Public transport: Dorenaz.

Public transport: Dorenaz

Generally when you think of using public transport to ride your bike, it’s looking sheepish as you trail mud through a Scotrail carriage to hook your bike up by the toilet then sit getting cold on the way back home.

Switzerland is a bit different. In Switzerland the topography lends itself more to cable cars than trains so access to many smaller villages is by publicly run telepheriques. Dorenaz is one such place where the local bus driver also sells tickets and presses buttons on a 670m height gain gondola.

It's not quite the same as the bike rack on a sprinter train....

As Dorenaz is at only 450m and the hill faces SW, the trails are generally clear of snow most of the year round, but it can still be pretty chilly in winter. No such problems for Spence and I when we headed out of Chamonix for some t-shirt and shorts riding in low 20’s temperatures and clear blue skies.

Bikes are tough these days, but I think even that drop would end badly.

After hooking our bikes onto the underside of the gondola by their wheels and panicking most of the way up that they were going to clip the hillside and get knocked off, we arrived at the Champex plateau where it’s a short pedal up the tarmac to the start of the marked DH trails.

It being the first proper days riding (or should I say #pre-season training as this year I’ve gone ENDURO so no more riding, only #training or #set up testing for me now…) of the year I’d hoped for some flowing singletrack to get back into the flow of things.

A gentle ease back into riding for the summer

No such luck. From the get-go the trails are steep, fast and rocky. To add to the fun the lack of rain recently has left the track bone dry. Chatting to some locals later in the day we were told that the track runs better in the damp, giving much more friction. This did make us feel a bit better about our riding, but not much.

Dry and dusty, and it's only the start of April

After a lap of the DH trail and a few minutes at the lift to recover, collect our thoughts and steel ourselves for another lap, one of the other locals (at least, we’re assuming they were locals as they were flipping quick, turned up in a van with “Crossroad Cycles CH” written on the side, and that shop seems to sponsor the trails, I think Mrs Marple would come to the same conclusion….) took pity on us and said he’d show us some of the “easier” trails…

Dorenaz isn't only about steep and rocky

They were “easier” than the official trail, but certainly weren’t easy!

Back up and back on the official track we explored some of the variations marked on the trail map. Apparently these are graded from blue to black, but I’ve no idea how you tell the difference as they all felt just as interesting. Try them all and repeat the bits you like the most would be the recommendation.

But there is a lot of steep and/or rocky

It’s not too easy to find information online for Dorenaz, but if you want to head over and give it a go (and you should if you like the Vallorcine DH track, or techier tracks in general) then check out the Dorenaz facebook page and the telepherique website for more info. To get there from Chamonix, head to Martigny, follow the signs through town for Vernayaz, then the signs for Dorenaz once outside Martigny. Or look at a map.

Bike park/play park, Spence rules them all.