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Showing posts from 2015

Coming to an end

My bike has gone online to be sold today
Hopefully winter will be hitting the Alps soon, but in the mean time I have been back in the U.K visiting friends and family.
Me and my Dad hit up Mortimer's forest for our classic autumn ride checking out the new trails he's found.  There seem to be more each visit.  A great sign of the building community of trail builders in the boarder Counties.
This past weekend I went to North Wales to visit some past haunts.  Over the last 5 years I had only visited North Wales to complete International Mountain Leader courses, so it was nice to be finally back how it should be, with a mountain bike. However, over those 10 years many of the trails have been exposed to all the finest weather of North Wales, and many, many bike tyres.  Penmachno was basically a solid stream, but a fun roller coaster despite getting soaked in under 2 hours.
After a big meal, plenty of ciders and a sleep in a local Betws-y-Coed bunkhouse we headed across to Llandegla as m…

How to retrieve a car, the Chamonix way

My car was left at somebody else's house a few hours drive away.I could have gotten somebody to drive me around to collect my car that had been left near Aime in the neighbouring department of Savoie. I even had the idea to borrow a road bike and finally do the huge climb out of Beaufort and over the Cormet de Roseland.
Instead the Tom's joined for a two day Oli-venture across the mountains.  There was hope for great singletrack, and I did warn them about some height gain.  It's just a shame many of the vertical metres gained where whilst pushing our bikes. We left Notre dame de la Gorge and pedalled for about 1 kilometre before the first section of pushing began.  And so it carried on for about 5 hours, ride, push, hike a bike, ride a little more and push even more.  Luckily we were fresh, the banter crude and the views in every direction were beautiful.  The views and sunset really made up for it all!
Arriving just before dark at the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme we…

The road trip that made Finale Ligure seem average

I have been truly spoilt recently with trails and company.  As an all round package, Finale is great; sea, coffee, food, singletrack, beer and gelato.  We just found a package that was even better. Leaving Les Arc for Embrun we decided after 3/4 of the journey to check out a tasty looking footpath up above Briancon, just to break the journey up you know?  It turned out to be an absolute banger of flow. Me and Ali were chuckling all the way down. Basically things carried on like this for a the whole week, look for a nice footpath on the map and go ride an amazing singletrack trail.

We started our road trip proper around Lac Serre Poncon.  You can read about my first visit earlier this May here and here2.  Since my last visit I'd been itching to get back and show people.  Unsurprisingly everyone loved what I had found.  THAT SOUTH FEELING!

I've never had a col (mountain pass) named after me, but I now have Col de Oli.  Part way through the summer professional mountain biker photogr…

The best of 3 countries, including the best trail of the year

Major and minor hits around the greater Mont Blanc region of Aosta Italy, Valais Switzerland and Savoie France. Tomorrow I head to the souther French Alps, and then onto Finale Ligure.I spent a few days ticking off classic trails in using the le Tour lifts before they closed.  It's good to see tyre tracks on the descent into le Buet. And I even tried a descent I had previously not done above Chatelard.  It was very Swiss, fun and fast. How do the Valaisan's cut such good footpaths?
Aosta delivered with more good's high up near the Beccca France.  It took us about 5 hours to climb nearly 2000m.  Luckily there was a refuge near the top for a drink break.  The descent was worth every minute of suffering with views over the Grand Paradiso Parc, high singletrack lead into almost never ending larch needle covered singletrack that begged you to go fast and then gripped you round every tight corner.  We of course finished with delicious pizza, despite getting ripped off for drinks …

Portail du Fully

Finally getting up there in the Valais, Switzerland
It's been on my list to do for quite a while now and luckily a few things came together to get up there and get it done. Following on from my early season visit I was excited despite the prospect of another 1400 metre climb, only 2 days after having ridden a long way uphill in Italy.
After squeezing into the 10am Dorenaz cable car, from near Martigny we were soon spinning up on the tiny mountain road, that lasted at least an hour till it became a steeper fireroad.
We all kept going, knowing that the prospect of long smooth Valaisian singletrack lay ahead. First we had to have a lunch stop with a view.

The descent starts near a ridgeline before skirting along the west side and then turning around it to traverse across a huge cliff band north of Martigny.  We were told not to fall here!  As the trail got going the speeds picked up on the smooth gravel trail. Another quick push and we were at the main part of the descent, 2km's of t…

Passo Invergneux, 2902m

Aosta Valley paid of whilst France was grey, with sunshine, delightful ribbons of flow and the usual Italian taste bud treats
It started as any good Italian ride should:
And once we started riding, the road soon turned uphill, to what inevitably any good adventure requires, the multiple hour climb to a trailhead:

In our case just under 3 hours of climbing lead us to the Passo Invergneux.  It wasn't too bad a climb, our caffeinated legs sped us up the step tarmac road away from Cogne, and onto the fireroad for a couple of hours before the final hike-a-bike up to the Passo.  We enjoyed the views, shelter from the wind and French baguettes with Tome de Savoie cheese. The tops of the Grand Paradiso National Park range where still snow covered, including the highest, the Grand Paradiso which me and my partner for the day, Rob had ski-toured earlier this spring.

The top of the descent started in a lunar like landscape that was dry and dusty, but actually fairly grippy unlike many gravel tra…