Sicily
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Mountain Bike & Downhills in Sicily

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The Challenges

 

Hot spots for mountain biking in Sicily

Routes through high mountains, easy trips in inland areas and relaxing rides along the coast. For downhill thrills, you can go to Mount Etna and the Madonie Regional Park.

Mountain biking is surely one of the best ways to explore the island of Sicily. You can explore places on your bike which would be impossible to reach by any other means. There’s a huge and fascinating range of possibilities, in terms of both terrain and natural interest. Indeed, there’s an embarrassment of choice, beginning with the long and arduous routes on Mount Etna, including some scary single-track paths, and the wild, rugged tracks through the Nebrodi National Park.

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Then there’s the beautiful green setting of the Madonie Regional Park, or the ancient mule-tracks in the Hyblaean Mountains (province of Ragusa), with their typical dry-stone walls. Alternatively, there are numerous gentle rides through the many nature reserves in the inland regions, where you can explore a thriving, pristine environment.

You can practise downhill riding on Mount Etna or in the Madonie Regional Park, and put your skills to the test on a whole range of tracks of varying difficulty.

If you are looking for mountain bike adventure, but also want to explore a fascinating region, you will feel amply rewarded when you visit this captivating island. Including the delicious cold “granita” you can enjoy at the end of each excursion.

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Downhill riding and the crossing of mount Etna

A journey into the land of legend, right towards the central crater, and then a headlong descent on excellent tracks: Sicily is the perfect place for mountain bikers

Do you want to undertake an exciting challenge? The crossing of Mount Etna is an adventure you’ll remember for ever. You ride into the land of legend, up to a height of 3000 metres, skirting the cone of the central crater as you cross this formidable volcano.

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Your starting-point is the Sapienza Refuge, at a height of 1910 metres, and you then continue up for about 10 km, riding on the track used by the Etna cable car. This takes you to a height of 3000 metres and the edge of the central crater. From here you have a unique view of the world, looking out over the entire region and a large part of Calabria. You press on towards the north side, and, after an exciting descent to Piano Provenzana, you join the Altomontana (High Mountain) track, which circumnavigates the volcano in an anti-clockwise direction. You complete the circuit by riding back up to the Sapienza Refuge. This is a very demanding itinerary, which will really put your physical endurance to the test. However, it will also reward you with enormous satisfaction: you have conquered a great volcano!

Downhill riding enthusiasts will find plenty to satisfy them in the Madonie Regional Park. At Castelbuono, in the province of Palermo, there’s the Madonie MTB Resort with many tracks of varying difficulty which are extremely well prepared and maintained. There are other downhill trails on the southern slopes of Mount Etna, in the Salto del Cane area; and also on the north side, near the Citelli Refuge.

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The Etna Marathon

More than just a simple mountain bike competition, the Etna Marathon can be your volcano challenge

“One of the hardest and most enjoyable courses I’ve ever faced: certainly worthy of a world championship”. These were the words of Mirko Celestino after completing the Etna Marathon in 2012.

The event takes place in September, starting and finishing in Milo (CT), a delightful little village perched on the eastern side of the volcano at a height of 725 metres.

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The route is one of the very special aspects of the Etna Marathon. Indeed, this race is unique in Europe: hard, but also fascinating, enjoyable and very exciting. The course involves a succession of constantly changing scenarios: from ancient pine-woods to lunar landscapes devoid of vegetation, from climbs so steep you are forced to dismount to single-track descents to negotiate with caution. There’s a choice of three different distances – the 74-km Marathon, the 46-km Gran Fondo and the 24-km Excursion – so every type of mountain-biker can choose the course to suit him.

The organisation is highly professional, and the Etna Marathon adopted the three-coloured jersey of Italian Championships in 2013, and is a candidate for the European Championships in 2017.

The route, the organisation, the atmosphere: all the ingredients are there for an unbeatable occasion, unique of its kind in Europe. This is an experience every MTB enthusiast should enjoy at least once in his life.

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