VIDEO: A Guide to Bike Parks and Mountain Biking in Slovenia
August 3rd, 2017
August 3rd, 2017
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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Slovenia is not that much bigger than Wales, but if we had what they had to offer in terms of riding (oh, and weather!), I wonder if we’d ever bother leaving our own country for riding holidays.
Slovenia is a developing country for mountain biking. Other sports, like kayaking and walking, take more of a precedent. Being largely geared towards hikers, their trails are protected footpaths, much like ours here in the England, which means you can’t simply grab a map and ride everywhere like you can in France. That being said, Slovenia is really starting to turn a corner in purpose-built parks and mountain bike-specific trails, and with the country being small, yet highly accessible on the roads and on public transport, travelling around for more smiles per miles is pretty simple.
Most Na Soci
At the start of the video, you’ll see me in white riding a very English-looking wood. That’s Most Na Soci, a beautiful tree-littered mountain beside a lake where we had the pleasure of riding a trail built by an old Slovenian downhill racer. The course was dry and loose at the start, with steep, rooty chutes into flat, loose corners, which finished on singletrack heaven, weaving through trees and round mossy boulders. There’s a road from the valley up to a cafe where you can shuttle or ride yourself fit and then grab some local Slovenian food afterwards. The views are absolutely stunning here, but note, the cafe may only be open at the weekends. Start riding from the bench that looks like two swans; follow the dirt path to the right then turn left down the hill and lap up around 10 minutes of descending. At the bottom of the valley is a lake you can swim in. Drive five minutes down the road to the river that runs in to it, and you’ll be treated with crystal clear waters to bathe in, some rapids to float in, and some rather large wooden diving boards.
Cerkno Bike Park
The Bike Park in Cerkno is a recent creation, not unlike our Bike Park Wales, with everything from flow trails and high berms, to rugged single track, as well as huge jumps that made me feel queasy just looking at them. In our video you’ll see the 2017 National Enduro Champion showing us how it’s done from 1m05s. Unfortunately, the ski lift only runs at the weekend, but again, you can shuttle or ride up if you want a proper enduro-style day. Incidentally, a medium-length pedal around the mountain gets you to the Slovenian Enduro Champs course; a 20min course (even for the pros) with plenty of surprises in it. It is steep and natural and a real challenge to ride fast and blind. It’s worthy of at least two runs, so you can easily spend all day there and in the Bike Park. If you find the Champs course, be warned to look before you leap in the fields, as perspective and greenery can hide 10ft rollable drops that you won’t want to jump off unless you’re Brandon Semenuk.
Vogel Bike Park
Vogel is a ski resort at 1,922m high. The stunning views from the start of the video can be seen from the first funicular ski lift up to a cafe. After that you’ll need to take the second ski lift to the top of the Vogel trail. There’s only one, but it’s a good’un (as demonstrated in the video at 1m22s). It’s a sweepy man-made trail with berms, north shore wood, a few jumps and a couple of wall-rides for the brave. It's a great place to spend a day honing skills on the same trail. Loose rocky tracks can be found around the mountain if you want some natural extensions to your riding.
Robe Twist Trail / Bike Park Kranjska Gora
We parked up in Bike Park Kranjska Gora where there is a good cafe selling coffee and hotdogs, and a ski lift up to a flow trail there. The views from the cafe of the bare, rugged Julian Alpes are just incredible (this is what you’ll see behind our interviewees in the video). The Robe Twist Trail is down the road, and was largely created by volunteers. You’ll need to pedal up the mountain’s fire tracks to get to it, but it’s a good long descent as a reward for a hard ride up. The top section lives up to its name with twists and turns making a long ride out of a short section of wood (see the video from 2m10s). There are plenty of sections to pump and pop over and generally make you feel like you’re flying over the terrain. The trail gets a little more of a natural feel after that, with some really steep sections to negotiate. It had rained hard the day before we rode it, but it held up well with very little puddles and only the odd sketchy mud slide-out here and there. The bottom of the trail is an absolute rock-fest, subjecting you to either clattering through a rock-strewn gully, or leaping from bank to bank either side and negotiating the higher, smoother lines with a little more tact. Either way, it’s quite exhilarating.
The bike parks are all really close to each other and also very close to the Airport and Ljubljana city centre (which incidentally has some trails too if you know where to look), but it does require some travel to cram it all in, and perhaps some good planning to ensure you don’t just arrive somewhere and waste time. It’s not like Morzine where you can spend all day riding a ski lift and then pop over to another park when you get bored.
Slovenia has incredibly technical “unknown” trails, and possibly some of the best in terms of steep, rocky madness, but save for planning your trips around Strava segments, it can be difficult to get a good week without latching onto a local rider to help you find your way. It’s places like this that really benefit from businesses like Ride Slovenia, who offer an all-encompassing accommodation and guiding package and can taylor days to your needs, wants and even abilities. It’ll probably be some of the hardest riding you’ll ever do, but no one ever got excited about an easy trail, did they?
So, have a browse, do some research, and seriously consider it as a biking destination. I strongly recommend working a few extra days onto the Trans Julius, an enduro stage race that’s as much worth the entry for the atmosphere as it is for the riding, with entries proportionally no more expensive than a UK enduro that doesn’t provide you with an ION jersey and local cooked food.