And there you all were, thinking of 2Alpes as a major international snowports resort with some of the best summer glacier skiing Europe can offer and a snowpark which attracts riders from all over the world. How you could have mistaken mountian bike paradise for a mere ski resort escapes me. Tut.
Resort opened on Wednesday with a bit of a whimper despite the fact that almost half the domaine is accessible and we have twice as much snow as we’ve had in living memory, mainly because it chucked it with rain for the first two days. This doesn’t do much to convince people who are strapped for cash and thinking about sunshine and beaches anyway that a spot of summer skiing followed by a little light via ferrata might be a good excuse to pull a midweek sickie. I didn’t go up myself, despite the fact that my first two days of work just happened to coincide with a) my regular days off and b) the first two days of the summer season. Rude, I know. Sorry.
Even today the only skiers about were the usual hardcore Italian race teams sporting lycra catsuits and lugging planks long enough to frighten a ski jumper. When I learned to ski, back when dinosaurs (or Dinosaurs, for those of you arriving via Natives) roamed the earth, short skis were for pussies. These days it’s very much the shorter the better, and extra street cred points of they’re so fat that it looks as though you’ve strapped a snowboard to each foot.
So it’s just as well that the first weekend of the season is host to the Mondial du VTT or else the place might be just one big damp squib. A very damp squib indeed if tomorrow’s weather forecast is anything to go by.
Mountain bikers, however, wot not of mud and rain – in fact they appear to revel in it. The few who asked me this morning about the weather forecast seemed positively overjoyed when I mentioned the possibility of maussade, and became distinctly down in the mouth on being reassured that one could never tell, today’s forecast had proved wrong and besides the weather can change in a flash here in the mountains. (This is my regular winter season spiel for skiers and is generally followed by “so you should buy a six-day ticket and don’t forget the insurance in case the weather’s bad and the lifts are closed”).
The queue backed up onto the road all morning, abated a bit over lunch and then started again at two o’clock just as it commenced to spit with rain. At this point skiers would have adjourned to the nearest bar for vin chaud and who-hucked-what stories; the bikers just covered their backpacks in flourescent poly bags and paddled in the nearest muddy puddle while waiting for the lift.
Après ski traditionally consists of loud cheesy Europop, dodgy alcoholic drinks containing ‘herbs’ and ski boots at a time of day when slippers would be more appropriate. Après bike, on the other hand, seems to involve …. bikes. But with a sprinkling of near-naked ladies, none of them covered in mud, just to show that a) it’s the evening and b) everyone is acceptably manly and the ‘taches are just a French thing and none of that San Francisco bath-house business, OK? There was a defininte dearth of ladies during the day, though I have to admit that what with the head to toe helmet-and-mud ensemble, a few of them might have sneaked past me without being spotted.
Early evening activites (I didn’t stay for late evening, what with having frozen my tits off all day and being in the mood to kill someone for a pizza) consisted of watching attractive young ladies waving pompoms about while muddy chaps on bikes ignored them and jumped off things. To be honest, there was a definite Baden Powell meets extreme sports vibe about the whole thing.
Annoying though pished one-piece-wearing Eurotrash fans can be, I think I still have to go for the wintersports thang.