There’s a new way to hurl yourself down a mountainside. Forget skiing and snowboarding. This winter season, it’s all about whizzing through the snow on two wheels at theSnow Bike Festival in Switzerland.
The third Snow Bike Festival takes place 19th to the 22nd January in the picture perfect Swiss ski resort of Gstaad. The main event of the festival is the three day stage race. Entering into this means signing up for rides that are 35 – 50 kilometres in length, with 600 – 1000 metres of climbing over three to five hours of cycling a day. And, there’s an eliminator night race to keep you on your toes.
This sounds pretty intense going, but be reassured, you don’t need any experience with a snow bike. A mountain biker with average fitness would be able to tackle these runs. And there’s a softer landing for any tricks.
To attempt this level of cycling in the snow you can’t just use any bike. No no. You need a snow bike. The wheels on these frames are specially wide tyres which mean lots of traction so less slipping and sliding. While the late 1940’s saw the development of the first bikes to tackle snow, this sport is only just gaining momentum now as a way of mountain biking all year round.
If you don’t fancy skidding around the icy corners in the three dayer, there’s the Fun Ride for you to enter. Lasting only two hours, it squeezes all the best parts of the longer race in and you can use any sort of bike to get down it.
Or, if you’re more about the apres-ski then it’s the Snow Bike Party you want to head for. Gstaad is promising to put on a mountain party with the best hangover cure obviously being a ride in the snow.
It’s no surprise that snow bikers picked Gstaad as their European hotspot. The alpine resort has mountains and glaciers that rise up to 3000 metres, and the villages are between 1000-1400 metres above sea level. This means there’s 220 kilometres of ski slopes to discover whether you’re on two skis, two wheels or any other snow transport that takes your fancy.
Careering around icy corners, skidding across ski slopes and hurling ourselves down the Alpine mountains on two wheels sounds like the ultimate way to tackle the slopes. We’ll be free wheeling all the way to the finish line.