The best riding spots always come from taking the path off the beaten track. This week we’ve been across the channel sampling some of the Alps best riding locations, most notably Pila! After leaving Morzine in a monsoon we headed over to Italy.
The promise of dusty trails and blue skys looked pretty bleak as it rained all the way up to the Italian border….but as we left that never ending tunnel we were met by a blue bird day.
The bike park itself felt like it hadn’t seen water all year. The berms were pasted in thick dust but were smooth as anything with not a braking bump in sight. Which meant you could feel like Joe Barns, exploding berms left right and centre.
Check this out if you haven’t seen it before - https://vimeo.com/187167664.
With our hunger for the bike park berms and booters satisfied, we thew on our half lids and headed to find some single track goodness. We took the main lift up and took a right. Unfortunately the lift heading to the top of Couis was shut... Fuelled by our cooked ham and mozzarella panninies we hiked a bike up the ski piest. Two painful hours later and we had made it to the top. Boy was it well worth the trek....The views were insane, Panorama baby! Mountain ranges towering above Aosta. At the top was the most insane ridge line that snaked its way across the ridge. Unfortunately to the left was a 2000ft sheer drop that neither myself nor the two Wills I was with fancied taking a trip down. Maybe another day with less tired legs we would have sent it but not today. I love leaving a location knowing there’s something to do next time. Gives you a reason to head back!
We found the start of the trail that snaked its way down to Aosta and it was awesome. The single track swooped through the valley, with plenty of natural kickers and rock drops to keep you entertained.
We dropped into the trees and the roller coaster began, the track was super-fast with tonnes of grip and not a straight line in sight….so good! Pila has tonnes of single track just waiting to be ridden and the bike park has so much variation.
If you haven’t ridden Pila then I highly recommend the trip over. Its only 2 hrs from Morzine and home to some amazing tracks. Valley Aosta is also home to superb Pizza.. go to Pizzeria Mille Miglia its super cheap and has mouth wateringly good pizza, I recommend getting 2 of the honey cheese..you won't be disappointed!
The first time I was asked to ride in Exmoor I laughed and said "Isn't it flat there?" Promised that it boasted the second highest point in the South of England and that I was about to ride some hardly ridden single track that flowed forever, I packed my bags and hit the M4 to Porlock. A 1hr 45min drive from Bristol and I was there. Apparently once home to the most Elderly population in Britain in 2010 I wasn't expecting much gnar but boy was I wrong... After setting up tent in this awesome little campsite hidden away in the hills we built up our bikes, met with our guides and headed out for our first ride. Straight out the campsite, we were delivered with a flowy single track that winded its way alongside a majestic stream. We hit our first climb, passing ancient English Oak forest and a family of wild ponies.
We reached the top of our first climb and were treated with some amazing views across the sea to Wales. We began our descent, flowing down a field of flow with natural kickers and ruts to play around with. It was hard not to get distracted by the views as we skipped and brushed past bushes. We dropped into the woods and were met with banks you could flow up and down. The soil was so grippy you could just rip turns and pop back into the single track. The natural berms were so perfect to carry your speed round and there were plenty of roots poking out the ground to keep you on your toes. We got to the bottom and everyone was buzzing, high fives were flying and we were all laughing where Tom nearly landed in a ravine as he shot up the bank before a berm but ripped in and held it pinned at the last minute.
We got back on the saddle and climbed the old toll road that weaved its way up the hills with spectacular sea views. At the top, our guide, Dan French of Exmoor Adventures, had a big old grin on his face and we knew we were in for some fun... It was time to tame some fresh loam. We flew down a fireroad for about 50m then Dan disappeared into a bush, unsure on his path I followed and on the other side was greeted by a trail flowing between the ferns. The track was littered with loamy turns and berms, as we flew down the trail it steepened out and we flew down the bank and into the most amazing ridge line which floated between huge Oak trees that hung to the ridge. What a descent! That's why getting a local guide is key in locations you don't know much about, without Dan we would have no idea where we were going. Dan's also pinned so riding the trails at the speed they should be ridden adds a whole new element to the trail. After that we kept lapping the tracks that littered the hills above Porlock, there was so much variation, roots, flowing rocky descents, fast single track, steep shoots. We rode back into our campsite and were greeted by Crossed Anchors Brewery who gave us a free keg because their beer festival was rained out.. how unlucky for them but boy were we happy. Thanks again guys, you rule! We shared some good memories around the campfires and laughed about the days ride and the good times we had.
Exmoor has it all and I can't believe how unridden it is. After travelling around New Zealand riding my bike and living in Rotorua for a year i've been looking for a location that offers the vibes and trails that match that of Rotoruas and I genuinely think Exmoor has it. Exmoor has the potential to be one of the best riding locations within England. Although part of me wants to hold onto this secret that Exmoor has the most amazing trails... the other part of me wants to share the good times and show others how good this place is. For that reason we are running all inclusive weekend trips with local guides to showcase these beautiful trails so you can get a slice of the action! Just drop us a line and we can sort any riding trip to Exmoor for you, see you soon!
Hugo and Tom are trail hunting fanatics, travelling around the UK to find the best and most beautiful wild riding locations for their mountain bikes. We write about our findings and provide professionally guided mountain bike trips to our favourite spots. We're also big believers in outdoor education for children.