I got back yesterday from the Fatbiking Europe Winter Camp 2017 and boy was it a hell of a ride!
It had LOTS of everything on offer: amazing trails, great company, tree and petrol flavoured evil spirits, sublime scenery, knee deep death marches, insane (super friendly) yocals, glorious sunshine, expensive fondu and more middle-aged men catapulting over the handlebars than is strictly healthy* – it was quite an event!
*disclaimer : no middle-aged men were harmed during the running of this event.
So where do we begin…..
I picked up Joe and Damian, the first two of our brave hero’s, as I passed Geneva airport on Thursday lunchtime and we were met at the hotel by Steven (“I’ll give you the sandwich knuckles”) The Belgian and his trusty side-kick Ada (an Italian Spinone).
We kit’d up and headed off to find some snow and before long we were pootling along having a nice old time in the sun.
The snow was soft-ish but really nice to ride in the snowshoe trails and on the groomed tracks as we blasted up and into the forest. We played around for a while but were losing the light and so headed back to the cars in time to get a glorious sunset as we zoomed down towards the end of the ride.
An evening of high quality British and Belgian beers (and many laughs) followed – a great first day!
Friday saw us up fairly late as 6 more of us were arriving around lunchtime.
We went over the border into Switzerland and had a little explore before we met up with Rob, Allan, Ashley and John from Southampton who’d driven through the night and then come straight out riding – nuts!
A gentle push up through some soft snow to the top of the nearest hill and we were rewarded with some amazing views out over a lake Geneva covered in low cloud and up into the Alps.
The following descent was awesome and we saw our first sets of tumbles and spills.
As we popped out at the bottom of the mountain we were getting peckish and so stopped at a classy looking establishment named Cheese N’ Beef!
Two of our party fell foul one of the oldest tricks in the book – ordering something from a Swiss mountain town menu without checking the price and were relieved of almost 50 the their hard-earned Pounds for some bread and cheese – ouchy!
Gavin and Shawn met us in the bar having arrived a little later than planned and following us around the route (at an unreasonably fast pace) and we were almost at full complement.
We slogged back up the road to the cars and headed back to the hotel to freshen up before heading out for a couple of shandies.
Kevin and Bal met us at the restaurant (my buddy Rob was unable to attend due to work which was a shame) and Friday night was go…..
What ensued will only ever be truly understood and appreciated by those who were there and lived to tell the tale but I’ll summarise using the following key words:
Beer, more beer, wine, snails, wine, a lot more wine, kangaroo, wine, AC/DC, dancing, singing, wine, crazy locals, tree spirit shots, petrol shots and (eventually) sleep at some ungodly hour!
The next morning saw us up and raring to go with not a single hangover in sight.
Our first port of call was less than fully successful but was quite the adventure. The trail I’d found was pretty hard going before it simply ceased to exist at all – bugger! With no alternative we nipped onto the nordic ski trail for a few hundred meters in order to relocate our trail (much to the annoyance of it’s intended users). This was then followed by the better part of an hour trudging through chest (knee) deep powder being chased by angry bears (not strictly true but no need to let the truth get in the way of a good story) before we called it a morning and headed back to the car with everyone’s sense of humor remaining mostly in tact.
The gang moved on to another location, grabbed a bite to eat before re-grouping and heading out into the wilderness once again.
After a few dead-ends due to the unseasonably warm temperatures rendering many of the trails too soft we found a great little track which was still tough going but a lot of fun. The final section of fast, swoopy descent was a joy and the day was labelled a success (everyone having forgiven me the mornings hardships).
Our final day of fun dawned early if not bright with a lot of cloud around and the threat of rain. This luckily didn’t materialise and we were once again out there exploring the area and having a laugh (often at each others expense) on two wheels.
We found a nice undulating trail which offered opportunities for many of our group to taste the snow at unexpected moments with tumbles and spills galore!
(keep an eye out for the upcoming no expense spared very professional video production of this trip to see some of the funnier falls)
Lunch was at a very quaint little Swiss mountain hut/refuge which I don’t think were quite ready for the sheer volume of beer that thirsty brits can put away whilst in the middle of extreme sporting excellence!
More ups, plenty more downs, many more falls and a few unbelievable views later and we were back at the cars and sadly finished with our daft little adventure.
Hands were shaken, stories of highs and low were told and re-told, new friends contact details were swapped and the group headed their separate ways (well, not all of us as some of us stayed around to eat Chinese food and drink more beer but that sounds less poetic).
A laugh-filled weekend was had by all and I think we all learned a little bit about ourselves and about life which we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives (even if it was just to never drink the local moonshine, never snore near a drunken Joe and don’t let Steven talk to the waitress unless you want them to spit in your food!)
I’d like to thank the gang for coming on this silly little weekend – a top bunch the lot of ya!
See you next year…..