After the hype of La Thuile, it was time to travel solo and head to the coast for some downtime between the sea and the mountains. What better place to do this than Finale Ligure. A town made for mountain bikers and beachlovers, it has an abundance of awesome singletrack to be explored with trails that lead you right down to the beautiful blue Meditteranean sea and it's sandy beaches, it has something for everyone. Mountain biking really took off here in the late 90's when three Canadian freeriders came to visit to film for the Kranked film series in 1999 inspiring locals to start building trails and riding all mountain style. This is where the SuperEnduro was born and where the final round of the Enduro World Series will be held once again in Finale Ligure, on the 5th and 6th of October. After its huge success last year, over 600 riders will be descending upon the town in October. I'm hoping that I'll be celebrating not only my birthday that weekend but also a good result!
About an hour and a half drive from Nice airport, Finale is fairly inexpensive to get to with Ryanair flights usually fairly reasonable. From La Thuile, it took me almost four hours to get to Finale on the toll roads. I stayed at a really nice campsite, tucked away in a quiet area of town, with spacious pits with trees for shade, wifi, clean facilities and a cafe. Just five minutes walk to the beach and not far from the trails, it was hard to leave this place. As it was high season, it cost me 18.50 per night with the van but being the first time to actually stay in a campsite this trip, I was happy to pay for the luxury!
After arriving Monday evening, I settled into my campsite and headed straight to the beach for a long awaited swim. I headed into town on my road bike afterwards to get something to eat and of course wifi! Sitting at a small table at a restaurant on one of the cobble streets, I got chatting to a couple sitting beside me. They were touring Europe on their bikes and were already halfway through their three month trip. It was awesome to swap stories and share our love of the two wheeler. Enjoying Finale so much, they decided to stay an extra day and take some timeout from their bikes to enjoy Finale with it's beautiful beaches, friendly people and amazing gelato!
Tuesday was really hot so I decided to leave it until late evening to go for a ride. I got myself a map and off I went up to San Bernardino to do the Dolmen Trail. With about 300m of ascending, it wasn't long before I was onto the rocky singletrack and having some fun! Being alone, and not knowing the trails, I took it fairly handy and got back to the campsite before it got dark. I decided that because none of the trails were marked, getting a guide was going to be the best option for me.
Wednesday was pretty much a non-riding day as I spent the day sussing out the town, organising a guide and then a trip to Nice that evening to pick up a friend from the Airport. A night in Monaco in the van and some sightseeing was what filled up the day on Thursday. By Friday morning it was time to get back on the mountain bike. Highly recommended by Enrico Guala, I got in contact with mountain bike guide Lorenzo Rebagliati, a native from Finale Ligure who set up his own mountain bike guiding business in Finale and who is also part of the SuperEnduro logistics team. I really couldn't have chosen a better guide as Lorenzo was such a cool guy who knew the place like the back of his hands.
Wednesday was my last day in Finale and was by far the best day on the bike! I met up with Lorenzo again that morning, and I brought along another Aussie rider, Stuart, who was a friend of Micheal's. Before hitting the trails, I had some work needed to be done on my bike so I brought it to the bike shop, Riviera Outdoor Bike Store' in FinalBorgo where mechanic cool guy Luca did some work on it. Then we headed for the hills ascending over 900m for about 12km in the morning heat which took us almost an hour and a half but boy it was worth it! Lorenzo showed us THE most epic trails in Finale Ligure, the 'Madonna Della Guardia' and 'Dins'. Dins was a really fun, flowy track with some technical rocky sections and narrow gullies that might catch you out if you didn't have your wits about you. The natural table tops and fast berms were so awesome, I just wanted to do it all again. The Madonna trail was much more technical with some rocky sections that the Process just flew over. I really felt that I've learned to just trust the bike and my skills and attack everything, whereas in the past I would have hesitated at some of the stuff I did today. I love that feeling of progression as with it comes confidence, flow and speeeeed! A short clip of me doing a rocky section of the trail kind of shows the level of steepness and technicality....apparently this section is where a large majority of riders crashed in last years EWS!
Enrico Guala, legend in the world of mountain biking and founder of the SuperEnduro happened to be in town for meetings one of the evenings so we all ended up going for pizza and having a great chat about all things mountain biking and I learned a lot about the history of biking in Finale L. I will be putting up a link to for those of you interested in how it, and the SuperEnduro was all formed back in the late 90's, its really interesting stuff!
So, its Thursday and my time in Finale Ligure has come to an end. I will be really sad to leave this place and the super friendly people here. But, I have some consolation in the fact that in less than eight weeks time I will be back here to race!
Big thanks to: Lorenzo Rebagliati www.facebook.com/MTBguidefinale.com
And to all the gelato parlours and pizzaria's that fed me in Finale! I will be back!
Next stop: Sauze Dóulx
Irish Female Enduro Racer Flow MTB Team Rider