This time last Sunday I had just completed a wonderful mountain bike ride with the participants at the annual European summit for the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA Europe),
I mean it is all very well to stand around discussing mountain biking for two days, but with a backdrop of the beautiful southern edge of the Alps and brilliant weather we were itching to ride.
We were not disappointed. A trailor-load of hire bikes turned up together with our guides, set to take us into one of the most up-and-coming countries in Europe for both mountain biking and cycling. We were planned to go on three rides themed for the abilities of each group, but the lateness of the winter season meant that the local trails around Kranskja Gora were still snow blocked. Instead we jumped in a fleet of vehicles and chose a lower valley where we could ride together but still climb up over 1000 metres.
The route was incredible simple in concept.
A long dragging climb up on forest roads that made my thighs burn and sweat pour.
Cherry on the cake was a final hike to a high spot with just amazing views, down the valley to Ljubljana or across the valley to Lake Bled.
Then – going down. A much steeper descent, with rocky, loose surfaces.
Now I had been very nervous about this bit, because I have somewhat lost the plot on going downhill on mountain bikes in recent years and these were mostly very experienced riders with top level skills.
I certainly wasn’t surprised with most of the group when they whizzed off at a great rate and disappeared from sight very quickly. However once I decided to let it go a bit I was quite pleasantly surprised that I coped reasonably well, although a couple of steep rocky sections had me walking cautiously.
In fact we all coped pretty well, including our token urbanist, our friend Randy Neufeld of SRAM who was guided down by the supportive crew with only minor mishaps.
The third and final segment of the ride was to burst out into Alpine meadows just above the villages on the valley floor.
Then all we had to do was enjoy the beautiful blossom lined views along the valley floor to take us back to the vehicles.
Stunning day out that definitely convinced me about two things.
I have to get back to Slovenia and ride more. And I need to get back into mountain biking more, in real mountains. Two pledges that could possibly be combined!
* Header photo by Edoardo Melchiori Photography from IMBA Europe Facebook page