Road Biking in Morzine is seriously popular. This is because you have “easy” access to the famous cols and the best views of the Portes du Soleil.
Tom Falkner, is part of this Summer’s apartment’s team, and is a keen roadie. He jumped at the chance to join a guided road bike trip from Morzine with Velovation. Here is his account on how he got on.
Being a Roadie in Morzine
It’s great being a road biker in Morzine, even if like myself you are new to the sport. You can pop along to the tourist office and grab a Guide Cyclo. This guide has 12 great road biking routes that start and finish in Morzine. The routes are graded according to their difficulty from green to black, just like ski runs. There are some routes with possible variations, if you fancy making them longer or tougher.
Even if you are not super fit, the guide has 3 or 4 easier rides that are ideal for less experienced riders. These take you up some testing cols, with some incredible views.
However, the other rides in the guide can be quite daunting. To ride these routes, you need a lot of know-how and be prepared to carry a lot of stuff (or buy lunch).
For example, ‘les cols en vallee vert’, which is only a red route, is 80km and has 1400m of climbing. This means, you are looking at a good five-hour ride. You will be negotiating a couple of main roads and following a map to complete the loop back to base. Which is a ski village at 1000m. Therefore, the majority of rides end with an uphill. Which isn’t always the most fun way to finish you day.
Riding with Velovation
The bright sparks at Velovtion offer day trips out from Morzine, to some beautiful locations. You can embark on trips to Annecy, Yvoire, Chamonix and Evian, via some infamous Cols.
The idea is, that you get to go on a hassle-free bike ride. One of the Velovation team rides with you, keeping the group going in the right direction. This is great, as they offer advice on technique and pace, while the other drives all your spare kit in the support van.
They even have lots of supplies including, lunch, water, protein bars, energy and soft drinks (basically everything you could wish for from wiggle). They also carry spares such as inner tubes and cables, in case of an emergency. Oh, and the driver takes pictures of everyone throughout the day, which are shared with you via a google folder.
All this for €75, considering its €40 for a one-way transfer to Geneva airport from Morzine. You basically get all of the Velovation service for €35 then a reasonable taxi back to you home!
Tony from Velovation called to invite me on to one of his cycling day trips. This was ideal, as I had been wanting to go on a guided ride since the start of the cycling season.
The plan was to ride to Annecy, via Romme and the Col de la Colombière. This is a route has been featured on the tour de France over the past few years.
However, the night before, I received a text from Tony. He said that one of the other riders had picked up a little injury. Therefore, we were going to do an easier ride down to Yvoire, a small picturesque medieval town on lake Geneva. The route is 90km, with 3 smaller climbs and some rolling hills. This was great for me, as I was getting a little nervous about the 110km with two serious climbs to Annecy. The Velovation guys made little changes like this all day, ensuring all the riders got the most out of their trip.
I met Tony and Paddy in Rhodos at 0845, as I live just up the road, and had a quick coffee. Then Paddy and I cycled to where Adrian was staying, via Lake Montriond and met Tony with the van. We had a quick chat about the route and set off.
We negotiated the main road out of Morzine through Saint Jean, and down to Le Jotty, which wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. This was because riding in a group at a good pace gave me confidence, and I didn’t really feel bothered by the traffic.
We turned off up to La Vernaz on much quieter roads, and had a short climb followed by a super fun speedy decent to Le Brevon. I have been struggling with confidence on the descents recently, and mentioned this to Paddy. He immediately suggested I tried make “S’s” while going down straights. This technique gets you used to the feeling of your weight shifting from side to side. We climbed up to Lulin for a coffee and cake, which was also included.
A properly supported ride
As it turned out, Adrian, the chap with the “little injury” was super fit and dropped me on everything. So, when we set off up the Col de Feu, I was left chugging away. This is a short 4km Col, but 8% most of the way. I got about half way up, where I found paddy and Adrian at the side of the road tending to a flat tyre on Adrian’s bike. Paddy had a C02 canister, so I left them and carried on up the Col.
I met Tony the top who replenished my water and gave me a banana. He then went to help the other two. But, as he set off they came over the crest of the hill. So, Tony put a bit more air in Adrian’s tyre with a track pump and we were good to go.
We had an 8km decent with barely a car in sight, although we did have to overtake a tractor. I had managed to drop my bike at the top of the Col de Feu and bent the derailleur hanger a little, which I didn’t notice until we started the climb up the Col de Moises not a steep as the previous but twice as long.
I managed to ride most of the way up the col, until my chain came off and got stuck behind the sprocket. Paddy came down to help me, as Adrian was having more tyre issues 100m up the road. Paddy managed get my bike running again, and we finished the climb together to the lunch spot to wait for the others.
The Best Sandwiches
We had sandwiches from the Bonbonniere, and I can tell you as a chef that has been working in Morzine for three years are the best in town (if not the whole of les portes du soleil), so this was a real treat.
We had some melon and a few other snacks, while Tony put my bike on the stand and sorted out my gear shifting. I’m not sure if we were unlucky with having problems, but if I had been on my own it could have made my day a lot tougher.
After lunch, we were back on the downhill practicing Paddy’s aeroplane technique in the corners, which was a lot of fun (he’s a ski instructor in the winter so was really good at giving us tips). We then hit our last major climb up the Col de Saxel. This was by no means the most difficult climb of the day, but was incredibly tough after the other three climbs, especially with a token head wind to put the cherry on top.
We had a quick stop at the top to catch our breath, and then carried on down to Bons en Chablis, where we met a freshly gravelled road. We braved it for a little while, until we got to where one of the workers was stopping traffic, as the gravel trucks were spreading even more down the road.
Tony caught up with us and we all decided to jump in the van and avoid the 3km of gravel. I felt very sorry for the cyclists coming up the hill while we sat in the comfort of the van. We got out of the van on to the undulating meadows that surround the lake. This felt like great terrain to finish on, as it was not easy but a pleasant mix of up and down.
In to Yvoire
The group managed to get broken up after one of the little hills. I caught up with Paddy who sent me in the right direction, then Tony passed me in the van minutes later. He pulled in to a little car park in Massongy, where we waited for the other two to regroup. We finished the ride together passing through the traffic lights and roundabouts in to Yvoire, before meeting Tony with the van.
We had a quick change and wiped off the sweat. You can go for a swim in lake Geneva when you arrive at Yvoire, and the water is very inviting. However, the ride made me too tired to go swimming. After quick stroll around the medieval village, we piled in to the comfortable air-conditioned van for the hour long journey home.
Book with Velovation
This was a great day out, and we all really enjoyed it. Having Tony in the support van was was great, and it meant we didn’t have any “what if” moments. Therefore, I would highly recommend Velovation’s day trips to anyone. If you are looking for an adventure, or want to go and explore further afield, these trips are ideal. The Velovation team have really thought of everything, making these trips as smooth as possible, and all you need to do is book.