Six reasons the Isle of Man is great for Mountain Biking

Duke Travel

16 July 2020

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The Isle of Man has been a bit of a secret mountain biking destination for a couple of decades, only occasionally appearing on the radar of magazines and websites before quietly disappearing again. Well, we’re here to tell you it should be on everyone’s list as a top-quality riding destination only a 30 minute flight from Manchester or Liverpool and less than an hour from London. If you choose to take the ferry it’s a four hour crossing but you can bring your bike for free.

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The size. You can ride to most of the trails, wherever you stay. The Isle of Man is just 30 miles long by 11 miles wide, so if you arrive by bike you’ll still be able to sample most of the best trails by pedal power alone. It’s also really easy to link up a lot of rides using the extensive Greenlane network and the former railway lines. There’s also a mad amount of variety meaning there are trails from beginners right up to pros.

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The scene. There’s a very big cycling community in the Isle of Man, both roadies and mountain bikers (and a rapidly growing clan of ebikers). You’ll find most cyclists are friendly, the local bike shops offer a comprehensive selection of brands and spares and it’s easy to find folks to ride with through the various cycling groups on social media. You can even hook up with some of the talented locals and turn your visit into a training opportunity.

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The scenery. The Isle of Man has been described as looking like all of the best bits of the British Isles and its small size means it’s possible to make the most of the stunning views. Whether you prefer speeding through the trees, climbing steep, technical tracks, blasting across the open moorland or tackling rugged and demanding descents you can pack it all in to a single ride on the Isle of Man - and finish at one of the many excellent pubs for good measure.

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The races. For an Island with just 85,000 residents, the Isle of Man punches well above its weight in terms of quality mountain bike races. For marathon enthusiasts there are three big events to choose from (or choose them all): The Manx 8, The Manx 100 and Longest Day: Longest Ride. XC riders can take a crack at the End 2 End, probably the Isle of Man’s best-known MTB race and one that continues to attract a big entry (COVID excepted). As its name suggests, the End 2 End traverses the length of the island, covering about 75km and climbing over 1500m of vertical ascent. It’s a must-do race for anyone who enjoys a good day in the saddle.

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The cakes. The Island’s food and drink scene is thriving and wherever you ride you’re going to find a great cafe, coffee shop or pub to make a pitstop or to refuel at the end of the day. Two of the local bike shop (Cycle360 and Bikestyle) feature a coffee shop on the premises and make a good start or end point. If you’ve been sampling the enduro lines in Ballaugh Plantation stop in to Conrod’s in Ramsey for a cuppa with the “World’s fastest barista” (owner Conor Cummins is a TT racer in his spare time). When you’ve finished hitting the excellent singletrack at South Barrule the Coffee Cottage is waiting on your custom, and they don’t care how dirty you are (and even provide bike washing and repair facilities.

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The cost. All the trails on the Isle of Man are totally free to ride. Trails are maintained by volunteers and you don’t need to buy a ticket, make a donation or anything. Just get out and explore and respect the work that has been done. See you out there.