After an eventful drive back through a mixture of storms and sunshine we are back home from our trip to Morzine and the Portes du Soleil, where we were spoilt with some of the best mountain biking available in Europe…
When you get up at 6am and drive for over ten hours you need to know that when you arrive at your accommodation you will be greeted with a warm welcome and somewhere to relax in good company, and when we arrived at Progressive’s (www.prgmtb.com) Chalet Montana we were not disappointed. Zeb and Aime are great hosts and run the chalet in a manner that makes your stay relaxing and enjoyable, especially if you are trying your hardest to break yourself on the many downhill tracks that are on offer in the area. We grabbed a nice cold beer, unpacked our bikes on the sunny deck and settled into our home for the week.
Chalet Montana is located in Montriond on the outskirts of Morzine which makes it ideal when you are planning your assault on the mountains, a ten minute ride to the Super Morzine or Pleney lifts in Morzine or a short drive to Les Lindaretes to be able to access Châtel and the Swiss parts of the PDS
Pass’Portes du Soleil
Oneof the main reasons for our trip was to take part in the Pass’Portes du Soleil event, a 80k mountain bike trek to all corners of the Portes du Soleil that showcases the variety of terrain available for riding and clocking-up an amazing 7000m vertical descent.
We started our epic adventure in the resort of Avoriaz, this gave us a fast “wake-up” descent into Lindaretes and allowed the groups of riders to distribute so we would not get held up with lift lines from the beginning. Getting off the Chaux Fleurie lift from Lindaretes we started a 500m 12.5k descent with the awesome Chatelline trail, and kept on decending until we reached Châtel. With our next lift being the Super Châtel allowing us to pass over into Switzerland and on to Morgins we took a quick stop to refuel.
The organisers lay on some great rest stops around the route to make sure everyone is suitably fed and watered, to the extent that you don’t just get the boring old water and fruit, there is a whole host of fantastic meats and cheeses available as well as Tartiflette, Swiss chocolate (of course!) and if you fancy it beer! The chances are you could easily consume way more calories than you actually burn riding.
After Chatel we headed into Switzerland, and the resorts of Morgins, Champoussin, Les Crosets and Champery. On this long Swiss leg of the route there were some excellent DH options to take steeper and more technical routes to the next lift and avoid long and boring road sections. The non DH trails wern’t without their obstacles either, as it isn’t every day your singletrack is blocked by alpine cattle or inquisitive goats.
Once back over the border into France we took the opportunity for another food stop at Les Lindaretes via the downhill option, a trail with berm after berm leaving roosts of dust behind us and smiles on our faces. By now we had broken the back of the route and only had the Morzine/Les Gets loop left to go. With fatigue starting to kick-in due to the 27 degree heat in the valley we were glad we were getting close to the end. Our choice of final loop gave a good blast from the Pleney bubble down into Les Gets to the Chavannes chair. The route from the top of Chavannes is good but had a very steep climb up the side of the golf course that made us think that we possibly left one of the harder sections till last.
We found the Pass’Portes du Soleil an absolute blast, the organisation and signage make it easy to navigate and we were blessed with a distinct lack of punctures or technical issues. With an event where you are given a number plate you will get some people who take it far too seriously and think that it is a race, but most people we met on our way round were having fun and enjoying the day which meant we came away from the day thoroughly tired but looking forward to returning next year to do it all again.
The rest of our week consisted of hitting a selection of the bikepark trails in Morzine, Les Gets, Chatel and Les Crosets. In all of these parks there are trails to suit riders from intermediate to the hardest of hard core that like to hit massive river gaps and drops.
We could go on about all the trails but here is a few of our favorites:
La Serpentine, Châtel (www.mountainbikeparkchatel.com)- Don’t be fooled into thinking that this 3k green graded trail is for beginners, after an intial traverse to the trail head this is a fast roller coaster ride with huge berms that will make you smile all the way down the 500m vertical descent. This is a great run for all levels of rider
Canyon, Les Gets (www.lesgets.com) – This is black graded, a tight rooty gulley run with loads of options, including gaps and raised woodwork. We did laps of this section and didn’t get bored with the variations.
Crosets II, Les Crosets (www.bikepark.ch/bike-vtt) – Newly rebuilt this is a fast and flowy red graded trail with otions for table tops and hip jumps all the way down. Short and sweet at 1.1k long loosing nearly 300m vertical in no time at all.
Grand Conche, Les Crosets (www.bikepark.ch/bike-vtt) – This trail is also known as the Swiss National course, a black graded trail that will definatley get the heart going. From the fisrt roll in to the bottom you are on a tight rocky trail with catch nets on every switch back making you say to yourself “don’t look down”. The numbers say it all 485m descent in under 2k!
A full gallery of photos from our trip can be found on our Facebook page here