We love to travel and explore. It’s a great way to bond as a family, discovering new places together and making some fun memories! We have not yet got into mountain bike orienteering with the kids but it’s something that sounds so fun to try as they get a little older. I’m sure they would love it! Today I have a guest post sharing some of the best places to go in Europe to enjoy your cycling with some beautiful sites and routes along the way. Do let me know in the comments if you have been to any of these places or have any further suggestions!
Mountain bike orienteering – 10 places to go in Europe to enjoy your cycling
Mountain bike orienteering (MBO) is a great sport where cycling enthusiasts hit new trails and tracks for endurance races on board a mountain bike. Unlike with “on foot” orienteering, mountain bike rules mean you aren’t allowed to leave the trail. The navigation style here is closer to what is seen with ski orienteering, as the main focus is choice of route as you navigate. The obvious difference between the forms of orienteering however is that the pace is higher with MBO due to the speed of the bikes. At the peak speed, map reading becomes an intriguing challenge.
Although any type of bike can be used, a robust mountain bike meant for cross-country cycling is the bike of choice for most MBO enthusiasts. Kona Bikes are a good example of this type of bike.
Each year, mountain bike orienteering enthusiasts go to different places around the world to enjoy this wonderful sport.
Here are 10 of the top places to go in Europe.
- Provence, France
Depending on your skill level, and subsequent route choices, the tracks here can be easy or hard. It is flat in the west and a bit hilly in the east. There are some highways and minor roads as well. Many of the tracks are lined with poppies, lavender, Roman ruins, beautiful hill towns and a whole lot more. The best time to enjoy MBO in Provence is early May, or late September.
- The Way of St. James of Compostella
This is lovely 420-mile track that ends in northwest Spain. It is over one thousand years old and has many historic churches and cathedrals, lovely religious art, forests and farm land, hills and mountains, amazing river alleys, etc. Enjoying MBO here is inexpensive and offers you the feeling of being part of history. There are some flat sections but the track is mostly hilly making it a tough challenge. You can enjoy this route at any time from May-September
- Austrian Danube from Passau, Germany to Vienna
The tracks here are very easy to navigate. The amazing sights include river views, beautiful cities and beautiful forests. The best time to cycle this route is between June and September and it is the place to be if you are planning a MBO holiday with the family, as the lanes are small, safe and flat.
- The Dordgone Valley, France
The tracks here are range from easy to medium in terms of difficulty. The best time to cycle in the Dordogne is in May or September as midsummer is often too hot. The tracks are lined by prehistoric caves (with paintings), caverns, religious art and beautiful towns and villages. You can choose to ride the flat tracks in river valleys or minor highways and country roads. The food available along the route is excellent.
- The North Sea Route– Coastal France to Northern Holland
This mountain bike orienteering route traverses four countries. It is quite hilly in France with some flat bike paths and lanes in Belgium and Holland. It is the route of choice for people who are looking for longer rides. Apart from being able to navigate across four countries, canal dunes, ocean views, dikes and exquisite renaissance architecture are some of the reasons why you should consider this track. Of course you just need to keep the sea to your side all the time! The best time to ride the North Sea Route is July and August.
The above are the top places to be if you are looking for a great MBO experience in Europe. Other places to go are:
- Alentejo, Portugal
This is a medium difficulty track and the best time to visit here is March, April or October.
- Wine Route- Colmar to Strasbourg France
The routes here often have moderate to light traffic. The best time to visit is July and August.
- Southern Tuscany and Umbria Italy
Medieval towns and cities dot the landscape and the tracks are medium to hard in terms of difficulty.
- The Sea to Sea bicycle route in Northern England
This is a moderate to difficult route as it is flat, rolling and mountainous in parts. You can best enjoy this route between June and September.
- Loire Valley, France
This is one of the easiest cycling routes in France. Be careful of traffic though. The best time to be here is also between June and September.
With any of these routes, and a decent mountain bike, you can be sure of an enjoyable MBO experience!