SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Suprise Return To Avoriaz

Posted: Wednesday, 9 January 2013 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

This morning I made the morning "commute" as far as Taninges, a little market town in the Giffre valley, dating from medieval times. I absolutely love the place, it has a market square, old fashioned shops, cafes and lots of old stone buildings. It is not particularly touristic in winter, the vehicles with foreign number plates charge through on their head long rush to join the traffic on the Autoroute Blanche. Whilst I stop to take a picture, grab some freshly baked bread and today followed a sign up a side road to a "Chambre d'Hote" the French equivalent of an English "Bed and Breakfast".

Taninges - the vehicles with foreign number plates charge through

Tanninges is also somewhat of a transport nexus; Samoens, Morrilon, Les Gets, Morzine, Praz sur Arly and plenty of other key destinations are just 15 minutes away. Yet this is no sterile resort, but a proper little, living, breathing, garlic munching, community. If I can get back in the summer, I might stay a few days at the Chambre d'Hote and see whether Taninges delivers the vibe I so crave. And perhaps one day soon I am going to trade up from my semi-detached house in London suburbia, to my very own stone and wood built slice of heaven.

"Chambre d'Hote" French for "Bed and Breakfast"

I broke my reverie to call Fabrice and see if he would come out to play today, sadly he was still tied up, but has promised me a full day on Friday, this will be the last chance for both of us on this trip. My return to the UK draws ever closer, This would be sad, but I know I am only going back to pay some bills, clear a few jobs, before heading back again.

So whilst sat in the car in dazzlingly bright sunshine, cherishing the faint aromas of flint and wood smoke, I had to make a decision about where to head today? Two people involved in the chalet holiday business, have been in contact about trying a skibike session with me. Both are based in the Portes du Soleil region and obviously want to try it out locally. Decision made then, off to Morzine and scout out some good locations to guide a novice skibiker.

I haven't been to Morzine for a couple of years, I wasn't impressed then and as I arrived I was immediately reminded of the many reasons I dislike this resort. Even though it is now out of peak season, the streets appeared filled to bursting point with the sort of; Range Rover driving, designer skiwear posing, loud mouthed, fat, boorish Brits that the whole World must surely hate as much as I do. Next I had to find somewhere to park, which here you have to pay for, unlike anywhere else I have been recently. I trudged towards what I thought was the Plenney cable car station leading to some ideal learner runs through the woods.
But it turned out to be the Super Morzine telecabin that provides a life line between fat and fussy Morzine and lean, hard cored Avoriaz.

I hadn't considered Avoriaz as a begginer area, but I vaguely recalled that it did have some quiet, sheltered, nursery slopes, with a decent modern chairlift. I made my way along the ridge above Les Prodains and with each chairlift ride cleared another hurdle. The first liftie was unsure what the hell I had and what it was called. I explained and she took a picture of the skibikes AVEL label to send to the boss. The next was insistent that a skibike leash had to be attached to a leg and not around the torso, as my system does. I dutifully rearranged it to comply and another box was ticked, with smiles all round.

Before I even knew it, I was in Avoriaz, I remember most of the runs here being steep and fast, so chose to stay on the blue graded runs, such as the excellent Lac Intrets. I approached riding from the perspective of a day one skibike novice. Stayed to the side of the piste where there was snow with some give and ran through skibike training drills. The hockey stop, side slipping, the "cock a leg" turn, the drifted seated turn, etc. It was quite interesting to break down the moves you make automatically after becoming an experienced rider. I noticed how quite often on a long curving traverse, I will put in a short skid, to scrub some speed, before swinging across the fall line in the other direction. I checked my tracks behind me and the drills that I made cleanly and felt right left a trail that looked exactly like well carved snowboard tracks. Spooky, I always thought that the best lines to follow were snowboard lines. Furthermore snowboarders must crave the same soft conditions that also suit skibikes, grinding a snowboard down a rock hard piste can't be pleasurable, surely not?

Lean, hard cored Avoriaz

Finding the correct slope for a total skibike novice was of great concern. It would have to be something level with an easy gradient that would encourage the newcomer to play with the skibiking experience. Something with safe uplift like; a telecabine, cable car or big detachable chairlift. When you start to put these factors together options become limited, but I think I hit paydirt on the Proclou run below the SnowPark de la Chapelle.

I headed back towards Morzine in an odd mood, contemplative and neutral. Maybe this is how ESF instructors feel after a day of teaching the snowplough to; Rover driving, designer skiwear posing, loud mouthed, fat, boorish Brits from Morzine.


  1. tjbb says:

    I like Morzine. I'm not fat nor do I drive a range rover and although my wife may beg to differ, I'm not boorish either. If I were you I'd avoid courcheval.

  1. R Platt says:

    I like Morzine too but agree with Mark that Avoriaz is better and like you I try to stay well clear of the worst elements in Courchevel which is in a different league. I also like LandRover who advertise Snowbikes as an accessory! Pity I cant afford one