A real mountain bike adventure with an overnight stay under the open sky, what could be better we asked ourselves. We are Cait, Susi, Wanda and Alex. We all got to know each other through the Trail Queen
girls bike group, that meets each Wednesday for a social ride in Zurich, Switzerland. Cait has the most bike experience and is extremely fit. Susi loves downhill biking and bike parks. Wanda only goes on occasional bike rides but spends every minute in the mountains. The fourth girl Alex likes to ride up and down and would do anything to ride flowy trails.
The whole group started planning the trip. Where should we go? What should we bring? What is it going to feel like to bike with a heavy backpack? We decided to head to Valais, one of the best places to bike in Switzerland. The tour should be challenging but also offer short cuts to stay flexible. Additionally, we were looking for great scenery far away from the highly-frequented bike and hiking paths. We would only bring the bare necessities: all weather clothing, camping basics, water treatment and food. For the tour, we planned twice as much time as we would normally Like this, we would be able to take lots of breaks, account for the heavy backpacks and some unforeseen events. Planning is everything – with a promising route and comparatively light packs we were heading for Valais. Minimalistic packing for our bike packing adventure: The challenge is to pack as light as possible but not leave anything essential behind. Do not underestimate – With all the gear on your back, the bike feeling changes.Layering up is the best way to be prepared for all weather.
With our beloved bikes and backpacks, we started our first two-day bike packing tour. The only thing that could stop us now were the constantly changing weather conditions. When we left for the trip, it was uncertain if it was going to rain at low temperatures or if we could enjoy dry trails and spend the night outside. "As long as the temperature would not drop below the freezing point, we should be fine," We all agreed. With high expectations and a back-up plan up our sleeve, we decided to head out.Beautiful nature – the scenery in Valais never disappoints. The price for remote, hardly ridden trails – carrying your bike.
On the first day, we mainly had to gain meters in elevation to reach our chosen high plateau. Our packs were heavy from the food, water and camping gear. For some parts of the ascent, we had to also carry our bikes. To save some energy, we took lots of breaks and helped each other in tricky sections. Not all paths proved to be perfect but overall the first day was a success.
When we finally arrived on the chosen "camp ground", the real adventure was waiting for us. Would it be too cold to sleep outside? Would it rain or even snow? We decided to stay – knowing that if things turned worse, we could head for a mountain shelter not too far away. Without moving around, we suddenly got very cold as soon as the sun went down. Cuddled in our sleeping bags, we started cooking some food and hot tea to keep up the good spirit. The night would be cold and even a bit wet but we would be rewarded the next day. When we got up, the sun treated us with a warming welcome to the new day. The panorama in the morning was just amazing which proved us right to spend a cold moment or two during the night. Our camp site was at a beautiful location, but very cold at night. Hot food and tea saved the day.
The upcoming day first had a great first descent to the valley floor in the books for us. Still a bit on the cold side, we looked forward to long ascent that would bring us to the start of another great single trail. The weather luckily played along and we finally got all the sun we hoped for on the day before. The second day turned out great and we were all happy when we finally reached the village where we would be picked up by one of our friends.
Our conclusion: A good group dynamic is key to such a tour. When it got a bit too much on the adventure side, we always helped each other to get through it. Even though it was tough at times, it has been a great experience that brought us all closer together. We will go bike packing again, hopefully with great weather and sunshine next time.
This tour was supported by Trail Queen
a shop for bike fashion for women.
The tour and our great photographer were also suppported by Switzerland Tourism
, Valais/Wallis Promotion
, Mons Royale
Thank you Simon Ricklin
for the great pictures.