SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Conclusion

Posted: Thursday, 21 February 2013 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

With no plans for further snow based adventures this season (but I am open to offers) it is time to take stock of how the 2012-13 skibike season has turned out.
Things started off somewhat shakily as my car developed mechanical ailments with just days to go before my Christmas Eve departure. Some of them continued to plague me on route, I even ended up doing some MacGyver car park repairs on Boxing Day that, luckily, kept me going for another 1000 miles.

MacGyver car parks repairs worked for another 1000 miles

Upon my arrival to rendezvous with Carl Day for a few days warm up session, although there had been a lot of pre-Christmas snow, there was somewhat of a heat wave, it was even raining on day one, I was wetter than an otter's pocket. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles lead to some brutally icy runs down to Les Carroz and I had some quite unerving falls including one that really nerfed my wrist badly. There were no such problems for Carl Day who was having a ball on his Lenz Brawler. We met up with Mel who had bought Carl's old skibike and a couple of days later we managed to ride en masse with local skibikers Serge Mermillod and Thierry Avrillon.

Rain day - wetter than an otter's pocket

After Carl's return to the UK, I took some time off for good behaviour to give my body a chance to repair. Then I stayed local to Geneva and enjoyed some great riding in the Jura mountains to the North of Lac Leman. I had the chance to give my original DIY skibike a test at Le Grand Bornand, but found some aspects of the recent upgrades to the conversion sadly lacking. I had to work hard to find the sweet spot where my riding skills would work homogeneously.

Tested to breaking point - chinese made saddle failure

Staying in the Jura mountains, I visited the pleasant runs to be had at the Col de la Faucille. But then switched to skis for a loop around the Roc d'Enfer loop in the Portes du Soleil and switched back to the skibike for a terrifying descent down its face. Exploring the South side of Lac Leman it was a skis only day at Thollon les Memises with some stunning views over Lac Leman. I eventually reached breaking point, finding the limits of both myself and some of the components I use on my skibikes.

A relaxed afternoon in the Jura mountains

I made a few attempts to rendezvous with skibiker Fabrice Mercier and twice had to make a change to plan B, including an unexpected return to Avoriaz. I was starting to become frustrated by 10 things I absolutely hate about France. But on a stormy day, I crossed the snow line and Fabrice and I rode together at Les Carroz. Switching back to skis, I visited Bernex and the Dent d'Oche. After that I decided "Ca plane pour moi - That's enough for me" and headed home, but it was not to be for long.

A rendezvous with Fabrice Mercier - finally!

Back in London, I had a chance to consider 10 things I truly love about France, I rode my RetroBike around London on the snow, did a little urban skiing and organised a complex plan for February, I love it when a plan comes together.

A little late night urban skiing

I met up with Carl Day and Andy Upsullon in Flaine for a few days of non stop skibike riding in all types of weather. Old skool met new skool when SAGB chairman and skibob rider Ric Platt joined "the weirdos who ride without footskis" for a tour around the Grand Massif. But I think LenzSport skibikes are for fair weather riders, as the boys chickened out when the weather got really rough!

SkiBikers - Old Skool vs New Skool

After that I moved down the hill to a rented flat in Cluses which I shared with my cousin Paul starting his retirement. He thought he could take it easy, but on the first day of his holiday he had to hang out with the crazy skibikers at Avoriaz.

Crazy skibikers at Avoriaz

With the arrival of much colder and stormy weather we struggled through a foggy day in Praz de Lys and discovered that you have to know your Onnions! when it is snowing like La Glappaz.

I took part in the first SnowBike Race Night at Notre Dame de Bellecombe and both Paul and I liked the area so much that we came back the following morning and skied Praz sur Arly and the Val d'Arly loop. I had a family reunion with my sister in law and niece and the next day the SkiBiker turned into a ski instructor.

SnowBike Race Night

This lead to a crisis of confidence about my desire to continue skibiking, but my cousin Paul's first skibike lesson turned things around and I got my mojo back. I then revisited Les Contamines and managed some great riding till the piste patrol pointed out that it was a forbidden practice, oops!

Les Contamines - skibiker breakin' the law yet again

The following day I revisited Praz de Lys and Sommand, found that they are still skibike friendly, even if the liftie thought it was dangerous to ride without footskis and enjoyed some of the best off piste riding of the season.
My final visit to the Grand Massif invloved an epic ride along The Cascades 10 mile skibike run, possibly the first freestyle skibike ever to make the run? Then it was a switch back to skis to do the Val d'Arly loop once again, but this time in the reverse direction.

Les Cascades - the first freestyle skibike ever to make the run?

It would have been a dull experience without such good company, so my thanks in no particular order go to:
Carl Day for his relentless enthusiasm, Andy Upsolon for sagely advise, dry humour and a very neat "I love skibikes" T-shirt and ro Ric Platt for some great stories from back in the day. To Serge Mermillod and Wayne Richards for pushing me into the whole pegger/freestyle method, Thierry Avrillon for heading first down the "cacahouettes" Crazy Crozats run, Fabrice Mercier for getting back on his skibike in spite of what happened last season and to Mel for giving it another go on one of the busiest pistes, on one of the busiest days of the season.

To James Mollier, Vincent Berod and the other Brenter riders of the Val d'Arly for letting me have a go at their race in my own unconventional manner.

To the "clan" members who took part; well done Sofia Kinnon for making it down 500m of vertical drop in total whiteout using just the snowplough ski method, thanks for the yummy Bolo Rei to her mum Isolette and  thanks to my sister Colette Kinnon for the use of Geneva base camp alpha and use of a spare car at a second's notice. Lastly, to my cousin Paul for some fantastic high speed ski cruising and for keeping both feet on the pegs whilst trying out one of these skibike things.

My cousin Paul - keeping both feet on the pegs

Could next season be any better?

Every season there is one track that you hear played everywhere; in the bars, supermarkets and on the radio constantly. This time it was "Shine bright like a diamond" by Rihanna.



  1. Come on over here. March is our snowiest month in Colorado. Steamboat, Aspen, Telluride, and Winter Park have gotten tons of snow in the last week. Still have a fair bit in my front yard too. I plan to skibike until A-Basin closes sometime in June or July. I"m going to drive over either to Steamboat or Aspen/Snowmass next week.