I’ve just spent a week over in the Portes de Soleil region of the alps, running a mountain bike riding and skills holiday. If you don’t know it, this area is on the French / Swiss border and includes the mountain biking hot spots of Morzine, Les Gets, Chatel and Champery. Obviously I was there to work hard just like I do every day back at home, but I did manage to get a feeling of being on holiday and away from the usual routine. Clear skies, hot sun, epic views, amazing singletrack, chairlifts, alpine meadows, big berms, dust, roots and the odd bit of wine and cheese certainly helped transport me out of my usual daily existence.
I found that I did a couple of things differently as well. For one thing I stopped wearing breathable riding tops, replacing them with cotton T shirts as they were better suited to wearing with my elbow pads and they just felt a bit more, well, relaxed. I also stopped wearing padded under shorts as they just felt too bulky and hot and besides I was standing up most of the time as the lifts took care of the climbs. It was a bloody hard life as you can tell. In T shirts and underpants made of cotton I went forth and I did not die. Hot and sweaty just like normal and then eventually dry again. I didn’t go as far as abandoning my back pack, but it was nice to just do bike riding things a little differently.
Then I was offered an opportunity to ride a bike in a way that I never have done before. I didn’t wear any bike specific clothing, not even needing helmet and gloves, never mind knee pads or special shoes. The ride itself was very short and ended in a painless and quite exhilerating crash. If you’ve never tried a lake jump and you get the chance, seize the opportunity. Pedal like mad, aim at the jump, push into it with your arms and legs and just launch. You can try a trick, a tweak or just hold on rigidly like the proverbial ‘dead sailor’. It really doesn’t matter. Don’t let go of the bike unless you can get it away from you as you hit the water and you’ll be fine. In fact you’ll be hooting with laughter. The only time that I’ve gone under water on a bike before, was when I fell into the river in Hebden Bridge on a night ride, whilst trying a daring but ill fated step up move. Choosing to go in is much more fun I can tell you.
Back in England now and it isn’t called ‘the home of the weather’ for nothing. Shafts of sunlight have been replaced with a good old shafting of rain and it looks like it’s going to be time to start embracing the slither again. Getting wet is all part of the deal, and I’m happy getting back into it UK style, but I can’t wait to do it differently again and launch into that perfect alpine lake next year.
Many thanks to Chalet JoJo, who we were staying with, for organising the lake jumping barbecue as part of our stay. You can find out more about this great value and friendly chalet, run by Jo and Tony, in St Jean de Aulps at winterandsummer.com
Here’s a little video of our fun. Happy days.
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Posted on: July 23, 2010 by Ed-O