Have you ever tried fatbiking? I went fatbiking on snow on a press trip to France earlier this year, and it was a lot of fun, although quite tricky. I was in Auris-en-Oisans in the Alpe d’Huez grande domaine ski area, which is one of Europe’s largest ski areas.
When my instructor, Laurent, explained how to control the bike, it didn’t sound too hard.
The fatbike looked like an ordinary mountain bike, but with extra-large tyres and quite a thick frame. The fat tyres mean that you can cycle on soft terrain, such as snow or mud. The thick frame means that the bikes are quite heavy, and so I was pleased to see that my bike had an electric motor to help me on my way.
I’m a confident cyclist, but I’d never ridden an electric bike or a fat bike before. Once we’d strapped on our helmets, we started off by cycling up a road to get to the top of a ski slope. This part was easy – the fat tyres made the bike really comfortable to ride, and the electric motor helped with the uphill climb.
Once on the snow, though, everything was much trickier. The slopes had closed to skiers for the day, and the ski lifts had stopped, and so we had the slopes to ourselves.
It was really difficult to control the bikes going down the ski slope, and we all fell off. My approach was to go down the slope as slowly as possible so that I didn’t hurt myself when I fell off (as I did, quite a few times). I stayed in first gear and kept the electric motor on level one, using the back brake all the way down. This worked quite well, until the bike came across any sort of groove, when it would get stuck and I would fall off. This was OK as the snow was soft and I was coccooned in ski gear, so I didn’t hurt myself at all. From the bottom of the slope we cycled up the road to start the descent again. We spent about an hour on the bikes in all, and I really enjoyed it, although it was pretty tiring.
How to book
If you’d like to try fat biking in Auris-en-Oisans, contact the tourist office there for all of the details, either in person or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Alpe D’Huez grand domaine ski area
The Alpe d’Huez grande domaine ski area consists of several different villages and towns which are all connected by chair lifts. This means that you can reach all of the villages and ski slopes in the ski area easily, even if you’re a non-skier. Each village or town has its own character. Auris-en-Oisans, where I stayed, is a small, quiet, sunny and family-friendly resort. We stayed in some excellent modern self-catering apartments right by the slopes: Les Balcons d’Auréa. Alpe d’Huez is a big, busy resort with a lively nightlife. Vaujany is a small village with a church, an indoor ice rink and a 25-metre indoor pool. Villard Reculas is a traditional, pretty, village where development is controlled and the ski chalets are in keeping with the historic buildings. Oz is a pedestrianised resort where sledges are used as a means of transport.
How to get there
Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s self catering at the four-star Résidence Odalys Les Balcons d’Auréa from £459 per person (based on four sharing) including flights from Gatwick and transfers. Direct flights are available from all major UK airports.
You could also drive to Alpe d’Huez from the UK: Auris-en-Oisans is 928 km from Calais by road, according to Google Maps. You can book to stay at Les Balcons d’Aurea here.
More winter sports posts
You can read more of my winter sports posts here:
Over to you
Have you ever tried fatbiking, or would you like to?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you clicked through and booked I may receive a small commission. I was a guest of the Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski area tourist board and Crystal Ski Holidays on this working press trip. All opinions, images and words are my own, as ever.