Tag Archives: mtb

St. Niklaus to Zermatt, Switzerland – Day 6 of our Haute Route via Mountain Bike trip

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT as soon they’re up, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here:

AND, you can also check out my  super cool “relive” video using this link: https://www.relive.cc/view/1128518849

Day 6 was the final day, in which we rode to Zermatt Switzerland.  Since there are no cars allowed in downtown Zermatt, that meant we would have had to stay in the outskirts of town…and be further from Geneva for the next day’s transfer, SO at the end of our ride, we rode back to the same hotel in St. Niklaus to stay for the last night.

This was awesome because, for once, we didn’t have to pack our suitcases and load them onto the van before taking off for the day!

It was a sweet little break.

This time we were SO prepared for the cold, wet weather.  We had a complete change of clothes over-stuffed our camelbacks, to the point of bursting seams,  and, of course, a rain fly covering the packs.

We took a shuttle ~halfway between St. Niklaus and Zermatt then rode a semi-flat, just slightly uphill trail towards Zermatt where we went to the train station to view the webcams of the Matterhorn.

So unfortunately, the weather was super cloudy and overcast and even snowing at the top.   We never did even see the Matterhorn, but I imagine it was up there, being as beautiful and breathtaking as ever.  And we posed in front of a billboard with the Matterhorn on it, so that’s close enough, right?

Normally, we would’ve taken a gondola or funicular up to near the top of the Matterhorn and rode our bikes down, BUT due to the snow, we had to discuss alternate routes.  This snow meant that the trails would be completely covered at the top and very hard to navigate and the rocks would be especially treacherous.

So instead we rode about ~3,000 (elevation gain) up a winding jeep track, into elevations where there was first a light dusting of snow, then complete cover!!!

A little snack break and yoga

Here is a link from my YouTube channel of a cool little time lapse of the inside of this tunnel :  https://youtu.be/KsUnJQg0fUY

Once we were at Sunnegga, we built a snowman, then bought warm soup and changed into warm dry clothes for our fun, sometimes uber technical, descent in the snow!

It was the first time that I ever rode in snow!!!!…. so at least THAT was SUPER cool AND could be checked off my 50 before 50 AND my bucket lists!  Bright side, kids, bright side….

As we rode down the mountain, the snow was gone again, and we stopped for another snack break and cool pix of the little neighborhood below us:

This is our guide, Thierry!

We then rode up another climb for about 1,000 feet elevation gain to this area…

So that we could FLY downhill on a nice SUPER flowy, SUPER fun, bermed and pumped track and then rode into Zermatt!!!

Oh I wish we could’ve stayed in Zermatt WAY longer! My pictures don’t come close to doing it justice!!!! it was an AAAAMAZING town!!!!!

We finished our day, AND our 6 day tour with a ride all the way back to St. Niklaus, where we had dessert…

OF COURSE we had dinner first though!!!!

This is a picture of our EXCELLENT group, who were all kind, friendly, fun, super interesting and great riders from Finland, Spain, Quebec, Brazil, and of course, the States!

YAY!!!!! WE DID IT! WE COMPLETED THE HAUTE ROUTE VIA MOUNTAIN BIKE!!

Although I was bummed about the weather, and recovering from an ear and sinus infection, etc. , it was, without a doubt, an AMAZING trip.  I’m so glad that I was able to see these little villages of Switzerland that I would never have seen otherwise!

The food was incredibly delicious, perfectly portioned, and WAY more healthy than typical American meals.

The technical aspect of the trails was an AWESOME and a SUPER FUN, monumental, challenge and although I was slow, I was still proud of myself for all the climbing that I did throughout the week!

The downhills were absolutely epic.

I am sooooo jealous of the people who live in the areas that we rode!!!!!!  I can’t believe they get to ride that all the time!!!! aaaaggghhh…so jealous.

I learned so much, not only new biking skills and interesting new ways of teaching and awesome drills, but I learned how to cuss in Finnish (now I can proclaim “Pashka” in front of children and not get into trouble!!!)  and where Game of Thrones Dragonstone castle is (near one of the guys in the groups house!!!) and maybe, just maybe, I learned how to be a little bit tougher in cold, wet, weather!!!!

(i’m a Florida girl, born and raised, and for LIFE when it comes to temperature….if it’s below ~75 I’ll even ride with long sleeves!)

I’m forever grateful to our group and guides for being so awesome!!!  …and also for the ability to go on this amazing trip!

Here are some pix that I took JUST outside our B&B right before leaving St. Niklaus 🙁 *sniff sniff*

Grimentz, Switzerland to Unterbach- Day 4 of our Haute Route MTB trip

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics,  but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT as soon they’re up, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here, as well as one or two of the videos I took that day, which I will post on my YouTube channel:

AND, you can also check out my  super cool “relive” video using this link:  https://www.relive.cc/view/1125284379

On Day 4 we woke up early enough to walk around and take pix of Grimentz, Switzerland.  Loved it. (I put most of them in the Day 3 post, though).

Here’s us leaving the B&B that we stayed at:

As you can see, the morning was dreary

The weather DID clear up fairly quickly though! The ride started out with climbing technical singletrack, a lift, and doing a bit more hike-a-bike up to the border of the Francophone side of Switzerland into the German-speaking side of Switzerland.

The guys joked that we all trained all wrong for this trip as we should’ve included much more hike-a-bike in our training…then we visualized hiking our bike everywhere we went, including the bathroom, etc.  pretty funny stuff..

We stopped at a little farmhouse to eat our lunch but didn’t realize that someone actually lived there!  She poked her head out of the window and offered us coffee! super nice, and she spoke both French and German…

Then came the super steep switchbacks on a technical downhill.  Some sections were so rocky! I actually clipped out in the rocky section to catch myself and as I clipped out,  I slammed my ankle into the side of a rock hidden in underbrush HARD.  OW.  clipping out the rest of the day hurt so badly! My ankles are usually pretty skinny and bony! Not this one, not this time….

Below is the group waiting on the slower ones:

During the downhill, the woman who was close to my speed and her boyfriend hung back and worked on skills as they came down, whereas I was just bombing it and trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, all helter-skelter-like.

In the following days I definitely wish I would’ve done the same thing and focused on improving my skills more, because it just got more and more technical, though mostly due to the weather conditions,  and I really needed to have better technique.

Following all that downhill was the “forever climb” to Unterbach….  this was a LONG, 10 hour, almost 5,000 feet ascent, day and the most we could do is clean up, eat, and sleep afterwards….oh, and ice my poor ankle.

We didn’t explore Unterbach at all, although it didn’t look like it was half as adorable as the previous towns, so it was just as well.

Evolene, Switzerland to Beautiful Grimentz- Day 3

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland,  Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome!

…and here’s what happened on Day 3.

There will be no bike pix from me (see link for Dave’s footage once he’s uploaded it, below)…I woke up that morning, feeling HORRIBLY due to my sinus/ear infection and I looked at the radar, which showed a HUGE green and red blob COVERING practically the entire country AND a forecast high of ~37 F on the higher elevations.

So, I felt like pashka and it was absolutely inevitable that a VERY heavy cold rain would be falling on the group the entire day, so I had to bail.

Anyhow, I figured this would be just as good for the group as it would for my healing.  The ride that day consisted of climbing up, to the “Col de Torrent”, the highest pass of the trip (elevation 9,567 feet), then about the same distance descent to get to Grimentz.  The total ascent for the day was ~5250 feet, and  I did not want to have the group wait for me during that climb in the horrible freezing rain, and I needed to rest and get better!

Fortunately there was a doctor in the group who gave me some GOOD antibiotics, that actually WORKED, so I took those and SLEPT in Evolene until housekeeping kicked me out of the room at about 11:30AM.

I went downstairs to the cafe where Martial had been busy working all morning (our other guide, Thierry, was leading the group).  It wasn’t long before Martial got a call…”MERDE!” he said.  Apparently the group was getting HAILED on and the weather was so miserable that the group would not stop for lunch or any breaks, but would just plow through as fast as they could down to the next town, Grimentz.

We needed to be there and have their rooms and luggage all settled and ready for them when they came in, so we rushed by van over to Grimentz.  Ugh, I wish I had taken more pix of the INSIDE of SUPER COOL little B&B we stayed at! It was like a cave on the inside!

The group came back FROZEN! SHIVERING! BLUE!

I made a damn good choice.

Zero regrets.

You can see Dave shivering in his Youtube video.  I will attach the link as soon as he gets it up.  He did say that he learned a little trick for riding in cold weather: put one hand in your pants to keep it warm and ride one-handed, then switch (obviously not on the super technical gnar), but lol!

After an amazing fish dinner, we all crashed and i woke up early to tour Grimentz in better weather so that i could take pix!

Beautiful Verbier, Switzerland to the AMAZINGLY GORGEOUS Swiss town of Evolene- Day 2 of MTB trip

Evolene Switzerland

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics (because being one of the slowest ones in the group meant that I didn’t have much time to stop and take bike pix), but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT as soon they’re up, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here:

AND, you can also check out my  super cool “relive” video using this link:
https://www.relive.cc/view/1121844296

….and here’s what happened, and what we saw on Day 2:

at the Verbier lift station!
Views from the lift

We started the day with an INCREDIBLE lift ride on the Verbier ski lift up super high….the lift ride was amazing and gorgeous.  We then traversed along the mountainside on a fairly flat singletrack trail, riding through BEAUTIFUL wildflowers on the pass of the “Croix de Coeur”….

It was COLD so I was trying to work hard pedaling to keep warm, so I was pretty proud of how well i was hanging with the rest of the group.

We rode past cows on the reg

I should also mention that I was the weakest climber of the group.  even after training all summer on our teeny hills and then going to the mountains every other wekeend (sometimes more often) to get REAL climbing training in.  I was much improved compared to 2015, BUT still the weakest climber in the group.  Fortunately, for me, there was another woman there who was about my speed, generally speaking.  I was usually faster on the downhill, even though she was a stronger climber.  It was nice to have at least someone closer to my speed.

…AND I  was actually on antibiotics for an ear and sinus infection, and they weren’t working that well.  I was feeling much weaker than normal, and kind of had “PMS legs” (sorry guys, it happens) to boot.

Some of the singletrack was on this teeny ledge which was so SUPER scary, because if you did fall, there was nothing to catch you and keep you from going many, many yards down the side of the mountain. It was definitely an adventure!

Then came lots and lot of the climbing and the climbing on this day was SO TOUGH!!!!! AND some parts were soooo ridiculously steep and long that we had to hike our bikes up.

We rode everything, from gnarly singletrack, to jeep track, to hike a bike, to riding through incredibly adorable little villages…I seriously can’t wait to see the Go Pro footage!

I’ll never forget being at a traverse and our guide pointing to, what looked like, an impossible peak, saying that we were going there next.  We LAUGHED, we totally thought he was JOKING!!! or out of his MIND.

…he wasn’t….

Based on my Strava, that hike-a-bike was a 1,600′ elevation gain over 0.9 miles.  NO JOKE!!!!!!

OK,this wasn’t the peak i was mentioning, as THIS pic was taken on Day 4, but it should give you a general idea…

Then more technical downhill to get a shuttle to the town of Evolene, for those of us who were done for the day.  There was another hour long (or more, for me!) climb required to get to the top of “Sex Pey” before descending down to Evolene, so roughly half of us took the shuttle, and some of us rode all the way to Evolene.  The guys who rode got back late, whereas those of us who shuttled were able to shower and explore the adorable and interesting little town.  The architecture of the town was so unique, as most of the houses were wooden in the front and stone in the back, or vice-versa, depending on the direction that they were facing.  I can’t remember which direction the wood sides faced (South?) and the stone sides faced (North?), sorry.  I even tried looking it up-impossible!!!They also had some beautiful painting techniques on the stone part of a lot of the houses that are unique to Evolene. Get ready for tons of pix from there:

note the painting on the stone, unique to this region
more unique painting

What I LOVE about Switzerland and France, so many meals eaten outside!!!!
that’s a lot of wood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chamonix, France to Verbier, Switzerland Day 1 of our Haute Route MTB trip)

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here:

AND, you can also check out my  super cool “relive” video using this link:

https://www.relive.cc/view/1120448006

me, making silly faces, as usual!

And here’s what happened on Days 0 and 1 of the trip.

The trip is not self supported.  the company has a shuttle van that carries our luggage from place to place so we have it when we arrive at the next destination.  All lodging, meals & guides are included in the very reasonable price.

The company offers a shuttle from the Geneva airport to Chamonix on Saturday, the day before the riding starts.  Since flights to Geneva are more expensive and not direct, and international travel can throw your energy levels off, (which we don’t want before a biking trip!) we chose to fly directly to Paris, then take the high speed train to Geneva, and another commuter train to the airport where we were picked up and taken to our rental bikes and hotel for the night.

Dinner that night was at the most chic little restaurant, with the best pita I’ve ever had! i will find out the name of the restaurant and update this! Martial, our guide, briefly summarized the upcoming week…he didn’t make it seem too tough…. and gave me hope that I’d survive, lol.

Chic little restaurant with amazing food

we were EXHAUSTED due to jet lag, so very happy to get ready for bed after dinner!

Pics from a little stroll around Chamonix
Mont Blanc!!!
The morning of Day 1, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! 🙂

Day 1 was an easy day.  We got in the shuttle van and drove to the nearby bike park, Le Tour, then hopped on the lift and rode down super fun, flowy, switchbacky, downhill to a cafe/lunch spot, where we practiced some amazing bike skill drills that I have not seen before (and I’ve been to a fair amount of clinics in the states) so I picked up some great tips on cornering and positioning (and eating ice cream)and braking.

Unfortunately it was VERY VERY foggy that morning, which was SUCH a shame BECAUSE we had been to Le Tour before during our Tour du Mont Blanc MTB trip and if you could SEE the scenery and the view of Mont Blanc it is absolutely GORGEOUS….like straight out of a “The Sound of Music” scene…DEFINITELY post card worthy.  But alas, we couldn’t see it, and i really felt badly for those who had never been before because they were really missing out, BUT they didn’t know, so i guess that makes it not so bad?

THIS is actually a pic from the lunch spot from 2015…what we WOULD have seen on Day 1 if it weren’t so foggy -bummer-oh well…
Dave had a flat, and this illustrates the weather that morning!…pea soup! 🙁

I KNEW what I was missing out on 🙁

oh well, still a great experience that day, learning so much!

A shot from the trail, the weather was starting to clear up!!!

A fair amount of the climbing that day was lift assisted, so the riding was mostly FUN downhill, which was great…. AND the clouds lifted up and it got sunny towards the end of the day as we rode to Martigny, Switzerland, where we picked up a shuttle to Verbier, Switzerland.

Just some sites during our ride!
My riding buddy, Chantal, from Quebec! 🙂
The vineyards of Martigny Switzerland

It was a long day, and after cleaning up and eating a long DELICIOUS dinner, we were completely exhausted, so we didn’t explore the town at all.