Alps Tour Travel Guide and FAQ's
Our chalets are located in beautiful Chamonix Valley in France, and have astoundingly great views of Mt Blanc and surrounding mountains. Trips go from Saturday to Saturday.
We fly into and out of Geneva (GVA), Switzerland. Check-in time is 4pm on the Saturday your trip begins. Checkout time is 10am the Saturday your trip ends. This works well with most flights into and out of Geneva.
Riding takes place in France, Switzerland and Italy. We ride in Aosta Valley, Port du Soleil, Bex Switzerland, and of course do lots of rides in Chamonix Valley.
All rides are within 70 minutes of the chalet by van. Most are within 20-40 minutes.
We do mostly enduro-style descending each day, with very little climbing on most days. We also spend a couple of days in local bike parks to round things out. Some riders have logged more than 20k vertical in a day, and 100k vertical over the week.
Airport pickup and drop off via Cham-Van.com. Two pickup (on first Saturday) and two drop off times (last Saturday) offered at no charge. Custom times available at reasonable prices.
Daily ride transport in our luxury vans with bike trailers. Two separate van groups per day allow us to split riders according to ability and trail tastes. There are great places to eat and relax if you only want to ride part of the day some days.
Daily ride leading from local pros. Wayne Coates and Thomas Aubin are certified French Guides who live in the valley and love to show off its beauty and trails. Our Guides are also FIT Level 1 & 2 Certified.
Exceptional food. Breakfast daily and dinner on 5 nights of the trip. (We'll have dinner out two nights of the trip.)
Fruit and other ride snacks are included to keep you fueled on the rides.
Wine and beer are included at no extra charge with dinner.
Local knowledge. Want to take a hike? Go paragliding? Want to shop for a few gifts for friends? Our pros will help you see the valley in a way you can’t imagine and go out of their way to show you the best possible time.
How good a rider do I need to be? How fit do I need to be?
Riders should be advanced intermediate or above and have good basic fitness. With two vans and guides, each trip will have a less technical component, so strong intermediate riders are welcome. We'll also have an advanced crew heading out each day. Even though we are mostly descending, the days are long and physical. In addition to bringing good skills and fitness, riders should bring a good attitude. The Alps can be humbling. We recommend taking classes with Fluidride in preparation for the trip unless you are already a very strong rider. ALL riders will be screened to be sure they are ready to take on the challenges of riding the valley.
How hard is the riding?
The trails in the valley are generally quite technical and vary from tough ‘Blue Square’ runs to double black diamonds. In Europe the trails are rated blue, red (US black) and black (US double black). During most trips we descend 60,000-90,000 vertical feet in the week with less than 2,000 feet of climbing in that time. Riders should be able to ride blue runs easily and get through black diamond trails in a reasonable fashion. If you are from Seattle, a good example is that you should be comfortable on Off the Grid at Tiger Mountain to be in the less advanced group, and if you want to be in the more advanced group, you should be comfortable with trails such as Predator. Questions about your ability and if you are prepared? Contact Simon. Fluidride reserves the right to refund money after payment to those not ready for Chamonix Valley riding.
How does the trip I choose affect the type of riding we do?
Our 2019 trip is being held in August, so there will be a great array of riding choices open to us. We'll have the choice between challenging extended descents in the big mountains, or shorter and often less technical descents in some of the local bike parks.
What is the best bike for me?
We recommend bringing a long travel trail bike with 150mm of travel or more. We do require that riders set bikes up with tubeless, 2-ply cased tires for the trip. There are lots of rocks in the valley – and roots of course, too. Having heavy tires really improves the control you will have on rough ground, while reducing tire-related mechanicals. We recommend 150mm or more travel for all but the most skilled riders. Long travel trail bikes are available for rent in the valley. Wayne and Thomas can help with reservations, which must be made well in advance.
What should I bring?
A well-tuned bike – long travel trail. (Or have us organize a rental.) We ask that your bike be brought clean in ready-to-ride condition.
Dual-ply tires with tubeless setup. You don't need to let all the air out of your tires to fly, so leave your tire bead set on the rim.
Layered clothing for changing conditions – expect to ride in 40-100F degree weather.
Full-faced helmet. This can be a full downhill or lighter enduro-style helmet. Neck braces are welcome if you have one.
Knee pads, elbow pads, and any additional protective gear are highly recommended
Riding pack with the ability to carry water, layers, snacks and other essential gear
Electrical outlet adapter for your computer and phone. A simple two-prong European-style adapter fits most outlets best. The big clunky ones simply aren’t compatible with the round-style outlets in most places.
Phone. Having communication is helpful to you and to us. consider a SIM card for European travel or add to your plan to prevent surprises on your bill. I have used T-Mobile around the world and have been very impressed with what they offer. They also have no-contract plans, so you can get set up with a separate travel phone just for the month. T-Mobile has great reception in the valley.
A spare set of brake pads and derailleur hanger for your bike are also a great idea and won't take up much space.
Spare tubes in case of a puncture.
What Kind of food is served? How are allergies/preferences handled?
We serve up lots of healthy food at each meal and happily cook for vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free riders. You will be asked prior to the trip about any special requests you have or sensitivities to food.
Typical breakfast offering: coffee, yogurt, fruit, cereal, eggs, cheese, bread, gluten-free bread, croissants, fried potatoes
Typical dinner: We cook up some French classics in addition to straight-up healthy meals you might be more familiar with. You will get plenty of power-packed foods no matter your dietary restrictions. Desserts are served after meals. Complimentary wine (aka French water) and beer are included with dinner as well. Some meals will be eaten in nearby restaurants.
What are the additional costs?
Airfare – Typically around $1,100
Bike transport or rental ($200-$300 for transport of your bike round-trip. Varies by airline)
Lunch each day ($10-15)
Dinner on two evenings during our 'nights out'
Daily uplift service by chair, train, tram, trolley ($25 average)
What if I want to bring a non-rider with me?
Totally fine! Non-riders can join for $1,000 when sharing a room with a rider. There are stunning hikes from our chalet and at every riding location. The house is also well suited for amazing yoga practices, etc., or just catching up on email. Town is a 20-minute walk down a beautiful river trail, or a 5-minute ride by bus.
Do I need to rent a car?
No. We do the shopping and all the ride transport for you. Public transit is also available just steps from the door and is very easy to use. Of course if you want to rent a car, you are welcome to.
We have two modern French chalets, which are adjoined and almost identical to one another. There are four bedrooms and four bathrooms in each chalet. Each house has two master suites with en suite bathrooms. All other bedrooms have their own bathroom across the hall from the room. The chalets also have a sauna downstairs and a hot tub out on the deck. There is great and very secure bike storage in the garage of each chalet. Pumps, tubes and basic tools will be supplied. We'll set up one dining/living room as the eating area where breakfast and dinners will be served. The other will be set up as a large living room for apres-ride snacks and cocktails prior to dinner.
Never been to Europe?
It can be stressful to experience a new country, but rest assured we’ll make it about as easy as possible. You will be taken care of from the moment you arrive. The French are very friendly in the countryside. Many of the locals joke that there are Parisians and then there are the French. We have always been treated with respect during our trips.
What’s a normal day like?
The day starts with breakfast at 8am. Our ride leaders show up around 9 to load the trailers. We depart at 9:30am each day. We are typically home around 6pm, which makes having dinner on the table an amazing thing. While some rides require riders to be 'all in' there will be plenty of days where riders can control the amount of riding they do, or even catch a bus or train back to the chalet early.
Are there days off the bike?
While we don't have formal 'off days', riders are welcome to take one at any point. There is a lot to do in the area other than riding. The trips feel long in terms of riding. 6 days might not sound like much, but everyone is pretty knackered by the last day.
Download Google Translate. It’s an amazing tool for communication, as well as for reading foreign languages. Simply point your phone at text in any language and you will see it in English. (Amazing and a little eerie!) This helps for everything from doing laundry to reading road signs to knowing what’s in the food you are buying in the store or off a menu. It’s also a great tool for learning some French.
The fine print:
Cancellation Policy: All Tours are fully refundable until December 1, 2018. Riders canceling between December 2 and February 1 will receive a 50% refund (of total trip price). No refunds after February 1. If you are on one of our payment plans, your card will be continue to be charged until the trip is paid in full. No exceptions. Travel insurance is required. Purchase your trip protection through World Nomads to protect your investment. Insurance is inexpensive and covers you for more than just the purchase of your trip.