Downhill is a mountain bike discipline that is a fast-paced and fun sport for lovers of this category. It is one of the activities defined as ‘gravity’, i.e., where gravity is used as the driving force, through descents and routes that are not straight. There are many routes dedicated to this sport in the world and today we are going to show you some of them…
The history of downhill
Historically, the origins of downhill biking date back to the 1970s in the United States, when a group of young people had the idea of buying some run-down bikes and using them to ride downhill down Mount Tamalpais in California. From the very beginning, the bikes they bought proved to be much stronger than traditional road bikes, which led them to realise that in order to use a bike on rough and uneven terrain, it was necessary to build a model with certain characteristics. At that time, the rise of mountain biking was still a long way off, but it was probably these youngsters who laid the foundations for the construction of a bike suitable for this sport. Over the years, technology and bicycles have improved, and today the number of enthusiasts and circuits dedicated to them is constantly increasing.
Before we start describing some of the world’s downhill routes, it is necessary to talk about the equipment needed for this sport, in order to better protect your body from the possibility of falls or various accidents. The basic equipment for downhill riding consists of:
- Shin protectors
- Elbow pads
- Protective helmet
These elements are essential for complete protection of the body and, above all, to make any impact on the ground following a crash less harsh. Clearly, in addition to the above-mentioned protections, it is necessary to have a bike suitable for this sport, the main characteristics of which are as follows: they must be bio-shock absorbers, have larger handlebars than mountain bikes, cleated tyres and hydraulic disc brakes.
Mountain biking is a real panacea for the physical and mental health of every person who takes up the sport, and here are some of the benefits you can gain:
- Eliminating stress: Downhill biking is one of the ‘ecotherapeutic’ sports, i.e., those that take place completely in contact with nature and have a therapeutic function on the athlete. According to various studies, practising sport in the open air and in large green spaces can significantly reduce stress and all negative emotions. In addition, practising this sport helps release endorphins, the “feel-good hormones”, and sporting activity can reduce the risk of depression by around 20%.
- It’s good for sleep: researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine have shown that cycling for 20-30 minutes a day helps people with insomnia to fall asleep in half the time, which translates into an extra hour of sleep. This can all be attributed to exposure to sunlight, which helps maintain the biological rhythm by decreasing cortisol levels, thus stimulating sleep.
- Work out your whole body: mountain biking also brings countless benefits from a physical point of view. This activity tones up muscles, especially the legs and buttocks but also the arms and abdominals. It also improves the body’s cardiovascular activity and oxygenates the brain.
After this preface, you can set off and enjoy yourself on one of the following downhill routes!
The best places in the world to go downhill
The bikepark Mottolino in Livigno is one of the most famous downhill parks in Italy. In 2005 it hosted the World Mountain Bike Championships. The location of the bike park is a real pearl in the middle of nature with a wonderful panoramic view of the Stelvio and Bernina peaks and Lake Livigno. The bikepart has a difference in altitude of around 600 metres and is equipped with a good number of trails suitable for all levels of bikers, from beginners to professionals. The downhill trails are about 18 km long. The area starts in Mottolino (2,400 m altitude) and ends at the bottom of the valley. The trails include numerous elements such as parabolic, jumps and sections through the woods, allowing bikers to enjoy themselves in the midst of nature.
Fruita in Colorado is considered by many to be one of the most important downhill destinations. Its trails are suitable for all types of riders, 18 routes and each of them offers a unique and unforgettable experience for downhill enthusiasts. Our advice is to spend a weekend near Fruita and try to do all 18 tracks so that you can experience a unique experience completely in contact with nature on American soil.
2 Alpes Bike Park is the official name of the entire Les 2 Alpes area, which is completely dedicated to mountain biking and downhill skiing. The area includes 6 lifts and no less than 91 kilometres of slopes for a total of 8,620 metres of total negative height difference between 3,200 and 900 metres and 635 metres of vertical drop. In addition, there are a total of 22 pistes divided according to difficulty, one of which is in the “Elite” category, i.e., dedicated to Downhill professionals. The ski area is also equipped with a geo-localisation system for rescue in case of need, which can be activated via the bike park app.
The Åre Bike Park is the largest bike park in Scandinavia with 34 possible routes, 50 km of trails and a total of 853 metres of elevation gain. 7 green, 8 blue, 9 red and 8 black tracks satisfy the needs of all types of bikers. Since it was first opened in 2015 the Åre Bike Park has always been positioned within the top 10 best routes for cyclists. In addition, it has been and still is a dedicated area for world-class films and blogs.
The Hafjell Bike Park in Norway is also a favourite destination for downhill enthusiasts. It offers 17 trails with a total of 29 km and is suitable for all levels of bikers. The resort also offers considerable advantages for families thanks to the presence of a “Family Area” in Mosetertoppen, where you can also enjoy various activities and eat peacefully while enjoying the fantastic Norwegian landscape. The Bike Park is also considered one of the main destinations for professional bikers. Numerous champions from all over Europe train in this circuit thanks to its characteristic elements and the difficulty of the tracks.
After discovering some of the most characteristic places to have fun on your bike, all that’s left to do is to throw yourself headlong down the hill!
“Never Ignore Your Instinct And You Can Always Push Harder. I Get Inspired When I Think About People Who Have Pushed Their Bodies To The Limit”.