I just got back from Fluidride’s 2018 Alps trip where we rode the Swiss Italian, and French alps. Coming from the PNW I always find myself comparing destination trails to what I have in my backyard back home. You want awkward and rowdy: North Shore, Long shuttle-able diverse downhill: Tres Hombres, Legit freeride and fortitude challenging rock rolls: Squamish, skill park progression for all levels 30min from Seattle: Duthie Hill. The list goes on and on, the PNW has it all! I didn’t expect in the alps to offer the same thing but all crammed in one area at incredible scale and grandeur.
Aosta Valley is on the other side of Mont Blanc, about an hour drive via the Mont Blanc tunnel from our basecamp in Chamonix. Aosta offered the variety I described above, but offered it all in one condensed 30mi radius. Aosta genuinely offers you everything: partially hidden long loamy, hand cut, organic, enduro runs or classic fast rocky DH runs, and all sorts of lift-assisted trails. It is easy to make a day out of riding when there are so many random hostels and restaurants along the mountain. Its like finding the best coffee you’ve had and healthy food with beautiful seating in the middle of Tiger mountain.
My favorite DH trail was the IXS European Cup DH course. My favorite primitive loamy trail was brand new and hidden so I have no clue how to get back to it without our guide Timmy. The most memorable among our 12 person crew I believe was “Freeride Pila” as it was described by the locals. Freeride (I’m surprised there is a wiki) doesn’t mean the same thing as in the US and Canada. In Italy it described a trail that has junctions where you can split off and find different trail characteristics but that remerges later on, free to choose your journey.
This shot of Christian on In Deep captures the relentless tech of what is probably the hardest double-black technical trail on Whistler.
Whistler is at the end of a long steep windy road (BC-99) along the beautiful Howe Sound. The drive makes you wonder how drivers navigate it safely in the snow. We rode about 80% of the trails offered over our 3 day stay in Creekside. If you care to avoid the commercial hustle and bustle of the main village, I highly recommend staying at Creekside, which offers non-congested lift access and a compliment of its own great trails. You can even take the Creekside Gondola to Big Red Express to then take down service on Whistler Village Gondola to get to the top of the Fitzsimmons area (trail map here).
As a testament to the incredible trail networks in our backyard in Seattle and Bellingham, manage your expectations. You might find that the only unique trails at Whistler are the massive machine made, air-sailing trails like A-Line. You’ll have more endurance to do multiple runs and have more confidence sailing through the air on a true DH-bike. If you want to take a break away from the mountain or ride with the whole family there are a TONS of trails to ride in the valley. You can find road, gravel, and cross country trails.
Merida is a beautiful unique city with the styling and diversity that an average American tourist would expect out of cities in western Europe. One of my most memorable experiences during my weeks bushwhacking in the Yucatan was cruising along the beautiful wide tree-lined streets of Paseo de Montejo during the Sunday Bici-Ruta. The city closes a series of streets to all automobile traffic every Sunday. This strip was modeled after the Champs de Elisye and showcases the mansions of the 1800’s.