Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just returned from 2.5 wks in Europe, about half guided riding in Switzerland (& "Italy") and half just chilling in Portugal & Switzerland. What an adventure! A group of 4 of us from Norcal (all on this forum I think?) met up for a memorable trip:

Arriving in Switzerland & riding Lourtier/Verbier:

All of us flew into Geneva separately and made our way by train to Lourtier, a small ski village very close to Verbier. Not surprisingly, Switzerland has a great rail system and we all brought our bikes. The inn we stayed in was very nice with great food and amenities, and was owned by an avid mtber (he rode an immaculate blinged-out SC HT) so we had a great setup to build and wrench on our bikes. It was fortunate that I had been in Portugal for 5 days prior to this so I had already adjusted to the time change and slept like a baby. I would need the rest!

Sky Daytime Mountainous landforms Cloud Mountain range
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Day 1 ride: We met our guide, and acclimated to the terrain / elevation and did a relatively moderate ride which included a lot of flat traversing with a bit of climbing and some pretty short & sweet local descents. We learned the term "Swiss Flow" which means the tightest, steepest f-ing switchbacks you will ever see (usually next to an exposed cliff!), and the term "French Lines", or the fast, fun lines that cut through the switchbacks (I gradually learned that in Europe the French apparently have all the fun, while the Swiss apparently think work and suffering is fun).

It had been storming like crazy recently so dirt was pretty much primo - trails drain quick there. We took a lift way up to the top of Verbier and then a big hail storm rolled in so we had to take cover at a little hut at the toip of the mtn. that of coursed served coffee and fondue (these things are on every mountain in Switzerland!) The hardest part for me on day 1 was riding by all these amazing looking trails with perfect dirt in the bike park. I asked our guide why we weren't riding these trails?! She said something about not killing ourselves on the 1st day.

Mountainous landforms Highland Cloud Mountain range Hill


Window Wall Facade Fixture Door


Sky Cloud Mountainous landforms Mountain range Winter


Mountainous landforms Mountain range Highland Ridge Mountain
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Day 2: Original plan was to ride to Italy but storms made us re-think that, so we rode well-draining local trails in the rain - a lot of steep "Swiss Flow" and a fair amount of climbing - when you hear climbing in meters it doesn't sound to bad: only "700 meters of climbing!". Highlight of this ride was taking cover and finding a bottle of some sort of Swiss pear Schnapps that had been there since WWII - damn if that wasn't good & we ate good that night as well! Not a lot of riding pics - it was too wet!

Drinkware Bottle Glass bottle Drink Liquid


Food Cuisine Dish Dishware Tableware
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Day 3: Ok this sh!t gets real now!

Today just a casual drop through the alps into Italy for a quick pizza & wine. This is probably the most scenic suffer-fest you can do. Between the 2-hours of hike-a-bike up the Swiss Flow and the fire road climbs, I think we did over 1700 meters of climbing at elevation - lots of breaks because of the suffering but equal parts pain and scenery! Dropping into the other side of the Italy we were introduced to Italian Flow, which is very similar to Swiss Flow but with huge loose rocks everywhere - one of the most techy trails I've ever ridden - think closer to war than mountain biking. The descending was almost as much work as the climbing. We earned our pizza, beer and wine today.

Nature Mountainous landforms Natural landscape Natural environment Highland


Wheel Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame Mountainous landforms Bicycles--Equipment and supplies


Mountainous landforms Bicycle handlebar Highland Bicycle frame Outdoor recreation


Wheel Bicycle frame Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel Bicycle wheel rim


Aircraft Airplane Geological phenomenon Space Aviation


Bicycle Mountain bike Bicycle wheel Adventure Bicycle tire


Tire Bicycle wheel Wheel Mountain bike Bicycle frame
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Day4: Moved to Val D'Anniviers and stayed at a hotel at the peak of a huge mountain. We rode some very exposed and pretty gnarly, rocky, rooty Swiss Flow that was part of some European Enduro race - it was super fun but punishing and we were beat down - our guide was ready to take us on more Swiss Flow, but we spotted a small lift-served bike park and kindly requested that we take a break from Swiss Flow and do some party laps in the park - our guide looked puzzled but said go for it - it was a small but fun bike park - imagine riding N* just to ease up the punishment - that was where we were at!

Nature Natural environment Wood Public space Sunlight


Food Cuisine Tableware Ingredient Dish
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Day5: Goldielocks to Zermatt

More Hike-aBike and Swiss Flow today, but it seemed easy after Italy, plus we got some help from some lifts today and did over 10K ft. of descending with about only 2K of climbing so that was nice - lots more great scenery and cows today - after our descent we headed to Zermatt - we quickly learned that it was a couple days before Swiss National Day (think 4th of July) and after seeing very few people the previous days, the place was a zoo!

Mountainous landforms Highland Mountain range Mountain Atmospheric phenomenon


Nature Blue Mountainous landforms Water resources Highland


Mountain bike Bicycle wheel Mountainous landforms Bicycle frame Mountain biking
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Days 6-8: Zermatt

Zermatt was a tourist zoo especially b/c of the holiday, but lots of trails, lifts and options to ride to get away from the craziness! Also, more rain to get the trails all tacky and keep the tourists indoors so that was pretty nice! Trails were lots of fun and there were a lot of options to freeride fun slabs and make your own trails, but while I don't mind a few steep, tight switchbacks, and have gotten very good at riding them, I don't think I'll ever understand why the Swiss love them this much!

One funny twist about having all these tourists from all over the world around is that I think they were almost more interested in watching us ride and taking pictures of us than they were in anything else - for most of us this was just fun technical mountain biking by half-decent riders, but I got the idea that they perceived us as extreme pros! I like the idea that we are probably going to be featured in more than one family post-trip slideshow in China!

A bonus to being in Zermatt during National Day was that we were treated to an epic fireworks show - spending lots of that Swiss bank $$% I guess. And of course, you have to take way too many pics of the Matterhorn.

Mountainous landforms Highland Mountain range Mountain Slope


Bicycle wheel Plant Mountainous landforms Bicycle frame Plant community


Mountainous landforms Mountain range Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel rim Highland


Footwear Bicycle wheel Wheel Tire Mountainous landforms


Tire Wheel Shoe Helmet Rim


Body of water Mountainous landforms Natural landscape Reflection Mountain range


Drinkware Bottle Alcohol Alcoholic beverage Glass bottle


Mountainous landforms Mountain bike Bicycle wheel Mountain range Mountain biking
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
360 Posts
It was fortunate that I had been in Portugal for 5 days prior to this so I had already adjusted to the time change and slept like a baby. /QUOTE]

I hope you had the chance to ride in PT as well, if not I'm afraid you'll just have to go back. I'll definitely plug WeRide.PT who were excellent guides and outfitters who I will absolutely use again.

As to this whole Swiss/Italian riding thing...those trails look cool too, I guess. ;)

PS- Amazing trip, thanks for sharing all the pictures and details!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Summary: Switzerland is a wonderful country in so many ways and I think we all enjoyed the cultural experience and scenery every bit as much as the riding. Generally speaking, the trails are tight, twisty, exposed, steep, technical, rocky, old-school, punishing and fun! I found their "flow trails" to be a bit tight and twisty for my personal taste and I didn't see much in the way of modern, progressive trails.

This an extremely expensive place to visit even coming from the Bay Area, so bring money! The food is top quality and fantastic (if maybe a bit repetitive and lacking in anything resembling spice). The wine is exquisite, and of course the cheese and chocolate is the best you'll ever have. The beer is a bit lacking (unless you like plain lagers), but oh well!

Would I recommend somebody go ride there just for the mtb trails alone? Probably not - it is extremely expensive and there are much, much better trails a lot closer to us, but if you want an amazing cultural experience with some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever see, it is definitely worth it!

Mountainous landforms Highland Hill Slope Mountain


Wheel Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame Bicycle Mountainous landforms
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,652 Posts
Awesome trip report! Been in Verbier and other places in CH in the winter, but have always wanted to ride those trails in the summer. Such great terrain!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It was fortunate that I had been in Portugal for 5 days prior to this so I had already adjusted to the time change and slept like a baby. /QUOTE]

I hope you had the chance to ride in PT as well, if not I'm afraid you'll just have to go back. I'll definitely plug WeRide.PT who were excellent guides and outfitters who I will absolutely use again.

As to this whole Swiss/Italian riding thing...those trails look cool too, I guess. ;)

PS- Amazing trip, thanks for sharing all the pictures and details!
No Portugal was no riding, just relaxing and sightseeing with my wife - unfortunately my bike just sat in the airport in a bag! - I will definitely go back there and ride though especially considering how inexpensive it was - it was kind of the exact opposite of Switzerland, but I loved them both!
 

·
Mtbr Founder
Joined
·
35,500 Posts
man, oh man, oh man!!

My boys are getting after it. Getting after bike life, getting after rad life.

Days, months, years just come and go so you have to take the effort to do great things like this to make your mark on time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
Solid report Skyno. I'd add that our guide from https://www.ridebig.com/rides/cloudraker (Myriam Saugy) was top shelf amazing. She really made our trip special. The wild flowers and butterflies were lovely. The tourists gawking at our radness was terrific for the ego.
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 27 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top