3 days in Paradise, riding trails that you never visited before, discover the most beautiful spots of the Alps, share good times with your friends and people you’ve just meet around beers, and suffer on your bike just enough to make the trip unforgettable.
Let’s start this adventure onboard with 2 pros, Thomas Lapeyrie and François Bailly-Maitre.
Who am I ?
I’m François Bailly-Maitre, mountain bike pro rider, but first and foremost mountain and nature lover. Mountain biking is one of my ways to enjoy spending time outside, discovering new spots, new places. As a cherry on the cake, I also really enjoy all the fun aspects about being on my bike: the adrenalin, the physical challenges.
I’ve been travelling a lot the last few years in order to race MTB all over the world. I feel a bit guilty about it, considering that every travel blew up my CO2 impact. However, I’ve been very lucky to experience a lot of races all over the world, with different formats. So from now, I can pick up the one I know I like the most.
Among those, multi days races still are my favorites. It is fun and always special, and the Vaude Biivouac combines both:
What is the Vaude Biivouac ?
Vaude Biivouac is a 3 days mountain bike race in duo. Organised by Endurotribe, a french web-magazin, every year in a different area of France. The concept is a nomad camp, that allow you to discover different riding spots. It’s mostly in the Alps, that shows all the potential of France for mountainbiking.
In 2019, it was the 8th edition of the event. I was lucky to be on the 1st edition and came back every time I could to race it 3 times. And every year, the organizers improve the concept, and not only on the biking part like most organizers would focus on, but on other subjects that matter too. For a few years now, the food has been organic and locally made, just like it would be at home, but for 160 servings per day, 3 times a day, all prepared for by the staff. Oh (warning: I may be biased), it’s France, so the local food never disappoints. Last but not least, they put a lot of effort to reduce the wasting by using compostable plates, reusable glasses.
The 60 teams of 2 riders registered in only 40 minutes. Those riders are mostly coming from France, Switzerland and Belgium. They are most of the time not racers, but good riders who want to discover new places, ride some of the best trails of their lifes, and experience all the good times around Biivouac. The concept to ride on a team is very exciting for all of them. It’s something unusual for racing but in facts, that’s we all like about biking: sharing.
Every morning you wake up in a new area, to discover the local trails. Greg, in charge of the riding aspects, knows what people likes to ride, so you’re never disappointed of the trail’s choices.
The leitmotiv of the organizer is to prepare the event they always wanted to take part to. Unfortunately for them, they can’t ride their own race, but for us participants, mission accomplished?
The atmosphere is very friendly, all the riders are passionate about mountainbiking, it’s like a big family all traveling and riding together. At every stop you chat with a different rider, talk about the last stage, the landscapes, the crashes they have.
In the transfer, riders complains about the heat, the slope but then it’s soon forgotten once around the beer at the camp.
And like in every family, some riders likes more partying, some prefers to sleep more. Every night, if you are keen to, you can stay awake and talk about life for quite a while!
Where to ?
This year, we had the chance to discover the Tarentaise Valley. Known for skiing in the winter, I was a bit afraid to be moving around ski resorts surrounded by concrete, tall buildings and lifts.
But as you might have guessed by now it wouldn’t fit the philosophy of the organizer. So they’ve scouted away from the snow industry, to take us to the best views , natural trails and villages (I encourage everyone to google “Le Monal”) of the area.
I rode last year with Daniel Eiermann, MTB journalist, pharmacist and also an experimented rider. This year I offered to Thomas Lapeyrie to join me. Thomas and I have approximately the same speed on trails, which matters a lot. It’s very important, to choose a partner that rides approximately at your speed. All the fun about racing in a team of two, is that you can share instantly the high and low moments of your run. When you miss a corner, your mate can take the lead. If you crash, your partner will still be here to make sure it won’t stay unnoticed when you are having beers in the evening… I had few crashes during day 1, Thomas was happy enough to show it in the video edit (lower, at 8min 28sec). He was very bumped to have stopped the camera when I went over the bar on stage 1 day 1 . Sorry dude, there is no proof. But you can be sure that he didn’t show his low moments.
Thomas POV: “Vaude Biivouac was a really good way to share good moments with all the riders, all coming from different areas, social universes. On top of that, it was an amazing outdoor experience.
He experienced the race few years ago in a total different matter, but let say the story owns only the riders who were there at this time.”
If you’re looking to spend the best time on your bike, discovering a new spot and making new friends, this is a highly recommended event to add to your bucket list.
Text: Francois Bailly-Maitre
Photos: Antoine Bussier