Trails like this, in Aosta, Italy, are worth a vacation day or three.
With snow lines climbing ever higher in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer riding season is finally upon us. While some have traveled during the winter, seeking out warmer trails in drier destinations, others have hunkered down, working away to finish a semester at school, build up vacation time at work, or fasting...all to save up for the highly anticipated summer riding trip.
Barely over a decade ago, unless you were a professional athlete or somehow affiliated with the bike industry, it seemed that the most common road trip in North America either involved heading to the Utah desert, or up to British Colombia to ride Whistler and the North Shore. The trails in both diverse locations were the top in the world, and the most common way of getting there was loading your buddies in the car, packing it full of bikes, and scraping together gas funds while living off of ramen, fast food, and whatever else you could find.
Times are a changing. Every year, the number of destinations and locales with quality trail systems seems to grow - there's even singletrack worth riding in Kansas, of all places. Along with it, mountain bikers' enthusiasm for exploring new terrain is constantly stoked with a seemingly endless supply of media promoting those places. Whether it's a quick edit on Movies for your Monday, a social media post from a pro rider, an advertisement from a region's tourism board, or a photo montage highlighting an epic trip, it seems that there's an endless supply of bucket-list worthy destinations.
The desert and British Columbia are both still at the top of the list for many people, myself included, but options for riding destinations have grown. With mountain biking becoming a little more mainstream and consisting of a wider demographic than your average dirtbag, the ways to get there seem to have multiplied as well. Depending where you want to go or how you want to get there, if you can dream it, you can make it happen.
Flying is easy with a nice bike bag but you still risk your bike being damaged or lost...and likely $150 each way in baggage fees.
#Vanlife is all the rage, and pretty awesome. Borrowing a van is good too, just make sure you return Etta Lou clean, oil changed, and full of fuel.
There's still the good 'ol fashioned road trip in a car that may or may not make it without a mechanical, but there are other less stressful options. You could fly with your bike in style thanks to a host of well made travel cases, or, fly without a bike and rent a near brand new steed from a local shop. Search the forums and Pinterest if you want to get in on #vanlife and build out your own perfect road trip machine, or, just rent a full size RV online just about anywhere in the world. Or you could try hitchhiking, which comes with some added risk, but a near guarantee of a good story.
Once you're at a destination, options for getting out are endless as well. You can choose your own path and explore singletrack that's been mapped out by riders before you, hire a guide, buy a lift ticket, get a shuttle, charter a helicopter...or a float plane to get you out into the backcountry. No matter your desire, it's as easy as ever to get out and have a good time on the bike in a new or favorite spot close to or far away from home.
The start of my first summer riding trip with good friends Steven and Scott fresh out of high school some years back. No GPS, Trailforks, hashtags, or Instagram but we had bikes, a paper map, a Chevy Tahoe full of camping gear, and two months of junk food from Costco.
So... let's hear it. Where are you stoked to go ride to this summer? How are you going to get there? Are you bringing your bike with you? Shipping it? Flying it? Renting? Where will you stay?