SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Birthday Boy

Posted: Friday, 14 March 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , ,

Today was my birthday and I spent it in the best possible way, skibiking of course. It began with a rendezvous with Cedric Sabatte for another jaunt around the Three Valleys. It occurred to me that although I had the chance to ride his SledgeHammer Skibike yesterday, I omitted to pass comment on the ride.

In many ways it reinforced my original impressions when I rode one two years ago. The feel is somewhat soft and squidgy, not so noticeable when standing on the foot pegs, but very apparent when sat down. I am not saying this is a bad thing, it's just different to some other skibikes and might not be what you are expecting.

In spite of the chunky oversized tubing and motocross saddle, the new model is deceptively light, possibly more so than the one it replaces. The foot pegs appear to be regular mountain bike pedals and do an excellent job with plenty of grip. They rotate freely, which seems odd, but works a treat.
The skis fitted look like a bit like the first generation Salomon SnowBlades, for their size and weight they do an excellent job and are notable for their ability to hold an edge on icy snow.

It seems that these skibikes are set up to be drifters; a lot of the steering seems to be done from the rear. Anyone who has driven an "Old Skool" rear wheel drive car like a; Ford Capri, Opel Manta or BMW 3 series would feel right at home.

I find it hard to fault this model, if you are a blisteringly fast rider and want the ultimate performance machine perhaps it won't be your cup of tea; but if you are new to the sport and want a nice light, steady, all round skibike to take on holiday, it has to be top of your wish list.
As it is nearing the end of season, there may be bargains to be had on what is already already one of the best value skibikes on the market.

This morning the blue skies and spring snow trend continued, so we rode some very easy pistes around the Meribel and Courchevel 1850 areas, just enjoying the moment and not trying anything too technical. At lunchtime I had to say goodbye to Cedric, his afternoon was earmarked for skiing with his 6 year old son about to be set free from ski school. At the Rond Point we went our separate ways, I grabbed a quick Panini and chips, what the heck lunch, a rare birthday treat, then headed aloft once more.

I found some very easy runs down into Courchevel 1850, flat with a steady gradient they are the ideal carving runs and I was loving the sensation of rocking my skibike wildly from edge to edge sending snow spraying off in all directions and scaring the marmots.
I had read in my trusty ski guide that the relatively unpopular runs to be found above Courchevel-Moriond 1650 were good, so I headed toward the Roc Mugnier chairlift to find out. I am pleased to report that nothing has changed, the quality of the snow was so much better here and if you waited for a gap in the traffic, you could have the run to yourself.
Eventually I had to drag myself away and head back towards Meribel, but I am certain that when Thierry Avrillon arrives tomorrow, this sector of the three valleys will be top of our list of places to play.

Easy runs down into Courchevel 1850

All rooms were taken at the Hotel Les Gourmands in Brides les Bains, so for tonight I will be staying, in a little Gites (Bed and Breakfast) hotel at Feissons sur Salins. Heading through this tiny and remote high alpine village a weather beaten looking man, wearing a blue boiler suit and a beret, was skinning a rabbit tied to a tree branch, I hope it was dead.
Our eyes briefly met and he matched my sideways glance with a steely expression; as long as the locals don’t start playing banjos (or accordions) I might live till day break.