Last week I joined Inghams for an e-bike ride up (and down) Box Hill in Surrey. It was a beautiful evening, warm and sunny – perfect for getting back on a bike after almost a year! It seemed to be a good way to get fit for any bike riding I might be doing in the Alps this summer, which in turn keeps me fit for skiing in winter.
A motley group of the tour operator’s staff and ski writers turned up for the ride, beginning and ending at Denbies Wine Estate just outside Dorking, where Focus bikes were running a test centre. I was a bit nervous, as my only exercise since the ski season had been a daily dog walk, a weekly pilates class and the odd yoga session. But hell, Box Hill is to London what the Nordkette is to Innsbruck. When it snows, this is the nearest mountain.
Ok, so Box Hill is just a teeny bit less steep. The hill itself has an elevation of 224m. The hill’s average gradient is 4%, and at its steepest point it is 13.3%. Anyway, on an e-mountain bike the going is not nearly as tough as it would be on an ordinary mountain bike or on a road bike. We climbed up Zig Zag Road, accompanied by our guide from Cycling Made Easy, fortunately there weren’t too many cars on the same route. On the way down our guide decided to take us off-piste, which was fast and fun and a little more challenging – especially for the woman in our group wearing a floaty long dress.
If you decide to get on a bike this summer, you’ll find it one of the best ways of keeping fit between ski seasons. Or better still, how about booking a summer holiday in the Alps? There’s the chance to go road biking and mountain biking, horse-riding, hiking, play some high-altitude golf and even try wild swimming?
Below are some summer deals, and it’s worth bearing in mind that accommodation costs less at this time of year than during the ski season – with hikers’/bikers’ lift passes available for a fraction of the winter price.
Summer in the Alps
Cycling in Mayrhofen from £606pp with SNO
Stay for seven nights at the three-star Hotel Strolz in Mayrhofen, which has its own bike hire facility and is positioned on the edge of the forest, surrounded by 800km of cycling trails. A half board package with Gatwick flights and transfers has been reduced from £836pp to £606pp on the week beginning July 14. Bookings: SNO.
Tignes family holiday from £654pp with Alpine Elements
In Tignes, Val d’Isere and Les Gets, teens can join Club Mayotte and take part in a range of sports and activities. For younger children there’s a Kid’s Club especially designed for 4-7 year olds or 8-12 year olds. For example, stay at Hotel Toviere in Tignes, which is a few minutes’ cycle ride from the lifts with access to a pool, secure bike storage and a jet wash, plus bike mechanics and workshop on hand. The price for a week starting July 15 is £654pp, July 29 is £751pp, August 12 is £734pp, and August 19 is £700pp. The price is for seven nights half board, including flights and transfers. The price s includes three-day mountain bike hire, white water rafting, guided walking and biking, a visit to Acroland, sailing and lake sports, kayaking, SUPing, kids club and a Tignes Activity Pass. Bookings: Alpine Elements.
Morzine treetop swinging from £55pp per night with VIP Chalets
Visitors to Morzine can challenge themselves and overcome their fear of heights with an adrenaline-fuelled adventure in the trees at the Indiana Park treetop adventure course. The course is open every day throughout summer from 11am to 6pm. Colibri Penthouse is new this summer, built where a disused cinema used to be. The penthouse is spread across two floors with a spacious split-level lounge, four en-suite rooms and wrap-around balcony. A stay here is priced from £55pp per night based on a minimum stay of three nights in July on a serviced self-catered basis. Bed and breakfast or half board upgrades are available for a supplement. Bookings: VIP Chalets.
Alpbach from £299pp with Inghams Lakes & Mountains
Alpbach is lovely surroundings with free use of all lifts and walkers’ buses, thanks to the Alpbach Seenland Card. A seven-night stay on a self-catering basis at two-star Haus Edelweiss Apartments is now from £299pp based on five sharing an apartment. The price represents a saving of £230pp and includes return flights from Birmingham to Innsbruck and airport transfers. The package is valid for travel departing on June 23. Bookings: Inghams Lakes & Mountains.
Sainte Foy’s alpine cheese feast from £194pp with Peak Retreats
Sainte Foy is home to three typical cheeses of the Haute Tarentaise and this summer you can head to the village for cheese-tasting, guided tours of the local cheese-making farms and feast on a cheese board at one of the alpine restaurants. Sainte Foy is made up of hamlets ranging from a protected site known for its Italian-style colonnaded chalets and religious architectural heritage, to a listed farming village. Book before June 30 for 14 nights self-catered from £194pp (was £280pp) on July 7, including return midweek ferry crossings. The four-star Les Fermes de Sainte Foy is close to the shops and its facilities include an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and on-site spa. The price is based on five people sharing a two-bedroom apartment (sleeps up to six) here. Bookings: Peak Retreats.
Innsbruck UCI 2018 Road World Championships
From September 22 to 30, the UCI Road World Championships take place in Innsbruck for the first time. During the eight days, top cyclists from across the world compete in a selection of disciplines, each event starting in a different region of the Austrian Tirol, such as Kufsterin, Alpbachtal Seenland, Hall-Wattens and Ötztal Valley, but all finishing in Innsbruck. The courses will feature spectacular climbs, making this an exciting spectacle. Keen, non-professional, cyclists can register for the mass event, the KRONE Ride to Höll. Taking place on September 29 (a day before the Men Elite 2018 UCI World Champion is crowned in Innsbruck) more than 2,000 amateurs can take on the short but challenging course. Registration: Innsbruck Tourism. Registration is open until September 23, or when all the places have been filled. Entry fee from €49pp.
Meribel short break from £299pp with Skiworld
Stay for three nights at Chalet Leopold in Meribel this winter season for £299pp. The price is based on chalet half board accommodation, with flights departing from Gatwick on January 16 and resort transfers included. Bookings: Skiworld.