La Thuile – The Natural Bike Park

Alpine single track is something we all dream of riding and if there was one place that I knew had it, it would be La Thuile. Having been once before so I knew I was in for a treat, it was a all-natural bike park, nothing was machine built but all lovingly crafted by hand, quite a task when they have 11 marked trails all dropping on average 800m.

This trip I was joined by Brodie Hood, friend and up-coming photographer, we flew from Edinburgh to Geneva, hopped on a shuttle to La Thuile via the Mont Blanc tunnel. And after a delayed flight arrived in La Thuile at around 1am. That morning we kicked it off with a coffee (when in Italy) and a continental breakfast before building the bikes, picking up our lift tickets and meeting with locals Dominique Sitta and Enrico Martello who would be showing us their favorite trails in the coming days.

Welcome La Thuile

We jumped straight on the chairlift eagerly taking a ride from 1600m all the way up to 2350m. Arriving at the top we were greeted with jaw dropping views in all directions. A little warm up climb, hike a bike and we reached the top of Superkappa or K as the locals knew it. Dropping in was a wake up, steep rock slabs and only a narrow line to follow kept you on your feet as you made your way down through some of the best alpine single track I had ridden. I’ve got some awesome GoPro just below that you can check out and no doubt it will make you want to just hop on over and ride the trail…

We stopped off at a local café right at the bottom of the chairlift and over our 4 days it became a bit of a hot spot for us. Cappuccino’s were just 1 euro 80 and were delightful, on one stop we consumed 3 of these bad boys, seemed #coffeeandbikes was how this trip was going to go down.

We headed back up the hill this time to tackle La Serva, it started out again in the open, big rock slabs with fast piste sections but when it dropped into the tree’s, oh my that is when it became incredible. Perfect flowing trail through a luscious green forest. If you were feeling adventurous you could gap through some of the rootier sections building momentum and carrying amazing speed. Lower down in the mountain it changed from Alpine single track to something a little bit more man made and this was perhaps the only part of the park that had jumps and berms. You could push it HARD here and it felt as if you were on a world cup downhill track, rallying through sections. Instead of me trying to describe how RAD they were check these two clips to understand what I mean…

Whilst we rode every trail in the bike park these two stood out as firm favourites in our eyes. So much fun and flow and even if you weren’t feeling 100 the surrounding mountains gave you energy to feed off.

There was some fine local cuisine to devoured and often the places you wouldn’t think were the best happened to be incredible. La Pepita happened to be one of the best meals I have ever had, a full portion of locally sourced meats and cheeses followed by some delicious fillet steak, it’s a must to check out and is located behind the old disused petrol station. Gelato was also a favourite between laps, a slightly different texture to ice cream it was the perfect post/pre-ride refreshment.

Back to the bike and after one of many brief gelato stops we headed out of the park to Col Croce, PS1 of the EWS back in 2016 and one hell of a climb to get to the top. Allow yourself around 2 hours 30 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. Luckily for Brodie and I, Enrico had arranged for a shuttle to the highest point on the road and all we had to pedal the remaining 1 hour up a disused mountain path to the world war two trenches and ruins. Arriving at the top some 1000m above the village, the views onto La Thuile were incredible and we were lucky enough to get a peak of Mont Blanc, this was something special. After watching the sun go down behind the mountains, we started descending, switchbacks up top with head sized rocks to keep you on your feet, past through grassy pastures and rode some of the best loams there is in Europe. It was simply an astounding trail that when you get to the bottom you just want to ride over…

In my eyes La Thuile is a hidden gem that not many know of perhaps it should be kept that way to preserve the incredible network of trails and brown pow but with so much to offer in from trails to culture and cuisine, this is one place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you can visit, then make it happen as it’s not that hard to get to from anywhere in Europe.

Getting there:

Turin: 1 h 15 transfer time
Geneva: 1 h 45 transfer time
Milan: 1 h 30 transfer time

You still have time to make it over there as we were told that the trails are awesome all the way through September and produce some incredible Autumn colours maybe I’ll make it back sooner than I thought.

A big shout out to all the La Thuile crew for looking after us so well and making us feel as if we were locals.

See you on the trails soon…

Scotty

 

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