The 3rd and final stage of the Snow Bike Festival in Gstaad and a wrap up of Scott’s coverage from the event.
Weather is what it is on race day and the Alpine weather was certainly doing its best to challenge us. After the previous stage’s sub-zero temperatures and firm snow, a warm overnight front turned snow to rain up to the higher reaches of the Gstaad valley.
The organisers had no choice but to reduce the 29km of racing and 786m of climbing to just over 17km in order to keep the route flowing and avoid the snowy slush that now lined the valley trails. A shame, but the show goes on with all the vigour and enthusiasm that every rider has brought to this festival of snow biking.
The Final Fling
Undeterred, all riders rallied up to the start line, ready for the final fling of the Snow Bike Festival. No one was sombre, rather, all eager to get going despite the drizzle. The first few kms were the same as stage 2, a great idea, to get legs and body quickly warmed up. The section of singletrack was more of a slip-slide affair this time around. A real, one leg out, balancing act to keep upright and keep the front wheel pointing forward! I still have yet to use the front brake…
The 1st climb up wasn’t as long as stage 2, soon taking a dive back down deep snow tracks. Today, even the fatbikes were struggling in the wet snow, but still coping much better than the 29er riders, who were mostly walking or falling about. But they soon sped past once back on the asphalt sections!
The best of the snow trails were interspersed between sections of asphalt to keep the race as flowing as possible, making it still hugely fun, and ensuring riders were not out too long in the near freezing [rain] conditions.
Still highly competitive at the sharp end of the UCI and amateur races, we were all grins mid-pack, having our own mini races between other riders we had got to know. 15km shot by and we were soon peering over the edge of the final descent, down the same piste as yesterday. Not so easy to navigate this time though; one leg out just about holding the balance until the front wheel took a dive into deeper snow! Kudos to the few riders who made it all the way down on 2 wheels, for me it was a bit of a run on the bottom half.
The final, final sprint
The final km really was a sprint this time! Avoiding the now super slushy valley bottom trail, rolling asphalt took us to the finish and the warmth of the festival tent. Tracking along a road is not quite how anyone wanted to finish the festival, but that’s outdoor sport for you and fun was had everyday.
Big thanks goes to the volunteers, out there in the damp, cold conditions, making sure that every rider was safe and well fed/watered at the feed stations. Also my thanks to Fred of Fredy’s BikeWalt in Gstaad who loaned the Trek Bikes Farley for the event. A superb handling and versatile fatbike that can be adapted for wheel sizes from 27.5×3.8 up to 27.5×4.5. If you need a bike to rent, any advice or gear, he’s the guy!
Thanks also to Squirt lubes for keeping the drivetrain running quiet and smooth for the entire event, despite the challenging conditions. The lube never faulted!
And finally, to Wayne Reiche for his fantastic photos throughout the event.
Last modified: 21st February 2018