Mountain biking can mean different things to different riders, but generally it refers to riding specially built bicycles designed to take on more than just the open paved road. Mountain bikes use special sturdy frame designs, wide tires with lots of traction, and even specially designed shocks to take on anything their riders subject them to, from riding across sun-hardened deserts and through long forested trails, to down mountainsides or steep dirt tracks that lead to huge, perilous jumps. Mountain biking is great exercise whether you go out for a day ride or take part in several-day extended rides, and as an endurance sport that you can do pretty much anywhere you choose, you’ll never get bored or run out of options.
Generally, mountain biking is broken down into two forms, Downhill and Cross Country. Downhill is fast-paced and adrenaline-filled, as riders zoom down steep inclines at top speeds. Downhill mountain biking usually requires a few modifications on the bikes used, as they are not meant for peddling uphill, but instead for control and to manage often rough and rugged downhill courses at high speeds. Downhill courses can be particularly demanding, and requires strong riders with good reactions and experience in the sport. However, once you reach this level, downhill riding provides an incredible rush, as you can navigate even the steepest courses, hitting jumps and riding off small cliffs, allowing nothing to stand in your way.
One of the most famous locations for downhill mountain biking is on Vancouver’s North Shore in British Columbia, Canada. Bikers have been developing the area since the sport first started, and it is filled with many dirt jumps and hits, and even elevated wooden platforms, some no more that two inches wide that weave above the primary courses. For any serious downhill mountain biking fan, the North Shore is a Mecca.
Cross Country mountain biking focuses more on the endurance of the rider than their ability to handle the high-impact intensity of downhill riding. Cross country riding can occur just about everywhere, as riders often design their own extended trips on every continent, some lasting days and some even weeks. The great part about cross country riding is that you can explore some incredible locations, as its focus is more on touring. There are some beautiful places in the world to plan expeditions, including Moab State Park in Utah. Moab riders will experience gorgeous expansive views of the desert and navigate stone structures and plateaus that constantly rise and fall, offering technical challenges to the rider along the way. Many view Moab as one of the best regions for cross country mountain biking in the world.
There are also plenty of popular mountain biking hotspots in Africa, South America, Australia, and plenty of other countries. For a great physical challenge that at the same time offers incredible travel experiences, no adventure sport compares to mountain biking.