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Showing posts from 2016

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…

End of the alpine season

A bivouac trip, a Valais loam fest and a Loriaz descent in one go...During my last week in the Chamonix valley the weather was really good, so between airport runs I ticked off some really fast and dry trail rides.
Starting with an overnight mission to a Bivouac hut on a remote old farm in the Passy Parc Regional on the boarder of the Aiguilles Rouges.  It felt so far from civilisation, despite the chaos of Chamonix being just one valley away.  The most incredible part of the trip, bar Ben nailing some mega tech sections, was the location of the farm being where the sun first hits the valley in the morning.

I had been wanting to re-visit this descent for a long time and never quite got round to it.  With a new and keen riding buddy we got even higher than before for some extremely steep footpath riding before hitting the loamiest descent in the area.  A trail only ridden by highly skilled Martigny riders, and us...  The lines are superb.  One of the most grin inducing trails of the year…

2000 rewards closer to home

"My Swiss friends are riding in the dry today", said Mael as we stood outside a cafe in Chamonix underneath his umbrella.
A plan was made in my head. Let's use the Dorenaz lift to gain some height and hopefully find the driest trails in the area.  Aosta Valley was full of snow, and the Haute Savoie was soaked through.

3 hours after leaving the carpark we made it to the top of our climb, 100 metres or so above Col du Demecre.  However there was snow.  Maybe there had been some preciptiation in Valais after all?

The snow needed some serious care due to the exposure of the slope that the trail traversed across.  Luckily it was that grippy type of snow and below you could see glorious Swiss high alpine singletrack disappearing off into the larch tree's and joining the trail me, Bas & Jarno had done in spring.  The one with a horrendous scree field down climb section that rendered the entrance to the descent pointless. New entrance found:

Lower down the grass was damp whi…

Southern Road trip Autumn 2016

Ups and downs...of trail snobbery

Meeting Wouter at Nice airport was always going to cause issues.  First off it's a long way from Chamonix, even going through Italy fuelled by cappuccino's, and secondly, Rob's van was already had three bikes and us two people.  Somehow we managed and when Jamie arrived the following day we made as much use of his rental Fiat 500C as possible.
Sospel. Home of Trans Provence.  When you drive into town and see the head of the Enduro World Series pulling up to a bar after a days riding you feel like you've hit gold already.
With high hopes we set off the following morning up a long fire-road, Bever Rally came down with their shuttle vehicle.  Wow, what have we got instore up here?  VTT internet site has loads of routes on this hillside, as does Trailforks, this should be Provence gold.
I excitedly dropped in first, when was this trail last ridden?  There's old enduro lines, but now it's full of debris.  And that's how it continued…

Le Mole & Dirt Magazine trail in one day

Shuttle crew day
The day started early with 2.C temperatures, Autumn is here then?
With the trailer loaded we set off on the 1 hour drive half way up Le Mole hoping we would break out of the clouds.  No luck, 5.C and 50 metre visibility greated us at the carpark.
We set off, cold legged, and with mixed feelings about what was ahead.  Luckily after the first big effort we broke out and the views alone were worth the struggle!

It wasn't cold at the top, we even broke into a sweat on the way up and the views were still majestic in every direction, 360 degree's.  Coming up we could feel how dry and hard packed the descent would be.  We were all excited, and after a few photo's by Humpo, warp speed was engaged.  The noise of tyres scrabbling for grip as you come into a corner is both scary and magically energising.

As we hit the tree line, we also entered the mist level and it got dark and slippery.  Those of dressed in black to look " enduro " and cool disappeared.  At on…

Somewhere you shouldn't ride, and somewhere you think you shouldn't ride...

French travels afar and much much closer to homeI was in Corsica last week for a holiday.  A holiday, but you live where you want to holiday?  A friend had been guiding there for the whole of September so I went out to join him for a client free few days of island warmth.

I flew into Ajaccio at 0730, my friend was on his last day guiding, so I took a walk from the beachside town up into the mountains.  Think of Finale, just with a bit more French, so good bread to make lunch from & a warmer sea to swim in(though there is an ever real Italian influence all over Corse).
We did one of the best canyon's on the island.  And the jumps and abseils into gorge lined pools was great fun. A new sport to add to the list of gear purchases.
After another night eating great local food and chestnut flavoured beer we set out on a pretty big hike. 1500m vertical with a lot of scrambling.  We hardly stopped all day and we just beat the guide book time of 7 hours.  Two fit guides!  Those Corsicans a…

"Enduro was made for you"

Riding with mates old and new
On the afternoon I returned to Chamonix from my final trip guiding the Tour du Mont Blanc I met with an old friend from my Cardiff Uni days.  He's visited me a few times over the years in various styles.  And this trip for Dave was no different.  As I crossed the Col de Balme on foot in wet conditions with clients, he crossed the Cormet de Roseland and Col des Saisses on his road bike with kit strapped to every free tube on the bike possible.
My mate was planning to cycle from Geneva to Nice, via 2 days in Les Arcs mountain biking, and a day in la Thuile with me and a Chamonix friend, bivi-ing along the way.
The lure of Aosta of course played high on our minds and we made plans to ride an Enduro World Series trail in La Thuile on mountain bikes, before leaving Dave to continue on his road bike towards the Mediterranean via some bloody horrendous Col's.
We were climbing and talking shit between the 3 of us like we'd all been hanging out throughout …