What a difference 24 hours makes in the mountains weather wise. With overnight snow and sub zero temperatures, the riding conditions had changed dramatically, the snowpack becoming harder and infinitely more rideable, up and down. It was one of those riding days where you actually look forward to heading out for a few hours in the cold. And today didn’t disappoint.
Within 300m we were heading upwards, a 6km climb to wake up the legs and warm the core. The higher we climbed the deeper the trail side snow got and the more spectacular the views as we entered the Turbach valley. A brief singletrack descent opened up the smiles for the day, the snow mostly firm and fast riding, full on drifts around each turn. The climbing wasn’t quite done with us yet though, rolling through hillside villages where a 2nd home for winter and summer activities would be perfect! The previous day’s unrideable was today’s rideable, conditions under tyre making for fast descending and easier to forge lines through the snow withput so much front wheel wander. Even the steeper descents were all rideable, rear brake on full lock, sliding downwards. The views through this Lauenen valley were stunning, The snowy trails flowed, up and down, grip was perfect, every climb tyres gripping in the compact snow.. The circuit from Lauenen was probably the best of the stage’s riding with more stunning views and flowing trails through the trees. The climb out of the village up to Lauenensee meandered at a pleasantly steady gradient before dropping back onto more rolling trails. This was some of the best riding so far, fast riding, wooded, hardpack snowy trails with high walls of snow each side. It was one of those routes you’d happily go and ride again and again!
The circuit dropped back in Lauenen as the 2nd (but the same as the 1st) feed station for a little sustenance and the ringing of cowbells before the last 10km. Dropping down out of the village, the 4km descent was slow going for a descent! There was no hauling it back down, as, as I have come to learn after numerous offs, brakes don’t help much on super hard packed, icy conditions! Interrupted by a steep singletrack descent through the trees, it was otherwise steady as she goes all the way down and a fast roll along the valley. A slight climb brought us to a final bit of fun in the snow, down a piste! Pretty sure the skier didn’t know quite what to make of cyclists riding down their piste. Drifting down, the rear brake on full lock, leaning the bike inline with the slopes contours got you down without an off! The final 1km back to the festival village was the same as stage 1, but at least this time it was more a ‘sprint’ back on the harder snowpack.
What a day. This may be a race, but when the conditions are just so perfect for fatbiking, the fun element almost outweighs the competitive aspect! It’s all smiles and tales of the day’s riding around the dinner table.
This was a tough test for the Gore Wear Primaloft jacket and trousers having to function under highly contrasting conditions of perspiring hard on the climbs and the sub zero wind chill temperatures of long descents. The Squirt low temperature lube kept the drivetrain running super smooth all the way through.
Photos by Wayne Reiche