Les Avants, Switzerland
Les Avants is a small town above the Swiss city Montreux on the east end of Lake Geneva. It is a small ski resort town and old bobsled town. At the turn of the last century, bobsledding reigned supreme in this town. The first European Championships were held here in 1910.
The course starts near the top of a funicular. It heads underneath the train track down to a hairpin. Back down a fairly long straight with a chicane as you head underneath the tracks again. A big right hand sweeper leads to two more hairpins. Another high speed straight leads the rider back into town. There are several sharp turns, unfortunately backed by rock and concrete walls, followed by one last hairpin. The course ends immediately after the end of the hairpin because the train tracks cross the road. After crossing the tracks, it is a short jaunt down hill to the bottom of the funicular, for another ride to the top. Unfortunately, while the course is nice, the road surface leaves a lot to be desired.
Saturday, August 7
I didn't get to the hill until mid morning, and I had to drive through a torrential downpour. Apparently the storm came from here, as the roads were completely soaked.
Because of the rains, it was a little late getting started. The first run down there were still some wet patches. But the road dried up fairly quickly.
The cool thing about this free ride is the funicular.
The train goes from the bottom of the course to the top.
You wait for the next train
, which is every ten or fifteen minutes. When the train arrives, toss your board in the trailer
and climb aboard.
Ride to the top, where you cruise down the course again.
The cool thing is that there is no waiting for the bus back to the top, just wait for the next train.
I don't know how many runs I got in, I lost count. Like most Swiss towns, there was a water fountain
and fortunately it was near the bottom. I think I stopped for a quick drink after every run.
The evening I headed up to the tent
for some food and to hang out. They had a band playing for a while.
Then the local bobsleigh club came out and showed some old footage of bobsledding. Apparently at one time, they used to bobsled down the same course we were riding! I am not sure why, but there was a small pool set up outside the tent, and some people found a use for it.
Sunday, August 8
Today was much nicer than yesterday, looks like it will be a full day of riding.
One nice thing about free rides, it is fairly free form. Usually as soon as we get off the train we can go. A few people go, after a few seconds the next group goes. Of course it usually takes a few minutes at the start of the day as they make sure the course is clear.
We got ride after ride after ride in. The scenery is amazing in the Swiss Alps.
It was pretty cool taking the train back up, you can see almost the entire course from the train,
and sometimes you can catch the previous group going down.
The end of the run had a fence across it, to slow everyone down. It was the end of the run because the train, not the funicular, but Eurrail type trains, cross the road.
The day turned out to be fairly hot. At the end of the day, a few people used the fountains to cool off.
A few had a cold one.
But in the end, it was time to go.
It is really hard to put into words what happened, and how good a free ride is. I spent almost the entire day Sunday riding. You ride down, hop the train, and ride down again. Free rides are fellow mellow, and a lot of fun as there is no stress from competition. No one got seriously injured, and we all had a grand time.