When you hear about a trip to the Alps, you probably think about the good times you’ll have in the mountains there. Skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, hiking, but have you ever thought about mountain biking on the Alps? Any thrill seeker is bound to get their heart racing just thinking about it!
For travelers who have never been on a mountain biking holiday before, it really is a must. Every one of your senses will love experiencing the action and fun biking on the Alps will bring you. There are some basic information and quick tips to know when planning this holiday.
Can a beginner mountain bike on the Alps?
Yes! The trails available throughout the region are perfect for everyone from a novice biker to a really experienced one. If you’re the former, read these pro tips for beginners to get you started with what to expect on your holiday.
The experience level isn’t the only factor to consider when answering who can go mountain biking on the Alps. Age is another, and here’s the good part! A mountain biking holiday is perfect for a single ride, groups, and families, even those with young children.
It’s important to understand how different routes are colored, so you’re not caught off guard going down a run you’re not ready for. Green is ideal for beginners with their shallower descents and climbs, and blue is for those who have a moderate skill level. Red and black are reserved for more experienced riders because the trails can be up to one meter in width and present some technical challenges.
How can I be best prepared?
Whether you’re going slow or racing down the slopes on one wheel, you’ll want to make sure you’re protected. If you’re a true adrenaline seeker, you likely know that one wrong turn can mean the end of your holiday. Best to pack in a way to avoid keep injuries to a minimum.
Pack long pants and long-sleeved shirts that you won’t mind if they get dirty or torn up. These will save you from branches and gravel leaving their mark on your skin. You can opt for long shorts and long socks to protect your legs, too.
Close-toed shoes and socks are a must. Leave the heels and sandals at home to wear later when you celebrate your experience. A pair of gloves, similar to workout gloves, can help to prevent callouses on your hands when you’re gripping the handlebars, and they can help prevent your hands from getting torn up if you do take a fall.
Bring a helmet if you have one or rent one where you’re staying if they’re available. It might not be the coolest thing to wear, but better safe than sorry. No one cares what you look like when you are mountain biking, and dressing to protect yourself will keep your limbs and flirting game intact.
You’ll likely bring your own bike if you have one, but renting them is another option, just like helmets. Keep your budget in mind when deciding where to go mountain biking. Some places that host active family holidays might have free bikes for hire if you reserve a room with them.
Also, it’s a good idea to bring a backpack of some kind with you. A camelback, or another brand of hydration pack, is perfect for water while you’re out.
Consider bringing a few other items that can be handy like sun cream, snacks, a map of the area, and a lightweight jacket if it gets especially windy. A small first aid kit to put yourself together if needed and a basic repair kit for your bike aren’t bad ideas either.
Where should I go?
This is a little more difficult to answer because there are SO many amazing places to go mountain biking on the Alps. Here are some places to get you started.
Home to some serious biking competitions, this area is sought after by mountain biking enthusiasts. With 24 ski lifts for bikers and 4 bike parks open, there’s something for everyone here. Lifts are typically open from June to September, so there’s a decent time frame to book your holiday.
If you head to Bikepark Tignes, the skill level is geared more for intermediate riders and up. There is a small selection of trails for beginners to choose from.
Another bike park to check out is Tignes-Val d’Isere Bike Park. The biggest perk of this park: life passes are free! Every rider will find something that suits them because this park offers a mix of cross-country trails and elite trails.
The advanced and elite riders may enjoy Crans-Montana’s trails in Switzerland. This area has two downhill tracks that cover 765 metres of vertical distance along with over 100 other trails for other skill levels.
Take in a mixture of landscapes on the Crans-Montana bike circuit. You can take a printout of the 48-kilometre circuit to follow or keep a lookout for markers to keep you on the right path. This venture is fairly physical but rewarding as your wind your way through villages, vineyards, forests, and more.
Sauze D’Oulx, Italy
Designed and structured perfectly for mountain biking, Sauze D’Oulx is a biker’s gravity-defying paradise. These trails were built with flow and purpose in mind, so riders can optimize their experience as they please. Appreciate the trail’s natural flow while taking in the picturesque views or catch some air on man-made jumps that are occasionally present in the trails.
There are two chairlifts available to take riders to the beginning of the 13 trails in this bike park. You can also choose to take a vehicle up the mountain in lieu of the chairlifts. Regardless of the path you take to the top of trails, most end in the center of the village, so returning to your place of stay shouldn’t prove difficult.
For the true novice and lesser experienced riders, Morzine may be a better choice to plan your holiday. It’s a favorite for some celebrity riders to visit on their own holidays, so you never know who you’ll meet. Morzine is generally open for mountain biking from mid-June to mid-September like Tignes.
Before you turn down Morzine as a possibility because you’re more experienced, you should know that it is connected to five other bike parks through an interconnected lift system. Your lift pass from Morzine gains you entry to trails in Les Gets, Cal d’Illiez, and three parks.
Les Gets, France
Speaking of Les Gets, if you’re interested in trying your skills out on the 2004 World Cup route, this is the place to go. Open from June to September, this location is the training ground for world-class mountain bikers, including the French Mountain Biking team.
Just like other parks, there is a variety of trails for all skill levels. There’s even a kid zone for younger children as well as a jump area to get some serious air if you’re not afraid. Definitely be wearing all of your protective gear if you decide to take a turn in the jump area!
This is just the beginning of the many places you can mountain bike on the Alps. If you’ve only been a winter visitor to the Alps, now is the time to consider traveling there for your summer holiday too. If you’ve read this far, and mountain biking still doesn’t catch your fancy, here are some other high energy activities you can enjoy in the Alps that cover every season.