At first the decision to head over to Verbier Bike Park for just a half day seemed like a bad call...only half a day biking is surely a waste of a day!?
But after coffee and pastries on the way, at a more civilised time than the usual 7am start, we arrived in Verbier with half an hour to spare before the half day passes were on sale. Time for a another coffee! This time in the beautifully renovated and quirky La Ruinette for a seat in the sunshine.
Heading up from Le Chable on the gondola we emerged at the Les Ruinettes ready to tackle the downhill trails and see what condition they were in after a full summer of riding. Warming up on the blue trail which is a fun, flowy, fast track with plenty of natural features and small step ups and drops, plus a long section of jumps and table tops, we were grinning! Considering the amount of riding that must have taken place here over the summer, in addition to the wet July we had, which seems to have affected many of the bike parks, the trails were in amazing condition and have been well maintained and managed.
A lot of the trails seem to merge at various points on the way down and so it was great fun to be able to pick and choose the best sections and string them together; including several chunks of the yellow 'official race' route which, although very technical and challenging was still a lot of fun to ride...especially if you missed out the Northshore features that were certainly way beyond my capabilities!
The Autumn weather is perfect for a mountain biking resort like this, with cool clear mornings and warm sunshine throughout the day, the scenery was not only spectacular with colours of gold and red covering the hillsides, but the warm, dry conditions were perfect for the trails. They last few occasions that I have been to Verbier there had been a substantial amount of rain in the weeks leading up to it, making some of the forest trails near impossible to ride, with steep terrain, off camber tree roots and muddy puddles that just won't dry out. However, on this trip the conditions were perfect!
After riding solidly for three & a half hours, I realised that the half day decision was probably a really good call! With sore arms, legs and breaking fingers that had hardly any strength left in them, I was more than happy with my days riding. Plus we still had the long descent into Le Chable to contend with...
The Verbier bike park is certainly not for the faint hearted. If you want to challenge yourself and try something new then this is the right place for you. If you are learning and only starting out downhill biking then there are certainly some trails that will suit and that you will love. But in general I would say that this is one of the most challenging, technical and fun bike parks around!
And you still have a few more weeks left of Autumn to enjoy it! Why not head there before they close and get ready for the winter...