For the past decade, mountain bikers heading to Europe for summer sun have been drawn to the popular Portes du Soleil area (Morzine/Les Gets/Chatel) on the Franco-Swiss border.
But plenty of less well known resorts have just as much to offer – with fewer braking bumps – and in recent years the likes of Les Deux Alpes in France, Bubion in Spain and Finale Ligure in Italy have surged in popularity.
Livigno in Northern Italy, venue of the 2005 UCI World Downhill Championships, is another such place, and it's hoping to boost its profile in 2010 with a range of activities for cross-country riders, freeriders, downhillers and road riders. The resort is known as 'Little Tibet' due to its mountainous setting and, sitting at 6,000ft (1,816m) above sea level, makes a good starting point for all kinds of riding.
There are 3,200km (2,000 miles) of off-road trails and GPS routes in the area, and seven purpose-built downhill/freeride tracks – including the '05 World Cup track – can be found in the Kona Groove Approved Bike Park, with jumps, drops and North Shore sections.
The Giro d'Italia visited the town last month. Other events this year include:
- 12 June - 26 September: Swatch Bikepark Livigno Mottolino reopens.
- 19-20 June: Stage of the SuperEnduro mountain bike series.
- 10-11 July: Giro d’ Italia Femminile (Women's Tour of Italy) stops in Livigno.
- 20-21 July: TransAlp stage race stops in Livigno.
- 20-25 July: First IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) “Flow Country” Conference & Workshop, which will involve professional trail builders from all over the world.
- 19-22 August: La Pedaleda weekend, including a 40km mountain bike enduro, 80km marathon and three-stage La Pedaleda Tour.
- 25 September: Mottolino Freeride Contest, including the Easy Downhill, Jump Session and Trick Trial.
BikeRadar's communities editor Matthew Cole had a great time when he visited the resort for last year's Rose Bikes launch. It can be easily reached by car or train and has specialized AR Bikehotels for cyclists. Four-night accommodation packages are currently available from €195. For more details, visit www.livigno.eu.