SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Combloux Super Melange

Posted: Saturday, 22 February 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , ,

Here's a recipe for an interesting day out. First, take one ski instructor, blend in three engineers, a web designer, a youngster, one blog writer and season with a rapid skier and the result will be a super melange, a volatile mixture, moderated by a love of skibiking.
Today was indeed quite a special day, one that brought together a quorum of the French skibiking movement, enhanced by the presence of both website writers. This is the first time that Wayne and I have skibiked together on real mountains, previous attempts have failed to be practicable and indoor skibiking doesn't really count.

Skibikes at Combloux - a hassle free place to ride

We are riding at Combloux, I can't even recall why now, other than that it's a hassle free place to ride, with plenty of runs to play on. On any other day I could just turn up and ride, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing to prove. Today though, in many respects the pressure is on, I am riding with some of the best and most experienced freestyle skibikers in France. Some only know me through the Blog and Facebook group, will I live up to their expectations?

Cafe racers - coffee pit stop

It turned out that I shouldn't have fretted, today was much more of a social ride than a competition. That said, after some easy warm up runs, the lads were keen to test their form on the Boarder Cross course; a roller coaster ride of bumps, jumps and banked turns (berms). In some respects, it is as difficult as any black run, there is no room for manoeuvre and once you are committed, slowing down is all but impossible. I have to confess that it is yet another discipline that I need to work on. Even after familiarising myself with the all turns, I still found myself over cooking bends and getting ejected off the banking into the rough.

Today was much more of a social ride than a competition

On one long chairlift ride, I had a great opportunity to discuss skibikes with Jef Exertier who is both a regular E.S.F. instructor in winter and is also a pro Mountain Guide /  Alpinist in the Summer months. Unlike any other E.S.F. instructor in France, he now owns enough Firem VS skibikes to teach skibiking to groups of up to 6 at a time. Based at skibike friendly Grand Bornand, he is putting in many hours over the season, with most students ready to ride alone after just a couple of hours of tuition.
For some disability or age is preventing them from doing mainstream winter sports, others have issues with their confidence and some are just out to try a new sliding flavour. He heavily endorses the Firem VS brand and sees it as the only model for teaching in complete safety. Novices are sent straight on to the slopes using the unique rear braking system, safe to control their speed no matter how fast. He admitted that he was having a great day riding with peers, but tomorrow it would be back to teaching yet more English how to snow plough during half-term holidays.

After riding, we celebrated the occasion with an impromptu round of crisp Cremant d'Alsace and I bid a fond farewell to our riding chums. I was heading for St. Jean d'Aulps, to join Wayne and wife Lucille, where we will be staying for the weekend in a cosy "Coin Montagne". The irony of leaving one ski resort to drive for over an hour on roads covered in wet snow, to stay at another for a couple of nights was not lost on any of us.

These tiny rental apartments remind me of living on a yacht or caravan, you have everything you need, but it's a constant squeeze. If you want to sit down, someone else has to stand up and when sat on the toilet your knees are wedged against the door. To avoid claustrophobia we took a stroll down to the liveliest night spot in St. Jean d'Aulps and enjoyed some live jazz-funk. The band improved in direct proportion to the amount of beer we consumed, sadly their looks didn't, let's just say they had perfect faces for the radio. The odd couple blog writers holed up at high altitude, with time to talk skibikes and drink beer, as Jim Morrison might have put it "On a night like this we could plan a murder, or start a religion".

On a night like this we could plan a murder, or start a religion