For enthusiastic fans of cycling, Alpine mountain biking is as close to perfection as it gets. The heart-stopping trails and slopes that make the region such a refuge for winter-sports enthusiasts can give pedal junkies the same thrills during the summer months, and it comes as no surprise to find out that France’s major mountain chain plays an integral part in the Tour de France route every year.
Why does everyone love alpine mountains?
This gorgeous region enables cyclists to experience the best of both worlds when it comes to their vacations. On the one hand, there are lots of opportunities to take in the sort of rural scenery universalized by the film The Sound Of Music, as well as to take a tour of the many quaint mountain towns scattered around the region and explore a slice of the ‘real’ central Europe. On the other hand, by engaging in this dynamic activity, travelers who choose to spend their break mountain biking Alps trails will also be doing themselves and their bodily fitness a big favor. This perfect blend of two very relevant factors is a large part of its continued growth in popularity.
Still, for all the rough, unfiltered spills and thrills it offers, Alpine mountain biking is not something that should be addressed lightly. The region’s trails are as popular as they are infamous, and novices in the sport might want to approach the steep descents and hairpin bends with care. Even experienced cyclists would do well to be on the scout and equip themselves properly before undertaking any of these slopes. Below are just a few of the tips in which they can pre-empt and bypass any accidents on their French mountain biking vacation.
Know your ground
One of the principal rules of mountain biking is to know which sort of terrain you are dealing with before placing your bum on your cycle. In Alpine mountain biking, this perspective acquires special importance due to the uneven, rocky nature of most of the tracks, especially when compared to the UK’s flatter, muddier MTB trails.
This is why experts recommend that cyclists trying to play their luck at these descents and roads fine-tune their bike to something like a 140/160mm suspension back and front and equip it with sturdy, wide tires (between 2.2 and 2.5 inches is the recommended width) in a tubeless set-up. Cyclists are also encouraged to check the brakes on a regular basis, as any of these tracks will require a large amount of slowing down, and riders will want to stop potential accidents. A thorough check-up on the bike is also advised before going, and riders should remember to take a toolkit with them as well, just in case.
However, it is not enough to know what type of terrain to expect and prepare the bike accordingly. Riders wanting to have a stab at Alpine mountain biking should know, most importantly, to protect themselves as well. ‘Body armor’ is considered by most experts to be remarkably important when attempting these trails. It is also recommended that riders wear fit protective goggles to reduce the risk of sun-glare. Suntan lotion, Hydration, and a stock of painkillers are the other precautions advised by professionals when packing for a biking trip to the Alps.
In short, then, it is essential to be well-prepared when planning to take on the world-renowned French mountain roads and passes. These are incredibly challenging routes, and even an expert rider must be prepared to dodge any accidents.
Here are a four of my favorite Alpine Mountain Biking Tracks to explore:
- Breitach – Höhenweg nach und von Baad Loop from Hirschegg
- Sonnaalpe – Melköde Loop from Hirschegg
- Landschaftlich schöne Abfahrt – Kleiner Ahornboden Loop from Mittenwald
- Am Plansee – Blick auf den Plansee Loop from Ehrwald Zugspitzbahn