British Cycling Visit Morzine

A few weeks ago, some of the best young mountain bikers in the UK came to Morzine for a training camp before the World Champs & Treeline were asked to cater for the camp, ensuring all athletes have a nutritious & balanced diet during their camp. The endless & varied terrain, temperate climate & cycling culture that Morzine offers means it’s a great destination for training for the British team & of course the Treeline cuisine is an added bonus!

We grabbed a few minutes with Simon Watts, Mountain Bike Coach from the Great Britain Cycling Team to ask him a few questions about their trip to morzine.

Can you tell us a little about the team & the purpose of this trip to Morzine?

The 9 riders we had in Morzine on this occasion were our Mountain Bike ODP or Olympic Development Program athletes. They are in the junior category which is Under 18, and we have a mix of both first year and second year’s on the program. We also had one rider that is still in the U16 or Youth Category however performances have meant we have moved him up a program early.

We travelled into Morzine straight off the back of racing a round of the Coupe de France (French Cup) in Oz en Oisans which for the juniors was a round of their world cup series. Five of the nine are competing in the World Champs in Norway on Thursday 4th September and this was the final block of specific training in the build up to that event.

Why do you choose Morzine as a Team GB training camp destination?

A number of reasons really. Firstly because personally as a coach I know it better than any other alps or high mountains location and there is a huge amount of planning and research that goes into making these camps run successfully and knowing the area cuts down on the resources of time and budget for that preparation. That aside, it’s got everything we need; long climbs, an exciting trail network, variation in track style and sections that can be looped to re-create most international course features. Along with riding specifics, it’s only a short transfer from Geneva’s regular low cost flights, has a cycling culture and you guys provide excellent food!

What other facilities in Morzine did you use? Do you do any cross training?

On this training camp, not a lot if I’m honest. It was two training sessions a day with food and rest between. However when here for longer or in a less intense block, the group would have taken full advantage of the swimming pool, cafes, lakes at Montriond or Les Gets and some up lifts.

What do the team get up to when they’re not training?

With this age group, whatever they could get away with probably! However the ethos of the ODP program is about the long term development of athletes rather than race success as juniors. It’s about them gaining the vital skills to go on to be self-sufficient and successful as Elite professionals and I’m looking to deliver riders onto the U23 program with potential of future medals at Olympics or World Champs.

For this reason we don’t have mechanics or soft tissue therapists with us. The riders need to wash and maintain their own bikes, wash their kit, stretch or manage injuries and rest really well (which believe it or not is a vital skill to what they do. Most camps they would also have to cook for themselves too, so having Treeline cater for us was a massive treat for them (and me, who normally has to eat their attempt at Spaghetti Bolognaise).

What event are you preparing for at the moment?

This camp was planned specifically for preparation towards the Mountain Bike World Champs which this year are in Norway. The program is purely focused on the XCO discipline with is the only discipline of MTB in the Olympics, and stands for Cross Country Olympic. However it’s been an fantastic high mountains experience for the whole group irrelevant of weather they have been selected for the worlds or not.

Camps like this are excellent catalysts for physical and technical development but they also give the riders a taste of the life these guys are aspiring too. They see that the reality is hard work but that the benefits and lifestyle are great if they are dedicated enough to reach their goal.

Do you use the lifts at all? Or is it strictly peddle power??

On this camp, strictly peddle power (much to the disappointment of some of the riders). However at another time of the year, working on specific technical sections they could be used and can be a great tool.

What’s your favourite uphill?  

Both the road up the Avioriaz and the Col du Joux Plan made excellent platforms for some specific intervals, so from a coaches point of view they are great but it’s hard to call those roads a favourite. Some people might think we are mad for enjoying climbs, however it tends to be the more off piste bits of flowing, technical single track, particularly those that take you out into the wilds and away from others that really stand out. If I’m honest I don’t know a huge number of them around Morzine, I’m sure they are there, just need a little more local knowledge. There are a couple of really good ones over the other side the Les Gets bowl.

And Downhill?

There are so many it’s hard to pick one out. There are some really good natural runs off the road near the Les Gets golf club. Again it’s the technical single track stuff that is special and that takes a little bit of looking for. Most of that stuff is footpaths (which is allowed in France unlike in England and Wales), however can get busy in certain areas during the French Holidays. Every now and again it is great to pin one of the marked trails, especially if the breaking bumps aren’t too bad, hit the jumps and chase some of the big bikes on hard tails.

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British Cycling is the national governing body for cycling and works across all levels and six disciplines of the sport (BMX, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, road, track and cycle speedway) and is home to the hugely successful Great Britain Cycling Team.


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