Danny Hart wins 2011 MTB World Championship in Champery

Danny Hart World Champion 2011I’ve just got back from the 2011 MTB World Championship Downhill race in Champery, where Danny Hart rode a legendary race to become the 2011 champion.

The conditions today were difficult to say the least. The rain has been constant all day, varying between heavy & torrential. The Champery downhill course is testing at the best of times. Add in heavy mud, small rivers pouring down the course and low visibility, and most riders were fighting just to stay on their bikes.

The fastest times were set by the riders mid way through the race, and as the rain got harder, and visibility got worse, it looked like all the following riders would fall by the wayside.

Then Danny Hart took to the gate. He nailed the route from the outset, taking new lines and carrying speed through even the hardest & steepest sections. As he came into the final section he even managed to through in a couple of whips so big he was almost horizontal. Then he crossed the line over 11 seconds faster than the previous leader.

The Champery course made a legend of Sam Hill after his amazing run in 2009. In 2011, Danny Hart ecplised that and proved he is truly king of the mountain.

Following Danny, Gee Atherton crashed a couple of times coming in covered in mud. Even Arron Gwin who looked very dangerous at the start managed to crash and came in twelfth.

All of which meant that the 19 year old from Redcar was crowned 2011 World Champion. Good work Danny.

2011 MTB World Championship Men's Results

Passportes du Soleil 2011

The PasspoPassportes du Soleil 2011rtes du Soleil is happening again from the 24th – 26th June 2011. This event is now so popular that the have added an extra day of racing on the Friday.

There are still some places available but they are going fast so don’t wait too long. You can register online on the Passportes du Soleil website.

For those who don’t know, the Passportes is a fantastic mountain bike trek taking in the whole of the Portes du Soleil. The route ranges from 1000 to 2250m in altitude, and covers terrain in both France & Switzerland.

The 80 km circuit use 14 lifts. There are also optional climbs for those (crazy) riders wishing to cycle up hill. Passportes du Soleil 2011

There is always a real festival feel to the event, with music and bike shows in many of the resorts. There are also lots of refreshment stops along the way where you can feel up on energy drinks and snacks, or if you prefer, sausage cheese and wine (not recommended for too early in the day).

All in all, the Passportes is a great day out and as someone who has done it 5 or 6 times, I thoroughly recommend it.

Passportes du Soleil 2011The is also the usual Pass’Portes Mountain bike Show which in 2011 will be held in les Gets.

As usual accommodation in Chatel for this weekend is booking up quickly so contact us soon if you need somewhere to stay. We should be able to find you some self catered or hotel accommodation.

Come and pit yourself against Europe’s best bike playground!

Winter season update – March 12th 2010

Chatel Waterslide
Chatel 3 style days

As we near the half way point in March, it is clear that this is turning into an epic season. We have had consistent snowfall and cold temperatures now pretty much since the end of December, snow conditions are still fantastic, the sun is shining and the pistes are pretty empty. I knew there was a reason why I love March skiing so much.

There are some great events lined up over the next couple of weeks, including the Chatel 3 style days which includes downhill mountainbiking on snow, freestyle ski & board competition and waterslide (20-24th March).

Full details of the event can be found on the Chatel Tourism Website.

Mountain biking in the Portes du Soleil

How often have you actually ridden your mountain bike down a mountain?

Mountain Biking in the Portes du Soleil
Mountain Biking in the Portes du Soleil

How often have you actually ridden your mountain bike down a mountain? If you mostly ride in the UK, then chances are you don’t do it very often. However, this sport that we all know and love is called “mountain biking” for a reason. If you sit at the top of a mountain pass in the French Alps, looking across towards the snow capped mountains and glaciers of the Mont Blanc range, with 1500m descent of twisty technical single track ahead of you; suddenly it all starts to make sense.

The Portes du Soleil region, in the northern French Alps, has become a Mecca for mountain biking and not without good reason. In winter the area is famous for being the largest linked ski area in the world, but during the summer months it is also easily the largest lift served mountain bike trail area in the world.

The area really does have something to offer all styles and levels of mountain biking. For cross country riders, there are plenty of demanding climbs to challenge your fitness. For downhill riders, there are well over 20 dedicated downhill tracks ranging from easy to insane. For free riders, the area really comes into its own with mile after mile of varied terrain including bike parks, technical forest single track, exposed steep faces and north shore style courses.

In response to the growing demand from mountain bikers from all disciplines, many of the resorts in the area have invested heavily in mountain bike infrastructure.

In Switzerland, the combined areas of Champéry, Val d’Illiez-Les Crosets-Champoussin & Morgins boast a four cross track, a north shore zone, a bike park, 3 downhill courses (including the infamous UCI world cup downhill course, and the UCI 15 km cross country loop.

In Les Gets over in the French side, there is a beginners’ downhill track at the Grand Cry Park and 2 beginners’ MTB parks; the Kid’Zone and Mini Jump Park. For the more experienced there is a dirt and freestyle jump park, a four cross track, a freeride zone in “Gibannaz Canyon”, 4 downhill courses, and 6 cross-country suitable for all riders.

Chatel, which is right at the centre of the area, has perhaps the biggest selection of purpose built MTB areas with 15 MTB tracks (14 of which are downhill profiled), 5 north shore zones, 1 four cross track, the infamous freeride “La Face” mountain style zone, 1 kid’s cross and a drop zone with jump pit, wall ride, quarter, step-ups and step-downs.

Despite having great trails for intermediate, advanced and crazy riders, the Portes du Soleil area is also a fantastic place to learn mountain biking, or to go riding with young families. There are lots of opportunities to get chairlifts up to the tops of the mountains, and then find your way around on 4×4 tracks which don’t tend to be too steep or challenging.

One of the reasons why the Portes du Soleil has become so popular for mountain biking is because the sheer vastness of the area results an incredible mix of varied terrain, and ensures that the trails never become too busy. Indeed, it is possible to ride all day and not see another person. Couple this with picturesque resorts, great value accommodation and the glorious back drop of the Dents du Midi and Dents Blanches mountains, and it is clear to see why the Portes du Soleil is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the world.

The Passportes du Soleil Mountain Bike Race

Passportes du Soleil
Passportes du Soleil

The Passportes du Soleil is an epic mountain bike race in the huge Portes du Soleil region of France & Switzerland which heralds the start of summer and the opening of the lift system. It takes place over the last weekend in June, and has evolved from an earlier event known as the “Freeraid”.

Most riders don’t really treat the Passportes as a race (although you do get a number for the front of your bike) but simply a great day’s mountain bike riding. The event is massive – 2 days, 3 courses (30, 45 & 75 km) and 3700 riders. The classic trek of 75 km includes 12 ski lifts, 6500 m of total downhill, 500 m of total uphill climb.

What makes this event unique is the fact that it attracts a wide range of participants – from lycra clad cross country riders to armour clad downhill riders, and from beginners to experts. Everyone gets involved and rides the same course. True, the cross country riders tend to beat the downhill riders on the climbs, and for the real keen peddlers, there is also optional climbing sections. And true the downhillers tend to overtake the cross country riders when it comes to descending, and there are a couple of optional “free ride” sections. But overall, the race is a fantastic melting pot of all mountain bike styles and standards.

As for the course itself – it has to be one of the best in the world! It takes in some amazing panoramas on the Morgins and Champoussin sections with views of the Dents du Midi, the Dents Blanch and even Mont Blanc. There is some excellent steep and twisty single track down through the woods in Torgon. There are dedicated downhill courses used at Chatel and Les Gets. There is an epic descent from the top of Linderets down to Morzine and there are some great meandering cross-country sections on relatively easy 4×4 tracks.

Another excellent feature of this event are the fantastic refreshment stands located at regular intervals throughout the course. Large tables offer up a wide range of snacks and drinks, from energy/nut bars to cheese and ham, from energy drinks to beer and wine. It is always interesting to see who feels fit to tuck into the alcoholic drinks at ten in the morning, and then avoid them if you see them on the course!

The Passporte du Soleil is really an event for everyone. It has become so massive that it now sells out months in advance. However, if you visit the Portes du Soleil later on in the summer, it is possible to get a map from the local tourist office and cycle pretty much the whole route.

Race stats:

Classic trek – 75 Km
The classic circuit is for purists: a long tour of the Portes du Soleil about 75km
    * approximatively 75km – 12 lifts
    * 6500m of total downhill/ 500m of total uphill
    * 7 resorts to start from : Avoriaz, Châtel, Les Gets, Morzine, Champéry, Morgins et Torgon
    * 8 refreshments points

Intermediate trek – 45 km
45km with one aim in mind; having fun
    * approximatively 45km – 7 lifts
    * 4000m of total downhill /300m of total uphill.
    * 4 resorts to start from: Châtel, Champéry, Morgins et Torgon.
    * 4 refreshments points

Discovery trek – 30km
For those who are quite good at mountain biking, but out on The Portes du Soleil’s tracks for the first ime…an ideal “breaking in route”
    * approximatively 30km- 5 lifts
    * 2200m of total downhill/ 200m of total uphill
    * 3 resorts to start from: Avoriaz, Morzine et Les Gets
    * 3 refreshments points

For more information, visit the Passportes du Soleil website.