Downhill Mountain Biking In The French Alps

(Image credit: Unknown)

As a downhill mountain biking novice it's fair to say I was more than a little apprehensive when arriving at the French mountain town of Morzine to take part in the annual Passporte Du Soleil event. Now in its ninth year, PDS is one of the largest public MTB events in Europe, attracting thousands of riders who come to challenge themselves on some of the most technical trails in Europe.
Mountain access is provided by 15 chairlifts that take riders and their bikes up to 2,500m above sea level, with some runs even crossing the Swiss border at points. For three days each summer the entire area is closed off specifically for downhill mountain biking, attracting some of the world's best riders... and me.
Kitted out with a Voodoo Zobop bike I was as ready as I would ever be. Starting with some gentle runs, the inclines and pace quickly started to increase, along with my confidence levels. Loose rocks, tight turns and narrow paths require total concentration and lightning reflexes to navigate safely, and it wasn't too long before I had my first tumble, gaining a nasty gash on my right arm in the process.
Realising serious injury was a very real possibility I became more cautious as the difficulty of the runs increased. Typically, I didn't manage to catch the crash on camera and watching the runs back doesn't get across just how terrifying they were to ride. However, imagine that every turn could result in rolling down a mountain and you should be able to get some idea of the fear involved.

Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.