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Winter travel guide for mountain bikers

Escape the snow this winter with these warm(er) weather destinations

Catherine Pendrel’s been in Hawaii, Cycling Canada’s XC group has been training in California, and all the pros who are able to have headed off to New Zealand chasing summer. The pros are always one step ahead of the rest of us, and this applies doubly so to winter training camps. But maybe now is the time for you to start planning where you will go to train or escape to this winter. Planning ahead can open up options for cheap flights and accommodation, and gives you something to look forward to while spinning indoors. Here are five options to get you on the trails. They range from solid training camp destinations to dream vacations. There’s even an option within our own borders.


North Carolina – Pisgah National Forest


Well-known as a destination for roadies in Ontario and Quebec, leave the pavement behind as you roll into the Pisgah National Forest for your trail fix this winter. North Carolina’s been spreading the word that they have a killer trail network, and one they’re happy to share with visitors. Industry Nine is located in Ashville, N.C., at the heart of Pisgah National Forest, and you know there’s good trails nearby if the i9 crew is based there. For evidence, check out their winter shop rides video above. For more on riding Pisgah’s trails, check this guide to cycling in North Carolina.


Georgia – Mulberry Gap

Mulberry Gap
Riders pin it on P2

If winter storms have you dreaming of sweet singletrack, maybe Georgia should be on your mind. There’s plenty of trails hiding in the Appalachian Mountains, including the IMBA Epic Pinhoti Trail, which can be easily divided into smaller, day-ride length sections. Try Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway for a base camp with all the creature comforts located in the heart of Georgia’s trail network.

Hawaii – Maui

Maybe you’re looking for a little more training than straight up riding. If so, following Pendrel, one of the worlds top XC racers to her Maui training site isn’t a bad idea. Hawaii’s roads are well known as a training destination for roadies and mountain bikers. With East and West Maui Loop both offering rides as hilly as they are scenic, and the infamous Haleakala Volcano (+3,000 m, the longest paved climb in the world) as just a few options, it’s not hard to understand why. For the dirt devoted, Maui is home to some select trails, in Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area and Makawao Forest Reserve, you just have to look a bit harder. Even if you stay on pavement, Hawaii has all the elevation you could want on offer, and then more. Maui is a go to for all levels of rider, from pro to joe. Why? Well, when you put the bike away at the end of the day, you’re still in Hawaii. Just remember to bring a rain jacket – this isn’t Philly, it’s not always sunny.


New Zealand

Maybe you’re lucky enough to be racing Trans NZ Enduro. Maybe you just want to go and ride their legendary, and growing, network of riding towns. From EWS and 24-Hour worlds venue, Rotorua, to long established riding spot, Nelson, South Island all-day mountain adventure rides, and Queenstown Bike Park, New Zealand has something for you. And penguins, they have penguins there. What more could you need to know? If you’re heading all the way to New Zealand, you might as well stay long enough to explore a few different locations.


Coast Gravity Park – Sechelt, Sunshine Coast

Most bike parks revert back to ski hills for the winter, but not Coast Gravity Park. Canada’s only year round bike park is always there to keep your bike skills sharp, and your soul happy. They’re open weekends all winter, plus occasional extended days for holidays and school breaks. Give them a follow on socials to keep tabs of when you want to go. Located 10km from Sechelt, where there’s an entire network of trails open year round outside CGP if you somehow get bored of perfectly manicured berms or, more likely, want to extend your stay beyond when the park is open. So hit the coast, settle in and enjoy their slower pace of life … off the bike, at least.