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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. booking a trip to do the whole thing in one holiday.

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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…


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 :

Riding every month of the year

Since April last year (2016) through to now in 2017 I have ridden my bike every month of the year.  This is something that I have not done in about 6 or 7 years since moving out to the Alps on a more full time basis.  It shouldn't actually happen. In previous "winter" periods I have packed away the bike and got the ski's out for at least a 4 month period.  This theme seems to be changing, once the domain of southern French alps, even in the Northern Alps you can ride year round.  Up here a huge emphasis is put on communities & businesses to make a big income during the winter.  How will this change.

Yes, there will be big snowy winters, but the frequency of them will decline.  The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Switzerland have written many reports, here are links to two:
Less snow and a shorter ski season in the Alps Climate change is shortening the snow season due to earlier spring snowmelt
It might sound nice to ride dry dusty trails in April wearing…

That time in February when I forgot my gloves and didn't get cold hands...

Seasons are changing in the mountains.Its been the shortest "off season" that I have known.  It's been growing shorter over the last few years but riding into the the new year was something I have not done since I lived in the UK.  The skiing season is getting shorter and more temperamental.  We shouldn't have been riding dry trails in Aosta Valley on the fitth day of the new year.  We did, and we had a blast thanks to the generous hospitality of the locals.  Read more about inter season on Lorner's blog here:
With skiing stoke low I went for a ride in Servoz.  Now picture the scene, its the twenty something of February 2017, at 1000 metre altitude and I can't find my gloves in my riding pack.  I suffer from cold hands at the slight hint of mild air.  In winter you will find several pairs of thick gloves in my backpack, even in spring or autumn there could well be two pairs in my riding pack.  However on thi…

Not quite the end of the Alpine season

Snow in the Lake District of England got me ready for winter in France, but then...
Me, and the Beaufort Bitches enjoyed a great weekend up in the lakes with the our brothers up there.  It really is like a mini alps up there.  Some mega tech trails and some great fast flow accompanied with top notch banter and a poorly executed, but highly amusing Kendal Mountain Film Festival Bike Night 2016.
BUT THEN I returned to Chamoinx, the good snow had all but gone and the trail riding conditions were, and still are, top notch.  There is still snow out there for the keen, i.e those willing to hike in trainers with all their ski gear on their backs, or those wishing to drive a long way into Aosta Valley.

Local conditions in the Haute Savoie and neighbouring Valais have been top notch below 1800 metres.  This means there is still a good few options, and with winter driving work not having kicked in to full time, lots of time to ride, keep fit and wait for the impending arrival of winter. Lorne of t…