The Best Kept Secret Of Mountain Bike Training If You Live In Europe
by Henk de Groot
(Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
It is time to reveal a secret which I have kept for a number of years to myself. Due to the climate of West Europe where I am living, winter and spring is a bad time to do some serious mountain bike training.
So where did we go in order to prepare us for a grueling season? The lads and I all flocked to the Canary Islands. Unfortunately the rest of the mountain bike community did likewise! The result was that the isle got overrun by bikers, which took the whole fun out of the complete experience.
During the summer, me and the missus always went on a beach holiday to Crete, Greece. Sun, sea, mass tourism, you get the picture. After a couple of days I always used to feel restless and bored.
One afternoon I slipped away and took a stroll along the "back roads" of my holiday resort and came across this "MTB Center" called Olympic Bike Travel. After walking up to the bike shop I was amazed by the quality SCOTT bikes which were displayed, as I have never seen any decent bikes in Greece. Not even mentioning the fact that I have never seen a Greek riding a mountain bike at all.
I had to return to the MTB Center after 18.00 hrs., as there was a message in the window saying, “Dear bikers, we are not here now as we are all on tour.” Although I was a little disappointed, I already decided to pop down to the shop before evening supper.
When I came back later in the evening I was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm, and I found in the shop everything a biker could wish for: well maintained mountain bikes, helmets, repair kits, pumps, maps, the lot.
As I did not expect anything like this I did not pack any biking gear. No problem. In a couple of minutes the guides gave me from their own kit: cycling shorts, gloves and even SPD shoes.
The best part came when Markos, the head guide, took me by the side, asked me about my personal fitness level and how many kilometers, how much altitude gain and how much off road I would like to make! Then he took a map, marked the trail and send me on my way.
As I left he told me that he would be in the shop tomorrow evening, when I would return the bike, in order to discuss my "adventure on Crete" with him.
The next morning I was on my way. The map and instructions were easy to follow. I left the buzzing resort behind me and was climbing uphill on a single trail in minutes.
I had never experienced Crete like this before. Unspoilt nature, eagles and vultures soaring above and occasionally a wild Krikri goat or sheep. The smell of the herbs and wild flowers was very intense. I was free!
This experience was so much better than the overcrowded "bike madness" of The Canaries where everyone bumped into each other. From now on my cycling buddies and me always meet up in Rethymnon, Crete for spring training.
And that’s the secret to spring training on your mountain bike if you live in Europe… think Crete, Greece.
We ourselves do not worry that Crete will ever lose it's attraction due to the fact that Crete is such a large island and has three different mountain ranges.
I can recommend Olympic Bike Travel if you are interested in doing some serious biking on Crete, Greece. Besides the MTB hire, they also organize very demanding mountain bike tours, or cycling tours for the whole family.
You can check out the recommendation of Henk de Groot by visiting the Olympic Bike Greece
Web site. They also provide bike trekking as well as mountain biking and you can also rent bikes from them.