New on Sidetracked:

A Mountainbike Adventure: Malta

Chris Davies

This first episode in a series of Mountain Bike Adventures sees world explorer, adventurer and mountain biker Manu Bustelo head to the islands of Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean to ride the trails, explore the landscape and experience the culture. The trip is shaped by the people he meets on the islands.

This photographic journal takes a look behind the scenes of the adventure. Read the full story in Sidetracked Volume Two

Riding along the cliff tops in Malta. Photo by Chris DaviesA Mountainbike Adventure: Malta. Photo by Chris DaviesManu Bustello. Photo by Chris DaviesA Mountainbike Adventure: Malta. Photo by Chris Davies

Chris: I first met Manu via Instagram a couple of years ago. Our shared passions for travel, adventure and the environment brought us together to do a shoot in the Pyrenees. Instantly we hit it off, working together as if we’d know each other for years. Manu was the consummate professional; his years of working in the adventure industry as an athlete meant he understood the requirements of a photographer keen to get the best shots in the limited time we had available.

We stayed in touch and, over the following months, agreed we should plan our own project and ‘A Mountain Bike Adventure’ was born. Working with our sponsors, and backed by the tourism authorities, we planned an adventure that would see us explore the two islands of Gozo and Malta. It was our intention to let the people we met shape the journey, guided by a little research of a few key places to visit.

Manu arrived on the islands a day before me to Scuba dive at Xlendi Bay so I had the job of bringing all the kit. That meant two bikes, clothing, video and photography equipment as well as my personal belongings. I certainly drew attention as I tried to lug it all though the airport!

Manu Bustello Mountainbiking. Photo by Chris DaviesA Mountainbike Adventure: Malta. Photo by Chris DaviesNight riding in Malta. Photo by Chris DaviesSunset in Gozo, Malta. Photo by Chris Davies
We first explored Gozo, and rode through arid farmlands, tiny villages with giant churches and along cliffs with terrifying drops to the sea below. We watched the sun set at the natural arch at Dwejra and drank coffee in the Squares at night, whilst locals danced to tango music. We happened across a bakery where we ate typical Ftria, a pizza-like bread hand made fresh in front of us.

The journey by ferry back to Malta followed an enormous storm, the kind that gets you out of bed to watch lightning bolts strike into the sea whilst the booms of thunder reverberate across the sky. Needless to say, the sea was very choppy.

Malta brought about a different adventure. More people, more industry and crazy drivers. We made the best of the local advice and took in rides across the majestic Dingli cliffs and South towards the Blue Grotto. A hidden inlet at Migra Ferha gave us access down to the sea to a local where legend has it, Roger I liberated the islanders from the ruling Moors.

We thoroughly enjoyed our mountain biking adventure on the islands. The trails were varied, the back roads were quiet and the views were stunning. Throughout the trip, wherever we went people seemed surprised to see us. We came to learn that Malta hadn’t really discovered mountain biking. Maybe it’s due to the lack of mountains, or maybe just because mountain biking hasn’t yet found Malta.

A Mountainbike Adventure: Malta. Photo by Chris Davies

Chris Davies

“A Mountain Bike Adventure” is a series in which Chris and Manu take their bikes and explore places lesser know to the mountain bike world. The series explores the people, the cultures and the incredible trails and landscapes.

Twitter: @cmjdavies