Oisans, MTB country par excellence!
In Oisans, mountain-biking takes on its true meaning: the terrain is seriously steep and some trails weave along ravines, but there are also faster tracks, winding their way between the trees of dense forests or through the pasture land so typical of our mountains. What do they mainly have in common? Scenery that lives up to these outstanding locations and ever higher thrills!
Experienced mountain bikers, seeking new thrills, will definitely get their money’s worth … over 2500m of height loss with downhill sections that are steep and technical or fast, crossing glaciers, meadows and undergrowth…that are enough to put any rider through their paces.
With the VTT resorts of Les 2 Alpes, Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine and La Grave, Oisans offers you 3 very distinct domains with runs that have been designed and secured for riders of all levels. There is something to please everyone, whether you’re starting out or want to advance …or just want to take on your mates. Young riders haven’t been forgotten either, with highly enjoyable green runs, as the aim after all is to have fun!
MTB Oisans-style also offers X-Country routes, from the most demanding to the most relaxing, together with family rides through the Bourg d’Oisans plain.
If you add to this outstanding area a whole series of major MTB events including the Mégavalache in Alpe d’Huez, the DH / trial French Cup in Oz-en-Oisans, Crankworx and Mountain of Hell in Les Deux Alpes and the Ultra raid de la Meije … you will fully understand why Oisans is THE preferred meeting point for mountain-bike riders of all persuasions.
Well… you’ve probably understood by now… Oisans will not leave you indifferent!
With the advent of ever lighter, higher performance equipment, the differences between the various MTB styles are not as obvious as before. How can you define a 13 kg MTB with 180 mm front and back suspension travel, when a cross country model could weigh the same? In addition, after years of austerity, XC models are now more attractively shaped, with more suspension travel – without sacrificing their incredible motor qualities –making them suitable for some enduro trails! The more subtle differences can be found in the shape of the frame, the travel, the width of the handlebars, the stem, the rigidity of the wheels and the tyre size…it’s not easy to sort them out!
The flagship MTB discipline and an Olympic sport since Atlanta in ‘96. Cross-country is traditionally enjoyed on terrain that is not too rough, on lighter bikes with fork suspension of between 100 and 130 mm and tyres of between 1.8 and 2 inches at the most. In Oisans, the steep terrain and significant height differences make this style less popular than its sister style, enduro. There are however some trails in the valleys that are accessible to everyone, as well as some that are slightly more challenging that we have classified as midway between X country and enduro.
This term covers very varied styles of riding, which are the most popular in Oisans, including both technical and peddling sections. In short, it’s a more challenging style with downhill elements. Routes generally start from a high point and finish lower down, with the high point being reached by cycling, ski lifts when in operation, bus if at all possible or by car. Take care with this last option however, as enduro MTB is becoming more and more popular. If misuse increases (too many mountain bikers together, too much speed too close to other uses of the trails, too much “race” behaviour, not enough respect for the paths and other users), there is a risk that mountain biking will be prohibited. Adapt your approach to your surroundings and keep your racer attitude for the resort tracks that have been created and maintained for intensive use. Enduro bikes remain relatively light, enabling you to peddle between two downhill sections, with the front and rear travel varying between 130 and 180 mm for the largest and most expensive models! Tires are wide – between 2.3 and 2.5 inches. The little added benefit that makes a big difference is the telescoping seatpost.
also known as DH, this style is enjoyed on special tracks using ski lifts. These routes are dense, well-marked, closed to pedestrians and protected by nets and cushions. There are varying degrees of difficulty. The bikes feature a wider wheelbase, front and rear travel of between 180 and 220 mm, large disc brakes, very strong wheels and, the drawback of course, heavy frame tubing. Tyres are large, as for the enduro bikes, but have a stronger carcass. Enduro bikes, the little cousins of the DH, may of course come and try their tyres out on these DH tracks too.
Long-distance: these are rides over several days, combining the pleasure of exploring with endurance and autonomy. The best type for this is obviously a cross-country bike, but light enduro models now offer an excellent compromise. What they lack in balance when going uphill, they more than make up for on the downhill sections!