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What guides do between work in the peak of July

Summer is here, and after fantastic spring riding in Southern France and then all over Valais, Aosta and Haute Savoie with good friends it's been time to get back to summer guiding, taking hikers around the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit.  There's much worse things to do, but with three weeks off the bike I was itching to get back on some trails.

With a carefully planned week between tours I was excited and made some plans to hit up some classic lines, and some new stuff too. It's mid July now, so in Chamonix valley you have to think carefully about where to go to miss the crowds, and to avoid going on the bike ban trails (July & August).  Luckily it's still easy to find quiet trails in nearby resorts, or to simply drop round the back of a hill away from the frontside lifts. It went a little like this:

Day 1- La Thuile with Wayne of newly qualified French legal mountain bike guiding service Chamonixmtb.com . Enduro race venue at it's best, rough and raw.



Day 2- Blue b…
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Diois & Barcelonnette

Family trip to the flow zones of France
Die, pronounced Dee, home to a delicious sweet smooth sparkling alcoholic drink called Clairette, is also home to some of the sweetest smoothest trails around.

A few years ago some mates did a race organised by the Bivouac Enduro team and came back raving about it.  More so the pairs racing format, but they said that the trails were great fun to ride with the company of a mate.

Back in spring before my summer guiding season kicked off I met my parents there for our annual holiday together.  The day I met my Dad he was turning a couple of years into his 60's.  All winter he had told me stories that him and his 'crew' had got into out riding there bikes in the Shire's, Boarders and Mid Wales area's. With this preparation in mind I knew he'd love the potential that lay ahead of us:





After a few days in the Diois we moved onto Barcelonnette in the Ubaye region of the southern French Alps.  Luckily Ash from Transprovence had given …

Alta Via dei Monti Liguri

Summit to Sea grande finale for the Provence Posers"The Alta Via dei Monti Liguri is a long-distance waymarked hiking trail in the Italian region of Liguria. In about 440 kilometres and 44 day hikes, it runs through the arc formed by Ligurian Alps and Ligurian Apennines from Ventimiglia to Ceparana"
How does high mountain rocky singletrack cut out of the the hillside during World War II which descends into beautiful deciduous forests and ends with dry dusty fast trails above a seaside town sound?  The final stage of Alta Via, 45km, 3000 metres of descent, 9 hours & 10 foccaccia's & close to 30 scoops of Gelato.  Many thanks to Martial again for joining us and showing us the way. http://www.alpsmountainbike.com/index.htmlfor booking a trip to do the whole thing in one holiday.










Provence Posing

Early spring road trip with Team NL
The Dutchies had work to finish before they'd start the mammoth 14 hour drive from under the sea to herb filled mountainsides.  Work for us guys in the Alps is more seasonal & temporary, as it is for some Easyjet pilots which meant that the native English speakers left for 'The South' a day earlier.
Digne les Bains was the rendezvous location for Saturday night but this meant going so close to Gap and Lac Serre Poncon. The lure of a trail in the Haute Alpes (the northern most department in the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Region) was too much. 3 of us wild camped lake side with giddy excitement for what lay ahead. Rob & Ben knew each other from ski touring & paragliding, but had never ridden together, nor had Ben ever met team NL.  Rob and I briefed him on the impending fun.
In the morning, a classic was called upon to give Ben his first taste of Southern singletrack. Mont Colombus, and a few hours later after spinning up we h…

Verb-yeah!

Verbier is a very mixed place.  There is great piste skiing & free-riding and access to world class ski touring, but more often its known for it's decadence.  Huge picture perfect chalets with wealthy families and their beaufituful/handsome ski instructors fill the resort. And if not that, the seedier side of ski resorts, the bankers with their paid for woman. . .

Talking of horrible, those exposed switchbacks half way down from the Chateau were bloody horrible, lucky the rest of the trail was very good fun.

Well of course, its Swiss Valais, the footpaths are "tip top" and the lift companies are bike friendly.  There were still a lot of pistes open for skiing, but after 11am you can use the lower lift from Le Chable to Verbier to access the snow free trails that lead back into the valley floor.  Time to explore:





Many thanks to Lorne for some of the cracking photos : http://www.lornecameron.com