SCOR Collective - Valais Road Trip
The best way to get to know other riders is to ride trails with them and the best way to find new places to ride is to go on a road trip. Combine the two and you’ve got the makings of a real adventure.
This is the story of what happened when the SCOR Collective – Fannie Burkhardt, Kasi Schmidt, Thomas Del Gatto and myself, Ludo May – packed bikes, beers and belongings into the back of our vans and went in search of fun and adventure in a corner of Switzerland known as Valais.
Fannie, Kasi and I meet up in the small village of Bettmeralp. Our French comrade-in-arms, Thomas, is joining us later on in the trip - he needs to finish building a new jump line or something.
Stop 1: Bettmeralp
This part of Valais is known for its stunning backdrop of mountains and glaciers, it’s as much about the big alpine experience as the awesome riding. I figure this is the perfect starting point for our Swiss adventure.
I love technical trails, the rockier, steeper and more exposed the better, and here there are plenty of those. Kasi and Fannie joke that these are my idea of flow trails but both seem to be enjoying them just as much as me. Hikers look on in disbelief but wish us luck as we pick our way down the rock sections.
It’s hard to look further than our front tires on trails like this, but it’s worth taking the time to kick back and admire the scenery. We take some photos, sending a few over to Thomas to show him the alpine vibes he’s missing out on.
Our scorecard for the day: 1600m of descent, smiles all ‘round and a safe return to the parking lot as night draws in. A solid start to the trip.
Stop 2: Bellwald
Day two sees a change of pace as we grab our full-face helmets and head for Bellwald Bike Park. Known for its perfectly shaped jumps, endless flow and dreamy backdrop this is one of Valais’ best loved bike parks.
If yesterday was about my favorite kind of riding, today is about Kasi’s. He’s practically falling out of the chairlift looking at the freshly shaped jump track. All sharp angles and pristine dirt, the perfectly shaped berms and sculpted jumps are just waiting to be ridden. Unfortunately that particular trail isn’t open yet. Still, plenty of other trails are open and we session the various tracks, pushing each other to go faster, higher and more sideways.
It’s our final run and we stand at the top of the freshly built track, daydreaming about putting the first tire marks into the smooth dirt. In Valais sometimes dreams come true. The trail builders can tell we’re desperate to drop in and ask if we want to try it out. They don't have to ask twice. We session the fresh track with the trail builders until the sun disappears behind the mountains, treating us to a beautiful sunset before darkness stops play. We go to sleep that night dreaming of jumps.
Stop 3: Matterhorn
We wake up under Switzerland’s most famous mountain; the Matterhorn. Even as a local it can feel like being in a cliché painting traveling through this landscape of steep sided valleys, endless glaciers, snow-capped peaks and alpine meadows.
Today’s mission is the Gornergrat – a rocky ridgeline with incredible views accessed by railway. With superb light, exceptional alpine scenery and 1450m of descent on technical paths and flow trails, what more could we ask for? A windproof layer turns out to be the answer. Despite the sunshine it’s super cold and windy at the top. In between shooting photos we hide behind rocks to keep out of the biting wind.
As Kasi and I shiver, Fannie, who is made of tougher stuff, wanders off to make friends with some chamois – mountain goats that love clambering up and down the rock slopes. I wonder if the chamois is my spirit animal?
We get riding again and straight away the trail demands our attention, but so does the view. We’re now part of that cliché painting, adding our own brush strokes to a masterpiece.
Back at the vans we get chatting with some local riders who admire our, now dust covered, bikes. They invite us back to their bike shop in Zermatt for post-ride beers. It’s these kinds of spontaneous, chilled out encounters that make a road trip truly memorable. Prost, salut and cheers!
Stop 4: Lötschental
We assemble our 4060 Z e-bikes, fresh from SCOR, excited to see what they are capable of. Lötschental is the perfect place for these bikes. We take a gondola up the hill and then ride a little further up, laughing at how easy the bikes make the climb.
What awaits us is a long flowing trail all the way back down to the bottom of the valley. With 170mm of travel on the descents and a motor for the climbs it’s easy to tick off run after run after run.
This is Fannie’s first time on an e-bike and she’s loving it. Following her down the track I watch her ponytail swishing through the corners and getting airtime on the drops and jumps. Fannie’s home trails are in Chaumont, Switzerland, just down the road from SCOR HQ. Best known for its jumps it’s not surprising she’s in her element. She’s not the only one having fun though and we genuinely can’t get over how good this combination of track and bike are.
Keen to make the most of the trails, the daylight and our remaining battery life we carry on with party laps until the last of the sunshine fades away. We all feel like we could ride this trail a hundred times more and still not get bored, but it’s time to move on to our final stop of the tour.
We arrive at my mountain hut in Verbier late at night and everyone settles in for a night of pizza, beer and wine – everything we need after a great day on the bike.
Final Destination: Verbier
We wake up to freezing mountain air and a few foggy heads. Our timing has worked out perfectly and we’re in town for the closing weekend of the Verbier Bikepark. Stood at the top of the bike park we take in the stunning view - although guess who’s forgotten their windproof again?
It’s here that Thomas joins us, obviously the lure of some fresh jumps was too much for him to resist, and the Collective is finally complete. Also along for the ride today are the engineering team from SCOR, keen to do some real-world product evaluation.
With a whole bunch of tracks to ride and not much time we hit up some of the bike park’s greatest hits. Being a local I know some other secret VIP-only trails, which I lead the crew down. It’s always good giving other riders a taste of what your home trails are like.
The chairlift closing means playtime is over and we roll back into town. We finish the day, and the road trip, back at my place with an evening of raclette and some celebratory beers – the perfect way to top off an amazing week of riding and getting to know each other better.
From alpine highs and bike park laps to secret singletrack and e-bike uplifts, we’re all stoked on being able to play the mountains in new places, in new ways, with new friends. Kasi jokes that he’s loved his tour of Swissneyland. Talk turns to the next SCOR Collective adventure. So, where to next? Time to get planning…