Summer Skibiking - Neuss & Landgraaf

Posted: Saturday, 27 June 2015 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

For the last couple of years I have made a trip to one of the German indoor ski centres during the summer season. I love being a contrarian, whilst the normal people are heading for a day trip to the beach I am heading down the coast road armed for a trip to the fridge.

My mission this time was to rendezvous with fellow skibiker Timo at SnowWorld at Landgraaf in Holland. The bad news was that before I had even as got to Dover, the signs alongside the motorway were ominously announcing that Calais was closed and to expect long delays. My luck improved with the news that the ferry company were diverting their vessels to Dunkirk; a slightly longer crossing, but slightly closer to my destination. Having made it into France there were tailbacks on the roads which turned my anticipated 3 hour drive into a tedious 5 hour marathon to get to my overnight stop just outside Neuss, Germany.

SkiHalle, Neuss

Before my rendezvous with Timo I enjoyed a warm up session at the SkiHalle in Neuss, which is part of the Allrounder Mountain Resort. Although it had only been a couple of months since the end of the last SkiBike Blog tour, all the sedentary office work I have been doing recently has clearly done a good job of turning muscle into flab.

One of the chairlift operators, a keen mountain biker was curious about my ride, so I stopped for a chat about skibikes and the how an indoor ski centre operates. Here's a quick summary:

  • The temperature is maintained at a constant -5 degrees Celsius
  • Fresh snow is added every night
  • The roof is double insulated roof and the underfloor chilled 
  • At Neuss they pride themselves on having the best snow available

How so many facilities manage to make it through the thin summer months is a total mystery, it was so quiet at certain points that I had almost the entire facility to myself. It was the perfect moment to launch off the special race ramp at the top and put in some full speed runs down to the bottom.

SkiHalle Neuss - I had almost the entire facility to myself

I packed up in the late afternoon and made the quick drive to Landgraaf, just over the border in Holland. I had opted to stay on site, not at the main hotel, but at the Overstof instead, a renovated farmhouse nestled in a nature reserve.

I met up with Timo and we grabbed a quick bite to eat before making a twilight pilgrimage to the top of the "mountain" and made our peace with the mountain. Spiritually refreshed we then fortified our corporeal needs by knocking back some excellent Bavarian lagers he had stashed in the boot of his car.

Landgraaf - we made our peace with the "mountain"

SnowWorld, Landgraaf

SnowWorld in Landgraaf lays claim to be the largest indoor slope in the World, I knew of it as a popular destination for UK snowboarders. Until recently I had been under the mistaken belief that skibikes were banned at SnowWorld, that was until Franky, a local skibiker corrected me.

SnowWorld - skibike friendly

When it comes to indoor slopes, even the largest, spending a whole day inside such a small space can get boring really quickly. So once warmed up we decided to try working on the techniques that we felt needed improving. Riding backwards was one the neither of us could claim to have in our bag of tricks so we set up doing doughnuts on the snow. It is a lot trickier than I thought, but we sought of got it right a couple of times, the next challenge will be to get it right every time.

SnowWorld - summer practice makes perfect

After a light lunch we took turns to choosing which style of riding to make on the way down; sitting, standing, fast carves, skidded turns, etc. We finished off the day with a photo session, before packing away our kit and heading for the barbecue included in the price of our ticket.

Make each run in a different style - sitting, standing, carved, skidded, etc.

Timo was unimpressed by the length of the runs at SnowWorld, but then where he lives there are glaciers two hours away that remain open almost the whole year round.
 For a flatlander like me, it is still the largest indoor centre I have, or am ever likely to experience; add on the snow park with some intimidating features and some tasty cuisine all makes for a winning combination in my book.
With low season summer promotions, a day's ski pass and an evening barbecue can cost under €30, at current exchange rates that's £22, or about what you would pay for an hour in an equivalent UK centre. As it is only 3 hours from Calais with a clean run, I can see this becoming a regular off-season jaunt.

SnowWorld - I can see this becoming a regular off-season jaunt