Saas-Fee has played host to one of the most spectacular mountain bike races of its kind since 1996. The race follows the ski slopes from the Mittelallalin down to the village with the competitors today reaching speeds of more than 140 kilometres per hour.
In 1999 I joined 200 other racers at 3500 metres above sea level at some ungodly hour, ill-equipped for such an event. I wasn't the only one though. While some professional racers took part it was mostly an amateur event and nothing more than part of the 'Big Summer Opening' for Saas-Fee in June. Today the event is not only much faster (+60kph) but also runs in early spring when the snow still covers the track to the village.
Back in 1999 the snow only lasted to Maste 4 with the rest of the race on rocks and trails. The winner that year was a young René Wildhaber, later to go on to have a decent career as a bike racer winning many enduro races. The second was a professional snowboarder and the third was a local. All Swiss.