Welcome to Downhill Heaven

Downhill Biking in Switzerland - Paul Hilliard

 

Like a Grizzly without a Stream

I've played just about every sport, but nothing has satisfied me more than downhill mountain biking. Downhill biking is my escape, my weekend, my afternoon, and has been my passion for ten years. I got into downhill mountain biking in British Columbia, Canada. Coming to live in Switzerland four years ago, I was really skeptical about what I'd find.

Riding Whistler, The Shore, and just British Columbia in general, I thought my experiences in this sport could not get any better. Was I a bike snob? I had absolutely no idea what to expect the day I rolled out my monster downhill bike on the cobble stone streets of Zurich. When I finally did, I'd get looks from the general public on my huge spongy bike and it all really worried me.

Had I been so spoiled with all the options I had in Canada? “Why did I come here?” I thought to myself. Five minutes from my door I could watch black bears wonder past as I’d push, ride, pull or drag my big heavy bike to the trail ahead. Paradise lost? I thought so. People really felt sorry for me. Like a grizzly bear without a river to catch salmon, I was a downhill rider without a trail. I knew that trails existed, but where was the information?

Downhill Biking in Switzerland - Paul Hilliard

 

Getting Closer to Downhill Heaven

I couldn't read German or French. I only knew some of the big cities and some smaller towns. I knew I had to ask, and keep asking anyone who knew anything about these specially made tracks for speeding my bike down. "I know a friend, who has a friend, who has a friend", people would say. I had no idea where I'd find those hidden gems like the ones I knew in Canada.

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Little did I know, the emeralds I had been riding in Canada so big and precious could be found here in Switzerland. In fact, the trails I have found here have turned out to be diamonds, and the bears I once worried about were big beautiful cows with great golden bells around their neck. I was getting warmer in my search.

To all the Swiss with great big hearts, who called me on a Saturday morning and sent me maps via email and told me "Be here in 2 hours", I truly, truly thank you. You saved my life.

Downhill Biking in Switzerland - Paul Hilliard

 

World Class Riding in Switzerland

In my past four years, finding trails and bike parks throughout the Swiss Alps has become everything I wait for in a week. I’m writing this blog series to help promote Swiss downhill and freeride for everyone. As well as for all of you who left your home track where you knew every bump, root, stone, tree, jump, drop, bridge, ladder and wall ride.

Downhill Biking in Switzerland - Paul HilliardI want to blow the lid off of the Swiss downhill scene. If I had a bike riding heaven, this would be it. I am going to hit some of my favorite trails this summer and put in my 2 cents. I will add video and any access information so you too can enjoy the mountains and everything Switzerland has to offer its downhillers.

I truly believe Switzerland's mountain bike and freeride scene is on the edge, if not thee worlds greatest and for those looking to pick this sport up, I'm preparing to throw it down for you.

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Paul Hilliard

Paul is the quintessential Canadian, but love plucked him from his cushy biker's nest and has landed him in the crazy 9 to 5 world of Switzerland. As "Grizzly", he loves to hit the Swiss Alps and mark his territory, just as long as he doesn't get shot!
8 replies
  1. Paul Hilliard
    Paul Hilliard says:

    Funny enough, you’re one of the Swiss people I’m talking about who called me and showed me some awesome rides!

    Reply
  2. Andi Vogel
    Andi Vogel says:

    Wow, how inspiring! Thanks for your story; I feel all the emotions – and want them as well :-) As soon as I am back in Switzerland, I wanna Downhill!!!

    Reply
  3. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    A fellow canuk like you, love has plucked me from my nest and dropping me in Zurich, and in the next months I’m looking for some MTB resources. I came across your article and found it inspiring … but where are the trails? Any links to The “diamonds” you mention?

    Reply
  4. Mark
    Mark says:

    Thanks for ‘blowing the lid off the Swiss downhill scene’ with 1 article in a yr……can’t wait for more :)

    Reply
  5. Chia
    Chia says:

    Hey Paul, Hope you’ll be able to post more reviews of downhill spots! I read a little German, but I’m having a hard time figuring out which trails are suitable for a beginner! My bf convinced me to go to Uetliberg, but I already found the downhill there too steep for my liking! Have you found less steep trails that might be suitable for a beginner – single trails or forested routes? I have also done the lower stretches of the Lenzerheide Bike Attack run but was only a bit nervous that there were hundreds of people zooming behind me… Anything similar to that with chicken runs? Thanks for sharing! Would save me paying 40CHF for the lift ticket only to find that I have to walk the whole way down!!

    Reply

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