Mountain Bike Greece

Day 1:

For my week in Greece, I stayed in Villa de Patricia, in Kifisi, Greece. It’s a villa owned by the guide, James Brown of Bike Greece. The Villa is named after his mother. The place is amazing with marble tiles, a pool, and a bar. I met Megan and we took an exploratory ride around Kifisi and found a café to in the town square. And a turtle or is it a tortoise?

Day 2:

What a day what a ride! I’m exhausted! There was lots of climbing. We split into 2 groups. It was a pretty fantastic group of us. Joel, Megan, the guide James, and myself. I did fairly well on the climbs despite my horrible state of fitness. Greece reminds me of Texas. The terrain was very similar. We started out the day picking some thyme and some other herbs. We had to fasten it to our bikes. If we didnt lose it, we would be lucky i guess. We had a picnic lunch in the middle of the woods. We saw some ruins, visited the home of the banished King, and roamed thru royal grave sites. My favorite single track of the was from the gravesite of the late princess Katherine. It was great fun. We did have a day full of mechanical problems. I had a flat, the guide’s pedal came off, and I think the other group had five flats.

Day 3:

Today, we took a ferry to the island of Avia. It is so beautiful here. The water is so blue. So more climbing today. There was a fun downhill track in the beginning which was a blast. I’m getting pretty strong from all this climbing. I didn’t realize how mountainous Greece was! It’ll be good training for this mountain bike marathon I’ve signed up for in 2 weeks. We had lunch at this little village which has a whistling language. How cool is that! We got a demo and a traditional meal with potatoes and egg. I still have my herbs and no mechanical problems today! For dinner we had seafood. We are staying right next to the ocean. Dinner was fantastic! I’m really enjoying the company. Megan, Jess, Noel are from Australia. Philip, Sue, Dave, James are from UK. I’m the only American ;). Our conversations have been interesting. Joel decided not to join us today. So Megan, James, and I spent the morning riding together. We met up with the rest of the crew at the whistling village. We then checked out an old olive press, a wind farm, and a honey farm. I got a large jar of honey which I had to carry in my pack for a little bit. After that we split up again, rode, and rejoined for dinner. We had such a spread of starters for dinner. Stuffed tomatoes, grilled cheese (literally grilled cheese with no toast, just a piece of cheese grilled), Greek salad, tomato and cucumber salad, grill mushrooms, beans, stuffed pepper. Everything was local and quite delicious. Would you believe that I had a hard time deciding what to have for dinner? They were all local cuisine and sounded delicious. I ended up having stewed octopus, rice, and okra. I had some of Phil’s goat which was also quite yummy. We are going back there for dinner tomorrow so I can try something else.

The Best Mountain Biking in Texas

I often brag that Texas has some of the best mountain biking in the United States.  One of the reasons I love them is that I don’t have to climb for hours before the start of the singletrack.  Most are loops or multiple loops of singletrack in rolling hills which have natural technical features such as rocks. Here’s a little of my all time favorites:

Reveille Peak

Colorado Bend

Government Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Flat Rock Range

Camp Eagle

Big Cedar

Transylvania, Romania (MTB)

By far one of my favorite places in all of Europe. It’s like being in a simpler time and place. I drove from Germany to Romania. There are no highways past Budapest and I drove on rural roads the rest of the way. Once in Romania, I past horse driven buggies, entire families out stacking hay, and breathtaking scenery. My objective for this trip was to spend a week mountain biking in Transylvania, the Carpathian Mountains.
I’ve got videos from each day of my trip:

Day 1: Zarnesti
Day 4: Azuga Ridge part 1
Day 4: Azuga Ridge part 2

Horse driven buggies are everywhere

 

Families stacking hay


Plenty of brothy soups

Black bear cub

 

Black bears


  

Plenty of fresh water streams

 

Bran Castle


  
  
  
  

Reveille Peak Ranch, Texas (MTB)

This is my favorite Texas mountain biking trail system. A little Moab in Texas. The difficult loops are very cool with big granite rocks that you have to negotiate up, across and down. This 60 mile trail system was completed in 2010 by the Austin Ridge Riders. When I moved back to Texas, this was my inaugural ride and the only bike I brought on the plane was a hardtail which was a big mistake. I’ve since been back several times with a fully which makes a world of difference. I usually ride the race loop with the “extra credits” (which consist of the Upper, Inner, and Reveille Peak loops). I suggest this route to intermediate to advance riders as includes the hardest single trails in this trail system. This route is also really easy to remember by just following the race track and the “extra credit” trails when you see the signs for them. This way you won’t get lost. The flow trail, super d, and Epic are also great singletrack trails. Only half the trails at RPR are singletrack (all the ones I mentioned). The rest are jeep roads. There is also a high school race loop and many beginner trails which makes RPR a great place for the whole family. The cost of admission is $10 and another $10 for camping.

Enchanted Rock, Texas (Rock Climbing)

There is something magical about Enchanted Rock.  The pink granite rock formations are just out of this world and makes for a climbing wonderland.  I conquered my first crack climb and a 5.9
    
    
    
    
    
 

Gozo, Malta (Scuba Diving and Cycling)

It has been a life long dream of mine to obtain my diving certification. Instead of spending weeks farting around at a local pool, I decided to take my first diving vacation and obtain my certification that way. The destination: Gozo, Malta! 11 dives in five days and I obtained my PADI advance open water certification. Most of the pictures are from a day trip I took riding (40 miles) around the island. It was hard to get pictures of the dives but i managed to get a photographer on one of my dives.
         

Azure’s Window. The main objective of my trip, the Blue Hole

  

Azure’s Window from a distance

  

Tequilla plant

  

Dwejra Cliffs and Salt Pans

  

Dwejra Cliffs and Salt Pans

  

Dwejra Cliffs and Salt Pans

  

Limestone Quarry which all the houses are built from

   

The Maltese Jesus

The Citadel in the center of Gozo

  

Ta’ Pinu, the National Shrine of Gozo

Mġarr ix-Xini. I ended up here several times, cycling, diving, and kayaking


 
 

Mġarr ix-Xini. It is also a good spot for climbing

  

Ramla Bay

 

Blue Lagoon

  

Sancto Joanni Baptistae

  

Sancto Joanni Baptistae

 

The telephone booths and street lamps are signs of English colonial times

  

Ta’ Cenc

 
 

Ta’ Cenc

  

Ta’ Cenc. My favorite part of my ride around the island

  

Williwaw Lakes, Anchorage, Alaska (Hiking)

A popular winter hiking trail from Anchorage with over nine lakes is Williwaw Lakes. The scenery is incredible with mountain peaks everywhere! The hike through the valley to the first lake at the bottom of Mount Williwaw is flat and easy. The first lake is 6 miles from the Glen Alps or 7.5 miles from the Prospect Heights trailhead.


  

Government Peak, Hatchers Pass, Alaska (MTB)

Winter broke up with Anchorage this year. The local mountain biking trails were iced over from the constant thaw and freeze cycles. Despite having studded fat bike tires, the ice was dangerous to ride in. In search of snow, we decided to drive the hour to Hatchers Pass and check out the recently built Government Peak MTB trails. We hit the jackpot! What we found was a four mile loop two-way singletrack which packed snow. It has great bermed corners, great flow, and an overall fun trail. Thank you Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers for building such a great trail.     
    
 

Near Point, Anchorage, Alaska (Hiking)

Near Point is a moderate 4 mile (one way) hike with 1500 ft of elevation gain to get in views of the city of Anchorage and the Cook Inlet. I’ve only done this hike in the winter. I was informed by friends that it is a safe winter hike free from avalanche danger. You can elect to follow the ridge line further back and that can take you to many more peaks, and views. The hike can be accessed from the Prospect Heights trailhead which has a $5 parking fee for the day.   
  
  

South Fork Eagle River Trail, Alaska (Hiking)

Another favorite winter hike of mine is South Fork Eagle River. The main trail is 6 miles one way along a ridge line and descends into a valley. After crossing a boulder field, the trail ends up in a saddle between two lakes, Eagle and Symphony Lakes. In the winter the boulders can get too icy to climb over. Even if you don’t make it to the lakes because of the shorten days and icy conditions, the hike is still absolutely stunning.