Our time in Switzerland could best be described as BIG. The mountains were big. Really big. The food was big and made with big love. Our van was big and full to the brim with luggage. When the weather came, it came in a big way. And if big was a way to describe awesome, than our trip was huge.
After a few weeks of fromage, fromage, and more fromage mixed in with a lot of chocolate it makes me wonder how the Swiss arenâ€™t all huge! I suppose the fact that scaling huge mountains is a daily activity for them probably explains it.
We first started out in Zurich and explored the city a la velo. Dylan took enjoyment out of scaring the locals by riding his bike along the handrail of a pedestrian bridge that spanned the river that divided town. Personally, I was pretty stoked by the make-your-own muesli press we had at our hotel breakfast. Very Swiss.
After Zurich we headed to the gorgeous Lake Geneva district and stayed in the mighty luxurious town of Montreux. This place was like the Rodeo Drive of Switzerland and you could tell this is where those guys with anonymous Swiss bank accounts hang out. Turns out Freddy Mercury was pretty fond of the place as well because he and the rest of Queen set up a recording studio there and in memoriam the town put up a huge Freddy Mercury statue next to the lake. Needless to say, we went and hung out with him for a while!
The relaxation of Montreux was short lived as we quickly headed up to the giant mountains nearby. Our first stop was Leysin which provided quite a shock to our suspension systems. After a beautiful lunch in their revolving restaurant that looks over Lake Geneva and the Alps we plunged into some of the steepest, rockiest switchbacks Iâ€™ve ever seen or ridden. It was intense but super funâ€¦especially when we made it to the bottom without too many bruises!
The next day we got to go to another beautiful village in the heart of the mountains called Chateau Dâ€™Oex. Itâ€™s always so cool to see huge houses and whole villages in places that most people wouldnâ€™t even consider habitable. Chateau Dâ€™Oex was one of those and actually held the World Championships way back in 96 on a course that would be considered gnarly today even with 10â€ DH bikes. After ripping their beautiful trails and having several up close and personal encounters with the local cattle, we packed up and prepared to go deeper into the mountains.
Mr.Tom Tom the navigator GPS led us up and up and up to our next destination in Champery. Unfortunately the sun wasnâ€™t too stoked on shining that high in the mountains and we were greeted by rain. It was okay though because we hit up the local thermal baths and chowed down on a huge lunch courtesy of our Portes du Soleil hospitality queen, Nathalie. It was so nice to relax in Champery I almost wanted it to rain some more!
The next day we woke up very confused to the sound of both intense thunderclaps and a lawnmower. Guess people mow the lawn in torrential downpours here because the thunderclaps let loose but instead of going to the spa, we headed up the tram into a wall of rain and clouds with our local guide LoLo. LoLo ripped and brought us to one of the most fun trails we had ridden the entire trip despite the rain. All I had heard before riding Champery was that â€œgirls really seem to struggle here,â€ so needless to say it was a relief when the trails turned out to be awesome!
We rode a bit more Champery then headed over the French boarder to the Chatel bike park with local trail building guru Ben Walker, his wife Corriene, and LoLo to be greeted with sunshine, fast groomed trails, and to both Dylan and my great pleasure, a quarterpipe! There were even trails there called â€œNorth Shoreâ€ and it was funny to see trails named after somewhere where I have lived.
After an authentically authentic French dinner, we capped our Swiss trip off with one of the coolest things Iâ€™ve ever done. Really. Iâ€™ve done a lot of cool things, and this is near the top. There is a zip line in Chatel that is 240m high, over 1km long and sends you flying on a cable in lawn dart position at over 100km an hour. After some coercing from Cory, we hit it up and flew across the Swiss Alps. Canâ€™t say it wasnâ€™t scary but damn it was fun!
Now weâ€™re in Norway, surrounded by really fun blonde people and great riding. Should be fun. Weâ€™ll keep you posted.