The term “Bucket List Destination” can get thrown around a little loosely sometimes. Everybody wants to claim their favorite trail system as the one you must ride before you pass on from this life. But, as a mountain biker, there are a few places two wheels can take you that really do qualify to that lofty title. These are the kind of places that make you look at the whole sport of mountain biking differently, they helped build and shape the sport, and no matter where you ride, you can feel their influence in your gear and trails. So get to know these influential places a little more intimately, book a flight, throw your bike helmets in your carry on and a check a few off your list before you kick that metaphorical bucket.
The Big One. The destination that your one annoying friend won’t shut up about. Whistler is one of the most hyped riding destinations in the world, and as much as some would like to pretend it’s over-sold, it’s just not. Whistler is everything it’s rumored to be, and more.
When most people think of Whistler, lift-serviced bike park laps come to mind, and often, more specifically, the manicured tabletops of A-Line. And yes, the Whistler Bike Park’s flow and jump trails are genre-defining. They’re built so well to push any rider’s progression, just a few days riding the bike park will leave anyone going bigger than they ever have before. But the Whistler Bike Park is much more than smooth berms and big whips. If you like technical riding, Whistler delivers, in spades. The old school tech trails in the bike park run the gamut of difficulty with creative rock rolls, root balls, and ledge hucks. And if you just want to ride fun singletrack with an incredible view, the Top Of the World trail is a must-ride.
But to enjoy Whistler, you don’t even need to buy a lift ticket. The pedal accessed trails around the village are world-class as well, with big, challenging features and flowy descents. There’s a reason many of them have doubled as Enduro World Series stages.
Want a bucket list trip without the rain and roots? Moab is your destination. Moab is probably best known for the Slickrock Trail, a nearly 10-mile loop with a variety of challenging and unique features. The traction is unbelievable, as are the views. But, if you don’t feel like traveling to some destination just for a few miles of trail, don’t worry. Moab has a huge, lesser-known network of singletrack, with something for everyone
The trails of Moab will blow your mind with the endless traction and Martian-looking landscapes. For the ultimate Moab adventure, take on The Whole Enchilada. This 25+ mile shuttle-accessed ride drops riders almost 9,000’ vertical through several distinct biomes and landscapes – from high alpine singletrack to sweeping views on Porcupine Rim, this is an all-time classic.
For the more geographically challenged, New Zealand is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which means it’s a perfect escape from dreary northern winters. The entire country is dedicated to outdoor recreation, so it’s hard to recommend a specific region to visit and ride in. Instead, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. Rotorua has an incredible bike park scene with jumps and berms, whereas Craigieburn is covered in tight, heavily wooded technical singletrack. Christchurch is home to a year-round lift-accessed mountain bike park, while anyone who worships at the dirt jump alter must visit the perfectly sculpted Gorge Road jumps in Queenstown.
New Zealand has an incredible mix of riding, no matter what you like doing on two wheels. Just make sure to clean your mountain bike shoes well before boarding the plane, they have serious invasive species laws that require all footwear to be completely free of dirt before entering the country.
The point of bucket lists is to be aspirational, to set the kind of goals that some part of you doesn’t even believe you’ll ever accomplish. So get out a notepad and start to write down yours. Start saving for that dream trip, and go ride your bike in one of these incredible destinations.
Fancy getting in the bird? Then why not check out these heli-biking destinations.
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