It has been a very long time in the works, but we are now offering the very first fully-uplift-assisted mountain bike holiday available in beautiful Slovenia. Trust us, Slovenia is going to be the next big thing – it is one of the most beautiful, trail-rich, friendly and wonderful places you will ever go on your bike. It may be the next-door-neighbour to Italy, but it feels like an exotic new land of enormous alpine-scale mountains and untapped ribbons of sun-dappled forest singletrack. This trip is unique, and returns to our roadtrip roots – the holiday takes a roughly circlar route right around the most mountainous areas of the country to show you an incredible array of trails including the ones below:
Descent 1050m / 11km approx
Uplift: 915m Climb: 133m
The first trail we ever rode in Slovenia was one that will remain long-etched into our memories; it’s a full-bore Alpine classic. However, on your trip it is very likely that this will be one of the last trails you get to ride – and boy are we saving some special singletrack for the finale!
You reach the trailhead via an uplift in the van to the top of the treeline, where a gate bars our way into the high alpine meadows. A short, super-gentle climb on doubletrack gets you to the begining of the descent…well, apart from the optional, really steep, lung-coughing final few metres to the dairy at the very, very top for a cup of a coffee with a truly beautiful view across the Slovenian landscape.
That caffeinne is about to pay you back – you now have 11km and over 1000m of vertical descent between you and the bottom of the mountain in the town of Trzic…and it really does have absolutely everything to throw at you! This trail sweeps along a ridge; rising and falling (mostly falling!), twisting and turning – short upward sections giving you a sensation of anticipation as you await the next speedy section of flow, or the next set of curves and carves – hence the name – it’s a real rollercoaster of a descent!
Fast, long loamy blasts divide far more challenging steep, technical rock gardens and chutes – one moment you are piling downwards through the forest on perfect flowing singletrack, the next you are grabbing hold of the brakes and scrabbling for traction to drop speed as the trail steepens and twists its’ way into the ever darkening forest. Occasionally you burst out of the trees into bright, sunny pastures, with views of huge mountains all around, before disappearing back into the woods on switchbacks, twists and turns and – after an eternity – suddenly dropping you right into the very centre of town…smiling…like a lunatic.
Descent 1830m / 11km
Uplift: 1780m Climb: 50m
OK, first things first: not everyone is going to ride this trail in its’ entireity – it is just too tough to assume everyone can survive it without ending up in a straightjacket. In fact, anyone who can ride this trail without shouting hardcore expletives out loud probably should be in a straightjacket. It is ferociously technical, staggeringly enormous and flipping terrifying in places!
For those who don’t ride all of it there’s a second option – Yellow Alert – which starts lower down the mountain and avoids that bit. So don’t worry – even without going all the way to the top you’ll get a huge (and still challenging) descent to enjoy. However, for those of you who are ready to brave the Final Frontier you are in for a treat. Or possibly abject terror. Maybe both?
After departing the valley floor at 460m the gondola travels, up, up, up – passing the mid station at 1600m (where the easier “Yellow Alert” option starts), but if you remain onboard the turbolift eventually takes you all the way to the very top at over 2200m – that is a nearly 1800m of lift-assisted (beam) up!
The aforementioned “bit” in question is the first 3 kilometres. Make no mistake, the first section of this trail is one of the most gloriously bonkers things we have ever ridden – especially the first 15 minutes, which is a scree-assisted scream/slither down into a valley that makes the Megavalanche look like a lakeside family trail at Centerparcs. Klingon and try to avoid Shatnering yourself as you slide down the singletrack, only occasionlly experiencing anything you might describe as traction. It’s not so much that it is steep (it is at times, but that isn’t the key issue) – it’s the illogical, unnerving fact that no matter how carefully you try to control yourself your bike inexorably dragged down the trail faster and faster by an invisible tractor beam. And then, just as your reach Warp Speed you will see a switchback suddenly decloak ahead…
And that was just the first kilometer.
However, if you have managed to survive that far you will be fine from here onwards, as things suddenly become much more manageable, so you can unclench – a bit – now. The trail straightens, levels and becomes rather more sane at this point. It drops to mere Megavalanche levels of difficulty!
Soon after – at a goat farm at the edge of the treeline – we reach the point where the less terrifying “Yellow Alert” option meges with us. The trail from this point feels utterly unique – you won’t have ridden anything like it before. It’s dark, green and deep in the trees – but simulateously loamy, rocky and very twisting. The closest we have experienced to it are certain trails in Chamonix – but the trees and rocks here are completely different; it’s sort of alpine, Jim, but not as we know it. At times it almost feels like a World Cup downhill track – but it is 100% natural all the way! Some areas become fast and flowing with gentle loamy curves, but there are also a lot of switchbacks – rocky, but not usually tight, and without much of a drop at the edge, so actually quite confidence inspiring. And this woodland section alone goes on for a full 6.5km back to town…by which point you have dropped a staggering 1830m and a total 11km from the very top – expect this descent to take a couple of hours at the very least!
Descent 3000m approx
Uplift: 3000m approx Climb: None
Our friend Aljaz is a pioneer and a true figurehead within the local riding scene – and he has shared his trails with Singletrack Safari…in fact it is very likely he will come and ride with us in person when you visit. And boy, are his trails simply sublime!
Ajdovscina is a low altitude town – it sits at around 150m – but rearing up into the sky immediately above is a mesa-like expanse of mountains that reach up to 1400m. The mountainside is crisscrossed with a locally-developed network of incredibly flowing singletrack – it is well hidden deep within the trees, but the trails here are plentiful, incredibly fast and fun. It is no coincidence that this town has a history of producing hugely succesful World Cup pro riders – this is their training ground.
You can expect the descents to be between 5km and 10km – and we will fit in as many as we can during the day! The mountain is very helpfully served by roads almost all the way to the top – so we can pick you up from the accomodation in the morning and head straight out – and you’ll be able to descend back to the door at the end of the day.
Did we mention our accomdation has a floodlit pump/BMX track outside, and a brewery next door?! You can guess how the day is likely to end!
Descent 2000m / 20km
Uplift: 2000m Climb: 0m
OK, first off, we don’t have a trail called Rock n’ Pussycat! This is an amalgamation of the names of two of the main trails accesible from the lifts at the Krvavec ski resort – “Pussycat” and “Rock n’ Flow” are manmade wonders with a highly original flavour – they don’t really feel very man-made at all . Each one fires you downwards from 1600m and drops all the way down to the gondola station at 600m. And, yes, you”ll probably do several runs!
After the long gondola ride to the top you jump onto a short chairlift up the last hundred metres or so and you are presented with a couple of trailheads – we feel that the “Panoramic” trail works perfectly to take you into the new-for-2018 top section of “Pussycat”, and the “Bambino” trail delivers you straight into “Rock n’ Flow”. Also at the top you’ll find a mountain restaurant serving some traditional dishes – we loved the sausage and barley soup!
We got an exclusive preview of the new top section of Pussycat whilst it was under construction in late 2017, and it’s a sweeping loamy blast through meadows before it dives into the trees, which is where it picks up the main descent. As you ride this trail you simply won’t believe it’s a man-made track – it feels like a centuries-old walking path that has been re-appropriated for bikes – but it’s not – it’s been built by hand. It’s only when you stop and realise that the trail has a stable, maintainable base that you notice how much work has really gone into it. After hitting the treeline the trail flicks and flows downwards through the forest for another 850m/9km, cleverly eking out every metre of available height, but not at the detriment of speed – this is a seriously rapid track! And wickedly good fun…
Rock n’ Flow is a very different propostion – it feels like an entirely different mountain, despite both trails following the same face – albeit on opposite sides of the valley. OK, so this one shows it’s man-made origins somewhat more at times (you’ll find some berms, tables and jumps in places) but this is certainly one trail that does what it says on the tin: prepare for technical rock gradens, followed by super-rapid singletrack – repeat to fade until you reach the bottom! The problem is that the flow encorages you to attack – we punctured twice on our first attempt because we were just riding too damn fast! Our favourite section? Halfway down you burst out of the treeline and into a clearing that feels like a different country altogether – the forest loam giving way to bright orange dust and a huge view across the plains towards the capital city of Llubljana.
Descent 1080m / 8km
Uplift: 1040m Climb: 40m
This is one of those trails you dream about riding. It’s *that* trail you see in a mountain bike movie. The trail in *that* magazine photo where the loam is kicking up against the tree trunks…
We drive you for about 30 minutes upwards and upwards on a long forest track – passing hunters lodges and hidden retreats until we pop out of the treeline 1000 metres above the valley floor. Apologies – you are going to have to ride the last 5 minutes(!) under your own power to the very top – don’t worry the views aren’t so bad; surrounded by huge peaks you can see right across towards Croatia and the coast on a clear day.
The first 1 minute after you head off the top down the descent the trail feels rather uninispiring – it’s lumpy, grassy and indistinct – you are going to wonder what all the fuss was about. And then you enter the treeline…
A perfect forest canopy encloses you, and gives texture to the sun-dapple perfection that lies ahead – as soon as you touch the loam the trail really starts to accelerate, and its highly flowing nature means you can get off the brakes for extensive periods – propelling you up to some amazing speeds – we saw 50km/h very easily in places! The trail has a very forgiving atmosphere, with few surprises – but don’t forget how fast you are travelling when you start to hit the big, loamy turns! Locals ride the lower half very regularly and maintain it beautifully – out of neccesity; it’s studded with lots of fast, sharp corners.
Before you know it you will burst out of the trees on the valley floor at the village of Zaga, where a cold local beer – at the bar by the war memorial – will be needed to cool your nerves, which will be almost as hot as your brake discs. And then you’ll realise what an amazing memory you just recorded…
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