SkiBike Tour 2014-15 - Falling Head Over Heals For La Clusaz

Posted: Sunday, 22 February 2015 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I headed out early following an invitation for a Sunday ride with Thierry and Stephane at La Clusaz. It is a resort I have been to a few times before, located adjacent to the neighbouring stations of Le Grand Bornand and Manigod and forming the Massif des Arravis domain.
As I crossed Geneva, it looked like it was going to be a fine day over the lake, but as so often happens in the mountains it was misty with the occasional flurries of snow. Despite the recent fresh snowfall it was not going to be the much fabled bluebird day one would have hoped for.

We made a rendezvous by the skating rink and began working our way around the resort. Skibikes can use all the gondolas at La Clusaz, including those that form mixed chairlifts, i.e. one gondola to every five chairs on the same lift. For a smaller resort there is quite an abundance of such lifts, giving you access to most, but not all areas.

Skibiker Stephane - he kept this smile up all day!

There was something most odd going on with either me or my set up; I would be perfectly in control one minute, picking lines and maintaining speed, then suddenly accelerate away at rocket speed the next. Perhaps it was the meagre 3 hours of sleep the previous night, perhaps it was such a sudden accumulation of heavy snow right on top of a rock hard base, making a schizophrenic contrast of riding mediums.
More than ever before I was left feeling that my mojo had deserted me and I had to pull every skibiker survival trick I could think of out of my bag just to get down in one piece. The last time I have fallen over so much in one day, was the first day I tried riding without foot skis back in 2012.

The bottom line is that you need to be able see what you're riding on; in the few intervals of watery sun that broke through cloud later in the afternoon, I could see finally see where the giant mounds of mashed potato snow were lurking and not just ram into them unawares.

I was impressed with La Clusaz, there is a wide breadth of different runs, including a lot of steep sections. The off-piste potential is enormous, if a little daunting in places. There were some bottle necks with the lift system, as is pretty much the norm anywhere over half term; before this visit I considered it a "family resort", but after today I can see that it has teeth too, sharp ones.