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What are mountain biking holidays?
What do you need on a mountain bike holiday?
Selecting a mt. bike holiday company.
Cycling leadership qualifications.



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Mountain biking holidays and breaks

What are mountain biking holidays?

This category lists holidays and courses that involve the use of a mountain bike, usually off-road and on tracks, dirt trails, double and single track mountain bike routes, and cross-country – including back-country mountain biking. These holidays and tours will be for users of dedicated mountain bikes. Road bike tours and cycling holidays are covered is a separate section.

What do you need for a mountain bike holiday?

Apart from the bike – which can either be your own mountain bike or, in many cases, can be hired from the tour company – you'll need: water bottle or hydration system (it's thirsty work, particularly those uphills!), bike tools, pump, spares and repair kit. Many tour operators will hire out some of this equipment, which can save a lot of hassle if you are doing a trip in some of the more remote parts of the world.

An essential is a well fitting helmet, standard or full face; these days many mountain biking companies make a point of asking you to use an approved helmet – e.g. CE approved in Europe (look for CE stickers), ANSI or Snellin the US and Canada (look for Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] or Canadian Safety Association [CSA] stickers).

The rest of the gear you'll need will depend on your destination and the climate and weather you are likely to encounter. In general we'd recommend wicking layers, the number of which can be varied according to the temperature, padded cycle leggings, trousers or shorts and a waterproof and/or windproof jacket. Mountain biking can be a muddy experience, so plenty of changes may be required unless you are going for the hard mountain man look!

Cycling gloves are an essential, they'll help prevent blisters and compression of the nerves in your hands, as well as offering some protection in falls.

Shatterproof sunglasses or goggles are needed to protect your eyes from the sun dust and passing branches.

Cycling shoes are not essential, particularly when you are just starting mountain biking, but they do have advantages, for example stiffer soles (for better transfer of energy), tougher exterior and short or covered laces (to avoid tangles with the crank). If you are not using dedicated cycling shoes go for something stiff soled, with a good grip and probably something that that you don't mind getting muddy.

If you are worried about how your body will stand up to likely falls you may also want to consider additional padding, this can be anything from shin guards, elbow and kneepads to some of the high tech padded clothing produced especially for sports like mountain biking and snowboarding.

Finally don't forget a first aid kit, suncream and a seat bag, or small backpack to put things in.

The majority of mountain bike holidays are run as day tours and use comfortable hotel, chalet or B&B accommodation, so you can take as little or as much additional kit as you like. It's a different story if you are doing a trip to a remote area or a multi-day mountain bike tour and here it is best to be guided by the kit list provided by the tour company.

Selecting a mountain bike holiday company

These days mountain bike holidays are available in a huge variety of locations, from wild mountain areas, to deserts, to forest trails near popular tourist areas.

If you are UK based there is plenty on your doorstep, with dedicated mountain biking trails being set up across the country – North Wales and Scotland have some great locations. The UK is also good for trying out mountain biking on a weekend course.

In Europe the Alps are popular and trips there often offer the benefit of powered uplift on the ski lift systems, as well as some tremendous and very exhilarating descents! Similar advantages can also be had in North American ski areas.

Or why not go further afield to South America, Tibet, India, Australia, New Zealand ...

As well as the location you'll also need to consider the level of the trip. Most companies offer a range from beginner upwards, some more structured and geared towards skills training (e.g. training for riding single track), while others are more about journeys on the bike and just having fun! One or two companies specialise in testing trips for experienced riders too.

Cycling leadership qualifications

See details of mountain biking leadership qualifications on the cycling holidays and cycle touring breaks page.

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