There is a pleasing variety of options to get down (and up) the mountainside in La Tzoumaz. In summer, by far the most hilarious has to be the trottinette scooter. We climbed out of the telecabin at the top of the Savoleyres and were shown to our trottinettes by the lift operator.
“It’ll be a bit steep for 15 minutes before you turn left into the forest and into the more gentle section.” This was the only technical advice we received before he headed back into his cabin, despite neither of us having really seen a trottinette before. Upon closer inspection, we accepted that his briefing was probably sufficient – a trottinette is essentially made up of a short plank between two small mountain-bike wheels that is equipped with front and rear suspension, two disc brakes and a large sticker displaying the telephone number for the emergency services.
We let off the brakes and started to roll down the hill. As a keen mountain-biker, I first had to adjust to the fact that there are no pedals, no gears and no saddle. Although I instinctively bent my knees a little to absorb the bumps, I found the lateral balance options a little restricted. Once you get used to the fact that there is no possibility of shifting your weight between the pedals or even sticking your knee out for balance, the only option is to hold on tightly and try to start the braking sequence in time. Trottinettes are quite heavy and the mountainside is steep, so they accelerate quickly and brake slowly. Another feature of continental biking became painfully obvious as I desperately tried to scrub off some excess speed to get round one particular corner in the loose earth. British bikes have the front brake on the right, like a motorcycle. Continental bikes have the front brake on the left and under pressure I find it easy to confuse the front and back brakes. The worst thing was that my husband was fiddling with his camera and missed
the whole graceful performance that ended with me crashing down into the soft earth with a grunt at his feet.
Now mildly winded and authentically decorated with muddy scrapes, this tumble had given me new confidence. I now understood how the laws of physics would prevent my trusty steed from behaving like anything other than a runaway bicycle with no pedals, and if I treated it with such low expectations we would get along just fine. We squealed with laughter at each twist and turn of the dirt track, fighting to stay upright as we raced each other down the hill. Each bump, gravel patch and deep rut in the ground provided its own challenge to negotiate and required such focus that we were barely aware of the stunning mountain panorama around us.
We bounced past hikers and dog-walkers who waved us a cheery “Bonne descente!” We whizzed past serious cyclists climbing up the long road to the summit. Children and adults alike stopped to look at us with amazement, perhaps wondering if they should have a go themselves. We took pity on a novice mountain-biker who was sliding gingerly down the footpath and we stopped off to adjust his bike and give him a few pointers. All too soon, and before you could say “trottinette-tastic” we had arrived in the village and were grinning from ear to ear. “Again…?” we said in unison and then burst out laughing.
Rent your trottinette for 15 CHF per hour at the la Tzoumaz telecabin base station, or 20 CHF including one-way lift ticket
Take good trainers or hiking boots, a cycle helmet if you have one (they’ll lend you one if you don’t), long sleeves/long trousers and mountain-bike gloves
Group or family activity on a dry day
Not recommended for
Children under 7 or the faint-hearted