WATCH Stunning views as Singapore tourists tackle mountain bike trails in the Alps
Riding in bicycle parks is not new for cyclists.
But riding in ones that boast majestic views is.
That's what our team of eight experienced cyclists got to enjoy when we went on a 14-day biking tour of the French and Swiss Alps from Aug 1 to 15.
The trip started with a 15-hour flight on Etihad Airways (with a stopover in Abu Dhabi) to Geneva, Switzerland. The airline was very helpful in accommodating our heavy bikes.
In Geneva, we met our guide who took us to Les Arc, France, in a van as we wanted to start with the French side of the Alps first.
We spent seven magnificent days at BikePark Peisey-Vallandry on a tour package which included chalet accommodation, transportation, three meals a day and guides for seven days.
It was sunny throughout our stay and our guides took us through many different technical trails. Along the way, they also gave us useful tips on how to negotiate the route downhill.
The best part of the experience was the chair lifts and cable cars so that we didn't have to lug our bikes up slopes. It took only about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the mountain top. The cost of the pass was included in the price of the French tour package which was $1,700 (excluding airfare).
The trails are marked with four different colours to indicate the difficulty level. Green is easy, blue is intermediate, red is difficult and black is for experts.
From the top of the mountain, you can pick which trail colour you want, zoom down on your bike, then go back up again for another go until the chair lifts and cable cars stop operating at 4.30pm.Reflecting on the experience, Mr Hazman Abdul, 52, a senior technician, said: "You cannot find that kind of scenery, terrain and weather anywhere in Asia."
Fellow biker Mr Daniel Xue, 53, a chef, added: "We were amazed by the culture of understanding that existed between the bikers and the commuters in the cable cars, which can take in about 20 to 30 passengers (depending on the type of cable car). There were always smiles all round with a 'bonjour' (French for hello) often exchanged."
THE OTHER SIDE
After the first part of the tour, we moved over to Les Crosets, Bike Park Champery, at the Swiss side of the Alps for the next seven days.
This time we did it DIY-style, booking the three-storey, seven-room chalet on our own, and cooking and managing by ourselves.
In terms of scenery, the park also offered stunning views but the weather was much colder, with temperatures hitting 8 deg C when it rained.
Most of us had to wear four layers of clothing.
According to the locals, this year was the worst summer in 50 years, as it rained most of the time.
Despite that, we all felt the $6,000 per person we spent on the trip was well worth it. The experience was priceless.