Peille: The Oldest Downhill Track in Europe

Oct 27, 2017 at 2:27
by Formula  


Up in the Maritime Alps above Nice, with its breathtaking view over the Mediterranean Sea, there’s a place unknown to most riders, but it’s a place that has played a crucial role in the history of mountain bike riding. The name of this place is Peille.

Peille

Peille
Peille

It was here in the mid-1990s, when downhill was just beginning, that a group of riders created one of the most memorable tracks ever built. There’s never been a World Cup race at Peille, it’s a place that has never been part of the mainstream of the sport, but still, it’s one of the most influential places in the history of downhill in Europe. There’s no need to draw up the list of the champions who have dominated the international downhill scene for years and who come from this area of the south of France. Their names are known to everyone and they’re part of the gravity Hall of Fame. Still today some of the greatest mountain bike talents in the world come from this area of France. Do a quick search on the provenance of the strongest French riders today, both enduro and downhill, and you’ll be astonished to discover that the majority of them come precisely from this part of France, from the mountains that surround the city of Nice.

Peille
Peille

In the mid-1990s, when downhill was becoming a specialised discipline, there were many riders in this part of France, some of whom were already dominating international competitions. It’s enough to consider that the first World Cup downhill race took place right here, at Cap D’Ail, on a track that you can see from the start gate of the Peille run. You don’t need anything else to demonstrate that this is an extremely significant place for the history of the sport. In those years it wasn’t easy to train for competing in World Cup races.

Downhill was a developing sport and there wasn’t much available in the way of tracks. A good downhill track was a very rare thing, almost impossible to find. For this reason, those with the ambition to improve themselves in the sport had to build their own training grounds with their own hands. On top of this, you have to consider that even the materials and the bike parts, back then, were continuously evolving. No one knew what the future development of the sport, the bikes and the components, would mean. For this reason they needed tracks that would be truly demanding for both the riders and their equipment. Only in this way was it possible to develop future products and only in this way was it possible for riders to set themselves new horizons, new limits, in a discipline that was still so very young.

Peille

The track in Peille was created with precisely this aim – a well-defined idea in the mind of the community of locals who built it: it had to be the toughest, most technical, most physical track that had been created up to that moment. This is why those riders chose a slope on the mountain almost completely free of vegetation, made only of rock, nothing but rock. The work necessary to create a path on the limestone rock was very tough; a lot of tools were bent while seeking to give shape to the Peille track and a series of famous riders contributed to its creation. Many champions of yesteryear and today trained on the Peille run and took part in their first races on its track. Indeed, Formula’s French base is in Nice. The guys who work there, exceptional riders who are all passionate about their work, form part of the community that created Peille.

Peille

Peille
Peille

For us at Formula, Peille is like our second home, our main track for testing materials. Anything that survives Peille intact can survive any conditions, anywhere. For this reason, when we began testing our new wheels – Linea G, dedicated to enduro racing and downhill – we immediately thought of Peille as the ideal location for testing. And when we got there, we set to work on them. We rode and shot a video with Alex Cure from the BH team and we immediately realised that the material we’d captured couldn’t be sacrificed in a simple product launch, we wanted to share the importance of this place with a wider audience. We wanted to tell the story of Peille.

Peille
Peille

These images constitute our documentation of our experience in this place. If by chance you find yourself travelling in this part of Europe, you mustn’t miss the opportunity to ride your bike in Peille. The huge antennas on the summit mark the starting point of the run, antennas that have now almost become the symbol of the track. At least once in your life you have to go and ride in Peille – believe us, you won’t regret it.

Peille

Peille
Peille

Peille

Peille
Peille

Peille
Peille

Peille

Peille

Peille

Peille

Peille

Peille
Peille

Peille
Peille

Peille

Peille
Peille

You can easily find the track of Peille on Trailforks here. The track is called "Vouilloz". Well, the name says everything right?


Peille

Peille

Pics Alex Luise
Formula


MENTIONS: @rideformula




40 Comments

  • + 32
 Anybody else thought they got slipped some drugs when they were scrolling through the article and a few of the pictures zoomed-in as you scrolled passed?
  • + 3
 oh, you took the red pill....
  • + 0
 Trippy man!
  • + 5
 @BartDM: I couldn't decide, so I took both pills
  • + 1
 I saw that. Wild
  • + 1
 @the-lorax: zoom in, zoom out :-)
  • + 1
 Few? I got all of them zoom in and zoomed out by the end Big Grin
  • + 1
 Thank God for that...
  • + 10
 What is that blue sealant being used?
  • + 24
 Medium locktite helps keep the tire from burping
  • + 3
 @mtbforlife4: Medium Locktite mixed with what? Porridge?
  • + 1
 Peaty's? looks a little dark and not sparkly enough but Peaty's is blue.
  • + 7
 Looks like a standard car tyre sealant. Typically non-rubber based, really thick goo. Generally costing about a 10th of what bicycle sealant costs. Yey marketing!
  • + 1
 @mtbforlife4: it only costs $150 for a quart
  • + 3
 Literally on my way there now! Driven all the way down from Norway to race in Sospel on Saturday and will definitely be spending a couple of extra days exploring the local mountains!
  • + 1
 One of the oldest maybe, no way the oldest. Eastridge woods, Shropshire, UK, had a national DH race in 92 and the track is pretty much still rideable. I'm pretty sure the Malverns in Worcestershire also had races in the very early 90's.
www.trailforks.com/region/eastridge-woods-14742
  • + 3
 Mid 90s? There were already World Cup races at Cap d‘Ail in the early 90s.
  • + 2
 Read the article....they mention Cap D’Ail
  • + 2
 Looks like this might be the worst color-balance in the history of PinkBike...did they even try?
  • + 4
 Ad are getting smarter
  • + 1
 Rode this trail this summer. A bit overgrown in places but great fun. Fining the start, near the masts, is a bit tricky though.
  • + 1
 @rideformula Where can we find your products online ? They seem great but can't be found anywhere
  • + 1
 Hi @Whipperman you can find a Distributors list here www.rideformula.com/?s=distributors#search-distributors. We'll have a dealers locator on our website very soon. Cheers.
  • + 1
 That looks great, very enduro
  • + 1
 Nice looks like an epic mtb trip destination in the off season!
  • + 1
 This makes me want to go ride Ned's Atomic Dustbin!
  • + 1
 Looks mint!
  • - 3
 why is he riding a trail bike if this place is soooo important to downhill?
  • + 4
 ...because he wants to?
  • + 6
 maybe because BH doesn't have a DH bike
  • + 2
 I read in an interview with vouilloz ages ago that he used to train there on a fully rigid sunn bike...
  • + 1
 Because.

Remember when people used to race rigid cruiser bikes in downhill races?
  • + 1
 @the-lorax: gt zaskar was used in every event.
  • + 1
 This tracks is rough but EWS races are too so it makes sense. Vouilloz, Daily, Cure, Barel, Barelli, Nicolai, Quere all come from there so it probably is a great training ground
  • + 3
 Because a modern enduro bike is 5x more capable than a "downhill" bike from the 90s...
  • + 1
 Wow, look whom woke up and joined the class kids..
  • + 1
 @jrocksdh: freaky, saw Hans Ray last night he said the same thing, the Zaskar was the only bike to win World Cup titles in 4 disciplines. Would have killed for the Ti Zaskar with purple ringle bits back in the day. The 90’s bike I wanted most along with the original kona cinder cone, project 2’s and splatter paint! Oooo.
  • + 1
 @MrAngry: Aint nobody touch a trophy more than John Tomac during his time

Post a Comment



You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.050906
Mobile Version of Website