SkiBike Tour 2010-11 - Grächen Snow Bike Race Week 2

Posted: Thursday, 31 March 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

After an early breakfast in an empty restaurant I went back to the Tourist Office to register for racing and collect my lift pass.
The races were to be held on the Furggen runs above Hannigalp. A leisurely 10 minute gondola ride takes you to Hanningalp but after that it is T-Bar access to the top. I can ride a Poma button lift pretty well with the skibike at my side, but doing the same on a T-bar, on your own, without someone else to counter weight, is a major balancing act.

The snow was hard and icy to start with, not the best suited to my skibike with its parabolic carving skiboards, but I felt I could probably get down the hill without disgrace. Other entrants began to arrive, eyed me up suspiciously, then carried on their practice. I was expecting them to be fast down the hill, but it was a whole order of magnitude away from the speeds I could obtain; I was impressed how they kept their skibikes permanently carving from one edge to the other at around a 45 degree angle.

What have I got myself into?

After a particularly nasty moment with the T-Bar going its own sweet way and causing me to painfully twist my legs to the point of collapse, I switched to delightful run back to the village and accessed by gondola. This was much less tiring, although I had to keep removing my front ski each time to fit in the gondola.

I steadily built up speed in the desperate hope that I hadn't completely lost my mountain mojo in my two month absence from the Alps.
Around 3:30pm with the run becoming increasingly slushy I had a spectacularly big tumble. The skiers I had just overtaken, helped to gather up the resulting yard sale and asked politely "Are you in the race tomorrow?" I put in just one more run, then called it quits, feeling more than a little battered and bruised by the day's practice.

Having showered and doused my aching legs with Deep Heat. I wandered back to the Tourist Office for the selection of race numbers. I met up with Richard Platt from the SAGB and the 3 French competitors who had all arrived that evening. After speeches by local dignitaries and even a blessing from the village priest the selection process began. I was expecting names to be drawn from a hat, but no, a slack line contest would determine your start place, those who got the furthest would start first. Having received my race vest, Richard Platt explained that he would be given lift passes later that evening for distribution at lift opening the following morning at 7:30.

I thought I had better get an early night in, but my legs were now stiffening up from their earlier punishments and I needed to take a stroll to unwind and loosen up a little.