The Vezere Valley in the Dordogne, a region in South West France is the undisputed Prehistoric Capital of the World, and the place our Prehistoric Ancestors called home more than 460000 years ago.
Mountain biking in the Dordogne offers a unique experience, offering mountain bikers miles of trails that takes the rider through stunning ancient scenery, riddled with caves, shelters, overhangs, troglodytes, ruins and stunning views. The trails in the Dordogne are probably the oldest trails in the world.
In the past 5 years, the Dordogne has spent a lot of time and money clearing, marking and connecting hundreds of trails, creating a fantastic, well marked trail system. The downside is, that maps and / or trail books for mountain biking are non existent.
Walking Dordogne, is owned and run by “Duke” who I met a few years ago in Fruita and then again in Moab. Walking Dordogne launched Mountain Biking Dordogne, and they offer without any doubt the finest and most unique mtb trails in the Dordogne. Mountain Biking Dordogne have combined the best trails, linking them together creating a trail network that is second to none.
Quote from Mountain Biking Dordogne
We have spent the past 3 years creating a handful of Mountain Biking Trails, that have become the best trails in the Dordogne … Now we have taken another big step and have linked all our trails to create the fantastic an unique ” Neanderthals Revenge”.
Unlimited kilometers of off road trails giving every mountain biker an unforgettable experience.
Caves, shelters, troglodytes, medieval ruins, singletracks, downhills and lots more.
Without any doubt the best and most unique trail in the South West France.
I stayed at the beautiful 1000 year old B&B Ferme de Tayac while I did the trails in the Dordogne, and most trails actually leave from here.
Neanderthals Revenge is actually 3 completely different loops, connect to each other by other trails. This means that Neanderthals Revenge can be done from any direction, and can be as long as you choose.
The trail option I went for was clockwise, and started with a scenic easy climb through the medieval hamlet of Tayac, but after just 3 minutes disappeared onto a singletrack into the woods. The following 20 minutes is climbing up an ancient very rocky track. The track levels out slightly and takes you onto a dirt double track for another mile. A singletrack on the right quickly drops off, this is the trail you have to take, so make sure your gears are out of granny and you are prepared for a fast bumpy, slippery and grade 3 technical downhill.. choose your comfortable speed and your path, and stick to it, be easy on the brakes, ‘cos this is a “slip & slide” section.
The trail takes you down to a road, that you must follow for 2 minutes to continue off road. Ride over the bridge, and make an immediate left down the steep short path that leads to the river, continue past the canoe outfitter and follow the river for about 2 miles.. Cross a railway line, and take an immediate left and follow the double track for a few miles, passing a very picturesque medieval hub of houses. The trail leads to a rural road that you will have to follow for a few miles.. This road is a steep climb, taking you to the top, so keep telling yourself that you will soon be on a long sweet downhill singletrack.
The downhill is fast and fun, somewhat rocky, but technically a grade 2, however, there is little room for error at these potential high speeds.
The smile on your face will soon disappear, ‘cos you bottom out to a long and tiring climb, the good news is, you are nearing “Hells Gorge”
Hells Gorge is just under 2 miles, but believe me, it is steep, extremely fast, slippery as an eel in a bucket of snot, rocky, bumpy, blind spots and it bottoms out onto a busy road. Being Gung Ho on Hells Gorge is definitely not a good idea, and I suggest you do a “Granny Run” before you attempt this section… don’t get me wrong, Hells Gorge is not a technical run, as in “Technical” but due to a combination of all the above, it is a very demanding section, with zero room for any errors.
Two loops down, one more to do, and without doubt, we have saved the best and most unique for last. This is also by far the most technical section of Neanderthals Revenge. Anyone not comfortable with heights, and very narrow sections with extreme drop-offs should avoid this loop, or contact Mountain Biking Dordogne for an alternative section of this loop.
This section of trail is just mental, both physically and mentally, and you will spend some time walking your steed, sometimes ‘cos because you have to, and sometimes ‘cos you’ll prefer to.
I have done 100’s of trails worldwide, but never anything like this.. I was told to make sure I had flashlights fixed in the bike, but I did not realize I would be disappearing into caves!! Some sections of this trail takes you on a 4ft rock ledge with a 60ft sheer drop.. definitely not for the faint hearted.
Once you’ve topped out, you’ll spend a few fast miles on some fun singletrack that takes you to the final downhill section..
This section is an adrenalin rush, narrow singletrack that dives down through the forest, dodging the trees. You will feel like you are part of an extremely fast video game, you need to plan at least 3 trees ahead, cos the come at you out of nowhere.. There are 2 very short but grade 4 tech. spots on this section.
About 3 hours after I left, I finished this trail with a huge smile on my chops, thankful that I made it in one piece and still on my steed… I had conquered Neanderthals Revenge!!!