Monster Rollers. On a Downhill Scooter in Bovec, Slovenia
Scooters are great for kids. In the back yard. But what about a downhill scooter? On a mountain? 18 kms of mountain? With sheer drop at the side? I don’t let my daughter go to the village shop unaccompanied on hers. Therefore I was a little surprised to find us mounting hi-tec versions of what we have at home, and pushing off into the void on an afternoon out with Filip and Maja of Bovec Sport Center…
Scooters that aren’t just for kids
“We can start here. Or we can go up there for a further 200 metres. See, where those motorcycles are going? Technically the road is closed. But we could do it if you like..”
“Er, no thanks,” I have just watched for half an hour out of the back of an SUV as the road climbed and climbed, and narrowed and wound and switch backed and curled. And ended.
I don’t feel the need to add a bit on to the top. Especially a bit that’s closed.
Because I haven’t been on a scooter since I was seven.
But that’s not the issue
I’m not worried about me though. I can stand on a plank and get down a hill. I’m not worried about the boys either. They have built up a fair amount of braking and road skills on their bikes. They’ve been nagging at me to let them tour various cities by Segway for years. Even the name, Monster Rolling, fits with their personalities. I’m more worried about Hannah. She’s never really had a fully working scooter as the hand me downs always came covered in rust. She has limited biking skills. And the hills we just climbed in the car on the way up Mangart Mountain are shudderingly steep.
But at least it isn’t a main road
But then, if you are going to take up scootering, this is an extraordinary place to ride. In the course of an afternoon you drop 660m vertically, from 2200m near the top of the Mangart mountain, to the village of Log Pod Mangartom. The old military road is as smooth as it is zig zag. And at this time of day there is thankfully little traffic. There is no uphill push, only downhill pleasure. There are tunnels every couple of kilometres to provide extra interest and a breather while we reassemble. Filip Hrovat, owner of Bovec Sport Center, who has organised our activity, provides a support vehicle in case of technical problems. He has brought his wife Maja along to help out and take care of the boys while Stuart rides with Hannah. Which leaves me somewhere in the middle.
Stuck in the middle
It’s not a completely comfortable place to be. Ahead of me I see the boys racing ahead, determined to get the scooter ride of their life. And behind me I see (when we stop for there is no question of turning your head while rolling) a slightly wobbly yet determined Hannah. Just check out this video and see what I mean.
Watch her go
There is only one thing for it; I let go of the brakes and my wheels spin down the mountain. It’s exhilarating. I take on hairpin bends that give me a view of miles of Julian mountains as fast as I dare. I squeeze around tight corners that insist on an intake of breath as I peek over the side into deep forest and sharp rock. And I really ride those long ‘scooter friendly’ runs, with the wind in my hair, and ancient earth formed over centuries spinning beneath me. It’s different to biking. More like skiing. I can shift my body to move, left and right and if I bend my knees to come to a standstill I feel like a skateboarder.
The old inventions are the best
Hannah is happy. A little slower than the rest of us, but squeezing away on her brakes and holding on tight as she trundles along. But then, I reflect, she’s been on a a scooter a lot more recently than I have. Thinking about it now, I’m not sure I even had one at all as a child. It’s quite a remarkable little machine the scooter isn’t it? It has survived all the changes in fashion and transport. It is cheap and easy to maintain. And anyone can scoot. Even a seven year old on an 18km mountain descent.
I ask Filip if he invented the sport and he laughs and tells me that Monster Rolling is available in much of the Alps as a summer activity. For road rolling, Filip has a fleet of scooters with small wheels. And for off road, much smaller fatter wheels. Even better for boys! And for the less active, he even has electric bikes.
Speaking of the boys
The boys have finished, and are arguing over who did it fastest. And it’s with regret that I reach the end of the run too. Hannah skids to a stop only a few minutes behind us. Her face says it all.
“How was it?” I ask anyway, just to check.
“Fine,” she says nonchalantly. As though she’d just popped out to the corner shop and back for a loaf.
And not ridden a Monster Roller down a Slovenian Alp. I love her attitude.
Monster Rollers are available for hire from Sport Center Bovec and cost 42 euro per person which includes equipment hire, transfer to the Mangart mountain and pick up and return to town. The best time for the Mangart descent is in the late afternoon when the traffic is at its lightest.
Filip Hrovat of Sport Center Bovec decribes himself as one of the whitewater pioneers of the valley and offers a range of activities including rafting kayaking and hydro speed rental. He recommends canyoning in the Bovec region as an ideal family water activity. If you would like to base yourself in the area and try a few activities, Filip and Maja also offer family accommodation in one of two apartments. Contact them for details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclosure Note: Thanks to Tine at Spirit of Slovenia, Tina and David at the Bovec Local Tourist Office and Filip and Maja of Bovec Sport Center for hosting us to enable us to bring you this story from beautiful Bovec in Slovenia. As ever, the experience, views and opinions expressed remain entirely our own.