What comes to mind when you think of the Greek island of Crete?
MTB Enduro Nail The Trail?
Sun, sea, sand and partying, probably. Well, there’s plenty of that, especially in the little town of Malia. But there’s also more. Malia and its surrounding regions are beautiful areas to bike around, with a range of trails and off-road options. Everything from easy, flat paths suitable for families to highly technical mountain tracks for the experts is available. What’s more, the scenery is stunning. There are many mountains, valleys, deep gorges, picturesque rivers, lakes, and caves to explore. You may spot many varieties of the flora and fauna that are unique to the region.
With this in mind, local bike shop MTB Hub has decided to launch an MTB Enduro race to highlight the biking side of life in Malia. Part of the Enduro Greek Series 2021, it will take place from the 22-24th October. The Enduro Greek Series of races focuses on creating events with the best atmosphere, community, competition and adventure for all involved.
For the Malia race, named Nail the Trail, there will be four different routes, all very different. Beginning at the ancient Minoan archaeological site of Karfi, high in the mountains at 950m, the race ends at the beach at Malia. On the way, the natural conditions on the carefully planned route will vary dramatically. Parts are smooth and earthy, while others will be wild and rocky. You will cycle through plane and oak trees and on twisty back roads and village rooftops. The finale is a speedy and demanding descent down an old donkey trail. Its rich and advanced trail network, which gives a real taste of Cretan terrain. This is undoubtedly going to be a unique and unforgettable experience.
Throughout, complete support is available from the experienced team at MTB Hub (www.mtbhub.gr). Based in a 100 year old building, the company was founded in 2014 by a group of friends with a passion for biking. You know you’re in safe hands when your guides know every inch of every track in Malia, even those which have never been put on a map. They offer bike rentals, maintenance and tours, and several different types of bikes on offer, including electric. The friendly team are always ready to help, and you can ask them anything at all about the island, the town, or anything bike-related. They will have an expert answer with impressive insider knowledge.
For the race, you need to bring your own bike, but for general trekking it’s a great idea to hire one of MTB Hub’s. They are all of a high standard and immaculately maintained. Suppose you’d like to extend your stay before or after the race and try different racks and routes led by knowledgeable guides. In that case, they have excellent facilities with a vehicle and bike trailer to bring the bikes to the start of scenic trails so that you can just hop on and ride. These cover the whole of Crete.
Other activities on the island, besides biking, include birdwatching. There is a wide variety of birds on the island, including Golden Eagles, Bearded Vultures and Eleanora’s Falcon. The different kinds of terrain which make the island so interesting for visitors is also perfect for so many different types of birds. Coastal cliffs, marine, estuarine, scrubland, mountain and alpine forests provide habitats for local birds and migratory species. There are wetlands on the island that offer excellent breeding grounds and are home to various egrets, grebes, ducks, geese and herons.
If you are fortunate, you may also spot the shy wild goats or the Cretan Spiny Mouse, shrews, hedgehogs, weasels, martens and badgers, mice and bats. The flowers and plants are pretty breathtaking, too. They include rare orchids and tiny but enchanting native rock plants.
Greece is, of course, the home of a fascinating ancient civilisation and archaeological remains in Crete are quite plentiful and easily viewed. They include many ruins from the Minoan civilisation. Malia itself has the third-largest ruin on the island, Malia Palace.
Malia has the most gorgeous beach, with yellow sands and turquoise sea. If you want to sunbathe, this is the place to go. You can rent sunbeds and paddle in the shallow water, or, if you feel even more adventurous, watersports are available. As well as that, you can get a massage, use the beach gym, or get a drink and snacks from one of the many bars dotted around. Later, if you’ve had your fill of culture, you can hit the town and go clubbing.
The official accommodation partner for the race is Melissa Apartments (www.melissamalia.gr). This welcoming family-run accommodation is ideally located only five minutes from the old town with its bars and restaurants and ten minutes from the new town with its lively entertainment. Incredibly peaceful, it’s the ideal place to relax after a hard day on the bike and has its own cafe and pool with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.
Overall, the resort is a perfect place for a race with so many other things to enjoy too. We can’t wait for October!
Registration and more information for MTB Enduro Nail the Trail is available on
Genevieve Jones is a fashion historian and writer who lives in London. She is a terrible cyclist and a menace to others but enjoys it anyway