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  1. #1
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    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one

    hey everyone,
    i am going to both france and italy this summer and time can afford me only a few days in one of these areas. which do you think would give more pleasure?

    i'm thinking italy, but i would like to hear anyone's experience

  2. #2
    used to be RipRoar
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    I cannot say from first hand experience but when I saw this video it was added to my bucket list..


    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/z_JupfzlWSc?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  3. #3
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    I have done both when skiing. Both are awesome, but the off-piste "feel" I had in Italy from the locals was slightly warmer and more friendly.
    Would love to do either on a mountain bike. Only done the Pyrenees in Europe so far. Green with envy!

  4. #4
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    that tour du Mont blanc is now on my bucket list. I did the dolomites last year and nice trails, great scenery, friendly people

  5. #5
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    I've circumnavigated the Mt. Blanc Massive (France, Italy, and Switzerland) over a 7 day period and I've also spent a few days riding around Lake Garda in the Dolomites. There was more singletrack on the Mt. Blanc trip, and more culture, food, and booze around Lake Garda. Keep in mind the the riding is not like what we have in the states. You'll do a lot of hike-a-bike up -and sometimes down- 1000 year old cow/sheep herder trails, spend a fair amount of time on old WW1 army "roads," and won't find a ton of the flowy style of trail we are used to here. That said, it's still a great experience not to be missed. Here's some shots:

    Mt. Blanc from the south
    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-85234585.jpg

    Looking from the French/Italian border towards Swizterland, Mt. Blanc massive on the left
    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-72223924p.jpg

    Some of the more epic railing singletrack
    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-59570042.jpg

    Riding the WW1 army roads above Lake Garda, Italy
    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-img20110722052051.jpg
    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-img20110722051036.jpg
    Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-img20110722053450.jpg

    I'd recommend the French Alps from a pure trail quality perspective, but either way, you'll have an epic time.

  6. #6
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    @ huntermos: Looking at your pisc from Garda...you weren't doing it right

    Trail quality (once you get out of ski resort areas in France) is about the same in the Dolomites of French Alps.French ski resorts do tend to have flowier/less technically demanding trails though (not talking about bike parks here), if that's what you're looking for.A lot of them were made specifically for mountain bikers and it shows.

    Anyway, everywhere you go in the Alps (be it France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria or Slovenia) you will have fun...if you're not offraid of techical sections.If you're more at home riding flowier, less demanding trails, it's probably a better idea to go to the more "sanitized" parts of the Alps (ski resort areas are a good start usually).

    Marko
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by problematiks View Post
    @ huntermos: Looking at your pisc from Garda...you weren't doing it right
    We did what we could with only two days in the area, no local knowledge, and only public transport to get around with... I didn't say it wasn't fun over there, just that the trails are not like what we are accustomed to here in the States...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntermos View Post
    I didn't say it wasn't fun over there, just that the trails are not like what we are accustomed to here in the States...
    Just pulling your chain there That was the official Tremalzo descent, right?That thing is the biggest joke in the whole area.

    You are right about trails not being the same as those in the States.If nothing else, there's not much singletrack you can ride up.Those trails were made for walking and are just too steep to ride up for the most part.And you don't have that many smooth trails going down either.

    Marko
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by problematiks View Post
    Just pulling your chain there That was the official Tremalzo descent, right?That thing is the biggest joke in the whole area.
    No worries, I know that! If we had more time to plan and more time on the ground there, we would have hit some of the stuff above Malcesine or met some locals to show us around. As it was, Tremlazo wasn't bad for the views and as an introduction to European riding on rented bikes with my not-so-extreme wife. We also went up and explored above Tenno, but mostly found dirt roads and steep, steep rough rock... All in all we had a great time, despite the riding being less then epic.

  10. #10
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    well none of this helps me any...i want to do the french alps for the ride, but i want to visit the dolomites just because it looks so freaking awesome

  12. #12
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    If you want to ride French Alps, go there, it's as simple as that.Mountains look awesome wherever you are in the Alps anyway.

    And anyway, who says you can't go on two (or three, four,...) trips instead of just one?

    Marko
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    well none of this helps me any...i want to do the french alps for the ride, but i want to visit the dolomites just because it looks so freaking awesome
    I'd have difficulty choosing between 2 destinations , I've never visited. I think you need to research more what you what to do within the timeframe you have planned. The forum members are just sharing their personal experiences. Whatever you decide I hope you share your experiences and post some pics
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  14. #14
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    I've only had the pleasure of visiting Chamonix as a non rider and doing some of the touristy stuff. I took the cable car up l'Aiguille du Midi and the train to la Mer De Glace. That was one of the most beautiful places I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. Seeing that video from Spesh makes me want to take my bike there and explore.
    Free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.- Ivan Illich

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by problematiks View Post
    And anyway, who says you can't go on two (or three, four,...) trips instead of just one?

    Marko
    time
    there's still 99 other countries i want to see in this lifetime, so typically i go once, and then that's it

    this is a tough choice...i think it will come down to the experience as a whole, not just the biking aspect...but i have a feeling that altho the riding may not be as grandiose in italy, the time in between rides will be pretty damn amazing

  16. #16
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    Sellaronda MTB Track Tour

    I did this one last year (Laptop crashed lost my pictures), it's a nice one, lots of singletracks great vieuws

  17. #17
    lidless ascender
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    time
    there's still 99 other countries i want to see in this lifetime, so typically i go once, and then that's it
    Well, Italy and France are two different countries so this wouldn't really interfere with your plans

    Marko

    P.S: I have no idea where Americans got this romantic idea about Italy/Italians though...I know, I know, blame Hollywood
    I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

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  18. #18
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    I haven't ridden in the French Alps (yet) but we have been invited to profile the area so that will be a future trip.

    As for the Italian Dolomites you can get pretty amazing singletrack, awesome views and fantastic experiences but the key is to be in the Western Dolomites in Suedtirol. If you go to the Garda or Cortina side you will encounter doubletrack and cowpaths plus lots more crowds. Not trying to be an ass to huntermos but the Garda side is not the best trails.

    For more on Suedtirol see here posted on Passion. South Tyrol spam

    It's part of a series that will be posted on Pinkbike next month with more detail
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeL View Post
    Not trying to be an ass to huntermos but the Garda side is not the best trails.
    Jeez, I never said Garda was the place to go, in fact I said it isn't great for riding and recommended going to France instead. Doesn't anyone ever read through these threads anymore...

  21. #21
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    i think he agrees with you but doesn't want to downplay your experience there

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    i think he agrees with you but doesn't want to downplay your experience there
    huntermos - that indeed was what I was trying to say. In the end it's all a good experience.
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  23. #23
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    starring at the dolomites right now, i guess that would be my "home trails", i work about 5mins from the base of the mountain, dont quite have the skill yet to go much higher than about half way!! **** gets steep up there!!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeL View Post
    If you go to the Garda or Cortina side you will encounter doubletrack and cowpaths...

    How on Earth did you come up with that?Because it's not really consistent with what we rode there...

    So, this is what we experienced in our visits to the areas:


    Garda




















    Cortina:






















    I have a lot more of these but I think I've bored you enough with all the doubletrack and cowpaths

    I will agree there's a huge amount of bikers in Riva del Garda around May 1st (not so much during summer though).In the towns and at the beach that is.And all but the most popular trails are devoid of crowds of any kind.Almost all the trails are also pretty rocky and technical and you need to serch hard to find the few flowier ones.


    Marko
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Biking in Fench Alps or Italian Dolomites? Have to pick one-4.jpg  

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  25. #25
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    hey problematiks,
    which part of the dolomites are those pics?

  26. #26
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    I was responding to LeeL's statement about Cortina and northern lake Garda area (quote) so those two areas.But it doesn't really matter that much, you can get stuff like that anywhere in the Dolomites/the Alps (at least in my experience) with some variances in terrain.As I mentioned, Garda trails in particular tend to be very rocky on average (think of pics 6 and 7 as said average), but you'll find sections of stuff like that on a good part of traditional made-for-walking alpine trails. Especially above-tree-line ones.And quite a few of the good ones will also require a bit of this:



    or this



    Marko
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  27. #27
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    We lived in Germany for almost six years and tried to cover as much ground as possible. Val Gardena/Ortisei was one of the few places we would return to for skiing and biking. Great memories...

  28. #28
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    problematiks - i stand corrected. Apparently should be looking harder

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    is there an english site
    and do you know if they will be open first week of june?

  31. #31
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    Italian alps maybe, val d'aosta, even close to France Alps for Chamonix.
    Keep the Dolomites as backup plan for weather mishaps.

  32. #32
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    later , now we have too many snow

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    so after initial research, i may have to go to french alps due to travel time constraints. i will be in paris june 1st then chamonix or morzine a few days after...can someone tell me what weather/biking conditions will be like at this time? i saw last year that morzine DH resort lifts didn't open until june 9...if bike parks aren't open yet, what will other mountain biking look like?

  34. #34
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    I don't know about France, but our part of the Alps has gotten a solid amount of snow in the last two months.And it looks like there's another shipment of the white stuff coming next week.

    edit: Just checked, Chamonix area seems to have a lot of snow above 1500 m, too.

    What that means for biking in June is somewhat unclear but unless we have a spring that's mainly warm and sunny there's a good chance you'll still get snow on some of the higher trails.And that's where the good trails are.

    Marko
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  35. #35
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    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

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    ok, so i ended up going to the swiss alps instead...here's my vid...i may do a write up, but because of the amount of snow they got this winter plus the time of month i went, i was relegated to ridibng only one trail, but it was still pretty mind-blowing being able to go out there

    i was on this trip by myself, so it is all first person, chest-mounted go pro shots...hopefully in the future i'll be able to do some trips with friends and get different angles

    Switzerland Mountain Biking - YouTube

  38. #38
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    Wow, nice!! Zermatt is on my to do list for many years now but somehow I never went. I read somewhere that in Switserland riding trails like you did was ilegal?

  39. #39
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    no, they're not illegal..i was shown those trails by the bike shop and tourist info...and trains up the mountain have bike racks as they have downhill biking as well as a bike park in the summers...

    i was very displeased with the knowledge of both shop and tourist info, tho...they only showed me paved roads on the map...only when i pointed out real trails (after i talked to a couple downhillers i saw in the area) did they tell me that i could bike them...actually now that i think about it, i am very annoyed...the shop also was not helpful with bike setup...if i do a write-up, i'll get more into detail, but for anyone who goes to zermatt, you may have to talk to local bikers to get your info

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    ok, so i ended up going to the swiss alps instead...here's my vid...i may do a write up, but because of the amount of snow they got this winter plus the time of month i went, i was relegated to ridibng only one trail, but it was still pretty mind-blowing being able to go out there

    i was on this trip by myself, so it is all first person, chest-mounted go pro shots...hopefully in the future i'll be able to do some trips with friends and get different angles

    Switzerland Mountain Biking - YouTube

    I hope the comprehensive writeup we did on Pinkbike which talked about which trails were actually good and which trails were just doubletrack or paved was useful. Nice weather.
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

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