Video: Mountain Biking One of the Most Remote Islands on Earth - Saint Helena

Jan 29, 2020
by Industry Nine  


Saint Helena is largely unknown to the world, and would be about the last place that one would think of for a mountain bike video. Located 800 miles from the closest landmass and situated in the middle of the Southern Atlantic, the tiny island feels like you've reached the edge of the world.

Saint Helena is a place of contrasts. From Mars-like surfaces to lush green forests and even when it comes to its elevation there are no flats, it’s either up or down. Obviously a good thing when you’re mountain biking and the prospects of building some serious mountain biking trails there are endless.

Rider featured: Martin Zietsman // Filmed by Darren Peens and Andre Hugo






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54 Comments

  • 60 7
 Unpopular opinion, but do we really need to be riding on remote islands? Many of them feature delicate ecosystems with species endemic only to them that we should probably just leave alone. Added to the fact that the only way of getting to them is by flying which is pretty horrible in terms of carbon foot print. Why must we fly to remote and fragile islands when you are probably gonna get way better riding on a road trip to whistler or other mainland mtb destination?
  • 10 7
 There has to be a point of reasonability where we stop with politicizing EVERYTHING. It's exhausting, just exhausting...
  • 6 0
 I guess you don't realize that the people that live on many of these islands survive on tourism. Should these people live in poverty, move, you don't care? This video was sponsored by the airline and the people in charge of promoting tourism there.
  • 8 0
 You are correct. There are species local to this island only. The local environmental conservation agency was very strict about where we could and couldn't ride and in the most part, we were filming on the designated hiking trails. Any future possible development of MTB trails would be done in conjunction with the conservation agency to ensure that the local ecosystems are not damaged.
That being said, as @georgiamtbiker mentioned, a small island like this relies heavily on tourism to survive, hence the very reason why the airport was built in the first place. The island has for decades been one of the stop-off points for cruise ships sailing around the southern tip of Africa headed to the Caribbean. Many of these cruise ships have since been decommissioned and with the drop in popularity of cruise ship holidays, any island of this sort would be foolish not to explore alternative avenues of tourism.
  • 1 1
 For clickbait.
  • 1 1
 Ahhh then, if people are living from tourism, I guess it is ok to destroy the island and get there by airplane for a good ride. I am pretty sure they can make more money by building roads until the top for car lifts. Plus a few crappy burgers and coffee shops for tired bikers.
  • 1 0
 @georgiamtbiker: The Galapagos are an excellent example on how you can be stewards of a fragile ecosystem and still use it for economic gain. But in such a fragile ecosystem I'm gonna have to argue that bikes just don't belong, even if it would establish a niche for the islands economy.
  • 5 1
 You should do more research before complaining about things you're clueless about. The island has been inhabited for over 500 years.It was largely deforested and has nothing close to the original ecosystem. There are efforts currently underway to reforest the island but this will need to be financed by a healthy economy. And what's more carbon friendly about flying to whistler vs flying to some other location? (Hint: Very few people live within driving distance to whistler.)
  • 1 1
 Sorry not sorry, this is cycling website for cycling related topics. If we want political grandstanding and eco-virtue signaling we can choose to have it by going to a site dedicated to doing so. I am personally very interested in maintaining a healthy environment out both selfishness, I want things to be pretty and clean, and my morality that it's the right thing to do. I didn't start taking my recycling to recycling centers and making other eco-friendly choices because somebody on the internet or elsewhere made some incredibly compelling public statement. SO STOP DOING JUST THAT, it's obnoxious not helpful.
  • 2 3
 This was never intended to be a political post, just a critique on riding on remote islands. As I mentioned by starting off with "Unpopular opinion" people may not necessarily agree. You people that get so easily offended at the notion that your actions have consequences need to wake the f**k up about the state of our planet. Its not my fault Australia is f**king on fire, I've just been born into this f**ked up world you have created. Sorry I actually give a s**t about more than the extraction of profits from our world. Now lets just ride some bikes, ok?
  • 1 1
 and bring on the downvotes
  • 2 0
 @vtracer: The world isn't screwed over, it's actually getting better all the time just not through being a keyboard warrior on this website. Your intentions are good, VT, I'm simply tired of having this in my face constantly when I'm also concerned and seeking to do my part. That's the point I'm making, that we're at the point that the rhetoric is polarizing moderates into extreme positions including going from neutral on the environmental movement to anti-environmental movement. There's a reason Trump is president...
  • 3 0
 @wasea04: Sorry for the rant, maybe I should lay off the keyboard warrioring. I'm a bit tired of people labeling stewardship as political and kind of blew my top. Lets just ride some bikes and enjoy the world for as long as we can.
  • 3 0
 @vtracer: You're a good dude, I'm glad we got a chance to connect around common interests in goals, which includes stewardship as well. Sorry for getting upset as well.
  • 40 0
 Too bad for Napoleon that he didn’t have a mountain bike to shred the island during his stay.
  • 29 0
 Yeah, that woulda been dynamite!
  • 7 0
 Bonaparte was a sick man, the only line he was riding was the one between life and death.
  • 3 0
 @BenPea: without a chain tho
  • 5 0
 He was really good at riding with one hand tucked in his jersey!
  • 1 0
 @Mzietsman:
You gonna eat your tots?
  • 6 0
 Someone must have a heart for mountain bikers at Airlink, I know no other airline that allow mountain bikes as on-board luggage :-)
  • 6 0
 Fits comfortably in the overhead compartment....... ;-)
  • 1 0
 British airways!
  • 2 2
 @BenDonoghuePhotography: SA Airlink are the only airline that fly out to the island.. 1 flight a week from Johannesburg and 1 flight a week from Cape Town
  • 5 0
 26 would have fit
  • 4 0
 no bikes but deadly virus is ok
  • 1 0
 @Mzietsman: Wow. With only 2 flights a week there, they ain't gonna be filling up any Trump sized resorts.
That's a GOOD thing.
  • 2 0
 @RayDolor: the island is so small, it couldn't handle a Trump sized resort! 12km long and 8km wide....
  • 5 0
 You could lower your carbon footprint dramatically by sailing there, in a 'foil-equipped' multihull. Then however, the sail out and back would almost certainly surpass the thrills of riding a bike there.
  • 6 0
 Great vid! Kudos to Martin, Darren and Andre. Amazing footage and scenery.
  • 6 0
 novelty riding, no actual good trails
  • 3 0
 Just been reading about the airport and more importantly landing at the airport. Apparently its terrifying haha maybe one day.
  • 6 2
 There was nothing terrifying about our landing. There were some concerns when the airport was first built but there have been no incidents yet. The airport monitors the weather conditions closely and flight times are adjusted accordingly.
  • 5 4
 Was hoping for some actual information on riding there (i.e. where to go, are there shops, what's the scene like, best times of year to visit). But...well, nope...at least I now know that it's "either up or down" and the "prospects of building some endless mountain bike trails there are endless". Fantastic then.
  • 5 0
 I don’t think it’s that easy to get to.
I did read an article last year about British Airways opening a flight though.
Still, you would probably choose Madeira or la Reunion for an MTB holiday.
  • 9 1
 At present there is no MTB scene on the island and no bike shops available. The local tourism and government are investigating the possibility of developing this as a tangible MTB tourism destination.... The video was shot specifically for the purpose of showcasing the terrain and scenery....and of course because its not been done before.
  • 7 0
 @Mzietsman: looks rad but a bit too far from anywhere to really get established? I mean I feel bad about my carbon footprint just driving to the local trails.
  • 3 0
 Just sign up for the 2021 Trans St Helena... it’s got to be coming.
  • 3 1
 @simonusedtoskate: you may be right dude. That being said, a European travelling to Whistler or an American travelling to Morzine is in a similar situation. It is a long wait out and incredibly remote...but that's where I believe a lot of the attraction lies.
  • 1 0
 If you've enjoyed hearing this song and would like to know more about St Helena, why not ring Mr. Griffiths of Hemill-Hampstead? He and his charming wife Edna would be glad to answer any of your questions. And who knows--they may show you some of their unrivaled collection of Scandinavian credit cards.
  • 2 0
 @simonusedtoskate: Ever seen an Australian in Whistler or an American at Fort William? Do you never plan to visit another continent?
  • 3 0
 Just spent my lunch break on google learning about Saint Helena. Awesome video!
  • 2 0
 A truly amazing place with some incredible history. And what most articles don't mention is how friendly the locals are. With only 4500 people on the island everyone knows each other and after the short time we were there we starting feeling like locals ourselves Wink And they have the most fascinating accent.
  • 3 0
 friend of mine was born and raised there, long set of steps up to the school
  • 2 0
 Sam Pilgrim should go there and ride them
  • 3 0
 @JimmyWeir: definitely the scariest staircase I've ever seen. Minimum gradient of 45%, 180m vertical descent, 600 stairs. I was nervous just walking down the stairs. We opted not to attempt it due to there being absolutely zero safety margins available.The hand railing is continuous all the way down....so the moment you drop in, there's no way of stopping if something goes wrong. There was also no way of doing a test to see if it would be possible to control speed while descending.
  • 3 1
 Great vid. Fun tunes. Superb scenery. Great terrain and riding! Are we not wearing half shells anymore though?
  • 2 0
 Ive checked airlink prices from johanesburg and they seems to be real thrill
  • 3 1
 That Knolly design aesthetic is...something else...
  • 2 0
 Been there done that on a Ritchey Cross for 3 months.
  • 1 0
 The sound add-ins take me back to the "shopping cart" sounds at Rampage.
  • 1 0
 Warden. Nice.

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