The Rough Riderz have just returned from another adrenaline filled week of downhill mountain biking, involving four wheel, three wheel and two wheel mountain bikes. The week was a huge success and the first time that the club has been able to use the ski lifts to get to the top of the mountain.
Some members of our Committee have had to jump through hoops to be able to do this, having been denied access to the lifts on our previous trip last year. These bikes are not the first four wheel machines to be ridden in the Alps but they are different from the other types of bikes that have been ridden there, so we were initially denied access to the lifts.
After a year communicating with the lift authorities, and taking the bikes back on a separate trip, we finally got approval to use the lifts. The effort proved well worth it as it meant that we could all ride together (without needing our uplift vehicle), giving greater access to the many trails that the Portes du Soleil has to offer. This enhanced the experience for the disabled riders, and further promoted the ‘fully inclusive’ nature of this exciting sport.
The lift attendants in Morzine and Les Gets were exceptionally helpful, getting the bikes and riders onto the chairlifts without any problems. The new Pleney gondola lift was a different story however, as unfortunately the doors weren’t quite wide enough to wheel the gravity bikes straight into the lift. So the riders had to transfer onto a chair, whilst the bikes were loaded on sideways, then the riders were helped into the next carriage. This wasn’t a major issue though and, after a few attempts were able to get in and out of the lifts fairly quickly, without holding up the rest of the queue.
Although we tried all the trails down Pleney over the week of our stay, the black run was the fastest and most fun to ride! From the top of the gondola it crosses an open, rocky top section which fires you round some small chicanes and into the top of the forest. Once into the woods the conditions were very sketchy after massive amounts of rainfall over the season. It became a battle to keep control of the bikes and stay on line, as we slid around in the deep mud. This whole run is steep, with small jumps, berms and a lot of trees to deal with, exiting on to a small, open area of the hillside before firing back into the trees again.
Further down the run the track had started to dry out a bit, giving better grip on the rough and rocky parts, before hitting some dusty sections of fire road. This had some a fast, flowing bends and two small table top jumps, before its back into the woods for another muddy, twisty part of the trail. After riding through a narrow tunnel, there are more steep, tree lined sections to negotiate, with deep ruts to avoid, and several different lines options. After some very tight final bends, with a couple of technical drop offs, the trail ends on the fire road. Its then a fast run, across rocks and drainage ditches, to reach the open area at the bottom of the lift station, with a small rock garden and hip jump to finish this crazy but exhilarating trail!
See previous report for more information…
■ La Roue Libre (Les Gets)
■ Tutti Frutti (Super Morzine)
The club was also able to offer two new guys the opportunity to have a go at gravity biking during our visit. A group of Swiss friends, who had been in touch with the club before the trip, arranged a surprise day of gravity biking for their friend, who had broken his back a year ago in a motocross accident. The look on his face when he finally realised what was happening was priceless! Michi loved the experience from the word go, proving to be a natural gravity biker, so we’ll no doubt be seeing more of him again soon.
The other rider to get a taste of four wheels, Dan Carracio, actually lives in France. Dan broke his back in a snowboarding incident 5 years ago, but after a few years of rehabilitating in London he decided to move out to Morzine. Dan only had time for two runs in a gravity bike, but he was immediately hooked too! So, hopefully we will be able to get some gravity bikes located in Morzine in the near future, so Dan and others like him can participate in this exciting sport on a regular basis.
Serge and Annick from Defisport (based near Martigny in Switzerland) came to ride with us on their three wheel Explorer bikes. It was great to see these machines in action alongside the four wheel machines. Unfortunately Serge suffered a rear tyre blow-out on his last run which meant he had to limp down the mountain, but that didn’t stop his enjoyment of riding the trails with us in Les Gets.
All in all it was a great week for everyone. We met a lot of great people, and our hosts at Bike Morzine were very friendly and helpful. They even interviewed us and filmed our activities for this Rough Riderz at Bike Morzine video. Plus, their excellent accommodation facilities at Chalet Arthur meant it was a great place to stay, for accessibility as well as it’s central location… and we will be back next year!