Lebanon has it all… including serious mountain biking. When searching the Internet, I early on came across the 6 minutes video on YouTube where Kenny Belaey rides the Lebanon Mountain Trail from border to border. If you have no clue what the country looks like and what it can offer in terms of biking – watch that video and you’ll get hooked!.
Anyway, such a video sets you up with expectations and I started to search for points of contact. Given the great mountain biking potential in the country there is not that much to find when searching, but I came across a serious bike shop – Bike Generation – and reached out. From the very first reply I knew I had found the people I was looking for.
Antoine from the shop passed on my questions to Issam and I was home 😊. Issam helped me out turning my trip into something very special and unforgettable. He is not only a very dedicated and skilled rider, he also has that great combo of friendliness and drive that I recognize from the people around me when I started out mountain biking in Sweden back in the 80-ies. And… he is by the way also the man behind the newly started Lebanon Mountain Bike Association…
People like Issam and his friends makes the world a nicer place. I hope to show them all around on my home trails one day. I was picked up from the city center by Issam and Elya and a bit up the coast we met up with Abdu and Sam and get our stuff into, and onto, a van.
But before leaving; some lovely newly made Knafeh.
We make another stop along the coast and pick up Dan. He offers me to borrow his almost brand new Specialized Stumpjumper Evo. Think of it… to a foreign guy he has never met and on top of it lets me make all adjustments that I want…. What do you say… A big Thank You Dan!
We are on our way to the Tannourine Cedar Reserve
At 1800 meters above sea level, we park the van and Sam will take it down the valley to meet up with us. We get going to the nature reserve entrance.
We will go for the “Summit to Sea” trail.
And yeah… guess who is behind that project… Yep, Issam and the guys! The beginning of the trail is part of the Lebanon Mountain Trail but then it continues all the way down to the coast. We will focus on the Enduro parts 😊. We drop in and enjoy biking between the very old Cedars – the symbol of Lebanon.
It takes a while to get into the riding that this type of rocky trail demands as there are many loose rocks, but the bike makes it so easy. The beauty:
We stop at a small spring to have some water. The heat is already noticeable even though we are still far up the mountain.
Is that a mountain bike rider that you can see through the tree?
Happy to see a Swedish fork in Lebanon.
The trail is great and includes some shorter uphill sections where I start struggling due to the heat, but we find some shadow for a snack and some rest.
We make it down to the village of Tannourine where Sam is waiting.
We want more and use the car some kilometers to cover a flat section of the trail and just continue to enjoy a fantastic day.
We stop in the small village of Boustane El Aassi, where an old donkey trail will take us further down towards the village of Majdal.
The combination of hot weather and green vegetation all over has its explanation… The mountain is full of springs bringing the water from the peaks above 3000 meters down to the valleys. In this case by some man-made canals.
The last part of the trail is something special. It’s partially carved out of the mountain on one side of a small valley. Small sections of uphill make you appreciate the downhill even more.
Finally, we depart from the Summit to Sea trail and meet up with Sam for a ride back to Beirut.
I knew it was going to be good but not this good. Being in a new country, meeting new people and just finding the vibe together after some minutes is almost unbelievable. Amazing people, biking, and lots of fun. What more can you possibly ask for? More of the same. And it’s there to be discovered. Well… And a beer enjoying the sunset 😊