Here’s a useful tip…let’s say that like me you decide to go for a couple of weeks mountain biking in the iconic mountain town Chamonix; you’re looking for some action on possibly the best lift-accessed single track terrain in the Alps, with none of that tedious climbing that we have to endure here in the UK before the gravity assisted fun begins…

Well it might be an idea to get out here before the ski lifts close. Which I did. By a mere two hours. “Zut alors!” as they say hereabouts. “What a cock up” as we say back home.

Yes, it never occurred to me that a place that sells itself as Mecca for mountain bikers might choose to close all access for mountain bikers to the ski lifts by the middle of September. After all, the weather is still generally 100 per cent better than it is in Wales (actually it’s 100 per cent better than Wales everywhere else on the planet this ‘summer’) and there are still plenty of visitors around town.

But, of course, this is France where things are done differently, and so with a Gallic shrug and a look of total indifference the lady in the tourist information informed us that the lifts are in fact now fermé until December when, of course, skis rather than bikes will be the go.

Thank the Lord then for It occurred to me that a car might be the best way to at least get part of the way into the hills without excessive amounts of uphill effort – and let’s face it the hills around here are pretty huge – so I had a look on their website and in moments was put in touch with the best deal locally.

I picked the car up a couple of days ago from the centre of Chamonix (after a prolonged wait for a Texan family who – this is completely true – were literally too big (in size not numbers) to get into the car they’d rented) and it’s been a bit of a lifesaver. Well, leg and lung saver to be more accurate.

What I do is load the bike in the car, drive up to Le Tour and then hit the wide variety of trails available from there. Sure, I could ride up there but what’s the point of enduring a 400-metre climb when an internal combustion engine will do it for you?

And with a friend coming to join me tomorrow we also have the option of accessing the riding around Les Houches, exploring further afield in Switzerland or accessing some of the great hiking terrain way up above Lac d’Emosson on the Swiss border.

Ski lifts? Who needs ‘em?




  1. gaylord says:

    Thanks Phil, will remember that – haven’t been to Morzine for a few years so it’s a good excuse!

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