SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Les Carroz

Posted: Friday, 11 January 2013 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Today was my third attempt to skibike with Fabrice Mercier, was it to be third time lucky or three strikes and you're out? Luckily for us both, it was the former.

Last night it began raining heavily in Geneva, the forecast was for snow above 800m. I know that Morillon base station is at around 1000m elevation, so at some point on my drive the rain would stop and the snow would begin My first clue that the snow was getting close was watching the cars commuting in to Geneva in the opposite direction. First one or two with snow on the roof and then all of them. I was almost there, I was about to cross the snow line.
Sure enough the pattering of rain on the windscreen abruptly stopped and the whole world turned into total whiteness in all directions. I moderated my speed a little to allow for the snow on the road, no longer matching the manic pace of the Range Rover behind me, eagerly pushing closer towards Morzine.

I made it to Morillon almost exactly on 9, not bad for a 7:30 departure from Ferney Voltaire. I assembled the skibike, kitted up and headed over to my rendezvous with Fabrice in Les Carroz.
At altitude there had been a serious dump of snow, about 2-3 feet of fluffy wonderful. It was amazing that all the icy runs that had so humiliated me last week, could now be rode pretty much straight down the fall line at a leisurely pace.

I made my rendezvous with Fabrice in Les Carroz pretty close to our 10am schedule. Fabrice loves his snowboard everybit as much as his skibike and was desperately eager to surf fresh powder in the morning before switching to the skibike after lunch. I was keen to tag along, but SnowBlades aren't really suitable for powder, so I would have to do my best with the skibike.

I was expecting to bimble along easy blue runs, but Fabrice's lead me tricky red runs, where he could disappear off to the side into untrammelled snow. I was a little hesitant to tackle these runs, until I realised that the depth of snow meant that, for a while, I was having to push the skibike down the fall line.

Things got a bit trickier when he lead me onto a steep black run. I was struggling to find any method of riding that would work. Eventually I hit upon an unorthodox skibike riding technique in a superman style. Leaning right forwards on the handlebars, with my belly on the saddle and my feet trailing behind. I am certain that deep powder experts would be wetting themselves if they had seen me. But I made fresh tracks down a black run on a big powder day and lived to tell the tale.

The Beast - heavy at 20kg, but pretty close to bombproof

We had a quick 15 minute breakfast/lunch break and Fabrice released The Beast. The creation began with a broken and repaired downhill mountain bike frame. He has equipped it with Marzocchi forks and Fox coil/air rear suspension. His cousin, Seb Baix made a batch of axle adapters in very heavy duty steel, the sliding element is provided by Salomon MiniMax SnowBlades.
The resulting combo is outrageously heavy at 20kg, but pretty close to bombproof. I could sense though that there was an element of weight envy going on. Especially the relative easy with which I can carry my skibike over turnstiles, into telecabins and onto chairlifts.

Luckily the afternoon's skibike was somewhat less extreme, as Fabrice's last skibike ride had left him in hospital after a footpeg pierced his back, today he wasn't out to break any records. Considering the circumstances he rode very confidently, although I have to confess Evil Mark did enjoy a little schadenfreude to see him land a couple of right proper face planters.

Soaked and frozen, we said a very quick farewell and went our separate ways. I hope we ride again, my off-piste technique has improved no end.