How strange is it, to be able to cruise up to Pierre Avoi without hardly any effort and have a full suspension mountain bike ready to rip the trails back down to La Tsoumaz. But what if we did one last one down to Verbier? Do we have enough battery to get back up? Because if we don’t, it’s going to be rough. “Boys, how many bars we got?” “2…3…2” All right, let’s do it.
We set off down steep rocky trails, hooting as we manage difficult sections, grumbling if we have to get off our bikes. The terrain opens up, dust flies as tires skid through bends. Two minutes later, we are sitting on a bench watching the view from a beautiful spot. Carl, our guide knows the trails like the back of his hand, the ones that are on the map, and that aren’t. It’s a real privilege to be able to ride with him; an opportunity to discover trails and learn how to really bike.
We set off again, down into the trees, the terrain gets steep again, and it's best not to stop in order to stay on the bike. Despite the weight, our E-bikes perform marvellously through tricky sections and we each feel the rush of downhill biking, on this hiking path.
Carl stops regularly, to make sure we are doing ok and to explain what is to come. We must also pay attention to the presence of hikers, we cannot simply plow on, as on a trail reserved for bikers. The pedestrian trails of Val de Bagnes have recently opened up to mountain bikers, a huge opportunity, especially with E-bikes, but that requires plenty of respect towards walkers. If you are a skilled mountain biker, you will know you are in control when passing pedestrians, but from the perspective of the pedestrian who sees and hears the walloping, skidding and jumping mass of metal, tire and flesh, they can easily feel threatened. It is therefore important to dismount your bike or wait for hikers to pass during these encounters.
As we jump from one trail to the next, the enormous potential of E-bikes begins to really dawn on me. Huge tours between valleys on difficult terrain become accessible to mountain bikers, like me, who are not total pros. So we must use this fantastic tool, but use it with respect and humility, or we will end up pushing our uncharged bikes back up the hill.
Alex Moorhead is a photographer, ski patroller and mountaineer. You can find
out more about him and his work at:
Carl Renvall is a professional skier on
the Freeride World Tour and part owner of Rad Biking Switzerland. Get in touch
with him through: