Ski Clinics – Les Deux Alpes

Rod Frazer - BASS

Long Time Snowboarders Turning to Skiing

At 14 years old, whilst visiting my sister on her working ski season in the late 80’s, I was lucky enough to discover the relatively new sport of snowboarding. Back then a ski holiday was generally reserved for the well off. The mountain gear was skinny and retro and the off-piste was a play ground for the only the best skiers. Skis were long and thin, which made them a challenge to turn on piste and difficulty to use in the fresh off piste powder snow. As a result the holy grail of fresh powder remained untracked for days after a snowfall.

Snowboarding changed all this. Clothing was baggy and leaned more towards a skateboard style. The snowboards larger surface area made riding off piste accessible to almost anyone who could link a turn and their exaggerated side cut helped easily carve tighter turns on piste. Snowboarders were building their own jumps and with their twin tips, were doing tricks never seen by skiers. Terrain parks with purpose built freestyle zones and half-pipes started popping up. Basically snowboarding was cool and all the kids wanted to do it.

However over the past 25 years, the ski industry has reacted and evolved to the sport we see today. These days, even the most basic ski is shorter, wider and has a tighter turning circle or carving angle. Skis turn quicker and easier. Off piste skiing is much more achievable for a half decent skier and the back country requires carrying less equipment than with a bulk snowboard on your back. Terrain parks are no longer the exclusive domains of the adolescent baggy clad snowboarder. Now free style skiers are commonplace in the parks and actually have more variety of tricks due to having two skis.

The long and short of it, is that it is definitely cool to ski again. Actually, if I think about it, it has been cool for a long while now. As a longtime snowboarder, I have been in denial and resisting the urge to give it a go, since I was reluctant to head back to the nursery slope.

However, like so many similarly placed mid 40’s longterm snowboarders I have spoken to recently, the draw of a new challenge has finally convinced me to switch to two planks. Now I’m not totally new to skiing. In fact I first hit the dry ski slopes back in the mid 80’s and have even strapped them on periodically over the years. But I have never got to a confident stage with two independent skis, where I’m not in constant fear of wrapping my knee around my shoulder.

Ski Clinic – Les Deux Alpes

So after a number of weeks nervously sliding around the mountain and generally loosing more and more confidence, I finally took the plunge and signed up for my first lesson in over 20 years. This was a very small group lesson hosted by Rod Fraser from Bass (British Alpine Ski School) that turned out to be with just three people, plus the instructor. During the first afternoon, the weather limited us to going back to absolute basics on the lower slopes. However after years of bad technique, reverting to total basics was exactly what I needed.

Rod from Scotland, literally started off with the most basic snow plough turn but, with the help of some handy on snow video analysis, we advanced quickly through the various stages of turning all the way up to a simple carve buy the end of the first afternoon. For our second day we had perfect fresh snow conditions and beautiful sunshine. Here Rod was able to take us all over the mountain and helped us put into action all the basics we had learned the first day. This was a truly eureka session for me, as something totally clicked. No more burning thighs, gone was the fear and tension that has plagued my skiing over the years. In short one professionally led intensive ski clinic had done more for me in two afternoons, than years of self-teaching.

So thanks to Rod at Bass – Les Deux Alpes, I now have a totally new focus for my life in the Alps. I suspect I will still drag the snowboard out for those perfect powder days, but thanks to a short amount of professional lessons, I look forward to becoming a much more accomplished skier.

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For anyone interested in joining one of these amazing clinics, Rod has some availability for next week.

Dianne Frazer – “We have one or two spaces left next week on three levels of Clinics – Complete Beginner, ‘almost Beginner’ (i.e. those already booked have done quite a few snowdome sessions, but usually those skiers are a bit taken aback by the open environment, so we will still be starting at very much an introductory level) and Intermediate Clinic (you know we work hard to ensure a good ‘fit’ – those booked on already are shaky rough parallel blue run skiers this time). For a change our Intermediate Clinic is mornings this week – please get in touch if you’d like more details or timings etc on any of the above. Maximum six in these groups.” 

To book another ski clinic with Rod, contact Dianne via the following email.

Rod & Dianne Frazer – British Alpine Ski School

or follow their Facebook page on – BASS FaceBook Page

Bass British Alpine Ski School

Chalet Freeride – Catered and self-catered ski and bike holidays, Les Deux Alpes

 

Apartments available Mont Ventoux Tour de France

We have two apartments still available for the third week in July, when the Tour de France visits Bedoin and the Mont Ventoux region

Froom.Mont.Ventoux.jpgNext summer the Tour de France will once again climb the infamous Mont Ventoux in the northern Provence. Chris Froome, who won this stage the last time they climbed it in 2013, will also be looking to defend his Tour de France overall winner from 2015.

The Mont Ventoux is one of the most popular cycling spectator locations for the Tour de France and the region will expect hundreds of thousands of visitors next July.

Thanks to the beauty and climate of the area, this is a popular holiday region, with hundreds of accommodation options. However when the Tour de France comes to town, beds can sometimes be hard to find.

Here at Bike Lodging, we have just received word of a couple of bike friendly apartments close to Bedoin that are  still available.

The Chapel apartment is €900 for the week and has one double and one twin bedroom, one shower WC, one bath WC.  Large living/kitchen plus terrace and views.
The Courtyard  apartment is €600 for the week and has two double bedrooms. One shower /WC.  Large living/kitchen and outside courtyard.

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Both have wifi and satellite TV.  Plus use of a large shared pool. Both apartments are located on a working vineyard making award wining wines.
For more information on The Courtyard House contact us on enquiries@bikelodging.com or call us on +33624123849

 

Bike Lodging ready to welcome the Highlander Mountain Bike Riders of Hitchin to ride Alpe d’Huez Alpe

Just a few days now before Bike Lodging host a group of mountain bike riders from the company founding member Will Corder’s home town of Hitchin for a big ride weekend on Alpe d’Huez

Bike Lodging are looking forward to welcoming a group of old and new friends to the Oisans region for a mountain bike weekend which sees the group taking on the famous 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez, as well as loads of fantastic single track above the resort and into the valley.

We have arranged for the group to be expertly looked after in a beautiful modern chalet in Venosc, complete with modern en-suit bathrooms, hot tub, sauna, games room and a cinema room to watch the world cup rugby. Fingers crossed the beautiful autumn weather holds.

Tring Velo Club – Bedoin Mont Ventoux – Cycling Trip

Tring Velo Club visit Bedoin for their annual cycling trip to take on the Mont Ventoux

We are just back from a successful tailor made cycling trip hosted by Bike Lodging for the Tring Velo Club at the beautiful Domaine de Pins between Crillon Le Brave and Bedoin in the shadow of the Mont Ventoux.

At the Summit of Mont Ventoux 1912m from Bedoin 1617 m elevation gain over 21,8 km

Bike Lodging recently had the pleasure of hosting a group of 28 cyclists close to Mont Ventoux this weekend, some of whom became members of the Club des Cingles, by climbing the Mont Ventoux three times in a day. The Domaine, dominated by the impressive peak of Mont Ventoux, surrounded by spectacular grounds, is a perfect location for groups of up to 30 people. It can be rented self-catered, or as in this case, Bike Lodging can arrange catering and hosting services, to take care of you during your trip. In addition the price for a group like this is considerably less that those found when using one of the local hotels.

Tour de France – Available accommodation Alpe d’Huez

Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015

We still have plenty of available accommodation options for the 2015 Tour de France close to the Alpe d’Huez. Stages 18, 19 and 20 all come within a days ride of our properties in the Oisans region. Stage 18 from Gap to Saint Jean Maurienne, comes through Allemont, close to Vaujany and Le Bourg d’Oisans. Stage 19 predominantly in the Maurienne Valley, also the route for this years Tour du Etapt,  will pass over the Col de la Croix de Fer. And assuming that the Tunnel du Chambon is fixed and reopened by then, Stage 18 starts in Modane, heads over the Col du Galibier and finishes up the 21 bends of Alpe d’Huez.

Here is a selection of our properties which still have availability for this Tour de France week.

La Danchere Lodge
La Danchere Lodge

La Danchere Lodge – A great value option in a charming hotel at the entrance to the Ecrins National Park. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a public bar, which are one of the nicest places to relax in the area after a big ride.

Vaujany Catered Chalet – Located in one of the most desirable and picturesque villages linked to the Alpe d’Huez lift system, this modern and stylish chalet, with hot tub and games room is popular with both cyclists and mountain bikers.

Venosc Chalet - Hot tub, Sauna, Home cinema, games room
Venosc Chalet – Hot tub

Chalet Cycling Venosc – Exclusive chalet at an affordable price. 5 bedroom chalet with stunning views across the Ecrins National park, within walking distance of the picturesque hamlet of Venosc. It is run by a couple with great knowledge of the area including a professional chef. Bedrooms are very modern and stylish, all with en-suite bathrooms as are all the communal rooms in the chalet. It features a large well stocked and secure bike storage shed, hot tub, sauna, games room, cinema room, wood burning stove, UK Sky TV and free wifi through out.

Ecrins Self-Catered Chalet
Ecrins Self-Catered Chalet

Ecrins Self-Catered Chalet – A brand new chalet (2013) built and decorated to a very high standard is located in the picturesque hamlet of La Danchere at the entrance to the Ecrins National Park.

If you require any information about these or any other properties in this region or other popular cycling regions, dont hesitate to get in contact.

Heli-skiing in Alpe d’Huez, France

Technically heli-skiing has been banned in France since 1985 due topublic outcry over the concerns of the effect of fuel consumption on the delicate ecosystem of the high mountains as well as the impact of noise pollution.

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With this in mind and you can overcome your conscience, it is still possible to participate in heli-skiing in some form in France. Firstly skiers in resorts that share a border with Italy or Switzerland, where the activity is still legal, such as Morzine or La Rosière can simply ski over into the neighbouring country and pick up their helicopter their. Other companies offer the service where they are picked up in their French resort, fly a legal transfer to Italy or Switzerland, before being taken up to their drop points in these countries.  In Chamonix companies can pick up clients just over the boarder of both Italy and Switzerland.

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However another loophole in the system is available. Although being dropped off at the top of the mountain is illegal in France, being picked up at the bottom and transferred back to the resort is not. So it is possible to use the regular lift system in the resort to arrive at the highest point and in certain geographical areas, easily access mostly untouched powder bowls into which regular skiers and snow boarders rarely venture thanks to the time it would take them to return to the resort by foot or ski. Many French helicopter companies are providing the service where, accompanied by a qualified mountain guide, you are escorted through some magical ski terrain to one of their designated pick up points in the valley.

 ImageOne such resort that provides this service is in Alpe d’Huez. Skiers descending from the Pic Blanc at over 3000meters usually take the impressively long Serrene run back to the resort. Or those a little more adventurous, may take the short ski tour into the Combe du Loup, or the even over the Pyramid. However very few venture into the Glacier du Grand Sablat, aware of the considerable hike it would take to walk out at the bottom. Facing in an easterly direction this valley maintains fantastic snow conditions where other slopes on the l’île au soleil (Island in the sun) sometimes feel the effect of this sunny resort. Bureau des Guides in Alpe d’Huez can provide you with a guide and arrange for the helicopter pick up at the end of this valley, run for around €130 per person.

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Alternatively if you plan to stay at Ribot Lodge the owners can help you with the arrangements.

Cycling and wine tasting holidays around Mont Ventoux

 

ImageThe Region surrounding the iconic cycling peak of Mont Ventoux known as the Vaucluse includes the famous cycling towns of Bédoin and Malaucène. These towns provide two of the starting points to attempt the climb accessible from three different directions. Mont Ventoux sticking out at 1912 meters is visible from miles around and has earned the nickname as the ‘Beast of Provence’ The name Mont Ventoux derives from the French word for windy, which suitably describes the ‘Mistral’ wind that frequently blows down the Rhone Valley.
 
However the region provides a host of other cycling and mountain bike routes to explore such as the Baronnies Hills or the Toulourenc Valley with climbs such as the Col d’Ey at 718m, the Col de Soubeyrand at 996m, the Col de Perty at 1330m, or regions second highest mountain, Montagne de Lure at 1800m. 
 
Of course, the region is also famous for the wines of the Rhone Valley, which is the second largest quality wine producing area of France. It is also the oldest since there has been winemaking here since 500BC. Probably the best known wine village is Chateauneuf du Pape, the wine of the Popes when they lived here in medieval times. Many of the same families are still making fabulous wine here today.

Winemaking not only provides more jobs than any other industry in the Rhone, but the extensive vineyards on undulating hills and valleys make for a visual delight when cycling the area. There are over 6000 wine growers in the region making red, white and rose wines from predominantly Grenache and Syrah grapes.  

 
Should you dream of combining a cycling holiday to the region with the chance to taste and learn about the different wines of the region Gite du Vin is the perfect option.

ImageHere surrounded by fields of vineyards with spectacular views over the Mont Ventoux, the Gite provides the perfect location to explore the region by bike and unwind at the end of the day in their large pool and immaculate gardens. Linda Field the Gite owner and qualified wine teacher can help you make sense of it all while you taste some of the regions best wines. Over 2-3 hours you will understand more about the geography, the history and the wines of the region, and taste several different examples of the wine styles the region offers.

 
For more details about this property, or others in the region, visit us at Bike Lodging.