ESCAPE TO ELBA:
KASI’S WINTER RETREAT.
For riders looking to escape the winter cold, Elba is the perfect getaway. For SCOR team rider Kasi, the Italian island is practically a second home, so when he felt in need of a bit of winter warmth and a slice of the dolce vita (good life) there was only one place to go…
Winter is really not my thing, so when it came to shooting my latest film, one thing was certain: even though it was the end of November it had to be shot somewhere warm.
The island of Elba, just off the west coast of Italy, has been my go-to destination for some time now. In fact, I’ve been working as a guide on the island for over seven years. The perfect place, then, for a winter retreat.
As well as being stunningly beautiful, Elba has plenty of fantastic riding. Every area on the island has its own style of trail. So, for the film, Maxi, my friend and talented filmmaker, and I decided to ride some of our favorite riding spots.
Elba is a small island and if you're fit or, as in my case, have access to a scooter, you can ride around it in a day. This means that it’s easy to travel from spot to spot. We base ourselves out of 'Il Mandorlo', a guest house run by my friends Andrea and Serena. They are incredible hosts and offer a shuttle service, bike wash and a fully equipped bike workshop.
My bike of choice for Elba is my SCOR 4060 LT. It’s super-capable and perfect for the rough trails. I've ridden here on my SCOR 2030, which certainly makes the climbs quicker, but if you really want to let rip, having a bit more suspension travel doesn't hurt.
As my 4060 is set up for jibbing, I slow the rebound on my Intend Edge fork and Intend Hover Gamechanger shock to better suit the trail conditions. I also drop the pressure in my Michelin Wild Enduro’s to 1.8 bar front and rear – perfect for hooking up on the dry, loose dirt.
A quick disclaimer. If you are looking for big jumps and bike park tracks you won't find them here. There is only one jump on the island, and it's not particularly good. If, however, you're looking for superb natural riding, step this way.
RIDING SPOT #1: LACONA
I fell in love with Serra del Perro, Lacona's best-known trail, a few years ago. It’s fast and, with the sea in the background, it reminds me of Finale Ligure. Rides finish in either the 'da Ledo' bar, with its delicious cappuccinos, or the bar at the 'Orti di Mare'. With its homemade thyme beer, hammocks and colorful chairs, all under a canopy of vines, it's like sitting in an open-air living room.
RIDING SPOT #2: CIMA DEL MONTE
My opinion on Cima del Monte is mixed. The uphill to the summit is brutal. With two incredibly steep climbs even e-bike riders will struggle. The challenge for the groups I’ve guided is to ride up the climbs from Le Panche to Cima del Monte without putting a foot down. If you manage it you get free Aperol for the rest of your time on the island. Feel free to have a go, but if you do it I want a video as proof!
Once at the top, though, the 360-degree sea-views couldn't be more beautiful. Then, it’s down to one of my highlight trails; 'Buca del Bandito'. Fast with lots of flowing turns, but also some technical sections, you’ll be whooping with joy all the way down to the bar at 'Trattoria la Curva'.
RIDING SPOT #3: MONTE PERONE
Monte Perone is my absolute favorite place on Elba. With several trails right next to each other it’s easy to smash out the laps. The mix of built tracks and natural singletrack is simply perfect and once you’re done there is an awesome trail down to the beach in Cavoli for Aperol (what else?) and gelato. Bellissimo!
Before I overwhelm you with details, I'll wrap things up. My advice to anyone who wants to explore Elba by bike is to take your time. Experience the island, take in every beautiful view (there are many), stop at every café you like the look of, maybe even find out about the island’s history (Napoleon was exiled here) and, most importantly, drink plenty of Aperol Spritz!
Who knows, maybe one day we'll meet up on Elba’s trails, or even at one of our mountain bike camps, where we'll reveal all our local knowledge. Until then, keep riding!