Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Danny MacAskill is a wizard on wheels. He hops on, off, and between rooftops and walls, railings and rocks, benches and phone booths—you name it—with comical ease. While the 33-year-old Scotsman is known for his mind-blowing street-trials feats, he still finds time to hammer singletrack.
Born in Dunvegan, on the Isle of Skye, MacAskill has been riding bikes nearly his entire life but only came to fame at age 23, when he uploaded a street-trials video to YouTube that went viral. He’s since starred in numerous films, such as Imaginate, The Ridge, and Way Back Home, which have all garnered tens of millions of online views apiece. His latest project: daycare, Danny style.
From a once submerged town in Argentina to the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, California, MacAskill’s ridden and been filmed across the globe. And yet he still calls home, Scotland, his all-time favorite place to ride. “We’re very lucky, almost spoiled, to have so many trails on our doorstep,” he says.
When MacAskill trades pavement for dirt, here’s where you are likely to find him.
“All the hills there are pretty open. You feel like you’re in proper high Alpine. There’s beautiful ridgeline riding and fairly tight singletrack. As you get lower down, it becomes a bit more bermy, which is really fun to ride with friends—stuff you can race on and try to undertake each other on at the corners. It’s all really good.”
“Because it’s a ski town, there’s great infrastructure, great hotels, and good food. There’s a good local bike shop as well that’s right by the [Platz] train station. They’ll look after you. I’ve stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel in the heart of town, which doesn’t necessarily have local flavor, but for me, it was something different, and it’s near the trails. I had a really good time there.”
Morzine, French Alps
“This is the go-to place in the Alps for downhill-orientated mountain bikers. The greater area between Morzine, Les Gets, and Châtel has an insane network of trails and chairlift access. It’s known for its pure downhill trails, like up on Super Morzine and Les Gets, but it’s not all gravity oriented. There’s a bit of everything. You can take the lift up and traverse, and there are cool enduro loops you can do there as well, so it’s definitely got it all. You can ride there for a week and not touch the same trail.”
“Morzine’s got quite good nightlife. The town is proper busy with mountain bikers—not quite as busy as it would be in the ski season but enough to give it a Whistler sort-of vibe. I recommend Bar Robinson, which is a bit legendary for its strong beer, called Mützig. A few pints of that makes for an interesting ride home.”
Aviemore, Cairngorms National Park, Scottish Highlands
“I’m biased, because it’s home and where I ride the most, but I have to include Scotland. Scotland’s got a booming bike scene—it’s something the government has embraced for locals as well as tourists. Aviemore, about two and a half hours north of Edinburgh, is a hub right in the center of the Highlands, with easy access to the Cairngorms, one of our coolest national parks, which is a stunning place with amazing trails, beautiful lochs, and Cairngorm Mountain.”
“I lived in Aviemore for a few years after I left school, and worked in a bike shop. Really recommend it. If you’re looking for a good bike shop there, there’s a place called Ride Cairngorm. They do repairs, sell coffee, and give good trail recommendations as well.”
Torridon Hills, Scottish Highlands
“If you want something a bit wild, and maybe fancy bikepacking, go up into the Torridon Hills, on the northwest coast of Scotland. The landscape is very beautiful, open, and raw. It’s all heather, bog, and rock. That’s what I consider the best kind of mountain biking—where you feel like you’re the only person around. But it’s proper rural Scotland. You definitely have to make sure you have a hip flask of whisky on you. I recommend it.”
“There are some really cool loops through the mountains with bothies along the route, which are small mountain huts that are free to use. The descents are amazing—we’re talking 25-minute singletrack descents. Coulags to Achnashellach is a notable one. It has a lot of stone, so wear tubeless tires and you can hammer down it. We also have the freedom to roam in Scotland, so if you see a hill, you can bike it within reason as long as you’re being respectful. If you’re prepared to stick a bike on your back, then you can hike up to the top of some pretty spectacular scenery and get some amazing rewards with the descents.”
“Honestly, it will be some of the coolest biking you ever do. It’s proper adventure stuff. Scotland’s not famous for its incredible weather, so it’s best to pack for all four seasons in one day. But when you do get nice weather here, I don’t think there’s many better places.”
Santa Cruz, California
“For me it’s quite a novelty getting to ride between the giant redwood trees. I feel like I’m an Ewok in Star Wars. There’s so much space compared to the tighter stuff we have here in Scotland. And the trails around Santa Cruz are amazing—loamy, fast, jumpy, and just good fun. The whole network flows really well.”
“There’s loads of stuff to ride in the area, but I couldn’t tell you any specific trail names, because there just seems to be so many and new bits popping up all the time. I’ve ridden there probably six or seven times, and we’re always going on new trails. I never know where I’m going anyway.”
“The scene is awesome. It seems like every local rips, and it’s easy to join up with different folks when you’re out. I always have a good time there—I’m talking about some of the best times I’ve had on a bike. The nightlife’s great as well. Loads of good places to eat. The Red Room is always a good laugh, or some of the dive bars around the place. There’s also good surfing if you’re into that. It never gets too hot in the summer. It’s a very hospitable climate, even for a Scotsman.”