SkiBike Tour 2011-12 - La Clusaz with Firem

Posted: Thursday, 2 February 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I planned to meet with Serge from Firem and test out his new 2012 model the Firem VS512 and today was the day. This involved a painfully early 06:30 start in order to drive down the hill to Cluses on snow chains. Before a quick burst up the Autoroute Blanche to Bonneville, followed by the 30 minute ascent to La Clussaz.
We met at the car park De Balme of the Aravis ski resort of La Clussaz, late but hopefully acceptable by Galic standards.
My last visit to this resort had been a bit of a non-event due to skibikes not being allowed on chairlifts, leaving a meagre selection of gondolas that appeared to serve all the worst runs. I soon realised that this was probably an unfair assessment, Serge's local knowledge got us round the whole place without mishap.

Serge likes to describe the VS512 as his "carving" model, there will be a full report later, but my first impressions are that it is; small, light, agile and indeed is very good at carving.
If you have the intestinal fortitude to get the correct amount of lean, this machine will make 360 degree carved turns.... I managed a 180 degree turn from about 20 mph on a gentle nursery slope.
It feels like like an ultra-modern lightweight evolution of a classic racing skibob, I even have a gut feeling that with a few tweaks it could be entered in a FISB World Cup race.
The low sitting position suits on piste riding best, but can be taken into the rough when needed. You might need a couple of runs to adapt, but once "dialled in" it inspires trust and confidence.

We met an Australian couple on a day trip from Annecy, they were curious about the skibikes. At the top of the nursery slopes the man took off his skis and poles and had a go for the last 500 metres, though wobbly at first, he was already in the swing of it by the end of the run.

After a "picnique" lunch break, thanks go to Serge for a lovely bottle of wine and delicious fresh French bread and pate all a world away from a typical English picnic of boiled egg sandwiches and stewed tea from a flask.
With the serious business of testing over Carl and Serge made videos and played games of tag with each other, whilst I bimbled along taking in the scenery and savouring every moment.

It would be great if La Clussaz opened up chairlift access to skibikes, this seems to be affecting all variants of skibikes including traditional skibob types. I know that the French skibike club are trying to resolve the issue for the 2012-12 season, I hope they are successful.