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We set off from Finale Ligure, James having only 4 days left in is his 90 day visa free EU allowance. With a possible banning/passport blacklisting on the cards for him he was struggling to focus on the good times for fear of missing the ferry home – booked for 23:30 on his final day.

I was not on my limit of days so was keen to enjoy the trip north by stopping off with friends who live in some of the best riding regions on the continent. Some well known, others still hidden gems for now!

We headed for Verbier to ride with Ludo May. A past top level professional racer both in Downhill and Enduro but more importantly one of the funniest and nicest folk around! I rode for Canyon at the same time as Ludo and enjoyed some good times with him then but hadn’t seen him for a few years! He arrived in his pimped out G wagon and showed us how to properly hook some Verbier turns on board his SCOR bike.

Next up was Francois Bailley-Maitre another past racer. Francois had incredible success racing first cross country being U23 National champion before switching over to Enduro where he enjoyed EWS podium results.Now a guide, business man, trail builder, father and soon to be bike shop owner it’s fair to say he is a busy man but took a day to ride with us and show us some of his incredible hand built gold in the Jura mountains.

I’ve ridden in Freiburg before but James hadn’t so it seemed like a nice next stop off being not too far from Jura. The European kind of HQ for SR Suntour it was nice to stop in and visit Hoshi Yoshida after the ride and look through some of his incredible photography from years of covering world cup racing!

James was now getting particularly tetchy about his ferry home but i had heard about a big day out in Roan l’Etape which was 100% worth a visit so i convinced him it was a fairly short loop and off we went. James hit the road hard and sped all the way to the ferry after the ride but was bemused to find i wasn’t close behind him!

My good friend Olivier Bruwiere in Belgium has some incredible trails which were too good not to visit. Another past xc racer Olivier is still a busy racer, recently winning the Megavalanche in Reunion Island up against some top class french world cup Dh racers. Smooth as butter he makes it look easy while riding incredibly fast.

Remouchamps is a spot not many people might think of for mountain biking with the impression that Belgium is entirely flat but that is beginning to change as the trails here are SO good!

We finally made it back to the UK and some good old British humour. Chris Hutchens, another successful past DH world cup and Enduro racer was our guide for the day around the Forest of Dean. Alongside Fergus Ryan who was just back to riding from a nasty ankle injury but wasn’t letting that slow him down! Hutch has been a good friend of both myself and James for many, many years and is genuinely one of the kindest, nicest people in the sport but he didn’t let that slow down his piss taking for the day!

A compulsory stop HAD to be in Llangollen with Alex Storr. A fan favourite from last years British road trip series and with truly outrageous skills on a bike coupled with exquisite local trails we were in for a treat. Alex was the youngest rider we met up with on the trip and showed his youth by having a few hard crashes and hopping up like it was nothing! haha! He’s been having good success in the EWS in 2022 as a first year elite and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stand on some EWS podiums in the coming years!

Finally back to SCOTLAND to meet captain Nation – If you haven’t heard some of Nation’s travel story’s they are worth searching. He did a podcast with Wyn Masters which is well worth a listen! After a big day getting lapped by Nation and his ebike it was finally time to head to Fort William.

The trip hadn’t been particularly sloppy for an Autumn in Europe slop search but rest assured Fort William would deliver. In the North-West Scottish Highlands the place gets an outrageous amount rainfall and is a guaranteed mud riding paradise.

Would like to say thank you to everyone at Acros Components and Mudhugger for making the trip and film happen! If you are in the market for some top quality bearing parts for your bike, (Headsets, BBs and pedals) rest assured they have been tested by us in the most disgraceful Highland conditions available (as well as daily pressure washing) and stand the test of time. Similarly if some wet weather or mud is heading your way get your bike equipped with a Mudhugger and you’ll only be upset that you hadn’t done it sooner! Game changers!

– Liam Moynihan

Wed 4th Jan, 2023 @ 9:30 am

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