The whole concept of our trips are that you get to do exactly the ride that you want to. If you want to minimize climbing and maximize chairlifts then it’s no problem. That being said, our trips are very much for folk who enjoy pedalling their bikes a bit. Every day will involve some climbing, that’s part of what makes mountain biking mountain biking. If you don’t want to climb at all, ever, there are plenty of companies endlessly running the lifts in the Portes du Soleil.
If you fall at the other end of the pain spectrum and want to avoid any chaiflifts and earn all your smiles then it’s no problem either. Just pick a week when the lifts are shut and we can offer options to skip the van uplift, no worries. You can talk through the different trails with us the night before, pick your favourite and off we go the next day!
– During July + August, yes. We don’t really do endless runs down the same blown-out resort trails however. Most of our lift based routes are designed to access more high level backcountry trails with a bit less effort. Some of the sweetest singletrack is miles away from the nearest ski resort or chairlift and anyway, there’s no adventure without some suffering!
During June and September most of the lifts are shut and the mountains are even more quiet! The routes tend to involve a bit more climbing but don’t let it worry you – our van uplifts can easily knock 1000m on the head before you start pedalling.
– funny one this. Our answer used to be ‘not really unless you use them at home’ but the rise and rise of E.N.D.U.R.O. as a way of life (sic) has had a lot of positive effects, one of which is an abundance of knee and elbow pads that are very comfy to pedal in. The result is that there are now very few reasons not to carry some form of protection. We love Bliss ARG vertical pads for their lightweight, all day comfort.
Let’s hope not! Seriously, if it’s you’re worried about your riding level then just get in touch with us for a chat. It might be a good idea to opt for one of our skills weeks just to be sure
Don’t be so cheeky! This is the Alps, so if you want it any higher or more technical there is always the option to do so. Just be careful what you wish for – if it all ends up on one of our ‘day off’ trails then don’t say you weren’t warned!
– Not exactly an exhaustive kit-list, but here goes:
- Spare brake pads
- A spare rear mech hanger
- 2 or 3 inner tubes and all of your regular trail tools.
- If you have any weird parts that need special tools then bring them too.
- A 2-3 litre drink bladder and a 20ish litre day pack to carry it in are ideal – you’ll have packed lunches and spare clothing to fit in too, hence the day pack.
- Finally, a little first aid kit never did anyone any harm…
On the clothing front, bring all of your summer riding kit –
- ideally 5 sets of shorts and riding tops, but there is a washing machine here for you to use
- or else just one pair of shorts and of lot of sudocrem 😉
- Add to this a waterproof and some cold weather kit (if it rains at 2400m it gets cold very quickly…) such as a long sleeve thermal, riding fleece, pair of tights and some warm under-gloves and a buff for your head.
- This is doubly true for late september, when the mornings can be a touch fresh. Also, don’t forget your sunnies!
- Any knee pads/elbow pads you usually use at home.
Aside from that, it’s just whatever clothes you want to wear off the bike and the usual camera, toothbrush, sun-tan lotion, passport etc. We have plenty of towels here if needed.
– Ideally yes, but if it’s more convenient we have a small fleet of excellent hire bikes from Whyte. See the bike rental page for more info.
– Yup, so long as it is set up to ride steep terrain (as in more ‘hardcore hardtail’ than XC race bike). Don’t be fooled by mags that insist you need 180mm travel front and rear – they’re talking about battering down endless euro style DH courses and that isn’t what we do. We do endless backcountry singletrack and for that you need whatever you’re happy on. Many of us ride on hardtails, primarily for the reliability they offer day on day. The majority of guests are on 120-160mm ish full sussers, as is the UK norm. Anything you’re happy to pedal all day and descend technical trails on will be fine. If you’re worried, why not have a think about one of our Whyte rental bikes.
– Something with volume, about 2.3” and plenty tough. Our faves include Maxxis High Roller IIs or Minion DHF up front and the new High Roller SS out back. Otherwise, Sam’s current fave combo is the Specialised Slaughter/Butcher combo with the tougher Grid casing. Very similar, bit a bit more expensive, is the Schwalbe Rock Razor/Magic Mary Gravity pairing – fast as sh@t but a super grippy combo too.
– Absolutely, about half of all people do. By the time you’ve tucked into your meal on the first evening you’ll have made new friends. And even if you’re a really horrible person, Sam and Co. are paid to like you so you’ll have at least five buddies!
– Yes, independently, as parts of larger groups and even dragging their other halves kicking and screaming! If you’re the only female in your group and would like to know there’ll be some more when you get here then give us a shout and we’ll point you towards the Girl Friendly weeks.
Of course! There’s lots else to do besides ride bikes. Chill at the farmhouse, sunbathe in the garden, go for walks, head out on a less demanding ride. See the Other Acitvities section for more info.
– Right, we’ll start with the basics and get progressively more anally retentive from there. Just follow the list until you can’t be arsed, chuck everything in your bag/box and you’ll be right!
- 1. Take off your pedals and wheels and refit the axles in your frame. Don’t worry about deflating tyres and shocks. we promise they wont explode!
- 2. Loosen your stem and turn your bars sideways or pull the stem + bars off the bike and tape them to the frame.
- 3. Undo your rear mech and tape it to the inside of your RH chainstay.
- 4. Either make sure the brake levers wont be squeezed or wedge something (lollipop sticks are popular, anything the thickness of your brake disc will do) inbetween your brake pads.
- 5. Remove the discs from your wheels so they cant get bent en route.
- 6. Pad your frame up with some lagging/bubblewrap/clothes.
- 7. Space out your front + rear drop outs. You can use wood, cut to size (either 100 or 110mm up front and 135, 142 or 148mm out back), old hubs from battered wheels, threaded steel + spacers or even special plastic spacers that bike shops might give you as most new bikes come with them.
- 7a. Ask Sam when you’re out and he’ll cut you some custom axle spacers from 20mm plastic plumbing pipe. Free, fast and effective!
- Enough already! If you can think of much more then you have too much free time!
June and September trips: After the hol + food, all you have left to cover is the wednesday rest day and beer + inner tubey type purchases. If you’re careful then about £50 will be fine and beyond that it’s totally up to you. You can bash the plastic in most places and there are cash machines that will accept nearly all credit and debit cards. Eating out costs from £6.00 and beer is around the same as the UK, wine of course is much cheaper, especially at the BV house where all the beer and wine is included!
July and August trips: As above but with some more for chairlifts, typically about €10/day.
– Most of your time with us will be spent basking under fantastic blue skies that would put a British ‘summer’ to shame, with temperatures firmly in the 25-32 degree range. However we are in the mountains and when it rains at 2600m you can get cold very quickly. We have even been snowed on in the middle of July, just after a 30°C day, so always be prepared for a little cold snap.
– How long you stay is entirely up to you. We give prices for one and two weeks, if you want more just let us know and we’ll give you a price. If you want to extend your stay while out in France this isn’t a problem, if we have room we’ll accommodate you or we can find you a place to stay in town.
Who do I have to thank for this wonderful website?!?
– The lovely Jim Clarkson at Jim Design He’s a graphic designer & illustrator for print and web design. He’s also a very tidy cyclist, a proud Dad and a very dear friend of BV.