Switzerland Trip Report- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Switzerland Trip Report

    I just returned from 2.5 wks in Europe, about half guided riding in Switzerland (& "Italy") and half just chilling in Portugal & Switzerland. What an adventure! A group of 4 of us from Norcal (all on this forum I think?) met up for a memorable trip:

    Arriving in Switzerland & riding Lourtier/Verbier:

    All of us flew into Geneva separately and made our way by train to Lourtier, a small ski village very close to Verbier. Not surprisingly, Switzerland has a great rail system and we all brought our bikes. The inn we stayed in was very nice with great food and amenities, and was owned by an avid mtber (he rode an immaculate blinged-out SC HT) so we had a great setup to build and wrench on our bikes. It was fortunate that I had been in Portugal for 5 days prior to this so I had already adjusted to the time change and slept like a baby. I would need the rest!

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  2. #2
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    Day 1 ride: We met our guide, and acclimated to the terrain / elevation and did a relatively moderate ride which included a lot of flat traversing with a bit of climbing and some pretty short & sweet local descents. We learned the term "Swiss Flow" which means the tightest, steepest f-ing switchbacks you will ever see (usually next to an exposed cliff!), and the term "French Lines", or the fast, fun lines that cut through the switchbacks (I gradually learned that in Europe the French apparently have all the fun, while the Swiss apparently think work and suffering is fun).

    It had been storming like crazy recently so dirt was pretty much primo - trails drain quick there. We took a lift way up to the top of Verbier and then a big hail storm rolled in so we had to take cover at a little hut at the toip of the mtn. that of coursed served coffee and fondue (these things are on every mountain in Switzerland!) The hardest part for me on day 1 was riding by all these amazing looking trails with perfect dirt in the bike park. I asked our guide why we weren't riding these trails?! She said something about not killing ourselves on the 1st day.

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  3. #3
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    Day 2: Original plan was to ride to Italy but storms made us re-think that, so we rode well-draining local trails in the rain - a lot of steep "Swiss Flow" and a fair amount of climbing - when you hear climbing in meters it doesn't sound to bad: only "700 meters of climbing!". Highlight of this ride was taking cover and finding a bottle of some sort of Swiss pear Schnapps that had been there since WWII - damn if that wasn't good & we ate good that night as well! Not a lot of riding pics - it was too wet!

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  4. #4
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    Day 3: Ok this sh!t gets real now!

    Today just a casual drop through the alps into Italy for a quick pizza & wine. This is probably the most scenic suffer-fest you can do. Between the 2-hours of hike-a-bike up the Swiss Flow and the fire road climbs, I think we did over 1700 meters of climbing at elevation - lots of breaks because of the suffering but equal parts pain and scenery! Dropping into the other side of the Italy we were introduced to Italian Flow, which is very similar to Swiss Flow but with huge loose rocks everywhere - one of the most techy trails I've ever ridden - think closer to war than mountain biking. The descending was almost as much work as the climbing. We earned our pizza, beer and wine today.

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  5. #5
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    Day4: Moved to Val D’Anniviers and stayed at a hotel at the peak of a huge mountain. We rode some very exposed and pretty gnarly, rocky, rooty Swiss Flow that was part of some European Enduro race - it was super fun but punishing and we were beat down - our guide was ready to take us on more Swiss Flow, but we spotted a small lift-served bike park and kindly requested that we take a break from Swiss Flow and do some party laps in the park - our guide looked puzzled but said go for it - it was a small but fun bike park - imagine riding N* just to ease up the punishment - that was where we were at!

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  6. #6
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    Day5: Goldielocks to Zermatt

    More Hike-aBike and Swiss Flow today, but it seemed easy after Italy, plus we got some help from some lifts today and did over 10K ft. of descending with about only 2K of climbing so that was nice - lots more great scenery and cows today - after our descent we headed to Zermatt - we quickly learned that it was a couple days before Swiss National Day (think 4th of July) and after seeing very few people the previous days, the place was a zoo!

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  7. #7
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    Days 6-8: Zermatt

    Zermatt was a tourist zoo especially b/c of the holiday, but lots of trails, lifts and options to ride to get away from the craziness! Also, more rain to get the trails all tacky and keep the tourists indoors so that was pretty nice! Trails were lots of fun and there were a lot of options to freeride fun slabs and make your own trails, but while I don't mind a few steep, tight switchbacks, and have gotten very good at riding them, I don't think I'll ever understand why the Swiss love them this much!

    One funny twist about having all these tourists from all over the world around is that I think they were almost more interested in watching us ride and taking pictures of us than they were in anything else - for most of us this was just fun technical mountain biking by half-decent riders, but I got the idea that they perceived us as extreme pros! I like the idea that we are probably going to be featured in more than one family post-trip slideshow in China!

    A bonus to being in Zermatt during National Day was that we were treated to an epic fireworks show - spending lots of that Swiss bank $$% I guess. And of course, you have to take way too many pics of the Matterhorn.

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  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=skyno;14242245]It was fortunate that I had been in Portugal for 5 days prior to this so I had already adjusted to the time change and slept like a baby. /QUOTE]

    I hope you had the chance to ride in PT as well, if not I'm afraid you'll just have to go back. I'll definitely plug WeRide.PT who were excellent guides and outfitters who I will absolutely use again.

    As to this whole Swiss/Italian riding thing...those trails look cool too, I guess.

    PS- Amazing trip, thanks for sharing all the pictures and details!

  9. #9
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    Summary: Switzerland is a wonderful country in so many ways and I think we all enjoyed the cultural experience and scenery every bit as much as the riding. Generally speaking, the trails are tight, twisty, exposed, steep, technical, rocky, old-school, punishing and fun! I found their "flow trails" to be a bit tight and twisty for my personal taste and I didn't see much in the way of modern, progressive trails.

    This an extremely expensive place to visit even coming from the Bay Area, so bring money! The food is top quality and fantastic (if maybe a bit repetitive and lacking in anything resembling spice). The wine is exquisite, and of course the cheese and chocolate is the best you'll ever have. The beer is a bit lacking (unless you like plain lagers), but oh well!

    Would I recommend somebody go ride there just for the mtb trails alone? Probably not - it is extremely expensive and there are much, much better trails a lot closer to us, but if you want an amazing cultural experience with some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever see, it is definitely worth it!

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  10. #10
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    Awesome trip report! Been in Verbier and other places in CH in the winter, but have always wanted to ride those trails in the summer. Such great terrain!
    Live to Ride, Ride to Live

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=b0bg;14242551]
    Quote Originally Posted by skyno View Post
    It was fortunate that I had been in Portugal for 5 days prior to this so I had already adjusted to the time change and slept like a baby. /QUOTE]

    I hope you had the chance to ride in PT as well, if not I'm afraid you'll just have to go back. I'll definitely plug WeRide.PT who were excellent guides and outfitters who I will absolutely use again.

    As to this whole Swiss/Italian riding thing...those trails look cool too, I guess.

    PS- Amazing trip, thanks for sharing all the pictures and details!
    No Portugal was no riding, just relaxing and sightseeing with my wife - unfortunately my bike just sat in the airport in a bag! - I will definitely go back there and ride though especially considering how inexpensive it was - it was kind of the exact opposite of Switzerland, but I loved them both!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    Sorry jumped the gun. Won't let me delete this. Mods please delete if you see this
    Ha Ha no problem! This just demonstrates how long it took me to finish the report and it was probably good to break up the blathering!

  13. #13
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    Great trip report! Culture + Bikes = Always Good.

  14. #14
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    Man those places are beautiful!

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  15. #15
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    Awesome trip...thanks for sharing!
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  16. #16
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    Swiss Flow. Nice!

  17. #17
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    man, oh man, oh man!!

    My boys are getting after it. Getting after bike life, getting after rad life.

    Days, months, years just come and go so you have to take the effort to do great things like this to make your mark on time.
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  18. #18
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    Awesome report! Switzerland is amazing for sure!
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  19. #19
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    Solid report Skyno. I'd add that our guide from https://www.ridebig.com/rides/cloudraker (Myriam Saugy) was top shelf amazing. She really made our trip special. The wild flowers and butterflies were lovely. The tourists gawking at our radness was terrific for the ego.
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    I'm not sure how this works.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    I'd add that our guide from https://www.ridebig.com/rides/cloudraker (Myriam Saugy) was top shelf amazing. She really made our trip special.
    Her brothers have a really good band. You've probably heard of them--the Saugy Bottom Boys.
    Ride fast. Huck bravely. Waste no beer. Safety third.

  21. #21
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    Awesome report! I've been salivating over trips on their website for weeks now and this certainly doesn't make it any easier!
    buzzes like a fridge

  22. #22
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    Wow, freakin’ amazing! Must have been a blast! No e-bike for you Squashy?
    Don’t frail and blow if you’re going to Braille and Flow.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker View Post
    Wow, freakin’ amazing! Must have been a blast! No e-bike for you Squashy?
    No sir. Many times I wish I had it though. Ebikes are everywhere over there by the by.
    I'm not sure how this works.

  24. #24
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    Great report and pics. Looks like a good time. I've looked into going there, but the expense just doesn't add up for a riding trip. The views are exceptional but that type of riding can be had many places, some within a 100 miles of my house. Excellent adventure for sure!

  25. #25
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    Great report!
    Kinda reminds me of MTBR before the change in ownership...
    Go Europe!!

  26. #26
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    A most truly excellent report. Thank you!!!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    No sir. Many times I wish I had it though. Ebikes are everywhere over there by the by.
    I’m so proud of you Squishy, you put on yer “big boy” panties, and left your motorcycle at home.
    xoxoxo
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