Many visitors head to Jamaica for relaxing beach vacations; however more and more Canadians are heading to the island for adventures on two wheels. The mountain biking experience in Jamaica continues to develop, thanks to a company called Singletrack Jamaica (formerly SMORBA) and their Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival.
The Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival has been running since the mid-1990s, but really took off when riding enthusiasts Andy Giles and Jonathan Gosse took over organizing it in 2007. The festival is a weeklong, laid-back roots, rock and rum tour running from February 16 to 22 this year. The week starts with a "Bicycle Bash" kick-off party in Ocho Rios and then travels to various trails across the island, including Jamaica's famed Blue Mountains and rides along Dunn's River.
At 7,402 feet, Jamaica's Blue Mountain Peak is the highest summit in the English-speaking Caribbean. In addition to steep terrain, there are a number of other factors that make riding in Jamaica such a unique experience: interesting and varied trails, stunning scenic vistas, and a true "local" experience with trails going right through smaller towns and villages.
Canadians have been some of the biggest supporters of the Jamaica mountain biking industry. Several Canadians, particularly visitors from British Columbia, attend the Fat Tyre Festival and return year after year. This year, videographer Connor Macleod and James Biluk will be participating.
This year's festival is so popular it has already sold out. For those who can't make the festival in February, Singletrack Jamaica is offering custom guided riding trips for visitors. Singletrack Jamaica organizes an entire week of accommodation, guided riding, shuttles, food, and of course... rum. Attempting to ride independently not recommended as signage and trail maps are limited. Visit www.singletrackjamaica.com for more details.
"Jamaica has fantastic mountain biking trail networks across the island," said Jamaica's Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook. "Mountain biking events like the Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival or a custom tour with Singletrack Jamaica offer a unique way to experience our island's spectacular scenery, flavours and culture."