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:49:43 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 How to check your mountain bike helmet http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/check-mountain-bike-helmet http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/check-mountain-bike-helmet#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:22:29 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=26404 Our guide Chris explains how to check your mountain bike helmet is fit for purpose

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How to check your mountain bike helmet

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Chris explains how to check your mountain bike helmet

How to check your mountain bike helmet is fit for purpose, by Chris Gibbs

Nobody likes crashing but, inevitably, at some point, it’s going to happen.

In those moments when I suddenly and unwittingly become separated from my bike I like knowing that my head is protected. Maybe I’m getting older and wiser, but keeping the brain cells I have left intact is top of my priority list. Knowing that my helmet is going to do its job helps me ride with confidence and get even more enjoyment from the trails.

Whilst many of us will spend hours tinkering with our bikes striving for some kind of mechanical perfection, when was the last time you checked over your helmet?

Here’s a few things to look out for when considering a new helmet or checking you existing brain bucket!

“when was the last time you checked over your bike helmet?”

When should you replace your helmet?

Firstly, not many people realise that you should replace your helmet at least every three years. As soon as it’s manufactured a helmet starts to degrade. This can be from UV damage, all the little scrapes from throwing it in and out of kit bags, as well bigger knocks and even from your sweat. Have a look at the manufacturing label inside and if it’s more that three years old you have the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a new lid!

After any significant crash in which your helmet has taken a big impact, it should be replaced. It’s also really worth checking your helmet after travelling as it could have been damaged during transit.

Most helmets are made of EPS foam, which is easily moulded and designed to distribute the force of an impact. When EPS receives an impact it will crush and change shape in the process, this can result in areas of the helmet becoming thinner and significantly weaker to another impact in the same place.

Fit and function are the main considerations, as well as protection they are top of my list when choosing a new lid. For fit I need to know if it feels good and secure on my head without wobbling around. For protection I look for how far it comes down the back and sides of my head.

More often than not I’m riding rocky trail in the mountains and that bit of extra coverage can make all the difference between walking away with just a dent in my pride and not in my head!

Above: How to check that your helmet is still protecting your head

 What to look out for

Here’s what to look for when checking if your mountain bike helmet is up to scratch…

1. Give it a once over, are there any dents or scuffs on the outer shell?

2. Looking at the inside of the helmet, flex it out and compress it inwards, check to see if any cracks appear under stress. Just the other week I saw someone do this and a huge crack opened on the inside of the helmet which wasn’t visible otherwise.

3. Check the straps and clasp, does it tighten properly and are the straps damaged?

4. Buckle, check that there are no cracks in the buckle itself and that once done up it can’t just be pulled apart.

5. Visor, this is a new one I’m adding after seeing someone’s peak work itself loose and flop forwards rendering them blind whilst descending technical trail. Not ideal unless you can ride by sense of smell! Check those little screws are done up and holding your peak nice and tightly.

“after any significant crash… your helmet should be replaced”

Don’t forget your most important asset!

Whilst there’s always a new shiny component that promises to improve your riding and win you the next EWS, maybe consider if the humble helmet is your next best purchase and give it some attention after riding and travelling.

Whilst the old saying goes, “Ride fast, Take chances, Pain fades and glory lasts forever” maybe, just maybe, it’s better to be sure and have fun knowing your brain is protected and be sure you know How to check your mountain bike helmet is fit for purpose.

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Trail hunting amongst volcanoes in Chile http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/trail-hunting-amongst-volcanoes-chile http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/trail-hunting-amongst-volcanoes-chile#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 09:00:14 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=25476 Trail hunting in the Volcano Region of Chile with Matt Hunter, Rene Wildhaber, Matty Miles and Dan Milner

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Trail Hunting amongst volcanoes in Chile

PartII

In Part II of his blog, Euan continues his trail hunting amongst volcanoes in Chile.

Words: Euan Wilson;
Photos: Dan Milner;
Riders: Matt Hunter, Rene Wildhaber, Matty Miles.

Stalking elusive, unknown trails in Chile

It’s not often that you actually ride trails that no-one has ever ridden before! That’s quite a tall order and hard to come by in this day and age of adventure, but they do still exist, you just have to find them…

“You just have to find them…” is very easily said whilst sitting here in the warmth of our office in the Highlands of Scotland on a wet winter’s day with a cup of tea steaming in front of me. But it was on a day like this a year ago when I was trail hunting amongst volcanoes in Chile for our new Chile + Patagonia mountain bike tour, that we touched on a section of trail that we realised had probably never been ridden on before, and that got the cogs turning inside my head.

“You just have to find them…”

As luck would have it, not long after my return from Chile I was on a call with Dan Milner, top notch mountain bike photographer and a good friend of mine, and we got talking about trail hunting amongst volcanoes in Chile and an idea he had been percolating for the past 20 years since his last adventure in the Volcano Region. This area is carpeted in Araucaría trees and punctuated by towering snow-capped volcanoes that trigger your inner child’s imagination to visualise dinosaurs roaming amongst you.

But alas, no prehistoric animals, just a relatively unexplored region with what looks like sublime singletrack weaving through some challenging and remote locations, that see very little human traffic these days, certainly not since the old smuggling expeditions into Argentina came to an end, and certainly not mountain bikers.

The character of this part of Chile is unmistakeable. Araucaría, snow-capped volcanoes and unbelievable singletrack (both up and down),

The calm before the storm

We ride in this exact region during our Chile + Patagonia mountain bike tour, and cherry-pick the best riding in the volcano region for our tour. But on my adventure with Dan we’re trying to ride point-to-point from Lanín volcano to Villarica volcano and the town of Pucón. We’ll be camping and looking after ourselves on this expedition, finding our own way and filtering water when the opportunity arises, riding within ourselves to save from injury and saving energy should the day turn more epic than we expected! And indeed it did…

The team is made up of Rene Wildhaber, Matt Hunter, Matty Miles, Dan Milner, myself and Ernesto our Chilean guide. A strong team with years of experience of travelling in exotic locations and who also know a thing or two about riding bikes.

As we arrive in the Volcano Region we are met by our good friends who transfer us to the first night’s camp spot deep in the forest. We arrive late, very late, it’s been dark for a number of hours now, and as we travel up a very long and dark road we struggle to get our bearings after just landing and driving straight here. We are all a little on edge, with our senses on high alert until we get to know our world within the narrow field of our head torch.

After pitching tents and getting some much-needed food into our stomachs we climb into our sleeping bags and settle into one of the best night’s sleep in recent weeks. Fresh air and the sound of a distant river settle the mind, almost like some primeval instinct.

“We are all a little on edge, with our senses on high alert until we get to know our world within the narrow field of our head torch.”

We rise at 8am, wipe the sleep from our eyes and unzip the tent to explore the camp and surrounding landscape, secretly hoping we haven’t built camp in the middle of a large roundabout or something similar. We had nothing to worry about, as the tent flap pulls back the clear blue sky is interrupted by the pure white conical shaped volcano of Lanín.

Eventually we all exhale after what seemed like a lifetime and start laughing at how incredible the landscape and camp spot really is, all under the canopy of the enchanting Araucaría trees with a towering volcano on one side and a jagged ridgeline on the other. We’re all now itching to hit the trails. The views are to die for, the trees are knarled and creating mesmerising shapes, and the dirt is in prime condition for enjoying some loam riding.

Kit packed and breakfast in our stomachs we hit the trail for what were to become some of the longest and toughest days on a bike I can remember. The skies were clear and the sun was hot, the trails were not used very often, gradients were tough and occasionally sandy in nature, making a lot of the forward motion difficult and certainly testing our sense of adventure. But I was, for sure, in the right group of riders when it came to self-sufficient mountain men who want nothing more than an epic day in the mountains of this amazing South American country.

Above: After a calm but cold night we awoke to find our frozen bikes sitting under the shadow of a cartoon-like volcano and epic sunrise.

Below: One of the hardest but most rewarding days of trail hunting I can remember. It had everything in no small measure.

The volcanoes strike back

After eleven hours of trail hunting and riding through forest, alpine mountain passes, along desert-like valley floors, and around the side of a volcano, we pushed our bikes back up to the top of the tree line at 8pm, taking our cumulative ascent for the day to well over 2000m. It was at this point that the first signs of the varnish cracking started to show. A few frustrated grunts and knowing glances, as the daylight was slipping away from us and we were wrestling with an ascent that was so close to being ridable, but kept resisting us at every turn.

With 1000m descending to do to reach our camp for the night, and 20 minutes until the light would be behind the volcano, we set off downhill on a trail we hoped to be amazing, and not as frustrating as the ascent.

The discussion before dropping in was, head torches or no head torches?

We went with no head torches and disappear over the brow of this classic South American ridge that was basked in golden evening light with dust clouds hanging behind each rider for what felt like an eternity. As we hit the first hairpin we disappeared into the thick Araucaría forest, twisting and sliding around a hundred- or even a thousand-year-old trees for a grand total of 34 switchbacks that had us laughing so hard that the crew at camp could here us coming for ten minutes before they could see us.

As we stopped the clock on arrival at camp, we had been on trail for 12.5 hours, over 2000 meters of climbing and around 200 spiky goats’ head thorns in my gloves. An epic day to say the least and we all breathe a huge sigh of relief and reach for a beer, this is one of the most eagerly-awaited beers of all time and where is all the food…? Feed us!!

We were looking for big, epic, never-done-before, testing, challenging and truly one to remember for the rest of our lives, and this trip delivered in all aspects in bucket loads. We got exactly what we set out to get and this trip has left us with a lasting bond of friendship between the whole team, which is one of the many benefits of what putting yourself out of your comfort zone will do for you.

If you missed the first instalment of this trail hunting adventure you can read all about and watch the video on part one of our adventure and to watch the video.

Trail hunting amongst volcanoes in Chile

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24 hours in Queenstown http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/24-hours-in-queenstown http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/24-hours-in-queenstown#respond Wed, 07 Jun 2017 08:46:39 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=26454 Read our top tips on how to spend 24 hours in Queenstown, New Zealand

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Our top tips for how best to spend 24 hours in Queenstown

Now that you’ve booked your mountain bike tour in New Zealand with us you need to begin planning how to get the most out of your South Island adventure.

Since you’re probably travelling quite a distance to get to New Zealand, you might want to extend your stay and add on a day or two in Queenstown at the end of your mountain bike adventure.

To help you make the most of your extra time in New Zealand, we’ve pooled our collective local knowledge to create this handy city guide for how best to spend 24 hours in Queenstown to round off your fantastic mountain bike tour in the South Island.

Morning

For a refreshing start to your 24 hours in Queenstown, head down to the main beach for a morning stroll and if you feel like that extra bit of activity, take a walk through the Queenstown Gardens alongside Lake Wakatipu.

Fuel up for the day ahead with a coffee and a bite to eat at the local Joe’s Garage – trust us you will not disappointed! Then spend the rest of your morning looking through the quirky boutique shops in town.

Afternoon

To see some of the best views over Queenstown, take the Skyline Gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak. Get your first taste of adrenaline on the way back down via the luge or zipline.

Insider’s tip: Purchase your gondola tickets from the food court in the mall in town and you can skip the queues!

Now that your heart rate has settled, check out the famous ‘Ferg Burger’ for lunch. The lines can be long so if you’re too hungry to wait in line for this majestic burger, head on down to Taco Medic or Madam Woo.

Evening

Incredible food and a great night out are always on the menu in Queenstown. Settle in at a friendly pub or restaurant in town and if you’re really up for it, stick around to discover Queenstown’s legendary nightlife any night of the week.

4 Local Phrases

‘Kia Ora’ ; A greeting in the Maori language, meaning ‘hello’

‘She’ll be right’; ‘Everything will be okay’

‘Yeah, nah’; A very vague Kiwi way of saying ‘no’

‘Rattle your dags’; A reference to sheep, meaning ‘hurry up’

Accommodation Options

Queenstown is full of great accommodation, but you want to be quick. The ‘no vacancy’ sign is a common sight.

Blue Peaks Lodge

The Aspen Hotel

Garden Court Apartments

Queenstown Transport Links

Queenstown is pretty small and packed full of adventure so it’s easy to explore by foot. Many operators offer their own shuttle services from town or your hotel to activities outside of the city.

Queenstown airport is located 15 minutes from the city centre. Buses and airport shuttles depart every 15 minutes from outside the terminal. Some hotels offer airport shuttles for a small fee, so make sure you ask when booking your accommodation.

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Photography Tips To Take Your Holiday Snaps Up a Level! http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/photography-tips http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/photography-tips#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 08:45:07 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=25539 Read our photographer Ross' top tips for taking your holiday photos to the next level

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Photography Tips To Take Your Holiday Snaps Up a Level!

We’ve compiled a few handy photography tips to help you make the most of your holiday pictures.

How to capture the perfect mountain bike tour photos

They say memories last a lifetime and we at H+I Adventures take great pride in making memorable mountain bike tours around the world. The bad thing about memories is you can’t show your family and friends, so that’s where the camera comes in!

Our ace photographer Ross has compiled a few simple photography tips and pointers to help take your tour snaps up a level when out on the trails.

Composition

The most basic and fundamental aspect of any shot, the recipe or formula for a successful photo starts here. The first thing to think about is the positioning of the subject, where you want the viewer’s attention to go. A great starting point is the ‘rule of thirds’, dissecting your image and placing the rider off-centre and in the thirds of the image. Most phones and cameras have a grid overlay which is good for helping you place the subject. But as always rules are meant to be broken…

Grid overlay showing the rule of thirds, part of our photography tips tutorial.

Camera Angle

More often than not photos will be taken at chest height, it’s the natural go-to and no-one thinks much of it. There is, however, a lot to be gained from getting low and shooting up at your subject, this will make them more imposing and impactful. Also getting a vantage point above or looking down can give images a quirky or even graphic angle.

Biker descending at sunset in Applecross, Scotland. Used to show camera angle in our photography tips tutorial.

Get Creative

Taking a photo from dull to dramatic is easier said than done but adding foreground is a good place to start, whether it be rocks, trees or heather – this will give the photo more depth. This will mean getting close to the foreground feature and focusing the camera (usually by tapping the screen) on where the subject will be. Other things to look out for are subject framing in trees or various shapes and leading lines which will bring the subject more attention.

Bikers at Loch Morar, part of our photography tips.

Phone Settings

Phones are limited in settings, but there’s a little potential to be unlocked and a few things to be avoided.

‘HDR’ mode will give your phone a slightly better dynamic range, so there will be more detail in the darkest and lightest parts of your image.

Most phones have a ‘Burst’ mode which will rapidly take a sequence of photos and increase your potential hit rate of getting the shot.

Something to avoid is zooming – the zoom on your phone is digital which means instead of the lens zooming in and out ‘optically’ like on a DSLR, the phone is in fact cropping in, which destroys quality and makes the image pixelated.

Shooting in Dark Conditions

Phone camera technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, but when it comes down to dark conditions they start to come undone. The low quantity of light means the camera’s shutter has to remain open for longer and won’t freeze fast action. Often shots taken in poor light will be blurry, particularly with a quick moving subject like we have in biking. One way of getting around this is by panning, so tracking the subject movement with your phone in a fluid movement. This will blur the background but should keep the rider sharp as the camera is following at the same speed… It is hit and miss and may take a few attempts to get right!

Bikers descending in Torridon, Scotland. Showing the effectiveness of panning in our photography tips tutorial.

Photography tips in Summary…Do’s and Don’ts!

  • Do try new things, photography is all about experimenting. Angle, foreground, lines, framing, etc…
  • Do utilise the rule of thirds, composition is king.
  • Do set the focus and exposure manually, usually by tapping the screen on where the subject is.
  • Don’t zoom if you can avoid it, this will kill image quality.
  • Don’t just focus on the action – landscapes, faces and lifestyle are just as important.
  • Don’t start maxing sliders on image editing apps such as Instagram.

Enjoyed this blog? Why don’t you check out ……..”Tips on how to travel with your mountain bike” and “Why do I need a 20 litre backpack?”

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Croatia Mountain Bike Tour in Photos http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/croatia-mountain-bike-tour-photos http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/croatia-mountain-bike-tour-photos#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 08:26:58 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=26235 Read the photo diary of our new mountain bike tour in Croatia

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Croatia Mountain Bike Tour in Photos

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Our new Croatia Mountain Bike Tour will have you immersed in Istrian culture as you skirt the Adriatic.

Experiencing Our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour in Green and Blue

By Ross Bell, H+I Adventures
With the clang of a church bell a flock of pigeons are disturbed from their roost and explode into the early morning haze. From the walled vantage point over the valley floor below I momentarily step back into the medieval ages, but quickly snap to as I glance down at the blue fluorescent bike lent up against the stone wall.

Rumbling over cobble stones once used by hooves and carts we pass through the old guarded archway of the walled hilltop village and begin to sniff out the other Istrian delicacy that isn’t truffles but trails; far away from the hordes of crowds attracted to the south after it shot to fame in the TV series ‘ Game of Thrones’. We had our own fable to conquer, minus the dragons and bloodshed, mind you…

Having left home in the snow and seemingly jumping ahead a full season, spring is in full swing with the colour and saturation cranked up; an old farmer complete with flat cap and chequered shirt potters slowly up and down his field, turning the soil.

Briefly joining the disused Parenzana railway line before diving into the damp darkness we cut through the hillside, rejoining the daytime in Grožnjan. Stopping to catch our breath beside a well filled with meandering gold fish, a local appears from his garden with a box of ruby red strawberries straight from the vine. He stops briefly to hand us a portion before continuing on with his day. A hospitable generosity that seems to run through the breadth of Istria.

From the crest of the hill you can make out the coastline on the horizon which would be our marker for the next few days as we travelled from the green of the countryside to the blue of the coastline. Leaving the open we penetrate the dense vegetation with a lace of dusty singletrack leading us into a rollercoaster of fast, flowing turns – a trail that left all abilities in the group grinning ear-to-ear. For a relatively small hillside Grožnjan has a substantial trail network which was used for a recent Enduro race, meaning we were more than happy to spend the afternoon lapping it up until the lure of food pulled us back to the hotel, although not before scaling the climb back to the hilltop village of Motovun. You soon realise why it was once such an advantageous position to have!

“Rumbling over cobble stones once used by hooves and carts we pass through the old guarded archway of the walled hilltop village”

Thrilling Istrian singletracks weaving through beech trees.
Mountain bikers in Hum, mountain bike tour Croatia

We didn’t take much persuasion when it came to dinner time. Sitting in the courtyard beneath a towering chestnut tree we had a feast fit for a king with the menu alarmingly difficult to pick from. Gnocchi, patties, fish, pancakes, pears, all swiftly devoured and helped down by local beer and wine of which our bodies felt the full effect, so with the conversation tailing off, waistlines expanding, and eyes beginning to shut we headed for bed.

Clawing at my alarm I grab my riding kit in haste as I rush, worried the others would be waiting for me at breakfast… I needn’t have stressed! I polish off my coffee as Cat and Euan rock up, hot on the unmistakable scent (whether they wanted to be or not!) of the local truffles which surprisingly seemed to feature quite heavily at breakfast too. We mull over the plan for the day which was to head south and to the coastline; a lap of the Kamenjak peninsula before checking out the picturesque fishing port of Rovinj and moving onto our base for the final few days on the island of Krk.

It doesn’t take long before we’re skirting the coastline with the shimmering Adriatic in full view. We ditch the van in Premantura, grab the bikes and after only a few minutes of pedalling are snaking through the pine with the lure of the sea constantly flirting with us. Soon enough we burst out of the trees and land on the rocky coastline, slapped full force by the sheer beauty of the turquoise waters lapping onto the pebbles. Staring bewildered, it’s Danijel who breaks the daydreaming, promising us the best is still to come as our wheels begin to point consistently uphill for the first time all day.

The area is a popular holiday destination but it’s not hard to find a little more tranquility thanks to pedal power, although still coming across a few families out hunting for asparagus through the undergrowth. With the sun beginning to slump further into the sky directly in front of us, we reach the top of the ridge with a narrow strip of trail seemingly tailing off into the water below. We don’t hang around long before launching into it, starting fast and straight in the open before the vegetation shoots up around us and we begin to play in the dappled light bursting through the bushes. It’s always the trails that catch you unawares that are the most memorable. Hugely contrasting to this morning’s loop, yet they both complemented each other perfectly. Chasing Danijel and Euan as they set the pace out-front, setting up and playing on completely different lines over the smooth rocks, because well, why not?! Popping back out at the van we didn’t need to say a word, the grins said it all.

Swapping bike kit for more comfortable and slightly less sweaty clothing, we stroll alongside the colourful harbour front of Rovinj as seagulls swoop overhead searching for any scraps that the fishing boats may have discarded. It seems only right we perch ourselves on the seafront to tuck into some of today’s fresh catch, with the iconic St. Euphemia Church towering over the houses clinging to the hillside in full view. It’s dark by the time the wine bottle runs dry.

Exploring the cobbled streets of Groznjan as part of our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour.
Descending to a beach on the Kamenjak peninsula, part of our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour.
Exploring the Kamenjak peninsula by bike, part of our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour.

Grinding at the pedals we make our way up an old Austro-Hungarian military track, and it quickly becomes apparent how different the landscape and terrain are to what we’d experienced in the days prior. The hills more angular and rocks more abundant, a lot more abundant! We gain quite a lot of height, but the climb is far from savage as it traverses back and forward across the hillside, the trees suddenly end and reveal a landscape which can only be described as what I expect the surface of the moon to look like… In a way hard on the eye as you struggle to cope with the detail and textures of the billions of rocks on the surface. We ride atop the plateau for an hour without bumping into any aliens or other space creatures before the landscape suddenly changes once again. The trees and bushes rise up around us and the rocks disappear, for a moment it feels like we’ve left the moon and travelled to the south of Spain. The gradient is quite gentle which helps prolong the descending time into the seafront lunch stop of Baška, perhaps the typical Croatian town with amazing beach and scenery I had always imagined. We bathed like lizards in the sun making it hard to get going again with the pizza and coffee sitting heavy in our stomachs.

Our Croatian swan song sees us climb the hill on the opposite side of the town late in the afternoon with high hopes of descending under sunset into the town one valley across. Following our guide Danijel, we press on up the mix of tarmac and double track climb, at a pace slowed by our substantial lunch. The summit is ever-present above us with two walkers silhouetted against the skyline, and we push on with the sun, for the moment, hiding behind a blanket of cloud. Once at the summit we were rewarded with a 360 degree panorama over the intricate coastline of the islands which thrust rather sharply out the Adriatic.

Our destination far below us is illuminated in a burst of red evening light as the sun breaks under the lingering cloud. We take our opportunity and make a dash for it, picking our way through the carpet of rocks before being funnelled between two stone walls. We reach a split in the trail with a sign; XC left. DH right. Well it’s got to be right, right? The trail is as rocky as ever but with sweeping berms and some nicely shaped doubles, which I’ll admit got me a little too excited as I ding my wheel off a rock and get that deflating feeling as I listen to the air making a break for freedom. It didn’t matter too much though as we were in the final few metres where we came across the a group of local lads testing one of their creations. We stopped to chat briefly, though their English level matched our Croatian, luckily Danijel was on hand to fill in the gaps. It was a refreshing finish to the riding knowing the Croatian scene is youthful but developing, it looks great for the future.

“rewarded with a 360 degree panorama over the intricate coastline of the islands which thrust rather sharply out the Adriatic”

Early morning in Rovinj, part of our Mountain Bike Tour Croatia.

After a long day on the bikes, and it being our final night in Croatia, Danijel insisted it was only right we tried one of the local Konoba restaurants. We left the main road and drove down a rickety farm road for twenty minutes, flanked by forest and with no signs of buildings or civilisation. Eventually there’s light ahead and we pull up at an old farmstead, greeted by the chatty host who quickly ushered us inside and, before we knew it, some local schnapps were lined up in front of us. Let’s just say certain members of the group enjoyed them more than others…

After a round of ham, cheese, and olives is swiftly devoured, the owner gets the message and quickly responds with a monstrous pot of bubbling stew big enough for an army. Danijel looked happier than he had all week! We had our work cut out for us and despite the owner’s finest support and encouragement we couldn’t quite see it off. Istria had ticked all the boxes; the cuisine was rich and full of flavour, the locals’ hospitality second to none, and the trails as diverse as they come. Forget the fantasy dragons and fighting of ‘Game of Thrones’, head north, away from the crowds and into some unspoilt corners of the country. Oh and you might want to take your bike too…

Stopping for lunch on the sea front town of Baska, part of our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour.
Enjoy riding in golden sunlight in our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour.
Descending into the sunset in our Croatia Mountain Bike Tour.

If you enjoyed this mountain bike photo story, why not read these other stories from around the world. “Exploring Patagonia with Matt Hunter“, “Cairngorms photo gallery” and “Thomas Vanderham and Matt Hunter ride Scotland

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Why we don’t use the term ‘Enduro mountain bike tours’ http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/enduro-mountain-bike-tours http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/enduro-mountain-bike-tours#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 15:27:27 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=25537 Find out why we think there's so much more to a tour than the latest terminology...

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“What do you mean no enduro?”

It is a term that is banded about across the sport but what do we mean when we refer to ‘enduro’ outside of the EWS and what does it mean for enduro mountain bike tours?

Why we don’t use the term Enduro mountain bike tours

“Enduro is a form of Mountain bike racing in which there is [sic] a number of timed downhill sections of trail, and a number of uphill transfer stages, which are not timed, but might have time limits to complete.” (Wikipedia)

Putting it simply, to us, enduro is a race discipline.

The incredible growth of the EWS over the past few years has been underpinned by the race series closely mirroring the riding we all love to do; long days in the mountains with steady climbs and testing, fast, grin-inducing descents. The affinity felt for what is, perhaps, the very essence of mountain biking, has quickly been appropriated by marketing departments.

“to us, enduro is a race discipline”

This is not without its benefits, however, and it is clear that the rise of enduro racing has allowed manufacturers to push on technology and components tenfold, creating the current crop of crazily capable machines we have at our disposal. Putting cynicism aside, this is something that benefits everyone who loves to ride, with the only (not insignificant) downsides being the ever-changing world of ‘new standards’ and marketing buzzwords. 

While this situation clearly has both pros and cons we are always keen to stick to our roots. Rather than trying to align ourselves with a term that aids easy description we would rather focus on working to show our adventures with all the complexity and diversity that they really involve.

We ride trails across the world that could feature in EWS stages (and some even do!) but it is a simple and possibly lazy description that belies the depth of experience a tour can offer.

What’s wrong with ‘mountain biking’?

We’ve been operating bike tours for a long time now and riding bikes for even longer. The discipline we started enjoying was called ‘mountain biking’, then perhaps XC, trail, all mountain, enduro…you get the picture. Irrespective of terminology the trails and terrain we ride today are exactly the same as when we started. We never referred to our riding as anything other than mountain biking so why would we do anything different for our tours? 

If you asked a customer to describe our journeys they might well say we offer ‘Enduro mountain bike tours’. We ride up and down, on bikes around the 140-160mm mark, but nowhere will the clock come into play except perhaps to remind us it’s time to ditch the helmet and bike for a beer, but that’s about it, honest!

“The discipline we started enjoying was called ‘mountain biking'”

For ten years we have been cherry-picking the best trails and experiences that make for the perfect journey. From our very first trips in Scotland we didn’t compromise in trail quality for the sake of simplicity. We wanted our tours to include the very best trails in the Scottish Highlands because that’s what we love riding and that’s what showcases the country best. If we then compare that to our newest adventure – a world-first bike-and-boat trip in Norway, for example, we see ourselves ten years on, but still with no compromise in trail quality, no change in riding philosophy or style.

Now don’t get us wrong, we are not having a dig at anyone for using ‘Enduro mountain bike tours’ and certainly not at enduro racing itself as we genuinely believe it is the purest from of mountain bike racing there is. We are simply trying to clear up why we don’t use the term.

If you’re a mountain biker, love exploring the world’s finest ribbons of singletrack, tantalising your taste buds, and experiencing new cultures we’re more than confident we have a tour up your street, ‘Enduro’ or not!

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Tips on how to travel with your bike http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/tips-on-how-to-travel-with-your-bike http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/tips-on-how-to-travel-with-your-bike#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 09:17:12 +0000 http://blog-only.mtbholidayscotland.com/?p=2029 Handy hints and tips on how to travel with your bike

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How to travel with your bike

EW:

Having to pack your bike is one downside to going on a riding holiday but we’ve put together our top tips on how to travel with your bike and make it as stress free as possible.

We researched and now want to share our thoughts on how to travel with your bike around the world

By Euan Wilson, H+I Adventures owner

Our passion for mountain biking and adventure travel has taken us – and our bikes – to all four corners of the globe. Whilst traveling with our bikes has got easier over the years, transporting our precious mountain bikes safely on planes, trains, and automobiles is always a worry. So we thought we would share with you some valuable hints and tips on how to travel with your bike.

Travelling by air with your bike is probably the most stressful of all public transport options because you have to hand your beloved bike over to airport staff before you board and just pray that it gets to the other end at the same time as you, and in one piece. There are various different bike packing options, which we’ll come on to later, but first, here are a few key tips on how to reduce the chances of your bike being damaged in transit, which will also reduce your stress levels.

  • Remove your front wheel (and insert your axel to prevent your forks being damaged)
  • Remove your pedals
  • Remove your rear derailleur
  • Remove your stem, not your handlebars. It is easier to replace your stem with handlebars attached, then align your handlebar position/ angle on arrival
  • For hydraulic brakes, be sure to put something in between your brake pads to prevent them being forced together
  • Make sure most of the air has been expelled from your tyres (this is a requirement of the airlines)
  • Make sure your mountain bike is marked clearly with your name, and your home and destination addresses

Above: Preparing the bike for travelling needn’t be a chore if done right!

How to travel with your bike

Over the years we’ve been exploring the world with our mountain bikes and we’ve tried almost every bike packing option available: from the cheap and cheerful cardboard bike box from the local bike shop, to more expensive, hard-shell boxes. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, for example, the cardboard option is inexpensive and easy to access, but also requires a lot of extra protective packaging to secure your bike and is very time-consuming to pack/ unpack. The hard shell, on the other hand, offers a good deal of protection for your mountain bike, but is extremely cumbersome to transport around train stations and airports.

Having tried and tested most products on the market, we were blown away when we discovered the Evoc Bike Travel Bag, which we’ve actually enjoyed traveling with for a couple of years now. The cunning German design means that you’ll have your bike safely packed away in under ten minutes, but more importantly, it will be built up and ready to ride within ten minutes of you arriving in our destinations around the world! While all your riding buddies are struggling with rear mechs and bubble wrap, you’ll be relaxing with a drink!

A couple of final points: check how much the airlines will charge to transport your bike before you book your flights; and make sure you check the fine print of your luggage insurance to see if it covers you for sports equipment. It’s likely that your bike won’t be insured and you may need to take special insurance to cover you for loss or theft of your bike in transit.

If you have any inspired bike travel tips leave a comment and share them with other mountain bike adventurers.

Found this useful? Why not read up on these posts too! “Why a 20 litre backpack?” and “What to pack for your mountain bike adventure“.

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Why do I need a 20 Litre Backpack? http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/why-do-i-need-a-20-litre-backpack http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/why-do-i-need-a-20-litre-backpack#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 12:15:10 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=25542 Our guides explain why you need a 20 litre backpack for big days in the mountains

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Why do I need a 20 litre Backpack?

RB:

Ross Bell asks our guides Chris and Euan to explain “Why do I need a 20 litre Backpack” when mountain biking in a wilderness area.

Preparing for your mountain bike tour

One of the most popular questions that lands in our inbox is just why on earth we ask riders coming on our trips to bring a 20 litre backpack. The response from most riders being “Why do I need a 20 litre backpack? I usually only ride with an inner tube, pump and a bottle of water!” 

Well, who better to explain than one of our most seasoned guides Chris Gibbs, who regularly leads our coast-to-coast, Torridon + Skye, and Cairngorm trips here in Scotland, and joined us for the Yeti Tribe Gathering adventure in Nepal in 2015.

Seems rather obvious but the majority of our tours take place in mountainous regions, often remote, and where the weather is unpredictable and at times unforgiving. This means both our guides and riders need to be prepared for all eventualities.

“it was the middle of July and on top of the plateau it started to snow!”

As Chris explains, this really can mean taking on some really unexpected weather conditions.

“One day last year, the second day of the coast-to-coast, it was the middle of July and on top of the plateau it started to snow! It wasn’t forecast to be that cold or for it to come down like that, so it was certainly a day that I was glad to have packed my down jacket. A few people had decided to pack light that day and got rather cold…”

Why do I need a 20 litre backpack? This is why.

The absolute essential bits of kit to have in your pack for any day of big-mountain riding in Scotland

What goes in the 20 litre backpack?

Clothing:

  1. Waterproof Jacket – Essential for any of our trips
  2. Mid Layer – Again, essential for all our trips. You never know what conditions or situations may unfold.
  3. Down Jacket – Perhaps aimed at the higher mountain tours and colder countries like Nepal, Scotland and the Yukon, Canada. You’ll be surprised how often the down jacket will be dug out the bag.
  4. Buff / Neck Scarf – Key for when weather turns, particularly useful in Scotland!
  5. Eyewear – For both good and bad conditions!
  6. Spare Socks and Gloves – Now these are not essential but will make long days in the saddle that little bit more comfortable.

Food + Water:

  1. 2-3 Litre Bladder – as opposed to a bottle. We recommend this for a couple of reasons; first off we pass through farm land regularly, meaning clean water can be hard to come by, plus our riding days last between three and ten hours so a bottle just won’t cut it.
  2. Food! – And lots of it, aim to finish your day with a surplus (and so Chris doesn’t have to donate one of his beloved peanut butter and jam wraps!). We recommend taking ‘real’ food instead of gels; things that are high in calories and have a long burn time.

Tools + Spares:

  1. Multitools – Make sure any specific bolt sizes on your bike are catered for.
  2. Spares – Any parts that are specific to your bike such as; chain links, brake pads, mech hangers. More often than not access to bike shops is few and far between.
  3. Pump – Our guides will carry pumps but for personal adjustment throughout the day it’s best to have your own.
  4. Inner tubes – At least two tubes per day, even if running tubeless! The terrain you’ll pass through is unforgiving and rips in tyre carcasses are not uncommon. 
  5. Tyre levers – For those times when your tyre does tear, burp or suffer a snakebite.
  6. Zip Ties – Quite possibly one of the best inventions of all time! The humble old cable tie can cover a multitude of different repairs and bodges.

Below: Getting ready to roll. An EVOC sports protection pack is the perfect companion for a day on the trails.

The team are never short of anecdotes and examples of where each of these essentials comes in most useful and one of Euan’s stories from the previous season shows how all the bits of the perfectly packed bag can fit together;

“I remember last year I used three of the items on the list for one repair. We had a derailleur strike that resulted in a bike needing to be single-speeded, so we shortened the chain with the multi-tool, and cable-tied the tyre lever to the frame to stop the chain running down the cassette. Hey presto, keeping you moving with a very select amount of kit!”

“we shortened the chain with the multi-tool and cable tied the tyre lever to the frame”

These, of course, are our recommendations stemming from years of running mountain bike tours, experiencing a multitude of varying situations. It’s best to be prepared and, as we say here in Scotland, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad kit choices!”

Found this useful? Why not read up on these posts too! “How to travel with your bike“, “Top 10 kit items for a bike tour” and “What to pack for a mountain bike adventure“.

H+I Adventures answer the question; why do I need a 20 litre backpack?

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24 Hours in Whitehorse http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/24-hours-in-whitehorse http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/24-hours-in-whitehorse#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 13:48:38 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=25588 Read our top tips on how to spend 24 hours in the Yukon capital of Whitehorse

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24 hours in Whitehorse

Our top tips for how best to spend 24 hours in Whitehorse

Now that you’ve booked your mountain bike tour in the Yukon with us you need to begin planning your travel to Whitehorse, and the start point of your Canadian adventure.

We always recommend that you arrive at least one day before your adventure begins to allow for any travel or luggage delays. It’s also good to acclimatise to local time and recover from your journey before you start turning the pedals.

To help you make the most of your extra time in the Yukon, we’ve pooled our collective local knowledge to create this handy city guide for how best to spend 24 hours in Whitehorse before you set off on your fantastic mountain bike tour in the wild north west of Canada.

Morning

To kick off your 24 hours in Whitehorse and get your bearings in the capital of the Yukon, you should head down to the mighty Yukon River and visit the S.S. Klondike. Having been meticulously restored, the S.S Klondike now sits proudly on the bank of the river, paying tribute to an era before roads, when riverboats and rail linked the Yukon to the outside world.

After your trip back in time, you can take a walk along the waterfront, back into town to re-fuel and get a taste of Whitehorse coffee culture.

Baked Café is a great spot to enjoy artisan coffee and a tasty lunch, whilst doing some people-watching from your table outside.

Afternoon

Once you’re fully caffeinated and have your learning brain in gear you should make a visit to the McBride Museum. This fantastic collection will tell you everything you need to know about the Yukon and will set you up really well to test your guide’s local knowledge when you’re on the trail!

You can round off your afternoon with some more snacks and the obligatory coffee at either Burnt Toast or Java Connection.

Evening

For the time you are with us you’ll be eating fantastic, locally sourced, home-made food on the ranch so, for your first night in the Yukon, there’s no harm in sampling great local cuisine which isn’t necessarily native to the Yukon. For a truly excellent and lovingly prepared meal the Sanchez Cantina is a must.

Once you’re full of spice (and perhaps a Margarita) you can head for LePage Park and, if you’re lucky, catch a fantastic open air show as the long Yukon night seems to go on forever.

4 Local Phrases

‘Skookum’ ; A Chinook term for something or someone sturdy, strong, or well-built

‘Eh’; A Canadian way of ending a sentence or marking a question

‘Sorry’; A very Canadian thing to say even if it’s not your fault. ‘Sorry, you just stepped on my foot.’

‘First Nations’ ; The only correct term for the First Nations people of the Yukon; not ‘Indians’ or ‘Natives’

Accommodation Options

Whitehorse is small but still has some great accommodation for you to spend your first night in the city before we whisk you away to our beautiful mountain ranch.

Here are a couple of our favourites;

The Gold Rush Inn

The Edgewater Hotel

Whitehorse Transport Links

Whitehorse is the only city in the Yukon but it is still pretty small so you’ll be able to easily negotiate most of it on foot. If you do get tired then for just $2 you can always take a ride on the Waterfront Trolley to experience the historic railroad route across town.

If you are staying at one of the recommended accommodations above then you can get from the airport to the city, and your overnight stay, using their complimentary shuttle services from the airport.

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Take Care of Your Trails http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/take-care-of-your-trails http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/mountain-bike-tours-worldwide/take-care-of-your-trails#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2017 09:49:43 +0000 http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/?p=25485 We join IMBA's 'Take Care of Your Trails' Day and head for the Tea Hut Climb in Torridon.

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Take Care of Your Trails

Dig It!!!

Joining the ‘Take Care of Your Trails Day’

Heading west from our Inverness base is second nature, each contour and corner of the road has been passed over hundreds of times as we go in pursuit of Scotland’s finest singletrack. The van was fully laden as normal but with a distinct lack of bikes, in their place was a stack of spades, shovels, and picks. We were on our way to take part in the ‘Take Care of Your Trails’ Day.

The ‘no dig, no ride’ motto seems to be thrown around left, right and centre on internet forums; but how often, or what portion of the world’s riders actually put back into the trails that their wheels pass over? As individuals, we can be just as guilty as the next rider, apart from H+I seasoned guide Alex, who jumped at the opportunity to get us all involved in IMBA’s ‘Take Care of Your Trails Day’. The day wasn’t about carving new turns and trails, but looking after existing trails that were in need of some TLC. With groups of riders all over Europe venturing into their trails armed with tools, we decided upon the ‘Tea Hut climb’ as our patient in need of a face lift.

“no dig, no ride”

Above + below: Travel, planning, and hard work make for happy trails

Our riders, who come from all corners of the globe, love pedalling through this fantastic Torridon landscape, but being deep in the Scottish Highlands means it’s regularly ravaged by harsh weather and the full force of Mother Nature. Drains had become blocked, more were needed, and in some places the trail surface had felt the full force of the surface water and the passing of feet and wheels over the years.

Leaving the vans at the foot of the trail, the thirteen-strong team of trail warriors picked up their weapons of choice and prepared to do battle. Swift progress was made, puddle bashing and clearing drains until we reached a section of trail which needed a little more attention. Using this trail in both our coast-to-coast and Torridon + Skye tours for ten years, we’ve ridden it in completely contrasting conditions – from bone dry to biblical rain – and had already highlighted the problem areas in the back of our heads. Lying on a bed of moorland means soft spots are common and when it comes to ditches and drainage bars there can never be enough!

Below: Wind, rain, sun, tea and mud all made for a brilliant day with smiles all round

A fresh fifty metre section of ditch was dug and at least six fresh drainage bars put in, no mean feat but a marked difference to a problematic section of trail. Clearing, filling, and cutting until we reached the top cairn where we were rewarded with a bite of food and a spectacular vista as the clouds finally released their grip from the mountain peaks surrounding us. 

With five kilometres back to the vans we could plod back making any last tweaks and admiring our handy work, taking satisfaction from the vast improvement made, not only to the trail quality, but also its longevity. Something we’ll be able to take from over the coming summer and years of riding the Tea Hut. So next time you’re on the trails and notice a tired or wet section, take half an hour, give it a fresh lease of life and take care of your trails!

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