“Living in a chalet above the town of Leysin, Lucky my host was living a little different to most people I know. Our most valuable currency is time, and he decided instead of trading it for a paycheck he'd instead spend it on pursuits he deeply valued.
Learning about permaculture and self-sufficient living is his playground. From the small things like discovering dried radish ( it's amazing, you should try it!) to planning an agricultural harvest large enough to last all year, it was very intriguing to learn about and opened my mind to a world of possibility beyond the supermarket.
While no doubt money was a little tight and we dreamed of new ski gear, sitting around the dinner table with amazing locally grown food and great company was about as good as it gets.
It had me wondering, when this biking thing comes to an end, what next I'll decide to trade my time for.
Food for thought.”
The text extract above from the FinalFrontier.bike Instagram profile along with the picture sums up well my time in Leysin. A small town up in the Alps not far from Lake Geneva, it feels worlds away from the endless stream of global events that come streaking across your phone. That’s not to say being disconnected from the world around us is the desired outcome, but rather I find it’s much easier to chime in then to chime out.
With a slight uneasy feeling for the snow that was to come, I continued along the #1 alpine bike route which quite literally makes it’s way past the front door of Lucky’s chalet. The path snaked hardened trees and mountain sides, rideable if a car or ski touring folk had compacted the trail and hike-a-bike if not. To be quite honest, I was edgy with thoughts of deep snow and challenges that were to come. My experience in snow packed biking conditions before the alps was limited to the frozen plateaus of Iceland and they are mostly flat. The Alps are anything and everything but flat. Ultimately, as much as I desired to pursue the alpine bike route in it’s entirety, the gradient and snow depth meant it would be a hike-a-bike trip. I have the bike to ride so other routes must be found; the alpine bike route will have to wait for warmer days.
It was following the alpine bike route and weaving my way along random dirt roads/trails/paved roads that I came to a rather sober conclusion that the magical pictures I had seen of winter fat bike riding were distinct in one key way from what I was riding in the Alps. Gradient. The winter wonderland of Alaskan riding were from what I could see mostly on relatively flat areas. That I realised can make all the difference when pushing through snow as once the gradient starts increasing your ability to mow down snow reduces significantly. Compromise became my new travel companion and so to did a changing travel perspective. I realised even monotonous flat paved roads have their place on a 'take the trails less travelled' adventure - they are a much appreciated break from the tough grind pedaling up mountains can be.