- Bikefax: Morzine & Portes du Soleil
- Chris Lazenby, Kate Long, Sue Savege
The third guide book from Bikefax breaks new ground in a couple of ways. First, it’s the first guide from the company that ventures outside its home country of Wales. It’s well outside, too, covering as it does the popular bit of the French Alps that includes Morzine, Les Gets, the Chatel Valley, Les Lindarets and Les Crosets. Second (and largely as a result of the first) it’s the first non-bilingual Bikefax guide. The first two had English and Welsh text, which was certainly a unique selling point but was also something of a design challenge.
There was apparently an early plan to do this one in English and French, but that didn’t happen. And, to be honest, we think that the guide is probably better for it. Only having the text in there once makes it much easier to keep things clear and simple.
The third bit of newness is the presence of downhill tracks in the guide, which we think might actually be something of a first not just for Bikefax but for guide books generally – there are descriptions of 14 of the area’s purpose-built DH courses here. You may be wondering how relevant a route description of a DH track is (navigationally speaking, they can generally be summarised thusly: Start at top, aim downwards) but in this case it makes a lot of sense – the tracks are spread over quite a wide area, you need to know which lifts to take to get to them, which way to go out of the top station and so on. The descriptions also help you to know what to expect beyond the simple colour grading system.
As well as the DH tracks, there are 12 XC rides in the guide. These vary from short up-and-down blasts to substantial all-day lift-assisted multi-valley tours. The descriptions are all split into geographical sections, and there’s a listing with difficulty grades at the back of the book. The XC rides are also categorised into Blasts, Classics, Expert and Epics which give you an idea of length and how long you’ll need.
All the routes are mapped in Bikefax’s usual style, with a smattering of icons showing you what to expect. They’ve had to devise a few new ones for this guide, not having had much call for icons denoting “wallride” or “North Shore” before. The relevant French IGN maps for each ride are listed in the route stats, too.
Finally there’s plenty of background information on the area, including useful stuff about insurance and lift opening times. With our editors’ hats on, there’re rather more typos (and the odd flipped photo) than we’d like, but there’s nothing that actually impedes your ability to find your way around so that’s just a niggle.