Xanthi is a city in North Greece in which, in the last few years, a big network of mountain bike trails has been built. These trails were first realized by a small number of local riders who started trail-building in the area circa 2003. Since then more progress has been made. In 2007 an internet blog was created so that an archive of the trails and the activities of the area could be maintained, being trail-building, the trails and the races that were organized. These trails (that are now also being used by hikers and trailrunners) exist exclusively because these local riders put all their effort, personal time and money, building new trails and maintaining the old.
Despite the fact that numerous attempts have been made to cooperate with the local authorities on this matter, all these activities don’t have their support and as stated above are realized by the local riders’ effort. That is why in 2009 “Mountain Active” was established, a non-profit NGO that aims to promote mountain biking in Greece and also promote Xanthi as a biking destination. Mountain Active organized the Xanthi MTB Festival in 2009 that included Cross-Country and Downhill races and the CG Downhill Camp in 2010 a seminar with well known French athlete Cedric Gracia.
Mountain Active also has created and maintains “Xanthi MTB Park”, a skills park for mountain bikes in private land, with multiple “lines” of jumps and obstacles, and has future plans of expanding it further.
In cooperation with the local “Flowride” Bike Shop (flowride.gr) Mountain Active organizes biking trips not only in the vicinity of Xanthi but in other significant biking areas such as Mt. Paggaio, Leivaditis area and Pamporovo Bike Park. There is also a youtube channel for these bike trips named: “Flowride TV”
The trails of Xanthi have a variety of difficulty and generally fall into the “all mountain/enduro” and “downhill” categories. The access from the city is direct and easy and some of the trails even end up inside the “old town” of Xanthi. The access is via a paved road that leads to two of the areas Monasteries (Panagia Archangeliotissa and Pagania Kalamou). Then following a fire road for about 5Km one reaches Xanthi MTB Park. The main network of trails is around that skills park in a radius of roughly 10Km. The surrounding mountains are mainly wooded, less densely when the altitude grows and more rocky when the altitude is less. Because of the low relative altitude the area is virtually “snow free” and the local topography allows for the quick drainage so that the soils is not very muddy during the winter months.
All of the above make Xanthi as a very unique area that one can do mountain bike 12 months a year. The ideal season for mountain biking is Spring (April – June) and Fall (September – November). For the remaining months, the activities are also relatively easy, the winter months being generally mild and wet and the summer months dry and hot.
The trails around Xanthi are 15 in number (without counting old hiking trails) and there is potential for a lot more.
Apart from the trails around the city of Xanthi, there are also other significant areas with trails within the municipality of Xanthi, the most significant of them being Leivaditis and Erymanthos on the Rodopi Range in the North, near the Greek –Bulgarian borders. This area is a special singularity due to its natural habitat. It’s a national park with virgin forests of beech, red fir and birch and lots of mountain biking miles potential in trails and old abandoned forest roads. All of the above compose a scenery very unique and pure that is met in only a few places in Greece.
The greater area of Erymanthos is mainly for “cross country” and “all-mountain” bikes and offers epic routes of many kilometers, adventure and activities of the “climb and ride” type, with the highest peak of the area being 1825m (Gyftokastro). Riders that visit the are must have adequate information or have a guide with them to avoid getting lost in the vast network of forest roads that in places is chaotic and leads to many dead-ends. Also the area has a lot of wild animal activity (for example bears) and visitors must respect the national park regulations. The area due to its altitude is not accessible during winter because of the snow coverage.
For more information on the areas of Xanthi and Erymanthos and also on the organized bike trips, please contact the Xanthi MTB Park manager and owner of “Flowride” Bike Shop Vangelis Georgiadis.
Mobile number: +30 6947810027,
blog: Xanthi MTB Park (http://www.jester777.wordpress.com/)
Shop: Flowride Bike Shop, Voulgaroktonou 18, Xanthi
Shop Telephone Number: +30 25410-67198
Shop Webpage: http://www.flowride.gr/ ,
Shop email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook page: Flowride Bike Shop
Youtube channel: Flowride TV (webisodes from our bike trips) http://www.youtube.com/user/Jester1411