SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Les Trois Vallees

Posted: Wednesday, 12 March 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I so knew this would happen, but at least I took precautions. It took me three days to acclimatise to riding an Avalanche Downhill Skibike but I didn't have as long to get back into riding my own skibikes. The next few days are going to be very busy and I only had an afternoon to prepare, furthermore I am going to be riding with at least one guest using my spare skibike. All my skibikes have been worked hard this season, so at this half-way point a pit stop and shake down is well overdue.

The weather in Geneva has slipped into Spring mode, trees are bursting into blossom and the first flowers appearing by the wayside. Having taken care of some essential chores, I hopped in the car around midday and whizzed up the road to the Col de La Faucille. It has just two chairlifts, and the runs though short, are varied and enjoyable. You can park right next to the chairlift, it is the perfect test track; make a circuit then head back to the car to make tweaks before the next.

I chose to start with my silver skibike, wow so light, it almost took off when I put it on my shoulder, feeling more like a BMX than a mountain bike. On the snow my first run was a bit sketchy, till I became used to the different feel. It is comically slow compared to the blistering acceleration of the Avalanche I was riding last week. On the other hand I am not intimidated by it and can let it go at the speed it wants. It is fitted with Head Big Easy skis, they are soft and flexible with very fat tips and tails. They bite the snow on turns, but are prone to squirrelling when running straight. I still love this little skibike, it is the perfect tool for an easy ride or to hand over to a novice. Like an eager puppy, it tries so hard to please and never bites you.

I only had an afternoon and the clock was ticking, so I assembled my black skibike. It is based around the same Marin frame, but in the large size and is fitted with Line "Mike Nick Pro" skiboards. Everything about this skibike is stiffer and harder, there's no flapping with these skis, but it takes a bit more effort to turn and on hard snow they can become clunky. With the stiffness comes both stability and speed, but let this skibike see your soft under-belly and it will eat you alive. The rock hard saddle invites me to ride standing up, which I do for the rest of the afternoon, Avalanche Downhill Skibikes what strange black magic took place in Bulgaria?

Black skibike - the rock hard saddle invites me to ride standing up

This pair are such a great combo, a soft and fluffy novice model that works well seated and a harder one for the intermediates that takes standing up better.

In the clear air of a warm afternoon in the Jura mountains, my clothes still carrying the scents of Bulgarian wood smoke and the Avalanche brothers roll-up cigarettes, I am close to Nirvana. It's Springtime and I feel like a bumble bee busy cross-pollinating Europe's ski slopes with the freestyle skibike concept.
Sharing the chairlift with another guy of similar age, he looks at my skibike and commented "You have one like the people in Grand Bornand who were on TV". "Yes, I retort, Mr Mermillod was my teacher".

I rode till the lifts closed, then nipped back home to change and headed South to Bride les Bains, situated just below the Three Valleys area, possibly one of the World's largest ski areas. Tomorrow, like a bumble bee, I will rise with Sun and set about doing a spot more pollination "On the double".