We like to experiment and try new things. There have been a few times this summer where we have had some people giving an electric bike a try. These eBikes are phenomenal. They certainly are not going to replace the trusty road bike or mountain bike but they open up a whole new world for people- we are impressed!
So much so, that we decided to run a weekend, solely for eBikes. The eCheese was going to follow our Cheese Classic route but, with some reflection, we decided that it would be better to base ourselves centrally and test a variety of routes, out from Saint Jean de Sixt. Afterall, it is new to us and we did not know about the range, the speed or people’s descending abilities.
As usual for our weekend format, it was a Thursday and we welcomed our guests at Geneva Airport. Gayleen, Sue, Robert and Steve were our riders and their friends Liz and Julia were out for moral support and a bit of mountain lifestyle experience. The weather was not looking great but sunny windows were in the forecast and the first day was going to be a stunner. Therefore, we ditched the warm up day idea and went straight for the loop around Lake Annecy via the Col de la Forclaz. For people new to the area, this is a must, with the stunning views over the crystal blue waters.
The Forclaz on a normal bike is difficult, 7km with a steep final 3. This final section is demoralising and energy sapping- not on an eBike. The little bit of assistance, meant that the group, although not unfit, of newbies to the mountains, could enjoy their ascent without ruining themselves. They were beaming at the top- who wouldn’t be with the view?
The range of the batteries was on my mind, and to help this (it was going to be a full day), I bought along all the adapters and an extension cable, so that, whilst we lunched on the Forclaz, the bikes were being topped up from the restaurant too. They were not fully charged but enough not to be worried about the day ahead.
Down we went, with the comfortable position of the bikes (mountain bikes) and the disc brakes, even Sue, who was most nervous of mountain descents, made it down to the bottom without any trouble and onto the cycle path back to the lake. All the little lumps in the profile, like the drag out of Talloires which are normally soul destroying, after a long day on the road bike, were taken in people’s stride. Well, Gayleen being the stubborn martharon runner type, refused to put it on anything above eco, but nontheless made it, albeit, a little slower than the others. Steve and Robert started in this vein but soon couldn’t help themselves with the + button. Who can blame them? I tried, and well, it is just fun!
We went for a coffee and a swim in the lake at Menthon which was a welcomed cool down and then it was the final leg back up to Saint Jean. No waiting around for these guys! Back up at the top, and we had a quick-ish turnaround to get ourselves to La Ferme restaurant overlooking La Clusaz witheveryone hooked.
Saturday was a wet day on the morning out. When thinking of routes, it dawned on me that they were on mountain bikes so we could think outside of our usual box. We went up the valley through La Clusaz to Les Confins. At the top is a lovely café that we stopped in and then we hit the dirt road around the back of Mount Danay which drops us back into the Grand Bornand Valley. Just as the tarmac reappears, is a mountain refuge which, as it was now pouring, was a great hot chocolate spot. With the weather and the route, this felt more like a day’s skiing. It was a curtailed day but a full morning nonetheless and everybody had tried something a little different. An adventure!
The final two days were back on the road and we managed to miss most of the showers that came and went. It was a chance to complete all the road Cols of our area, the Colombiere from the long side on the Sunday and the Aravis and Croix Fry on the Monday.
Electric bikes are not for all, of course, for the cycling enthusiast, they will never go out on an eBIke instead of their road machine but it really does open up the whole mountain for those who do not spend their lives in the saddle and want to experience the fresh air and stunning vistas that this area has to offer. It is also great for people with varying fitness to enjoy things together, a fit Col Collector could enjoy the mountain with their partner, children or parents. The revolution will be electrified!