E-Bikes In The Mountains
We’ve joined forces with Australia’s foremost authority when it comes to MTBs/e-bikes, [R]evolution + [E]volution Magazine, to show you why you should be frothing at the bit for an e-bike, and to understand how these things really work. Take it away, fellas…
Enduro superstar and Cannondale Factory rider Jérôme Clementz and his wife Pauline Dieffenthaler are lucky enough to live in Alsace, at the base of the Vosges Mountains in eastern France. The area is well known for its awesome trails and offers the perfect terrain to ride e-Bikes. From the German border in the north to the Belfort region in the south, the Vosges Mountains cover an area around 180km long.
Jérôme has already covered the Vosges many times with his traditional bike, both using a car for one-way rides and also riding independently, sleeping in the mountain huts. The good news for e-Bike riders is that Bosch has recently installed a network of “power stations” that allow you to recharge your bike for free at a number of location throughout the Vosges. This gave Jérôme the idea to head out into the Vosges again, but this time with his wife with and their e-Bikes. We’ll now hand the keyboard over to Jerome who will tell in you in his own words how the adventure unfolded each day…
Hello everyone! Well, after a bit of research and planning, we decided to start from Saverne and ride back to Guebwiller where we live. Thanks to the Bosch power stations, we would be able to stop and recharge the bikes, either during our lunch break or overnight. So we decided to ride with the minimum amount of gear: bike, water, snacks, casual clothes for the night, tools, and a first aid kit.
There’s also no need to bring your bike charger along as the stations have everything you need to keep your batteries charged along the way. The objective of the trip was not to go for a big mission but to enjoy the ride and discover more of the region and the amazing views! What a luxury to be free…
We started the ride in front of the “Châteaux des Rohans” in Saverne, riding along the “Marne au Rhin” canal past the tourists’ boats. The first part of the ride is a warm-up, easy and relaxing on a smooth cycle path. A perfect way to begin the trip before the first climb up to “Dabo” and into the mountains.
The advantage of crossing the Vosges from north to south is that the terrain is easier to start with thanks the famous “Grès des Vosges”, which means pink sandy soil. We pass next into the majestic “Rocher de Dabo” which dominates the valley and offers 360 degree views all around. We can tell why, back in the medieval days, the king would set up his fortress here.
Next we pass into a fabulous forest of pine trees, riding again on the typical pink coloured soil and onto the first stop in the village of Waghenthal. This is where the first recharge station is located at the tourism office. The stop allows riders to go for lunch at a restaurant in the village nearby and recharge your empty stomachs as well!
Depending your level of riding, and the e-Bike assistance mode you’re using, it’s possible to plan your trip to shorten or lengthen the distance between stops. Bosch has installed 40 charging sites throughout the mountains with chargers located near restaurants, tourism offices and hotels, and with 9 locations where you can charge 6 batteries simultaneously! You can check out all the locations here: www.bosch-ebike.com/powerstations.
The second part of our day ramps up as we have decided to push on to reach the “Champ du feu”, we ride in Eco mode to reach the “Schirmeck” valley and then climb to the summit. Arriving in the “Champ du feu” we end our day with a fantastic colourful sunset. Our day was demanding and we enjoy the comfort of the hotel and the delicious diner that is waiting for us to recharge our body!
The next day, as we slept at a relatively high altitude, we start our day with a 500 meter vertical decent down a nice long downhill trail. The Les Vosges mountains are super nice to ride and the trails are never too technical, mostly just fun and flowy. We reach the lower point in “Col d’Urbès” and decide to stay near the ridge in order to enjoy the awesome views up and down the valley. After 35 km we stop at a “Ferme Auberge”, a typical mountain farm where all the meals are made with the majority of their own produce. A must do in Les Vosges mountains, especially to try the local cheese called Munster and the heavy but tasty “Repas Marcaire”.
The rest of the day is absolutely stunning with high mountain lakes, some more technical rocky trails, gorgeous views and a pleasant ride. Even if we are used to this kind of landscape, we are still amazed every time we ride here by the beauty of our local area.
For our third day, the terrain is different again as we ride on the “la route des crêtes” which is the ridge of the Vosges mountains that runs for 73km. We feel like we are in the Alps, especially near the Hohneck summit where there are still some patches of snow surviving into the summer. We are flying along now with our Ebikes making every climb seem easy and the landscapes are moving past at a rapid rate. We make a quick stop in “Markstein” for our lunch, before reaching the highest point of the trip at the “Grand Ballon”. When the sky is clear it’s possible to see the Alps from the summit. This is the high point of the ride and feels like an achievement to have reached this far, it’s all downhill from here. The last downhill section is the most fun part of the whole trail, with 1000 vertical metre decent down some amazing flowy trails, we feel like kids on a roller coaster.
To sum up the whole ride in a nutshell, it was a blast to ride our own region and this route was one of the easiest and most accessible ways to traverse of Les Vosges mountains. The e-Bikes are a perfect tool for this kind of trip! Moreover, with the Bosch charging stations, it’s easy to travel light, adding to the fun.
As we know the region well, we have been able to customize our route, but you can also follow the official crossing called “Traversée du Massif des Vosges à VTT”. Other marked trails also start alongside the Vosges and it’s possible to imagine a road ride either into the passes for a challenging tour, or though the nearby vineyards. We rode 60 km each day on our ride and did the crossing in 3 days. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any advice, we would be pleased to help you find out more about our amazing home in the mountains!