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Knobby-tire spinning abroad

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Knobby-tire spinning abroad
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Knobby-tire spinning abroad
Question: Do you know of any package trips, like Backroads, that do mountain biking trips (preferably singletrack) outside the United States? Thanks.

John Duffy
Denver, CO

Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano is fat-tire heaven, as long as it doesn't erupt
Adventure Adviser: Sure do. If you're open-minded, you'll have your pick of unexpected mountain bike hot spots like Costa Rica, India, and Ecuador.

First things first: Keep in mind that pedaling off the beaten track in foreign countries doesn't always need to involve hair-raising singletrack to be challenging. India's answer to knobby-tire spinning, for example, is a grueling 10- to 20-day ride up gravel passes and down the sometimes-paved mountain switchbacks along the highest passable roads in the world. When you're not screaming down 5,000-foot vertical descents, you'll spend your biking hours taking in spectacular views of the Ladakh, Sikkim, or the Garwhal Himalayas, maxing out at the oxygen-starved altitude of about 12,000 feet. Companies like Bike Treks International (800-300-1565), Himalayan Mountain Bikes (307-733-8812), Asian Pacific Adventures (800-825-1680), and KE Adventure Travel (800-497-9675) run trips from May through September for anywhere from $1,500 to $3,700 per person, not including round-trip airfare to Delhi.

For a more traditional approach, consider signing up for one of Costa Rica Experts' multiday mountain biking trips in the vicinity of Arenal Volcano, the most active in Costa Rica. On the eight-day trip, you'll spend three days biking to Lake Arenal and nearby hot springs and through the Sarapiqui rainforest. The other four days are spent whitewater rafting the Rio Pacuare (Class III-IV) and hiking the densely vegetated jungle trails. Trips run nearly every month and will set you back about $1,450 per person, airfare not included. Or, choose one of their shorter, three-day trips that include two days of biking near Arenal and one day negotiating rapids on the Sarapiqui River ($630 per person). For more details, call 800-827-9046.

In the same neck of the woods, try a nine-day inn-to-inn pedal through the high foothills of 19,000-foot Cayambe, one of Ecuador's largest volcanoes, and the cloud forest of the Intag Reserve. Condor Adventures (800-729-1262) and Southwind Adventures (800-377-9463) charge between $1,000 and $1,800 per person for the moderately strenuous trip.

A final word: Unless you hail from high in the Rockies, plan on sucking some serious wind until your lungs adjust to spinning at 11,000 feet. For more mountain bike possibilities, check out Outside's annual Trip-Finder, a rundown of new and classic adventures around the world. You might also enjoy Outside Online's recent series on the subject of eco-tourism in Central America.

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