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Why electric bikes are making France’s Vercors Massif even more fun

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Why electric bikes are making France’s Vercors Massif even more fun

Mountain bikes with batteries may not look hip but they bring wondrous landscapes within reach of many, and this region next to Grenoble is a great place to try them

I wanted gentler slopes and a serene alternative to the soaring, rugged landscape of the Alps. I found it in the Vercors Massif, less than an hour from Grenoble airport, where Ryanair’s new thrice-weekly summer route is opening up the region’s grassy pistes. But I also discovered a paradise for mountain biking, hiking and roller-skiing...

In a valley about a third of the way down the 60km-long massif between Valence and Grenoble, Villard-de-Lans, a small town of wooden chalets, has become the area’s activity hub. It has a twice-weekly food market, the only fishmonger in the region and, most importantly, many places to hire skis and bikes.

However, among the high-octane sports was something new to me: riding an electric mountain bike. While the presence of a giant battery on your bicycle frame can appear humiliating on the tarmac, it does at least mean you can genuinely go “mountain” biking in the Vercors.

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