Are you still keeping good on your New Year’s resolutions? No, neither are we much, and we seem to have slipped back in the same old routines. One which we’re hoping to stick with is to make 2009 a year to remember, by trying an epic event that we’ve not done before.
Here’s our top ten events worth considering this year if you’re in the market for something that’s going to challenge you and take you to somewhere you’ve probably never been before. Once you’re committed, there’s no turning back. But you won’t regret it; these events offer some of the best experiences you can ever enjoy on two wheels.
We don’t propose you do each of these events (though if you do, we’d love to hear from you) but that each event represents a huge achievement and is something you’ll not forget in a hurry. Make 2009 a year not to forget.
1. Absa Cape Epic – We’ve been reading about this dramatic South African stage race for a couple of years, and seen the awe inspiring photos, but we feel it’s time a trip was made.
When: 21-28 March 2009
Where: South Africa
2. 7Stanes – A little closer to home this one, and not an event as such – you’re on your own with organising this. With the increasing cost of travelling abroad, there’s now more appeal to staying closer to home. And with seven trail centres scattered variously around Scotland and boasting some cracking trails, and being no more than a day’s drive at most for the most geographically challenged, what’s not to enjoy? Described by some as a ‘biking heaven’, but there’s only one way to find out for yourself.
3. Anaconda MTB Enduro – Stages races are booming in popularity and this one, taking place in Alice Springs, Austrialia, is one of the latest to pop up. Riders’ stamina and fitness will be tested over seven stages in five days on trails described as “sweet singletrack and dusty trials of the mighty MacDonnel Ranges around Alice Springs.”
When: 25-29 May 2009
4. Trail Break Navigator Racing – Take a break from merely following the signs on organised events, and break out the map and compass for one of Trail Breaks long-running Navigator races.
When: 11 January, 8 February and 8 March
5. TransAlp – the buzz might be surrounding the TransRockies and TransWales, but let’s not forget that this is the event that spawned a dozen clones. There’s just the small matter of 385 miles and 65,000ft…
When: 18-25 July 2009
6. Rat Race – Not strictly a pure mountain bike event, but this urban adventure race is a unique team event that combines hike, abseiling, climbing, kayaking and biking. This year the Rat takes to the pavements of Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Galway, London and Melbourne, Australia.
When: See website for dates
7. Passportes du Soleil – This downhill enduro uses the areas many lifts to take up the bulk of climbing leaving you to enjoy the many purpose-built DH courses as well as plenty of high Alpine singletrack. Choose from 30, 40 and 75km courses – the longer option uses 12 ski lifts and nine resorts.
When: 27/28 June 2009
8. The Lakeland Loop – 25,000ft in six days, just let that sink in for a moment. Sunk in yet? The Lakeland Loop could just be one of the most challenging long distance events in the UK and does it around the Lake District. This isn’t an organised event, but the website comprehensively details the route and how best to arrange a personal attempt at this mammoth route.
When: Whenever you want
9. Baja Epic – Taking place in the far flung Mexico, this relatively new mountain bike race is a four day stage race that covers a mighty 300 miles but more importantly climbs a staggering 24,000ft, all on singletrack and dirt roads.
When: 2-7 November 2009
10. UK National Parks – Ok, this isn’t strictly an event, but seeing as there’re National Parks scattered conveniently across our small island, why not pick a date, buy a map and plot your own route, and discover some new trails. Britain’s national parks hide some of the best trails you’ll find anywhere in the world, and are worth a bit of exploring – there’s some real gems out there.
When: All year