I forgot my front wheel home

...this is a true story...

Sunday morning, usual day at SinglTrek Pod Smrkem. I take the bike out from the car and things go wrong.

"Me: I forgot the front wheel home :| "

"The guy from the bike center:......it happens"

"Me: Do you have a wheel that can fit into my fork?"

"The guy fro the bike center:....uhhhh, no, but I have a new Trek Fuel Ex 9.8 27-5+ bike that you can try."

And this is how I end up riding the new wheel size that every mountain biking magazine is praising about: the new  "Bontrager Chupacabra, Tubeless Ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 27.5x2.80" tire.

The bike industry is presenting this new tire size like it is the best thing in the universe, you can't ride without it.

I was expecting big things from this new tire, I believed the adverts, but the reality was a very different story.

Difficult to jump, the bike was nose diving. Even tubeless the tires are too heavy.

Difficult to jump, the bike was nose diving. Even tubeless the tires are too heavy.

mtbprague

I had to pump a lot even for a small jump.

mtbprague

More speed is required for jumping.

mtbprague

Cornering is something very random, you want right, bike is going straight ahead(again inertia)

Cons:

  • Heavy, nose diving all the time when jumping. Bike manufactures will try to make components lighter. the rims for example, just to keep things in  balance. There will be a lot of unreliable products on the market.
  •  Difficult to handle when cornering. The bike feels very numb, and  require a lot more effort to steer.
  •  In mud, the tires are floating.
  •  Big tires means a lot of traction, a lot of pedalling is needed to keep a decent speed. Slower on climbs and more sluggish to accelerate.
  •  Precise pressure adjustment is required. Tire pressure matters more with big tires. The plus size tires feel very bouncy, this affects also how the suspension is working.
  • Big tubeless tires, a lot of sealing is going in, fun to fix a flat tire. Yuck
  • Expensive.

Pro:

  • Easy to go over big rocks. For a beginner that will boost the confidence.
  • A lot of grip.
  • Heavy tires, more stable bike.

I believe this new tire is still at the beginning and more adjustments and improvements needs to be done. Maybe in a while this plus tire will be the standard, but at this moment  2.4'' tire is more than enough, unless you ride on snow or on sand. Everything bigger in size than this is too much.

Nevertheless, we had tons of fun on the trails.

Lessons learned:

  • Try not to  sleep when you put the bike in the car. Count the wheels(and the axle also) :)
  • Don't trust bike magazines reviews about new stuff, go out and try it yourself.

All mountain trails in Prague

Are you looking for more technical MTB trails in Prague? Do you like to take some air?

Not far away from the city center we can find a few challenging trails that will put a big smile on every rider face.

If you like technical descents or fast and flowy trails with a few jump, this is the place where you should be.

Nice forest-park most of the time. with a few steep trails, the Točná hill is the favorite place among the local downhillers.

 

Also, if you are looking for some  hiking trails this is a great place to spend an afternoon.

History facts: the area t is the most extensive Celtic settlement in the Czech Republic, and one of the biggest in Europe.

Beautiful view over the city as reward after a short ascent

Beautiful view over the city as reward after a short ascent. One of the greenest city in Europe, plenty of natural parks around.

all mountain trails in prague
mtb trails in Prague

Fun on the trails. Taking some air is always fun.

dh trails in prague
downhill in Prague

Downhillers will love this place. Drops and berms all over the place.

mtb in Prague
all mountain trails in Prague

Technical descents, roots and rocks all over the place.

Točná hill is one of the best places to ride in Prague.

Easily accessible from city center, this place has it all, fast and flowy trails, technical descents with rocks and roots,  jumps, drops and berms.

Cross country trail to Karlštejn castle

Just only 30km from Prague, Karlštejn castle is one of the most famous and most visited castles in Czech Republic.

Karlštejn castle mtb

Some history facts: Karlštejn is a gothic castle,  founded around 1348 by Charles IV. It was used for safekeeping of the crown jewels, relics and royal treasures.

 
Karlštejn offroad

The trail from Prague to castle is a pure XC trail, crossing the suburbs of Prague, fields and small forests. The perfect way to discover the beautiful Czech country side.

Karlstejn mtb

Gentle path takes us out of the city and get us to the first descent of the trail. Some rocks and roots, nothing scary or technical. Beginners can tackle this trail without issues.

Also if you ride a Cyclo-cross bike, this is something that can be done.

Karlstejn mtb

Rocks and roots, not too scary.

offroad to Karlstejn

Getting our shoes wet in a small creek. No worries, there is a small bridge which can be passed.

Karlstejn mtb

Trail is taking us through small villages and endless green fields. Beautiful Czech country side.

mtb Karlstejn castle

First long uphill on tarmac, mind over body.

mtb Karlstejn

Taking a short brake just enough to recover after the long uphill on tarmac.

mtb Karlstejn

Some nice looking peace of machinery resting in the shadow. Would you ride this beast?

mtb in Czech Republic

Best reason for a short break, cherries. 

biking to Karlstejn castle
mtb Karstejn castle

It takes around 4 hours to get to the castle, the trails is not very difficult, but some level of fitness is required to enjoy this trail. There are two long uphills, one is on tarmac, the second one is going trough the forest. The descents are not very steep nor very technical. Any type of bike is suitable for this trail.


 

 

Sunday afternoon hike

Looking at this images the viewer will ask himself if this is truly Prague. 

Surprisingly, it is, a different kind of Prague. Just 10 minutes away from the noisy city center there is an oasis of peace. 

Hiking in Prague

One of the things that still amaze me is the fact even you are still in Prague  a very rural looking landscape can be found.

Prague view from the hills

Zizkov television tower can be seen in the distance.

 

Prokopske Udoly park, easily accessible from city center.

Prokopske Udoly
Prokopske Udoly park

Lake formed in place of an old quarry.

bridge

Old stone bridge still used today by the commute trains.

Hidden trails Prokopske Udoli

Hidden trail all over the place. Stairs going up on the top of the hill.

Tunnel

There is even an old tunnel, lot of fun to pass through it.

This is a short and easy hike route, accessible for any age. 

Tips for flying with your bike

Travelling with the bike can be a real hassle, but following some simple basic principles, the bike can survive during the flight. We all know that sometime things can go wrong with the traveler's luggage, bikes don't make an exception. In general, airport workers do pay attention with the bikes (they work in a fishbowl and everyone can see how they are working) .

 If you read the statistics just a very small percentage of the bikes are damaged during the flight, and most of the damages are  occurring during transfer in the airport, sometimes even before the baggage handlers are touching the bike. Incorrect packaging can damage your bike, external pressure can push components and do great damage to the frame.

- Use foam sleeve  to cover your bike

Foam sleeves, very light.

Foam sleeves, very light.

Foam sleeve is very cheap, very light, easy to find in any hardware store.

Preparing the bike, covering all important parts, frame and the fork.

Preparing the bike, covering all important parts, frame and the fork.

- Use hard plastic between the bike parts

Something that I have learned on my first flight with the bike, and I learned it on the hard way, use some hard plastic caps between the handle bar and the frame. Same rule apply for the wheels. For example, the EVOC bike travel bag has hard plastic caps between the wheels and the frame assuring the hubs will not push against the frame.

The pressure from outside caused by the other baggage inside the airplane, or by handling,  can push the components like the handlebar into the frame. Or even worse, the hubs or the disk brakes can dent your frame.

Knee pads  wrapped around the brakes levers, and more foam to protect the bike

Knee pads  wrapped around the brakes levers, and more foam to protect the bike

Some people like to wrap the bike in bubble wrap, but it's heavy and it can't be used many times.

- Use a proper travel bike bag

I see a lot of riders using cardboard boxes when they travel. I think cardboard offers zero protection, and having the bike intact at the end of the flight it's just a matter of pure luck. Also, if the box will stay outside during the airport handling, and it's raining, the box will melt. Good luck with that :)

When I'm travelling I use two boxes, a EVOC bag and a Brand-X Eva Pod, with their advantages and disadvantages.

EVOC bag is very easy to use, easy to move around, wheels are stable, it can be folded, but not 100% convinced it will protect the bike, it's just a soft bag.

The Eva pod, hard to put the bike in, not stable to move around, wheels are not fixed inside (there is an option to use an axle to lock the wheels, but you will damage others bags, or the axle will push into the bike), but the semi rigid case will protect your bike no matter what.

Evoc bike bag.

Evoc bike bag.

If you can afford a 6k $ bike, buy a proper travel bag.

- Helmet, backpack and small things

All my stuff I need for the trip are in the bike bag. I put the clothes around the frame for protection. The backpack is also used for some protection. Try to put the heavy stuff at the bottom of the case, for some stability. Be sure nothing is moving around and everything is fixed properly. In case the bag's zippers are failing, the content of the bag will not go all over the place.

- Book your bike into the flight

Notify the flight company that you are travelling with your bike. Let them know about it in advance, in many cases you have to pay extra for the bike. Very important, don't forget to specify the size and the weight of the bag.  Give them a heads-up, you would like to get your bike at the arrivals in the same time with you. Waiting for a few days to get your bike could ruin for good your trip.

- Be early in the airport

If you are travelling with your bike, the two hours rule doesn't apply to you.

It will take time to move around, to find airport carriages (sometimes you have to pay for it), and after you check in, you will have to take the bike  to oversize baggage on the other side of the airport and go again to the check-in and claim your ticket. And yes, and a short visit to the airline company office to pay for the bike.

- Transfer from/to airport

Another thing that I learned on the hard way, if you book a transfer from/to airport, notify the transfer company that you are travelling  with  big bag.

Book the transfer in advance, calling a taxi two hours prior your flight it's a very bad idea. 

Bike bags don't fit  well in small cars. Or just ask for a van.

- Be nice with the check-in staff

No matter what is the airport policy regarding bikes, the check-in staff will decide how this policy is applied. Just be nice, no point getting angry with the check-in staff.

Don't fight with them, if they made an error  and they overcharged you for the bike call the info-line and you will get a refund later.

- Insurance insurance insurance

Buy insurance for your bike, just in case, you never know. In most cases it will not cover the value of your bike, but anything is better than nothing, right?

I'm flying everywhere with my bike for a few years already, and so far my bike have survived, in part because in some extend the airport baggage handlers do care, in part that I take care when I pack the bikes in the bags.

There are marks of abuse on the bags, they are scratched badly, a small hole in the EVA Pod, but and the end as long the bike is protected, the bike bag did it's job :)

Pack the bike properly, and your trip will be fun.

P.S: don't forget your axles home ;)

The Spanish affair

Travel

There is no denying that Costa Del Sol is a beautiful location, perfect for a family vacation, plenty of sun, amazing sea food and a lot of history. The best way to go here is by flying to Malaga's airport. There are direct flights to/from all major cities in Europe.

So stunning!!! The city of Mijas, one of the most beautiful old cities in Southern Spain surrounded by many DH tracks

So stunning!!! The city of Mijas, one of the most beautiful old cities in Southern Spain surrounded by many DH tracks

Small street in Ojen. The best all-mountain trails in the area are located around the city.

Small street in Ojen. The best all-mountain trails in the area are located around the city.

For mountain biking, Southern Spain is  a paradise that should be on every rider's bucket list.

The regions's best trails

The trails aren't an everyday sort of challenge though, they are very difficult and the area is a test of endurance, technique and strength. On top of that the heat will make things more difficult.

Trails are not marked, natural trails with roots and crumbly stones. Very unpredictable with many turns and dead ends, steep rocky descents. 

The best way to explore end enjoy the trails is to have a local guide.

In the last two years, I had the chance to ride many times with Juan, local MTB guide and the owner of  the best local outdoor company in Costa Del Sol: turiactivo.com 

Juan is a very experienced mtb rider, and very knowledgeable about the hidden trails in the area. 

With his help we have explored and rode the best all-mountain trails in the area.

Alhaurin el Grande 

The trails located around the city of Alhaurin el Grande will make every rider smile. Fast trails in the woods, technical rock gardens, steep descents, small drops, Alhaurin is a lot of fun. Beginners can also ride here, there are alternatives for the drops and the descents. Never the less, the trails are not easy, the rock garden will test your balance at the maximum. 

Juan going fast on the trails

Juan going fast on the trails

Fast on the trails

Fast on the trails

Steep descents in the forest

Steep descents in the forest

Some air...

Some air...

Riding in the Spanish sun.

Riding in the Spanish sun.

 

The downhill trails in Pinos de Alhaurin

Not far away from the city of Pinos de Alhaurin we can ride some DH tracks. Unfortunately, some parts of the trails are not maintained and the nature took it's place. But, what is good enough for ride, is very fun, drops all over the place. fast tracks. Best place to learn new tricks and boost your confidence on DH tracks.

Fun on the descents

Fun on the descents

The master of the local trails, Juan,  mtb guide at turiactivo.com

The master of the local trails, Juan,  mtb guide at turiactivo.com

Taking some air on the DH tracks

Taking some air on the DH tracks

More rocks

More rocks

 

El Chorro

The gorge in El Chorro, a very famous place for it's stunning views and dangerous walkways it's also famous for the MTB trails. Fast descents on big rocks and technical descents on the sandy grounds will test the riders limits. The trails are for experts only, beginners should not attempt to ride the trails here. Also, most of the trails are isolated and far away from the main touristic trail. Take plenty of water with you. The trails are not marked, there are no signs from the main road.

Sandy descent in the forest

Sandy descent in the forest

One of the descents 

One of the descents 

Tunnel of sand :) 

Tunnel of sand :) 

Fresh air

Fresh air

Nice view as a reward :)

Nice view as a reward :)

 

Mijas trails

The area is very well known among the local DH riders. There are many DH trails around the city. Most of the trails are maintained by a local community of riders. Also, in the forest there are many technical trails. The terrain is sandy with crumbling rocks. There are plenty of roots and big rocks. At the end of the ride, as a reward, Mijas is a very nice city, narrow streets painted in white, small coffee shops and restaurants. If you had enough of riding the bike, you can try to ride a donkey :)

Rocky trails

Rocky trails

Roots and rocks all over the place

Roots and rocks all over the place

That face :)

That face :)

Uhhh ohhhh

Uhhh ohhhh

This one was close ;)

This one was close ;)

 

Benalmadena

Probably one of the most well known DH trails on the Costa del Sol is located under the cable car in Benalmadena. Easy to access with the cable car, pain if you ride the 5km of fire road uphill. There are no trees on the road, no shadow. You will taste the Spanish sun at the maximum. This is a DH trail, there are a few big drops.

There is also another trail, this is more technical, big rocks, and technical descents. The trail is a lot of fun.

The trails in Coin

Around the city of Coin there are a few XC trails. Very easy trails, suited also for beginners. Easy access to the trails from the city. There are a few descents through the forest, but most of the trails are on fire roads. This means, a lot of sun :)

Ojen trails

The last trail we did was located nearby Ojen city. There are no words to describe the trails here. We think this is the best place to ride. Everything is here: technical descents, drops, roots, rock gardens, jumps, sandy descents. The place is a paradise for MTB. You can ride this place over and over again and you can't get enough of it. We did this trail twice and we did not grasp the hole potential of the trail. The last part of the trail is starting from Hotel El Refugio del Juanar and it will finish on the main road in the city. This trail is the prime of the all-mountain trails. The trail is for experts only, full face helmet is a must and also knee pads, at least. The are also some big drops at the end of  the trail. Unfortunately, no photos because we were busy to ride. There is a video in the making, we will update the page as soon the video is done.

Top 3

No.1: Ojen

No.2: El Chorro

No.3: Alhaurin el Grande

Best time to travel to Costa del Sol

Due the heat, best time of the year to ride would be January->May and September->December

Local mtb guide

http://turiactivo.com/