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The summer is a fantastic time in many ways. While we try to console ourselves during the winter with feasting and Christmas, it’s the summer when we really get to be out in nature and enjoy ourselves. It’s no surprise, therefore, that during the warmest months of the year, people want to escape the confines and the home and get active. But what sports are out there that’ll have you adventuring all day? Let’s take a look at some of what’s on offer.
Saddle Up: It’s Time To Go Mountain Biking
Mountain biking has evolved considerably over the last 20 years, and for people who haven’t kept up with the latest advances in the field, it can be a bit of a wake-up call. It turns out that the mountain bikes of yesteryear are long gone, especially if you’re willing to dump a bit of money into a proper bike. Whereas the bikes of the past would leave your hand feeling numb and your bottom feeling raw thanks to a lack of impact absorption, modern bikes have great suspension that helps to absorb many of the hits, both big and small. Rather than going offroad being a painful experience, it’s now something that you can genuinely enjoy. Staying in the saddle all day and riding offroad is a distinct possibility, so long as the weather holds up.
Then there are the trails themselves. While a trail center probably won’t keep you occupied all day, it’s worth mentioning that the range and quality of trail centers have improved massively over the last couple of decades. The great thing about trail centers is that they are a sure bet. You know that they’re going to be rideable and that you won’t have to spend our pushing your bike up to the top of the hill, only to have to walk it down again because of the difficulty of the terrain. Trail centers also benefit from bike friendly facilities. This includes things like cafes, bike workshops, toilets and coffee shops, especially at locations popular with non-mountain bikers.
There are downsides to trail centers, of course. One of the problems is that you never really get to explore the wilderness in a way that you could if you are out in nature. Often trail centers are cut into pine forests, meaning that the trails themselves are great, but the views are a little samey. What’s more, you don’t really get that adventuring feeling like you do when you’re out by yourself on your bike in nature. Riding in the wilderness is a different experience entirely, and thanks to improvements in trails up and down the country, it’s now more mountain bike-friendly than ever before. It’s still a good idea, however, to do your research first and find out whether anybody else has traveled the route you’re planning on riding by bike. Sometimes routes can look great on paper but can be ruined by unmarked features or by there being too many walkers.
What About Hiking?
One of the downsides of mountain biking is the amount of time it takes to get setup and the money it costs. Quality mountain bikes start at around $2000 and go up from there. What’s more, getting the suspension serviced every 100 hours or so is a very costly procedure and will set you back a fair amount. Then there are all the other costs, like having the right tools and kit. If you’re not interested in spending a lot of money on a hobby, then biking might not be for you.
The costs of hiking, however, are a lot lower. Even if you decide to buy all the best equipment, you’ll still have plenty leftover to spend on things like accommodation. What’s more, with hiking you have more freedom. There are many trails closed off to bikers, but few trails are closed to hikers. (Usually, these trails are part of trail centers). What’s more, as a hiker, you’re able to visit more epic destinations. Bikers aren’t able to reach the top of mountains usually, but for hikers, it’s a regular occurrence.
Finally, hiking isn’t something that relies as heavily on the fitness of the whole group. Most people are able to keep up with the fittest when walking, which is something that can’t be said for biking.
Kayaking On River Rapids
Being out of the house all day adventuring is something that can be done on water too. Kayaking, like biking, has experienced a bit of a renaissance over the last decade, especially since the Beijing Olympics where it was watched by millions.
If you’ve not done it before, you’ll need to do a bit of preparation. First, you’ll need to find a kayak. There is no best kayak for beginners because the kayak you choose depends on your use. If you’re planning on being out on the river all day long, then you’ll want a touring kayak – a kayak that is usually a lot longer than other types and that is better in unsteady waters.
The most important thing to remember about kayaking is that it is an extremely physical activity that depends on a lot of upper body strength. If you’re not used to it, it can be a bit of a shock. It’s worth spending a few days practicing being in the water before attempting things like rapids to acclimate your body. Over time your muscles will adapt to the movements, but it takes time for this to happen. Just jumping in a kayak and going out for the day probably isn’t a very good idea.
There’s also the fact that kayaking is very dehydrating, especially if you’re wearing a lifejacket and helmet on a warm summer’s day. Make sure that you take plenty of water with you on your trip so that you don’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.
Once you get the basics nailed, kayaking opens up a whole new world from the water. Some of the most popular kayaking destinations in the world include the Colorado River as well as the Dordogne in France.