24 lifts, 400mi of trails: A few days in the Alps with flowmtb
When we were ‘in the neighborhood’ on other business earlier this summer, we took the opportunity to drop in on and spend a few days with the good folks at flowmtb in Morzine, France. Though most riders know the Portes du Soleil ski area (which spans two countries, thirteen resorts, and fourteen valleys) for its established freeride and downhill scene, there are literally hundreds of miles of incredibly scenic trail for cross country and trail riders to explore. And what better way to explore this massive area than well rested, well fed, and armed with extensive local knowledge? The price may surprise you…
Offering what the British call “catered chalet holidays,” flowmtb maintain two chalets in the mid-sized town of Morzine, which is well situated to take advantage of the entire Portes du Soleil area. Several bike-adapted lifts leave directly from town- or the more ambitious can pedal straight up from the chalet to quickly access some wonderfully quiet areas. Breakfast and a 3-course dinner (with beer & wine) are provided daily (save Wednesday) and reasonably priced picnic lunches are also available. flowmtb don’t skimp on the eats: during my stay, my late arrival was greeted Carl’s otherworldly banana and chocolate crepes- and once set the standard was met at every meal.
Drawing on Sian’s extensive first-hand experience, I was able to put together several fantastic rides that met my personal preferences: beautiful scenery, a few epic climbs, and little but my thoughts and the tinkle of cowbells to keep me company. Signposted trails are everywhere, pointing the direction to the next pass or picturebook settlement- making navigation with the loaner maps or GPSs reasonably easy for even me. When the mood struck, a hop on the next chairlift or tram (an amazing 24 accept bikes and are accessible with the same pass) could net 30 minutes or more descending. More aggressive guests spend their days on one of 24 world-class and World Cup downhill courses and six terrain parks.
When the day’s riding is done, a bike wash, workshop, and hot tub are available to mend bike and body. Afternoon tea is waiting (in the form of home made cakes and cookies), which seems very ‘right.’ Dinner usually runs late and there are plenty of bars within stumbling distance (treat the Mützig beer with caution; the local Brasserie du Mont Blanc Blonde has fans on both sides of the Atlantic). Then it’s off to bed (the rooms are cozy and typically have two beds, but bathrooms are en suite).
The cost for seven days/six nights and a dozen fantastic meals? €498, which works out to about $610 at the time this was written. The bigger component for those of us in the Western hemisphere will be airfare. Flying into Geneva is rarely cheap, but last minute or advance deals can be had. Be sure to factor a bike into flying costs: bike fly free on British Airways, which can save a bundle on rentals. The folks at flowmtb put together a fantastic vacation- for which I quite happily paid and would pay again.