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Mountain Biking in the Tarentaise ski areas

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After reading comments in the thread about La Plagne Mountain biking I decided to start this thread. Although this is a winter sports forum, there are many on snowheads that go to the different stations in the Tarentaise area for Mountain biking so I thought it might be interesting to share what we know of these areas in one place. I will kick this off with the Paradiski area and add other places I visit this summer. Hope others want to contribute.

The thing I love about VTT is that there are so many ways to enjoy it. For some Enduro with hard downhill is what they love. For others easy or hard cross country but not as tough as real enduro is the way to go. Then you have easy single or double track trails. I know the younger ones I ride with like hard and fast full downhill. For me it is about the journey, whether hard or easy, just like when we ski off piste. I also look forward to seeing the Bike parks and new Pump tracks like the one they have in Bourg now. I posted some photos of it at the end of last season.

Today we did a bit of everything, but not to hard. Tomorrow single track away from the normal routes. I hope to ride a lot this summer so will add stuff when I can.

1) Paradiski area.
LES ARCS side. Had my first day out today. There are plenty of good marked trails from Greens (easy) to Very hard Blacks. Plus there are loads of natural trails away from all the crowds. The best thing for me about Les Arcs side is that there is very little need for uphill riding unless you want to do that as well. Route 66 is a major long route starting from the top of the Transarc and finishing in Bourg with some interesting variations if you like a challenge. There is the race course in Arc 1600 for those that want to go fast and many singe track technical routes hidden away in the forests or high in the mountains. Plus Black 8, a tough route for even the best riders. IMO Les Arcs has something for everyone at all levels so do not be put off by all the talk of hard riding. The Green and Blue routes are also great fun!

LA PLAGNE side. If you are based in Plagne Centre or Plagne Bellecote then you have some good options, but IMO the marked trails on the La Plagne side are quite limited and not very well linked so lots of up hill bits. It will be interesting to see what they have added this summer to improve access without too much uphill riding. However I do like the routes from the top of Roche de Mio down to Plagne Bellecote and then all the way to the valley with the bus to get you back up. I also enjoy the long ride down through Montalbert to the valley by a different route. But the Champagny side has to much uphill for my liking. You need to be a good VTT rider to go exploring on most of the natural tracks, but the marked greens and blues are OK for most people.

USING the Vanoise Express link. If you go over on the Vanoise Express from the Les Arcs side and just stay in the Montchavin Les Coches area and maybe down to Peisey on your way home then it should be OK for most people as there are a number of easy marked trails plus many areas to explore for better riders. However I would not advise trying to ride all the way to Plagne Bellecote unless you are quite fit. It is a long uphill ride on the cross country ski route unless you feel like a challenge. There are easy routes to miss out the uphill section, but you need to read a map well to find these as many routes on the La Plagne side are not marked on the VTT map. You can get down to the valley and then ride back to Bourg along the river. This is also OK, but a little uphill the whole way. If you go to Les Arcs side, then it is easier as you are straight onto the lifts that link up well so you can go as far as you want, just do not miss the last Vanoise to get back home.

I hope this helps with people planning for a day or half day out on your bike in Les Arcs and La Plagne. One warning. Renting bikes in the area is about 50 euros a day plus lift pass so not cheap. Better to bring your own bike, but it does need at least front suspension. For easy trails, a kids Halford bike or adult equivalent with good brakes and tires works OK. Once becoming confident then a stronger bike is needed and please always wear protection. The ground hurts when you fall off! Hope this is of some use. You are welcome to ask me questions about this area if you need help planning your trip.
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Quote:

The ground hurts when you fall off! Hope this is of some use.

I can confirm that, and the gravel will do its best to shed your elbows and hips.
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Quote:

One warning. Renting bikes in the area is about 50 euros a day plus lift pass so not cheap.

I never understood the economics that make it more expensive to hire a mountain bike than a car???
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Lifts are free in Tignes
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dw832 wrote:
Quote:

One warning. Renting bikes in the area is about 50 euros a day plus lift pass so not cheap.

I never understood the economics that make it more expensive to hire a mountain bike than a car???


Very short season, lots of maintenance, expensive bikes....
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@dw832, @BobinCH,

Bob - very short season, lots of maintenance, expensive bikes

I will add:

- high expectations of 'latest model' yet unlike hire cars, no decent resale value. Hire cars have excellent purchasing deals and resale.
- no large scale fleet purchasing discounts
- not only a short season but very small population of bikers, therefore a lot of 'dead time' for each bike
- expectations of having a bike in the right size, so shops need to keep a range of bikes
- day clients outweighing weekly hire, so day rate has to be the basis of hiring finances for the shop
- high risk sport, so shops need insurance against their servicing errors

50 euros means almost no profit, or none. The charges are squeezed as low as they can be. in my view.
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Quote:

I never understood the economics that make it more expensive to hire a mountain bike than a car???


But less than 3x as much as ski hire despite costing around 8x as much to buy.

And as other have said, the maintenance is a killer, a rear tyre can be killed in a day.
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Quote:

I never understood the economics that make it more expensive to hire a mountain bike than a car???

The ecconomics of a car hire business do seem odd - I supect it oes something like this:

Buy the cars at a massive discount.
Sell them second hand for about as much as you paid for them.
Make the money on selling extras such as extra insurance, sat navs, snow chains, extra driver etc.
Make money on fuel
If you say yes to everything they try to sell you at the hire desk then the price can easily double.

if a car gets a small scratch charge hundreds of euros to "repair" them - don't repair them and hope the next punter doesn't notice. It rarely drops the second hand price that much


I just looked at hiring a car for my summer trip to the Dolomites. The cheepest was £600 for the fortnight and some over £2000. Get a couple of those a season and your uncle is named Robert. The 25 euro to rent a bike for the day apears cheep in comparison.

BTW @snowcrazy, was quoting for a bike + lift pass. I think a day's pass in Les Arcs is over 20 euro. Last time I was there it was 7 euro an uplift.
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leggyblonde wrote:
Quote:

I never understood the economics that make it more expensive to hire a mountain bike than a car???


But less than 3x as much as ski hire despite costing around 8x as much to buy.

And as other have said, the maintenance is a killer, a rear tyre can be killed in a day.


Plus the extra maintenance from Brits crashing when they realise too last that the brakes are on back to front!
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50€ a day is decent value, you pay £50 a day here in UK for a demo bike. For all the reasons above, and the fact that most people trash hire bikes riding them much harder than you do your own.....well I do anyway! wink
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No way you'll get a decent bike for €50 a day in any of the Tarentaise resorts. €65 minimum for anything decent.

Running a bike rental fleet is a relentless slog and the economics of it are entirely dependent on being able to sell the bikes for a good price at the end of the season, which is far from guaranteed.

La Plagne has the best lift-accessed riding in the Tarentaise IMO, just that none of it is on the trail map!
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An update to my last post re. Prices. As this seems to have caused some debate. The official online prices are.

Day rental for adults with lift pass using full suspension enduro bike (what I use), 70 euro. Half Day 50 euro. (Includes lift pass).

Full Downhill bike costs 75euro plus lift pass 20 Euro for day.

Kids prices are 30 euro for full suspension for half day. They do not give a full day price. Plus 20 for lift pass. But you get extra 15% discount with Hero card. I guess the price for full day would be same as adult including lift pass so 70euro but my advice would be to check in advance.

These are based on ecole vtt.

Sorry to disagree with you about La Plagne riding. Just like when I ski backcountry, I spend as much time on La Plagne side as Les Arcs side.

Yes, I agree there are many good routes on the La Plagne side and also, yes many are not on the route map, but this is the same in Les Arcs. For me the bigger problem on the La Plagne side is all the long uphill you need to do for the good routes. You do not need anywhere near as much uphill in Les Arcs to get to the good trails which are not marked.

However IMO for most people on holiday, they mainly want marked trails which are easy to follow and a mix of levels. Also I find when out with people they do not like to much uphill. If they could open more lifts on the La plagne side then it could be much more user friendly.

Hope this clears up any misunderstanding I might have caused in my earlier post.
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Every summer I go to the 3V staying in my apartment in Reberty, Les Menuires. There is an extensive range of trails and paths across the 3V all easily accessible from where I stay. There are specific colour classified trails together with the usual pedestrian and vehicle tracks all more than enough for me. Uphill can in the main be avoided. The lifts in Les Menuires and Saint Martin operate on different days for each location according to a published schedule, in other 3V resorts they operate the same ones daily. A Vallée de Belleville pass including Val Thorens is 46 euros for a rolling week and includes leisure centres and outdoor activities. For an extra 10 euro upgrade you can have a full weeks access to all 3V lifts. A winter season pass is valid for all the summer lifts. I take my own bike, so I am not aware of the hire costs.
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A friend and experienced rider has just broken his leg so badly that he won't walk for a year. This was after a minor off in Courchevel.

Be careful.
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Lifts in the Les Arcs area are free if you have a season pass. And watch out for walkers wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Quote:

Plus the extra maintenance from Brits crashing when they realise too last that the brakes are on back to front!

So which hand is front and which hand is back in Britain?

I've gotten thoroughly confused when buying my first bike in America, which is reversed from China. Except the bike I had in China was made in England and it was the same as all the other Chinese bikes... Puzzled

I've never hired bikes in Continental Europe.
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Right=Front / Left=Rear is normal in UK and Australia etc.
The opposite is "wrong".
Although of my 5 bikes, 2 are the correct (British/Moto) way round (1 I built, the other is US/Swiss), one is the "wrong" way round but British, and 2 are the wrong way round because I sourced new brakes in Germany, but haven't swapped the brake hoses over.
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On a motorbike the right hand does the front brake and the left hand the clutch. So using the right hand for the front brake is sort of instinctive for us motor cyclists.
I used to ride trials and my technique for steep descents was to pull the clutch in, lock the back brake completely and feather the front bake on the verge of locking. I would keep my elbows locked straight and my bum as far back as possible. The same techniques appears to work on a VTT. But it takes great concentraion to remember the brakes are the wrong way around on a hired bicycle. I have been known to swap the cables around.

ps I was rubbish at trials riding and after a few accidents have now given up. Perhaps the technique was no good at all.
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@johnE, that is indeed utterly dreadful technique on a mountain bike!!!

As you say though, it does kind of work and gets you down stuff. Rips the trail to bits though and gives you less control than a more refined technique!
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Quote:

The opposite is "wrong".


I have the scars in my left hand to prove it ! Laughing Laughing
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Quote:
Right=Front / Left=Rear is normal in UK and Australia etc.
You would see me go straight over the handlebars if I was riding a British bike then!
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No ski lifts and not the Tarentaise but I thought it was worth posting anyway


http://youtube.com/v/_wrhVaaRqOs
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Looks like a cool trip! Need to add it to the list...
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I always thought the logic of brake handedness was not to have you grabbing a fistful of front when slowing and signalling for your most exposed turn across the road. So Left rear for UK etc, Right rear for US, continental Europe etc
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I always thought the logic of brake handedness was not to have you grabbing a fistful of front when slowing and signalling for your most exposed turn across the road. So Left rear for UK etc, Right rear for US, continental Europe etc


ditto. Although I rode a beach cruiser in San Diego last year with no brakes. Entertaining on a 25 mile ride including plenty normal roads. Pedal a bit backwards to brake, not like a fixie though.
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The Pumptrack at Plagne Bellcote now open

http://summer.la-plagne.com/equipment/1/4788961-pumptrack-plagne-bellecote.html

Looks fun Very Happy
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At risk of sounding like a right old lightweight, Mr P and I now both have electrically assisted MTBs. His is a full suspension MTB, which he's had for about 3 years, mine is more of a hybrid. We're off to the foothills of the Italian alps in Piedmont and then a few days in the Belleville valley next weekend. Can't wait. You still have to pedal on the bikes and the boost can be from zero to turbo. Takes the effort out of uphill and consequently makes the prospect of a day cycling far more bearable. We certainly saw them for hire last summer in the Dolomites. Not sure what the daily rate was. I think they are getting more and more popular. They aren't cheap to buy-cost seems to be dependent on the battery and associated setup-Bosch and Yamaha being at the higher end.
Anyway...looking forward to venturing around the Belleville valley on foot and bike in about 2 weeks..can't wait!
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Hire shops throughout the Tarentaise are full of ebikes now, really easy to rent.

Not my thing, but I'd definitely recommend them for family rides, casual MTB'ers, etc. "XC" type rides around here aren't much fun due to the general excessive steepness. eBikes flip that on its head completely.
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Meant to add - for daily photos of mountain biking in the Tarentaise, follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/steven.mcd
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@stevomcd, Lovely pics!
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 Poster: A snowHead
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A day out in Tignes and Val d'Isere!
Free lifts and a number of new bike tracks. Well worth the drive up the valley. Just collect your bike sticker from the tourist office in Tignes or Val d'Isere and you can get started. Parking is free in summer!

I found most tracks were well marked and plenty of easy Green and Blue routes for those just wanting to explore the area without making your riding too difficult. The Reds are OK, but Black and Expert trails mean what they say.

Looking across at the Grande Motte today, it did not look very good for skiing right now. I hope the forecasted rain brings some fresh snow up top.

For those that like to look at the photos. A little challenge. Anyone name the 'off piste ski route' from the top of the ridge I am looking at? A clue, you go off the back from near the high point down a couloir that is out of sight. Some of you have done this with me in the past.

(Go to Les Arcs Summer page and look in the Summer July 2017 Album for the photos. https://www.facebook.com/LesArcsSummer/ )

Another photo, looking towards Mont Charvet. Being on the bike is a great way to plan your winter ski routes.

Most Bike Park routes are well signposted and easy to follow. This one is from the top of the Olympic gondola with plenty of fun blue and green tracks down to Val d'Isere with nice sections in the forest.

But you can also find some much harder routes. 'Very Bike Trip, strange name!' This route says Very difficult, be warned and never thought I would bike down 'The Face'! That was interesting!

The connections between Tignes and Val d'Isere are easy to follow. As long as you can read a map and follow the signs. Getting around is easy and you can do it for yourself without difficulty!

But unless you have a good level of skill I would advise you to stay on the well marked easier tracks. Black or Expert routes mean what they say and going off the trails can become interesting very quickly! You need to know where you are going!

To get back to the Tignes side I headed down the BL and then the TA routes plus others from the top of the Borsat chair all the way to Val Claret. The route from the Borsat chair is a long fun route, with some nice jumps and many banked turns which are well groomed so you need to be willing to use some speed!

Many people would find it easier to park near the Tuffs lift in Val Claret as the bike trails down from the top are more friendly at this end. The Red and Black into Tignes Lac from Toviere are more of a challenge.

As I parked at the Tignes Lac end near the tourist office it was time for something more challenging again on the way back to the car. Used a mix of 'off the marked track' and then the WN trail with great views of the Lac du Chevril and Tignes Lac. That was a good route to finish a fun day. There is plenty in Tignes to enjoy, but I was told lifts might not be free next year!?

Hope you found this report of my day in Tignes Val D'Isere interesting. There are plenty of other places to bike here on and off the marked trails. More than enough to keep you busy for a week or more.

https://www.facebook.com/LesArcsSummer/
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Anyone out there been biking in La Rosiere or La Thuille this summer yet. Would be good to hear what it was like and costs etc. How easy is it to get between the two stations. ie. any uphill sections?

Also what about St Foy this summer. Are the lifts open for biking or are they running transport up the hill. If so what does it cost etc.
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St Foy is running one lift only, pretty much useless for mountain biking, except as a bonus start to a long ride.

La Thuile is awesome, far and away the best place for just smashing out steep, lift-served trails. Very natural feel, not bike-park at all.

Riding between La Ros and La Thuile requires some uphill in both directions. About 10 mins on the La Ros side and about 25 mins on the La Thuile side.
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@stevomcd, thanks for that. Do you guys organize up lifts in St Foy for people wanting to come bike there this summer? What would it cost?

From La Thuile I presume that is 25 mins uphill for you so double that for me! Toofy Grin and maybe to much for the kids. Is it worth the effort to just stay on the La Ros side or better to drive round to the La Thuile side? What about parking at the PsB pass and biking down to La Thuile. Getting there lift pass. Spend all day on that side if the riding is better and then ride back to the car from their highest lift. Would this avoid the uphill riding? Any idea on the cost of the lift pass for La Thuile?
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Went up the Bellvarde lift in Val 20 or so years ago and biked down to La Daille. Stumbled upon John Tomac and the Grundig World Cup DH lads all going down La Daille on practice day, thought I was quite handy on descents at that time until those lads showed me how to do it. The terrain was pretty awful up high (Orange/ OK pistes?), it was quarry-like, all man made and pretty disappointing.....went around to Tignes and found some really nice singletrack but couldn't say where it was too long ago.

We head out to Arlberg/Vorarlberg ie, Bregenzerwald now every summer (2.5 weeks time), much more pleasant for natural trails and highly recommended, especially around Lech/ Warth/ Steeg area.
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It's interesting to see how the various shops work here.

The shop I recommend to people who might want to hire etc is a very good business.

Apart from Off-Road they also have a big range or road bikes as we have some of the most iconic Cols in the French Alps, Izoard, Lautaret and Galibier and as we're on the two main touring roads Route des Grand Alpes and Route Napoleon there are so many people travelling down through the Alps en route to the Med and back

They are also in a great position on the main road just before a RAB with all the bikes on show.

Last week I took out five geezonaires on new season Electric Mountain bikes - they paid circa €45 for the day and when you bear in mind there was no need for a lift pass that was stunningly good value.

We were out for nigh on eight hours, some 56km and 1,500m of vertical (report and pics in the ebike thread) and it was a route that most mountain bikers would not take as it's too tough a climb, and too long a day.


http://youtube.com/v/VoqT7O52oLg

The shop has nigh on a waiting list for the bikes at the end of the season!


This is a guide I put together for MTB / Ebikes which even the Tourist Office now link to from their English Language part of the site.

http://www.stylealtitude.com/mtb-vtt-cycling-briancon-serre-chevalier.html

It's not so much about the bike park but more the routes you can take in the valley and beyond and to many of the amazing high altitude Napoleonic fortresses and mountain refuges.

We're blessed with kms of old military roads linking valleys, fortresses both here and in Italy (Strada) and there's still so much to be explored, only recently whilst out on the road bike I saw signs to a tunnel I'd never heard about and further investigation it's quite something http://www.dangerousroads.org/europe/france/225-col-du-parpaillon-france.html it's on the bucket list for next week hopefully
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stevomcd wrote:

La Plagne has the best lift-accessed riding in the Tarentaise IMO, just that none of it is on the trail map!


My Queenstown based nephew has worked as a guide based out of Peisey for the past few seasons. Finished last year as our French friends stopped non locally qualified guides (but that's another story).

When I questioned why his route maps were so carefully guarded by his employer, he told me their routes were their USP and top secret, although he and most of the customers had GPS watches etc Smile
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@snowcrazy, we do run Sainte Foy uplift sometimes, but only really for our own guests. I've just run an uplift day for some regular guests who were camping with family this year, cost was €320 for van, driver & guide.

The riding in La Ros and La Thuile is totally different. La Ros is pretty basic bike-park stuff, not worth the trip compared to the similar trails at Les Arcs, etc. (except for the Dream Forest trail back down to Seez, which is good).

La Thuile is very natural-feeling, mostly steep & rooty/rocky. Not ideal for kids unless they're very good riders. Parking at the PSB doesn't help, you still have the same pedal back up from the top of La Thuile lifts. The best thing to do is park at the restaurant with the duck pond and ride down from there. You can reach the duck pond from the lifts easily enough.
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