It sounded like the perfect assignment. Charged with a quest to find 10 rides worthy of a place on every mountain biker’s lifetime achievement list, I envisaged the ultimate global voyage of discovery. However, I soon found out that it wasn’t going to be a jet-setting, company-credit-card-fuelled joy ride around the globe. No, this was going to be a subjective journey into controversy and conjecture, conducted entirely from a desk in Croydon.
But sour grapes aside, coming up with a 10-strong shortlist of the finest trails known to mankind was going to be no easy task. I mean, how can you narrow down all of the amazing trails around the world to just 10? Even running through all the incredible rides I’ve had at home and abroad, the list quickly grew. Then, I began to solicit nominations from other staffers, industry frequent-flyers and Alan Wicker-wannabees.
Some of the recommendations endorsed my choices, some threw up new and unknown candidates, and other memorable rides were plainly influenced by a third party such as the weather or companions on the day. Then I began to think about all the trails lying undiscovered by knobbly tyres. All that fresh, loamy bounty, unmolested by wheeled traffic and media attention. 20 became 30, 30 became 40, 40 became 50 — you get the idea.
Armed with a shortlist of about 50 primo tracks, we began to whittle. Our decisions were low on science and objective reasoning, and high on arbitrary discrimination, but it’s our feature so we can do what we like. But seriously, while the 10 rides we’ve featured across the following eight pages may not be the 10 greatest trails in the world, every one is the stuff of legend, and they will all leave you with a warm, gooey feeling in your stomach.
There are rock-dodging techno raves among Sawtooth mountain scenery; weightless flights of fancy on buff lift-serviced terrain; shaggy back-to-nature epics among untouched wilderness; and bottomless, pedal-free descents that will burn your brakes to cinders. In no particular order -—10 rides — a lifetime’s worth of memories. Get ’em while they’re hot.