Sunday, 27 July 2014

Story of the summer

Once it was like this:

Chamonix-meteo.com says:
PRECIPITATION : scattered from noon - possible thunderstorm - changing to continuous and locally heavy rain in the evening.
PRECIPITATION : becoming moderate in the first part of the night - probably continuous until dawn.
PRECIPITATION : continuous and moderate in the morning - changing to showers, fairly heavy in the afternoon.
Very uncertain...

Hopefully by Thursday we can get back to ever classic Massif views rather than views of muddy bikes, brushes and dirty shorts:

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Once a week treat

A journey of utilising a small village chairlift that is only open for one day a week

Over here there is a lift that is only open on Tuesday, so when the weather plays ball it's time to get up and gain some easy height to access two of the very best trails around all of the Alps.

A bit of pushing straight up a piste and a traverse around the hillside lead us to a col with breathtaking views back across the Beaufortain and Massif du Mont Blanc.  In the other direction you could see south into the Isere region.  Somewhere below in the clouds was Albertville where we'd eventually finish off for the bus ride home.

The trail from the col traverses across aplages on singletrack before hitting a gravel track that skirts the hillside for several kilometres linking up all the local farms and huts.  This is cheese country after all.  It's by one of these farm's that we cut off up through a field to find a trail head that just begins out of nowhere when looking on the map.  It's strange, because it's an amazing undulating balcon of a trail.  It is however about 1 hour from the lift station.

another ribbon of delight
After traversing, don't miss the turn downwards into the some of the tightest swtichbacks around.  You must do this section to then be rewarded with the choice of two amazing trails.  These really are some of the best around, many people who've been down rate them as the best, topping les Arc, all of Destination X and even topping the best in Europe according to one guy.
Fast tick, loam tick, flowing corners tick, technical sections tick, long, hell yeah!

The two trail's converge 4/5 of the way down and end in a small village which then requires an 8km flat road ride into Albertville to get the bus home.  The descent is usually so well received people are not bothered at all.  There is also a nice water fountain at the bottom to cool off and re-fill bladders with.  

After the excitement of that for one day only I had to put up with trails and views like this in 30.C temperatures:

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Its not actually been a bad week to be injured

As far as injuries go, the wettest week in the alps isn't a bad one to miss


Before the constant rain and mist enveloped us we rode some great trails:

And then this happened, snow down to 1800m:

And as you can "follow" in my instragram I've been cooking up perfect Savoyard winter food to keep warm:

Today I've been getting back up to speed in the mist and remnants of the mud.  There is talk of it getting up to 30.c by the end of the week.  Could it even be dusty trails with enduro goggle set-up?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ridgelines rule!

They are generally so good, you don't want to stop for photo's, but when the views are so good you must try once or twice:

Monti Bianco from the Beuafortain
Massif du Mont Blanc from the Beaufort-Areches

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The 101 is actually 104!

Or so we think..It's a lot of switchbacks to count whilst descending 1500m in one hit..

We started out on the official Dev Albertville Trail which itself starting from the resort of les Saisses is an amazing 18km trail, but we turned off to find something a little different to the often fast paced trail.  Me and Will did our best to count all the switchbacks.  Some were 5 metres a part, other's were linked between smooth traversing balcon-sections allowing you to get your momentum up a bit.  We only walked one, number 73 (incidentally the department number the trail is in) and sessioned about 4 others.  Besides that we endo-rolled our way around the rest.  What a challenge it was.

Once at the bottom we finished on the Val d'Arly road that is still closed to traffic after last years rock fall.  It was quite surreal riding down the road that is so slow when cars are on it in peak winter for summer months.  "Like going to a school in summer holidays" is how Will described it.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Classic Enduro-ing

Somewhere between La Plagne and Bozel is one of the best trails in the world!

With a bit of enduro style van assistance we made a great start onto Spider Pig for what felt nearly endless tight switchbacks.

Then it was time for the big climb, at midday, in the bright sunshine fuelled by tasty cake and some egg mayo baguette.  We all took our pads off and supped on our bladders to try and get motivated to start the ascent.  Too begin with everyone was full of enthusiasm, making jokes, chatting rubbish and ringing our enduro styled bells.  It only took a few switchbacks before we were all a little more subdued and beginning to get into a rhythm for the hour long climb.
Climbing up with the Vanoise National Parc in the background
We were nearly at the top when one of the group suffered a near ride ending mechanical breaking his pedal body away from the spindle.  At the top many zip tie's were used to try and hold the pedal back onto the cranks.  It ended up lasting about 200 metres before falling off again at which point a gear cable was used to lash it all together.  It meant no pedalling, but we all got down. I hope your luck get's better this season "buddy"!

Trumpet Gentians. Always learning flowers for my test later this summer 
And what a descent it was to be!  I'd been here before when working on the Trans Savoie last year and had had a great vantage point as start marshal.  See some photo's here.
Ribbon and a view
Since last year it seems a few other people have been exploring this part of region outside of winter months and found this same perfect ribbon of singletrack.  We saw many people coming down when we climbed up.  The trail however seems to be holding up very well and hopefully it won't get to cut up by too many biker's skidding round tight turns or cutting corners. After the last of our egg mayo baguettes we dropped our seat posts and dropped into this amazing first section of the trail.
tA enduro team
My new enduro goggle set-up. Thanks Morray for photo.
Enduro tuck

After the sublime top section of open single track you drop into the tree line for loamy 'Sam Hill' corners.  It flows well and is not too stop-start as some alpine trails are with tight corners.  There are some natural berms you can catch in or out of some corners, but don't let this fool you into forgetting about the constant roots and rocks all over the place.  Lower down after cutting through a village the trail gets more technical as it follows the side of a river.  There are some really tight, steep switchbacks to test your skills and confidence with exposure.  The Beaufort 2 made it through clean, but Morray tried it and almost made it. With a fixed back brake perhaps he could have done it...
Nearly round
Picking up the peices

In Bozel we were not quite done with riding, but we had to stop at the local patisserie to sample the goods before the last pedally section down towards the suicide capital of Europe**, Moutiers.
Mrytille and pistachio biscuit

** - a popular ski bum rumour