As somebody who travels to many different places in the world as a part of my job, I've been fortunate enough to see, and when time permits, lucky enough to ride in some pretty incredible spots. I'm biased in the type of riding that I really like, but any time I can ride a bike, on the dirt, whether I know the trail or not, I'm happy.

I'm going to be a bit general with some of my locations for a number of reasons.  Partially to protect the locals and their hard trail-building work and partially to encourage you to explore new riding areas. There are many places where the trails are seemingly endless with amazing terrain and smiles for days, in addition to the fact that the fun of exploring will hopefully add to your experience in one way or another. I'm also not going to rank the locations as they're all unique and worthy of checking out so the following locations are listed in no particular order.

Justin with Greg Minnaar last season.

Colorado

Born and raised in Colorado, this is where my roots are and I will always be a fan of the quality and variety of riding the state offers. There are miles and miles of unreal single track XC trails that will take you through every type of terrain imaginable and allow you to see places in the mountains that you would likely never get to see otherwise. Combine that with the growing number of lift-accessed bike parks and the growing acceptance of our sport and you really can't go wrong in CO. Some local knowledge will really help you make the most of your rides.  Luckily, people in CO are typically very friendly and willing to show you the way if you don't know where you're going. Just beware that most of the riders there will surprise you with their fitness and technical riding skills.

Your burning lungs sucking the little available oxygen at this altitude are insignificant to the scenery before your eyes and the flow of the singletrack in Colorado.

Switzerland

A couple summers ago a rare occurrence happened and there was an off week in our work schedule. I spent the week with my co-worker Christophe, riding all his favorite DH spots near his house in Switzerland.  He lives right below Cran Montana ski resort which has some pretty fun lift-accessed DH and bike park trails with out any crowds or lift lines.

We also rode some other areas where if you didn't have the local knowledge, you'd likely never figure out the trails, so I'll at least point you in the right direction. One of the most memorable places I've ever ridden was Rochers-de-Naye. You board a cog-driven train just above Lake Geneva and take a ride to the top of one of the tallest peaks in the region. Then you proceed to ride a variety of trails back down.

The top third or so of the trails are hiking-style trails and you'll likely get some weird looks from tourists and hikers, but the riding is totally legal and allowed. Once you get down into the more defined trail system, you have different options that are all fun and worthy of checking out.  If you see some locals who look informed, I would suggest making friends and riding with them.  The trails here are amazing, but to me it was the whole experience of the riding here...from taking the train to the top, to the incredible scenery, to navigating very exposed ridge lines up top, to surfing down steep chutes that are axle deep in fallen leaves. Definitely not like any other riding I had done. A good, sturdy enduro bike or a DH bike will be best here. Get all the info you need right here...

Not far from the train-accessed zone above is a tiny village on a hillside that is accessed by a gondola, and there are some ripping DH trails below the gondola. You won't find any machine-made 10-foot wide bike park trails, but you will find some very fun and technical singletrack DH trails that are nothing short of great riding.

Christophe and I were the only ones riding there that day and the lift operator would turn the gondola just for us every time we went back up. I think it cost us about 20 Swiss Francs each for the day of riding, no liablity forms or signatures required. What a concept! Sharing the same parking lot with the Gondola is a little restaurant with a sunny patio that serves up tasty pizza and cold beer when you finish riding. Go get some runs...

If you still have legs and hands able to ride and need more, about an hour's drive from this area you could be at Chatel, France to access the Portes Du Soleil ski resorts, which offer endless amounts of lift-accessed riding for both trail bikes and DH bikes. Unbelievable amounts of fun to be had here and well worth a visit or three. Peep the Chatel Bike Park site and the Portes Du Soleil site to get stoked.

Other very notable places that are close to Switzerland that I don't want to leave out would be Austria and France. Amazing mountains, good trails (lots of them) and good food. Just make sure to bring your credit card because they're not cheap.

British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest

If you haven't been hiding out under a shade tree for the past decade, this one should be obvious. B.C. very likely has the widest variety of amazing mountain bike riding available anywhere in the world. And unlike some places, they've actually embraced the sport and people having fun on their bikes in the woods which means there are more trails than you will ever be able to ride and they're always building new ones. There is literally something to offer for any rider if you know where to look.  One of my favorite spots is the Pemberton Valley, simply because of the quality and style of riding, which is generally steep and technical. Pair that with the vast quantity of trail options and you have paradise.

Only in Pemby...

I will probably upset a few people from both B.C. and the PNW by grouping them together. I'm not grouping them together because they are the same, but more so because anything from Oregon up to B.C. can on any given day offer up some of the best riding you've ever done. And these areas are constantly growing their trail networks with trail builders who are unbelievably skilled at what they do. It's always impressive to see and ride the trails there.

And then there's the obvious part of B.C., Whistler.  If you have never been and you are fueled by gravity and adrenaline do yourself a favor and get there. No matter what it takes, quit your job, sell you car, empty your savings account, light fires, burn bridges, run, walk, ride, kayak in if you have to.  Aside from the bike park there are a ton of unbelievable DH and XC trails in the area that will challenge you in every way possible. If you're also into swimming in amazing lakes, night life and fun-loving girls from all over the world then you'll likely never want to leave.  After living there for two seasons, leaving was one of the toughest things I've had to do.

New Zealand

I've only been to NZ once and definitely didn't get to ride as much as I would have liked to.  However, I could tell that I would really enjoy spending a lot of time exploring the country.

Sam Blenkinsop in his NZ backyard...

The riding combined with the NZ lifestyle, people and food will surely be enough to keep any of us entertained for quite some time. Kiwis are good people and their country welcomes biking with open arms, not to mention their summer is our winter.

South America

I decided to add one that's actually on my list.  I've never been to South America but it's a place I've always wanted to visit, so I hope to be able to check it off one day. It seems like the potential for good riding would be almost limitless, the people I've met from the region are friendly and I've always liked South American culture...time to book a plane ticket.

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