This is the first in a series of MTB Trail Reviews so, not really a specific review, a more general introduction to what’s out there as far as marked trails are concerned and how such trails can contribute to some outstanding rides and the development of routes designed by you.
For the purpose of this review, I will focus on my local area and one that I know extremely well. I live a short distance north of the French Pyrenees in a rural area surrounded by vineyards, small villages and mountains reaching over 1800 meters (5905 feet).
It’s what I call a “Ride Rich” area and without doubt there is something for all levels. Once you get to know the area there is no need to ride the same route over and over if you’re happy to go off the marked trails.
Following The Trails
All the official trails in France are marked similar to ski pistes. Apart from VTT which means Velo Tout Terrain (All Terrain Bike), there is no need to understand French so these trails are perfect for international riders too and are way marked on small plastic signs which are mostly easy to spot. Occasionally they fade in the sun or are damaged by wind so it’s worth downloading or picking up a free trail map from a local tourist information office.
Beware of the color coding. As I said, it’s similar to ski pistes but occasionally you will come across a red route that’s easy or a blue route that will test the most experienced and fit riders. My wife and I followed blue route 23 on the map recently and there was no way it was entirely blue. We started at 1000 m and quickly dropped to 890, no big deal there and the scenery was outstanding until we met a mountain and the trail climbed through a rock strewn forest up to a little over 1200 meters.
GREEN – Very Easy
BLUE – Easy
RED – Difficult
BLACK – Very Difficult
Signs & Waymarks
How Far Can You Ride?
In The Pyrenees area alone there is over 890 KM of marked trails for mountain bikers. As for the rest of France, I have no idea but almost every region has something to offer although there are a few exceptions. I discovered one of those recently in the Aveyron region but it didn’t take long to create a few routes of our own thanks to the abundance of countryside.
Where Are You?
Content from other riders is always welcome here. Please contact me via the comments section if you would like to share something about your area.