Mountain Biking in Morzine
Mountain Biking in Morzine
Mountain biking is becoming more and more popular these days. Anyone who has visited one of the many UK trail centres on a bank holiday will know this.
Mountain biking is undoubtedly great fun and is a brilliant way of seeing the countryside while getting some exercise and and an adrenaline rush. Many of More Mountain's summer guests are people who have decided to take this experience up a notch by mountain biking in Morzine.
Why Mountain Bike in Morzine?
Mountain bikers experience all of the sensations mentioned above, but on a whole different level!
Morzine is in the Portes Du Soleil, which is mountain bike heaven!
This area has trails that run for thousands of kilometers, many of which are serviced by the lift system used by skiers and snowboarders in the winter. For mountain bikers, Morzine is a great base to access the whole of the Portes Du Soleil.
Morzine has many bars and restaurants and fantastic accommodation making it the perfect place to relax after a great day in the saddle. There are also plenty of other things to do and events to keep you occupied if you fancy a day off the bike.
First time Mountain Biking in the Alps
If you have never been mountain biking in Morzine, you need to be prepared. Experienced mountain bikers will absolutely love it here. There is an abundance of enduro and downhill trails to challenge the best riders. But this doesn't mean that novices and intermediates should be put off.
There are a few things you should know to help you get the most out of your stay...
Mountain bike trails in are rated in difficulty just like ski runs. Green is the easiest, then blue, then red and black being the most difficult. However, just like ski runs, these ratings can vary in different areas of the Portes du Soleil. Also, weather conditions can make a big difference in how technical a run can be.
If you are used to riding trail centres in the UK, you will be familiar with the difficulty ratings. But usually here in the Alps, a downhill green is similar in difficulty to the blue run at Llandegla.
The trails here are accessed by the lift system. You will need a lift pass which is purchased in Morzine village at the Pleney Gondola or Super Morzine telecabine. The lifts make the man made downhill runs very accessible from Morzine and they are seriously good fun. Some are laden with berms, jumps, drops, rocks and roots and some are relatively smooth and undulating.
If you are a first time mountain biker in Morzine we recommend trying a green run first so you can gauge what you are letting yourself in for. In the past Les Gets was a good starting point, but the runs tend to get very bumpy (think riding down a staircase). So first timers should head up the Super Morzine side of the valley. From the top of the Zore lift, there are two new green runs to get your legs in. Do those once or twice, then hit the blues and reds straight away!
There is an amazing blue run called Tutti Fruitti at the top of Zore. It is long and twisty, with a few jumps varying in size (you can avoid them if you want) that will get your heart racing and have you whooping like a redneck.
If you fancy a pedal, the Portes du Soleil is fantastic. There are many routes ranging in distance, whether you want a morning pedal or a two day bike packing adventure there is something for you. This book has some great routes, a good one is the "chapel run". This route takes you to the Chapelle a Jacquicourt, a small chapel in a forest that acts as a great pit stop after a pedal with incredible views. After lunch, bikers enjoy a superb downhill ride back into Les Gets, with some great techie sections.
What you need
Helmet and goggles
A helmet is a must, as you will not be allowed on the lifts without one. We recommend a full face helmet. I know some enduro riders think that full face helmets are uncool, but walking around with a mouth that looks like a broken piano is a lot less cool.
At More Mountain we all wear knee and shin guards while biking. After sliding down a rocky trail on my knees a few times, my hard plastic leg protection has become my favourite biking accessory.
Gloves and Elbow pads
Elbow pads and gloves are also a great idea. Normally your hands are the first to hit the ground when you go over the bars. Gloves also help with grip on the handle bars.
Backpack with spares, water, snacks and suncream
Spare inner tubes, pumps and mini tools are all things to consider taking on the mountain. You really don't want to be stuck in Switzerland with a technical fault miles away from Morzine. The temperatures during summer 2015 and 2016 were between 20 and 40 degrees. Therefore a hydration pack is a good idea, you can also refill them from any of the water troughs around the mountain fed by natural springs.
Although most of you is covered up, but suncream will prevent sunburn and dodgy tan lines created by your protective clothing.
Mountain Bike Trainers
Although not essential, if you are using flat pedals these make a huge difference to your grip. They are almost like being clipped in, but you can easily put your foot down or jump off quickly if necessary.
My first experience of mountain biking in Morzine was on a hardtail. Although my old Kona Hoss was great for trails in North Wales and the Lake District, as soon as I took my bike off the chair lift I knew I was very unequipped for the task ahead.
Unfortunately I couldn't get a new bike in time for the Pass'Portes du Soleil event, so I was shaken to bits on the 85km ride (I did get some jibes (and kudos) from some of the lifties on the way round). However my trusty old bike finished without so much as a puncture. There were a few new squeaks and rattles though.
A good hardtail will get you by (but will shake you about), make sure you have decent tyres and brakes. A £150 bike from Halfords will not survive these trails.
There is no substitute for a proper full suspension bike though. It will be more comfortable and give you more control over the bumpy stuff, making it more fun.
Some of the bikes you can hire in Morzine are fantastic. They have to be, as the terrain is pretty tough on bikes. There are many hire shops, but our favourite is Torico, located opposite Bar Robinson.
Book well in advance online as Torico are very popular and bikes get hired out quickly. They also have experienced bike mechanics to fix any problems you will have with your own bike.
We also recommend Intersport, and Pleney Sports who are now offering adults, kids and e-bikes.
Bringing your own bike
Lots of our guests drive to Morzine, but you can still bring your own bike if you are flying. Here are some great tips for travelling with your bike. When booking your transfer from Geneva airport, tell the transfer company that you have bikes to take to resort. They will make sure they have a big enough vehicle or a trailer. Skiidy Gonzales, our preferred transfer company will transport your bikes to Morzine for free.
Mountain Bike Lessons
For beginners or family groups we suggest that you book a mountain bike guide or instructor who will be able to take you onto the trails most suited to your abilities, and teach you the essential skills necessary to progress your riding.
RideAbility are our recommended mountain bike coaching and guiding company.
The Bike Academy is a great option for families as they offer a half day package which includes bike hire, tuition, helmet & protection and the lift pass.
Although the trails are signposted, it's always worth looking at the map to plan your day and make sure you don't get lost or stuck somewhere when the lifts close.
You can download trail maps for Morzine Bike Park, Avoriaz MTB, and the full Portes du Soleil area here.
Get out here!
When we arrived in Morzine I knew next to nothing about mountain biking. To start off with I was petrified every day on the mountain, but confidence is growing and I have definitely caught the bug.
I don't profess to be an amazing mountain biker, but riding in Morzine has taught me a lot. I will never be a steezy downhiller that will do the river jump in Chatel, but it goes to show anyone can have an amazing time here...and that's why we live here.
Have a look at our self-catered properties, all in great locations near the lifts or centre of town, and several come with secure bike storage for your peace of mind.
By Tom Fortune
Summer in Morzine
About the author