Ski resorts make for great cycling destinations in Summer. When the snow has melted and the roads are cleared, swap your skis for your bikes, from two skis to two wheels.
1. New Roads
When you like climbing mountains or you want to discover new roads to ride, a ski resort is not your first thought. But these often overlooked places make for some great cycling, both for road and mountain bikers. You’ll know famous Cols like Galibier, Madeleine, and Iseran. But resorts like La Norma and Valmeinier are great roads to climb and are set up for mountain biking adventures.
All these resorts are at elevation and the roads can be up to 13 kilometers in length. They’ll test you, your legs and lungs. But they’ll reward you also.
2. Less Traffic, fewer motorbikes
The major Cols and passes will always have the most traffic, cars, trucks, camping cars, and motorbikes. But ski resorts like La Norma or Orelle have less traffic, making them perfect places for the climbing cyclist.
When you are here in the Maurienne Valley, don’t simply ride past them onto your next Col to tick off your list. Take a detour and test yourself on some beautiful quiet roads all to yourself.
On these roads, you can hear the birds and cows and the marmots. You can hear your own breathing. You won’t hear the screaming of motorbikes racing past you. You can concentrate on your breathing, take a little extra space on the road. You can take in the views as you ride to the top of the resorts.
4. Fewer cyclists
There is something about sharing an experience with other cyclists and joining the club of those who have conquered the mighty cols with all the other cyclists. But there is also something special about enjoying a climb all on your own, and discovering a road that fewer people know about or have ridden. When you discover these roads you’ll be the person your friends will thank for sharing it with them.
5. Great places to have a rest stop
Summer is an important season for the ski resort. Most of the businesses are open to cater to the hikers and mountain lovers. So you will always be able to find a place to eat and drink. It is one of the great things about climbing a mountain, you can justify eating and drinking all those extra calories at the top. You can take a moment to share the achievement with your friends or savor the moment with yourself.
6. Chair lifts – VTT and e-bikes
What do ski resorts have to get skiers up the mountains? Chairlifts. In the summer most ski resorts open the lifts for mountain bike riders and gravel riders. So take advantage of the opportunity to explore and discover new places, new trails, and new descents.
Take your own bike or you can usually find a ski shop that is now renting bikes for the summer season. They will have a range of bikes for the entire family and all levels of cyclists. Road, Mountain, and e-bikes. They will also offer a daily guiding service to show you the trails. Check with your local tourist office.
7. Good road surfaces
Generally speaking, the roads up to the ski resorts are usually well maintained and as they have fewer trucks and cars, the roads have not taken a beating. The shoulders of the roads will have less rubble and rocks. You also have fewer cracks in the roads. Nice tarmac, makes for a fast climb up and an even fast ride down. With less risk of hitting a rock or potholes.
8. Fun descents.
Everything mentioned above leads to the best thing about riding to a ski resort and climbing in general. It’s all about the descent. Less traffic, quieter roads, and good road conditions mean you can enjoy your descent with fewer things to worry about. Motorbikes can be really intimidating on the major Cols.
9. Take lessons or a tour with an instructor or guide.
The same reasons you take ski lessons with an instructor to get better or to take you ski touring; are the same reasons why you should think about taking lessons with a mountain bike instructor or hire a cycling guide to show you new trails and routes.
If you want to get better at mountain bike riding, hire an instructor. If you want your children to enjoy cycling and to feel more confident on the trail, hire an instructor. For cyclists looking for new trails, and new routes to discover on the road and dirt, you’ll find plenty of experienced instructors and guides in a ski resort.
10. Plenty of accommodation options and are great places to base yourself.
You will find plenty of different accommodation options at ski resorts. Outside the ski season, you will also find them at good prices. Most of the chalets and hotels will have special places where you can store your bikes.
So why not plan your next stay at a ski resort.
Some people still make fun of e-bikes. But they are usually the ones who have not tried them. E-bikes are great fun and still give you a tremendous workout. Trust us. Most of the ski rental shops in the ski resorts have invested in quality e-bikes for the entire family.
E-bikes allow you to ride longer distances, go faster, and still give you a good workout. They will allow you to achieve more and see more than a normal bike.
Whether you are a local french person or someone who has ticked off all the cols, and you are looking for new places to ride. Try the alpine roads that lead you to the best ski resorts in France, they all lead you up some of the best roads in France and the French Alps.
Stations – La Norma, Orelle, Valfrejus, Aussois, Karellis, Valmeinier, Grand Coin Nordic ski, St Francois Longchamp, St Michel La Porte (just a road for cycling)