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.
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:
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 …