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Mountain Biking

Mountain bike riding on an impressive variety of trails with an amazing mountainous backdrop. The UCPA courses have something for all levels of mountain biker – from gently flowing forest trails too steep, technical downhill tracks.

Always included in our holidays


Instruction or guiding

All meals

Friendly & social atmosphere

Full mountain biking equipment

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Most of the courses take place in the Chamonix Valley from the Argentière UCPA centre. What better place to ride than amongst the foothills of Mont Blanc? The biking opportunities are vast and relatively undiscovered (meaning small lift queues (if any) and not so many braking bumps on the downhill trails!). Led by a local guide and qualified instructor, there really isn’t an easier way to discover the true extent of biking possibilities and the many hidden gems.

Or, for an alternative experience, take in the breathtaking scenery in the national park of Verdon (home of the largest canyon in Europe). Situated inland from the Mediterranean coastal ports of Nice and Marseille, the Verdon River cuts hundreds of metres deep into a limestone gorge creating a natural playground full of single track. It is often considered the most beautiful gorge in Europe. Or Serre Chevalier, mountain biking in Haute Durance, a territory well known for the quality of its trails and the beauty of its landscapes.

What mountain bike equipment is needed?

UCPA provide all necessary technical equipment for each sport (including the mountain bike, helmet and backpack). Some mountain bike specific items to bring:

- Some padded cycling shorts to wear on the bike to stay comfortable on the saddle. If you don’t have any, then any shorts will be fine.

- A pair of mountain bike gloves, to help save your hands if you fall off (particularly useful if you do some lift-accessed trails at the end of the week).

What fitness level is required?

A base level of fitness is necessary to ensure that you enjoy the week. You will be biking uphill, as well as down! You should be practicing at least one session of exercise a week on a regular basis.

What courses are suitable?

If you have little or no experience of off-road mountain biking (though are confident in riding a bike) then the mountain bike specific multi-activity courses would be the best course to learn the basics.

A UCPA multi-activity (MTB) course in Argentiere (in the Chamonix valley) would be most suitable. This is a great way to get started in the sport with approx 2.5 days of mountain biking sessions. In between the mountain bike sessions, you can rest weary legs (or, perhaps, exercise different muscles!) whilst participating in other activities (including rafting, climbing and hiking).

By the end of the week, you will hopefully have progressed enough to try out your mountain bike skills on the lift-accessed trails in Le Tour.

What skills should I already have?

Comfortable riding a variety of single track which may include tight trees, mud and loose rocks. You are comfortable rolling over small obstacles like roots, rocks and small rollable drops. Good at anticipating the terrain and ​working your gears accordingly. You are comfortable descending and can balance standing up off your seat. You use momentum to climb rolling terrain and are comfortable using both your front and back brakes when needed.

What mountain bike equipment is required?

UCPA will provide a bike specific to the course, as well as helmet and backpack. Though, you may prefer to bring your own.

You should bring bike gloves, shorts, shoes.

If you ride clipped in with SPDs then you should bring your own pedals, as the UCPA bikes come with flat pedals.

What courses are suitable?

There are a variety of courses suitable for intermediate mountain bikers. You can choose from activity courses that focus on improving bike handling skills on increasingly steep and technical descents, or maybe you’d like to take a point-to-point tour in the National Park of Verdon.

Click for a summary:

Intermediate Courses

UCPA MTB - Mont Blanc Massif (Argentiere/Les Contamines)

UCPA MTB - Downhill Mountain Biking (Argentiere)

UCPA Lakes of Verdon MTB Tour (Verdon)

UCPA MTB - Mountain Bike Enduro in the Mont Blanc Massif (Argentiere/Les Contamines and Les Saises)

What skills should I already have?

You have likely been to the alps several times before and experienced lift-accessed riding, but if not, you should be experienced and comfortable in descending on steep and technical terrain.

What mountain bike equipment is required?

Unlike other UCPA holidays, the bikes aren’t included in the advanced/expert mtb trips. The thought is that you probably won’t want to hire a bike, because you love your own mountain bike too much and it is set up correctly for you! (though don’t worry, there is the option of bike hire, if you’re not so keen on boxing your bike up to fly with it - just drop us an email and we can add the bike hire on for you).

If you do hire a bike, they are good quality 160mm travel full suspension enduro bikes (or 120mm travel for the Tour du Mont Blanc week). More detail about the equipment is on the individual course descriptions

As an advanced/expert mountain biker, you may want to challenge your fitness level with the famous Tour du Mont Blanc. Originally a tour for walkers, the route has been adapted to make the most of the trails for mountain bikers. It involves 3 countries, 200km of mountain biking with around 10,000m of ascent/descent! This is a true all-mountain/enduro tour, with some long, steep climbs (occasionally lift-assisted) and technical descents, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland circling the Mont Blanc Massif.

Or, have a look at the Enduro course where the UCPA instructor will guide you to the best singletrack in Chamonix, as well as a couple of day trips to Italy (La Thuile, made famous by the EWS) and Switzerland.

Advanced/Expert Courses

UCPA MTB - Enduro (Argentiere)

UCPA MTB - Tour du Mont Blanc (Chamonix Valley)

You may also want to take a look at any of the courses suitable for intermediate riders above. The pace may be slightly slower, but the singletrack (particularly on the Mont Blanc Massif courses) is just as varied and covers a vast area in the Chamonix Valley (as well as Les Contamines, Les Saises or across to Switzerland and Italy)

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