Hello, I'm an American living/working in Tokyo. I have four weeks off (beginning the last week of July) that I would like to spend part of that time mountain biking somewhere in Europe and was hoping those living in different areas of Europe could offer some insight into where I might like to spend some time riding.
Some quick background information about me: I'm originally from Colorado, and so am very familiar with spending time in the mountains hiking, camping, skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking (particularly around Telluride and the San Juan mountains). I'm 40 years old, but am fit. I'm used to the thin air found at high altitudes, and never have issues with altitude sickness. I spend about a month every summer mountain biking in Colorado (mostly in the desert around Fruita/Grand Junction... the conditions are very similar to Moab). I don't have any real experience riding fully suspended bikes. I ride both a fully rigid, geared 26" bike and a single speed 29er with suspension forks (Surly Krampus with the 3" tires). I don't think anyone who saw me ride would be especially impressed, but they would think I look comfortable and confident enough on a mountain bike. I'm not into bombing down hills, and my riding doesn't necessitate a full-face helmet or armor. I prefer technical/semi-technical assents and descents to catching air. I'm feel like I'd be classified as an intermediate rider. I would most likely want to rent a bike for the time I'm on holiday.
Ideally, I'd like to find a place that offers easy access (by easy, I mean, no need of a rental car or boarding a train, just riding the bike to the trailhead) to a high enough number of quality, diverse trails to make staying 7-10 days worthwhile. I am open to camping as well as staying in a hotel or bungalow. But price of accommodation would be an important consideration.
Some reading this might be thinking, "Why doesn't he just go to Colorado and ride?" Good question. The riding itself in this instance isn't all I'm looking for. I want a mix of riding/culture (restaurants/cafes, a drink or two in the evenings, etc...)