one handed wheelie norrona fjora lyngen mondraker foxy xr 2015 grenoble enduro

2015 – A Year In Summary

It is the end of 2015 and a year that turned out to be very good indeed in terms of mountain biking. I’ve managed to ride in a lot of different places all across Europe, places I might even say I had only previously dreamed off turned into a reality this year, I rode with many old friends and met a lot of new people throughout the year along with plenty of solo rides enjoying the landscapes at my own pace. At least 150 days of the 365 of this year were spent in the saddle with well over 100,000m of climbing (and descending) done so the quantity was definitely there, as for quality well you can judge for yourself with the following photos but I certainly enjoyed it!

The year started out in London where I spent a final month of three working for an architects office there with several rides in the Surrey hills before moving back over to Norway where I did my second semester of an Erasmus study exchange (also studying architecture). I was then offered a job working for Ride Slovenia which I moved out to at the beginning of June where I stayed, and did a ridiculous amount of riding, until the end of August, it was then back to university in Grenoble for my final year of my masters degree, finishing off the year with a few soggy rides back home over Christmas and new year.


January

Right at the beginning of the year, which I can only just remember, to start things off we took ourselves on quite an epic ride in the Lake District which saw some fantastic weather and us riding right into the night, apart from this ride I did not venture too far in January. I have added some photos of a trip i did with my girlfriend up to the north west coast of Scotland as even though it is not mountain biking I think some of the photos deserve to be shared since the scenery was so amazing, We stayed just south of Ullapool and got every single kind of weather you could imagine, I took her there for the first time to show her how amazing Scotland is and it did not dissappoint, Assynt in winter is amazing.

road in little langdale lake district, cumbria, mountain landscape
Another Hill, another descent and another hill later and we were up above Elterwater almost at High Close. This is looking up towards Langdale Fell
Sunset while mountain biking in the lake district near ambleside, mountain and tree silhouette
Sunset along Jenkin Crag, above Ambleside
stac pollaidh mountain from the A835 road in winter with snow near ullapool
Looking across to Stac Pollaidh from the A835
cul more, canisp and suilven covered in snow in winter, stormy sky in scotland
Changeable weather over the tops of Cul Mor, it started to snow pretty heavily just after this
stormy achmelvich beach in winter near lochinver in asynt, rain and snow on the way
Achmelvich beach above to be engulfed in a tidal wave of rain
sunny Achmelvich beach near lochinver in assynt, sunny scotland
Beautiful Achmelvich beach before the rain came
mountain biking, kona, ibis, specialized, orange, sun coming through the pine forest, redlands in surrey
A quick ride with the lads in Surrey before heading back to Norway.

 

February

After finishing up in London I took myself back over to Trondheim for the second semester at university, I came back to a dark and cold place and foolishly only brought my road bike with my mountain biking following a few weeks later, the skinny road tyres of the Bianchi made for some interesting riding in the snow and ice around the city. The snow and ice meant that not a lot of riding got done however I had to go for a site visit for my uni project which was basically a stay in a rustic candlelight norwegian wooden cabin in the middle of a magical snow covered forest, my brother came to stay and we went for a road trip to the Atlantic Road and Trollveggen and the northern lights made several appearances.

bianchi road bike in the snow in trondheim
The road bike wasn’t the most suitable bike for the winter roads in Trondheim
snow street in trondheim norway in winter
The city was a pretty magical place when it was completely covered in snow
frozen lake in norway covered in snow in during sunrise begnadalen
My first week back in Norway and I spent it staying in a candlelight cabin with no electricity on the edge of a frozen lake
snow mountains and vangsmjøse lake in vang i valdres,
The site where we were to later build the sauna
mountain bike, ibis mojo dh, in the snow in bymarka near trondheim and sea
A quick ride in Bymarka in the snow when my brother came to visit

 

March

I was quite surprised how much snow and ice stayed around until now but I decided in the end I would go try some snow riding as I was having withdrawal symptoms from not riding. By the end of the month though the main area around Trondheim for riding, Bymarka, had a good few trails which were rideable since it is only about 4/500m high and Jan, Tarjei, Halvor and Michal were all more than happy to come out and ride. Near the end of the month we were treated to a spectacular show on northern lights above the city and a bit spur of the moment I decided to grab my bike and go for a night ride into the forest outside the city which resulted in a rather interesting ride which you can read about here.

ibis mojo dh bike in the snow, trondheim norway bymarka forest
Still plenty of snow about but with enough of an incline it was definitely possible to get some momentum going
sunset in bymarka and frozen lake near trondheim
As I went down the northern side of Bymarka the sun set
sun in bymarka, norrøna
The first ride of the year where we weren’t freezing our asses off and the sun came out
northern lights in bymarka, trondheim
A really strong display of norther lights above Bymarka, just outside of Trondheim
northern lights above trondheim city in bymarka
Northern lights above Trondheim
meteor shotting star over trondheim norway and northern lights over bymarka
A rather spectacular scene over Trondheim, complete with meteor in the background
mountain biking in levanger
Checking out the steep shout we would have a go at later on

 

April

Not a lot of riding was done during April, for my uni course we were designing and building a sauna down in the south of Norway in a village called Vang in Valdres which was about halfway between Bergen and Oslo, I have included a few photos of this place as it was such a fantastic location, I will have to return with a bike one day (the sauna is open to the public so if you are ever passing, feel free to drop in and use it!).

vang i valdres panorama vangsmjøsevang i valdres panorama vangsmjøsevang i valdres panorama vangsmjøse

sauna foundations construction in vang i valdres vangsmjøse
From this…
sauna foundations construction in vang i valdres vangsmjøse
To this…
massive holz wood sauna in vang i valdres norway ntnu
To this!

massive holz wood sauna in vang i valdres norway ntnumassive holz wood sauna in vang i valdres norway ntnu


 

May

After a month of doing more uni work than riding in April, May turned out to be a month of a lot of riding with friends, I got out for several local rides near Trondheim with friends I had made whilst living there; Tarjei, Mats, Michal, Jan etc. Then later in the month Jonny came over from London for a 4/5 days when we rented a car and took ourselves on a trip around the mountains and Fjords of mid Norway on a trip that brought us some of the best riding of my life, if you ever get a chance you HAVE to go to Kaupanger to ride! We visited places like Oppdal, Sognfjord, Geirangerfjord and Fjørå, riding in some absolutely breathtaking scenery and I must say Norway will be very hard to beat in terms of riding experience, such an exciting and amazing place to travel through, if you haven’t been, you must! I have to say a big thanks to Tarjei for taking the time to put together our itinerary for the trip too, couldn’t really have asked for more.

riding mountain bikes in estenstadmarka enduro norway trondheim
All the Norwegian lads out riding in Estenstadmarka
enduro mountain biking in bymarka near trondheim in norway
Tarjei riding a particularly steep section in Bymarka
enduro mountain biking in winter in oppdal norway on raudhovden
Day 1 of our trip round Norway, first stop Oppdal
enduro mountain biking on molden beside marifjøra in sogndal norway forest and sunset
Day 1 second stop for an evening ride on Molden
enduro mountain biking in kaupanger, norway, singletrack trail through the forest
Day 2 was spent in Kaupanger, some of the best trails i’ve ever ridden, must go back!
hawaiin shirt enduro riding on haugsvarden in norway ibis mojo hd
Looking out over Hundvikfjorden from Haugsvarden
enduro mountain biking above geirangerfjord singletrack norway
Riding up above Geirangerfjord
enduro mountain biking above geirangerfjord singletrack norway
Riding up above Geirangerfjord
ibis mojo hd enduro mountain biking at geirangerfjord tourist info giro feature sombrio shazam norrona lyngen
Quick stop at the tourist info at Geirangerfjord
enduro mountain biking in hawaiin shirt in fjora norway
Riding the trails in Fjørå
enduro mountain biking in bymarka forest near trondheim, big trees with singletrack trail
One last ride in Bymarka with Tarjei, Michel and Mats before leaving for Slovenia

 

June

After a sleepover in Copenhagen airport and a few hours in the city, a flight to Zagreb, a transfer to Ljubljana and a drive through the mountains I arrived in the tiny village of Luče in the depths of the Slovenian countryside and realised I had made a great decision to spent my summer here, it was a tiny idyllic village and I would be riding my bike or driving other bikers in the area most days of the summer. I was certainly made to work though, Jon (the owner of Ride Slovenia) had a particular way of running things lets say which certainly made things interesting at time but it was worth it for the people I met, the places we rode and getting to (almost, sort of) ride my bike for a living. If any of the people who visited us at Ride Slovenia over the summer are reading this then feel free to visit in Grenoble and was nice to meet you there!

village of luče slovenia panorama
The tiny village of Luče in Slovenia that I moved to
kamniske bistrica from kališe
The kind of views you can expect to find in the area, looking down towards Kamnik
logarska dolina landscape with ojstrica in the background
And in the other direction up the valley, in Logarska Doline, a mere 8km up the road from the house
ibis mojo hd and orange 5 on bike trailer at ride slovenia luce
A standard morning at Ride Slovenia, loading up the trailer with a multi-coloured assortment of bikes
Petzen flow trail longest in the world in austria slovenia peca
All the guys at the top of the 10km flow trail at Petzen
trail building in luce slovenia singletrack mountain bike
A little bit of trail building with John, the owner of Ride Slovenia on our days off.
enduro mountain biking luce savinja kamnik alps slovenia
Riding with two of the guests on part of the trail we built above Luče
Koča na loki on raduha mountain biking luce slovenia
Having a break at the local mountain farm above Luče on Raduha mountain, Koča na Loki
velika planina enduro mountain biking towards krivcevo slovenia kamnik
One of the guests on a trail down from Velika Planina

July

After a few weeks of settling in and mostly driving/shuttling I started doing a bit of guiding, I knew certain trails from having lived over here a few years previously, I would of course almost always be given the slower groups to guide but you can’t complain when you are spending your days leisurely riding through countryside and scenery like this. One thing I will say though is that Israeli’s on holiday are stressful people.

We had some very entertaining groups across from England and a super enthusiastic group over all the way from the USA (everyone should be like these guys), they had the best spirit no matter how hard it was or how good or bad the weather was.

mountain bikes enduro ride slovenia luce ibis mojo hd bianchi orange 5 yeti sb6
The basement full with bikes at Ride Slovenia
leisure lakes bikes enduro mountain biking luce peca petzen slovenia
The lads from Leisure Lakes bikes in Lancashire were over and provided a highly entertaining week
enduro mountain biking koroska valley slovenia
Riding in the Koroška valley is very green
dolski graben enduro mountain biking in the mist from velika planina slovenia
Coming down from Velika Planina got pretty misty some days, here on the Dolski Graben trail
mountain biking enduro singletrack in the forest near kamnik luce orange 5
We had a big group out staying for a week with people from England and America
enduro mountain biking on raduha in slovenia koca na loki
The american guys were always on top form, always up for it whatever the weather!
velika planina panorama mountain biking enduro slovenia
But there were mostly sunny days, a great day on Velika Planina with Iztok leading us around
ridgeline descent on velika planina mountain biking slovenia
Iztok taking us down the ridgeline from the highest point on Velika Planina
mondraker foxy xr mountain bike carbon fox fork hope technology components brakes wheels
July was a bike month, very exciting, but it wasn’t until August I could ride it when I got the final piece

 

August

August was a bit quieter in terms of work that meant me and Jon and his friend Kev who came over to visit managed to get some exploring for new trails done. Then nearer the end of the month I all of my mates from around the continent came over to spend the week at Ride Slovenia, we filled the house with 15 of us and things got pretty lairy! 7 solid days of riding saw a lot of loose riding. The feeling of leading a group of 15 of your mates down some of your favourite trails is pretty cool, it also led to some pretty close calls as you can imagine with 15 people riding one trail and criss-crossing lines all the time!

We miraculously managed to avoid any real injuries all week with the worst probably coming from me with a pretty good crash down a steep rooty chute. Some even went as far as saying it was the best riding they had ever done.

enduro mountain biking on mondraker foxy xr carbon above kamnik in slovenia
First ride on the new bike, felt really weird and different to the Ibis due to just about everything being different
ride slovenia enduro mountain biking trzic
A little bit of a chilled out week at the beginning of the month meant we could go explore some new trails, this was over above Tržič
enduro mountain biking luce raduha slovenia
Then basically all the lads came to ride and we went on many adventures. Roy, Jonny, Mike, Mat, Jan, Ross, Twig, Harry, Jamie, Christer, Iain and Nico all came for a week
Kamnik enduro mountain biking slovenia
Riding above Kamnik with everyone
koroska mountain biking, misty riding on petzen peca in slovenia
We rode Jani’s incredible trail he has built with some of his friends, hopefully it will bed into a proper established trail as it was loose AF when we rode it!
scree slope in slovenia christer fjellroth riding it on his santa cruz heckler mountain bike enduro slovenia
Nearer the bottom of Jani’s masterpiece was this super cool scree slope
enduro mountain biking and all the lads on top of raduha slovenia
We even made it to the top of Raduha, which I underestimated a fair bit, even none of us were able to ride all the way down from the top! Sweet view though
mountain biking on raduha in the mist slovenia
One of the sketchier bits of trail coming back down, through the mist on the edge of a cliff face
enduro mountain biking duklas ridgeline trail in koroska slovenia
We rode the insanely cool Duklas trail that is a lush ridgeline carpeted in green bushes which goes on for miles and miles
santa cruz heckler christer fjellroth duklas trail koroska slovenia
Christer getting rowdy and a bit sideways on the way down
all the lads in front of raduha
And there was just time for one last #allthelads shot on the way home on the last day

 

September

In September I moved back to Grenoble for my final year of my masters degree in architecture. I originally decided to do my masters degree here as I wanted to live in the Alps and be a good location for some proper mountain biking, on coming back to the city I was reminded just how good it was in that respect, the mountains really do ride out of the city and it is pretty east to do a days ride from the city centre (at 200m) and get up above 2000m.

As soon as I was back I went out to check out how all the old trails were looking, a favourite of mine is to ride to the top of the mountain called La Moucherotte just to the west of Grenoble which sits at 1860m, from the top you have an amazing birds-eye view down over the city with Mont Blanc in the distance along with what I would guess it about a 8/10km/a good 45mins of descent back to the city taking in all types of trails.

My girlfriend, Ana, is living over in Turin which is only a couple of hours drive from Grenoble so on one visit to see her I decided to hire a car and drive to hers via Pila bike park in the Aosta valley, the lifts were closed so I rode to the top but it was worth it. Completely bizarrely and by chance I met two friends of someone I worked with in Slovenia who were from France and also on their way back from visiting said friend in Slovenia at the very top of Pila so I ended up spending the day with Francois and Nico shredding the trail all the way back down to Aosta followed by pizza and ice cream.

mountain biking enduro on one near luce in slovenia
Tried out one new trail close to the house which made for some very steep riding, this was one of the less steep parts!
enduro mountain biking velika planina slovenia
One last ride out on Velika Planina to say goodbye to Slovenia
panorama of grenoble from col de vence
After an epic bus journey across Slovenia – Italy – France I arrived in Grenoble, back to a city surrounded by mountains!
norrona and mondraker foxy at the top of la moucherotte in grenoble on the ridgeline of le vercors
One epic descent that is reachable from the city centre in a day, the top of La Moucherotte with 1600m of singletrack back to the city ahead of me
looking from col de baure down to dent de crolles and les gaudes with the mountain bike
A ride this time towards the north east of Grenoble, I thought I would get some exploring in on some new trails while the summer was still here
snow winter panorama on the col du petit saint bernard
On the way over to Pila, diving over the pass of Le Petit Saint-Bernard
riding the trails in pila, aosta, italy, berms and jumps on the downhill track
Riding with Nico and Francois, two guys I met at the top of the Pila tracks by crazy coincidence, they were friends of a friend who I worked with in Slovenia.
panorama from pila with mont blanc in the background
Panorama from the top of Pila with Mont Blanc in the background
site visit with my mountain bike at la resiniere above seyne les alpes
At the end of the month we made a trip down to the site we were doing the project for university this year, since it was at 2300m in the mountains I decided I had to take my bike

 

October

A lot more exploring trails around Grenoble was done during October, I realised that I had ridden most stuff that was just outside the city so I took a few weekends and went a little further afield, taking the bus out of the city and riding back via various cols and trails. Later in the month my mate Jonny came over for a long weekend of riding from London and despite the fact we got probably the only snow of the season so far that weekend we still managed a lot of riding, four days straight!

mondraker foxy xr 2015 in le vercors france
As soon as we came back from out site visit I headed out into Le Vercors for some more exploring of new trails, I found an exceptionally long flat out ridgeline trail!
enduro mountain biking on top of pic saint michel in le vercors norrona fjora ride slovenia
Along with riding some big passes, this one is at the top of Pic Saint Michel
winter mountain biking on la moucherotte in le vercors snow riding
Jonny came over for a visit from London and it was the only weekend we got a bit of snow, we still managed to get up high though!
le dent de crolles in autumn mountain biking enduro
We planned to go to the top of Le Dent de Crolles however the snow made it ridiculously muddy and slippery so we turned back at about 1400m up
one handed wheelie norrona fjora lyngen mondraker foxy xr 2015 grenoble enduro
Started to really get the hand of wheelies on the new bike and can even manage a few one handed ones now!
st etienne classic steel orange road bike
October was also a new bike month, I bought myself an old road bike for the town and to sell the Bianchi road bike I have

 

November

I think the highlight of November was the fact that it still seemed to feel like summer, still no snow and blue skies every day, I decided to take advantage of this good weather and plan an epic ride up into the Belledonne Massif which I had never explored. I planned a sort of dawn to dusk ride and tried to reach the very highest point of the range at 3000m, the snow line unfortunately stopped me getting to the very top but I still made it to 2500m. This kind of ride was exactly why I wanted to live in the Alps, some proper alpine riding high up in the rugged mountain tops. I descended down the Col de La Pra at the end of the day which if you love technical riding then you will love this!

autumn colours on the fort st eynard grenoble
Autumn along with fantastic colours arrived at the beginning on November
enduro mountain biking fort st eynard grenoble
Went riding with Francois who showed me some new tracks up the back of Fort St Eynard, some nice fresh loose tracks!
panorama of fog over grenoble city sunset
I think the view from the top of Fort St Eynard over Grenoble is the best of the city
mounatin biking on my mondraker foxy xr at refuge de la pra in belledonne massid
In the middle of November I decided that since the snow had not yet arrived I would take the opportunity to get on a ride away up high in the mountains and explore the Belledonne Massif
belledonne massif singletrack trail col de la pra
This ride made for some pretty epic views, the path can just be seen in this landscape
mondraker dune xr enduro mountain bike at the top of col de la pra in belledonne massif
I aimed to reach the highest point of Croix de Belledonne however the snow stopped me and I managed to get to 2500m in the end, pretty epic ride for one day! 72km and 3000m of climbing
snowy view of la moucherotte in le vercors grenoble
By the end of the month some snow did arrive fairly low in the hills but it didn’t stay around for long!

 

December

I spent quite a bit of time at home in England during December as my dad was ill, the first time I was there I didn’t take my bike but I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway given all the flooding the UK got during this December! Meaning I didn’t ride too much this month. I ended up having to go back to Grenoble for a week to do a end of Semester presentation where it turned out to be almost like (English) summer, riding in shorts and t-shirt! So despite the deadline I managed to get out for a couple of hours a couple of times and explored a few new tracks near the city.

Coming back home for Christmas near Hexham in Northumberland I brought my bike and braved the seriously crap weather to ride on some of the old local trails, probably the worst conditions I’ve ever ridden in. The annual Christmas eve ride with some mates from back home took place down in Staveley and I even sneaked in a trip up to Glentress before the year was out!

border terriers sitting next to the river tyne northumberland
I ended up spending quite a bit of time at home in Northumberland in December, not often I get to se these two, old Nettle and Tyne the border terriers
panorana and big sky at sunset over barrasford quarry in northumerland
Managed to get out on a few walks around my house and back to where my love for mountain biking all started
winter riding on bois du mollard near grenoble
I had to go back to Grenoble for a week for final presentations of the year at uni and it turned out to still be summer there, we were basically riding in shorts and t-shirt!
singletrack outside grenoble city sunset
One last cheeky ride to get rid of the final presentations party hangover and I found a gem of a trail just outside Grenoble that I managed to ride in the sunset before my flight home for christmas the next day
mountain biking whitley chapel northumberland in the wind and rain winter
Northumberland was wet, VERY wet and I think this was the most horrendous conditions I have ever had for a ride. This was the only photo as I had no will to take the camera out after I had actually set off, rain, lashing rain, sideways rain, torrential rain, bogs, wind, gale force wind, exposed moorland… but at least some nice glimses of the sun and a good Greggs pastie (or 4) at the end!
enduro mountain biking on garburn pass in the lake district sun winter
As with every year we got out on our annual Christmas eve ride and this time went to Staveley with Angus, Roy and Jonny followed by a good pub lunch

 


 

 

After 12 months and 7 countries I think I have to say that this year took me to some pretty amazing places. What really makes me realise how much I enjoyed it is that several time during the year I said to someone I was riding with or to a friend afterwards that the places we were riding at that time were just like the kind of places I would read about in holiday brochures or in issues of MBR or MBUK magazine when I was a kid and think ‘oh I would love to ride there one day when i’m older’. And now here I am, older, and riding those places I dreamt of when I was a teenager.

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