The one you’ve all been waiting for. Perhaps not but here it is anyway…
There is no denying that a Bicycle is probably the most efficient human powered mode of transport (for when the ground is clear of snow!). I’ve always been a massive fan of riding bikes and one of my strongest childhood memories is from the first time I learnt to ride with out stabilisers. I used to ride my bike everywhere when I was a kid. I rode to school most days sometimes going via some local trails on the way home or even hitting some of the local dirt jumps near my house. Since moving to Chamonix some 8 or so years ago I’d kind of lost touch with biking mostly due to not having the spare cash to keep a bike going, however this summer seemed like the perfect time to reconnect. With no guides courses to pay for I had a bit of spare cash to play with.
In the Spring I went with some friends (Luca, Filippo, Alice, Tiff and Irene) to Finale Ligure. We did a couple of days rock climbing but the highlight of the trip was a days shuttle biking around the famous Nato Base. I hired a proper bike for the day (Evil insurgent for you bike nerds) and had 8 hours of brain and forearm melting fun. We rode some of best trails Finale Ligure has to offer which are world class and afterwards all I wanted to do was go back out the next day and do it all over again but alas we had to head back to Cham.
A few weeks later I was looking into options for getting a start into mountain biking. I happened across a ten year old Giant Reign X collecting dust in the back of Joels Garage. With a bit of help from friends giving me some unwanted parts and a bit of love I got it up and running and started exploring the trails around Le Tour and Les houches with some local knowledge and guidance from friends like Ross Hewitt and Graham Pinkerton (Chamonixbikeblog.com). I was shown some of the best trails Chamonix has to offer and realised we have a lot of very good mountain biking in this valley.
The down sides to a bike that is ten years old and worth under 300€ is that when something breaks its hard to justify putting more money into it. Part way through a longish day riding around St Gervais my trusty stead started to show some signs that clutching to life was becoming difficult. In fact it sounded like it was eating itself. After closer inspection it was pretty terminal… The main pivot point had basically exploded.
I was sad.
It didn’t take me long to justify buying another bike and after looking at a few options I finally settled on a second hand Liteville 601 MK3 from my buddy Dougal who gave me a great deal. I didn’t really know much about these bikes but I can say I’m very happy with it. It seems to be the perfect tool for Chamonix riding.
After getting a feel for the bike and getting some good lift based days in I was pretty keen for some bigger adventures. I lucked out when my friend John Minogue extended an invitation to ride the the Col d’Invergneux in Cogne with him and Louise Paulin from JustRide Finale, also a total bad ass rider. I didn’t know anything about the biking around Cogne but I went along and had an absolutely awesome day. (Strava Link here) It involves a two hour uphill pedal and and 40 minute Push/hike a bike up to the col. From here a huge descent leads all the way down to Cogne with a short and easy mid way climb to get more good trail. Certainly one to put on your list if you live around these parts and haven’t done it.
On the way home after that ride I got talking to John about another potential bike mission that I had an idea for. I’d wondered about riding from the summit of Mont Buet all the way down to Servoz. Turns out its been done a few times (as I suspected) and it involves a somewhat tedious 4 and a half hour bike carry to the summit. John was keen to do it but our schedules didn’t quite match up so the following Sunday I set off, with Irene, to climb and hopefully ride of this lovely 3096m mountain. Irene was running and wanted to take some shots. The climb was indeed pretty hard work and my back was pretty sore from carrying the bike on my shoulders and on my backpack. I used a combination of riding, pushing and carrying both on my shoulders and with the bike strapped to my rucksack to get to the top. Once on the summit I was given a cup of red wine by a very friendly french man which certainly helped give me a little courage on the descent! Most of the hikers I saw were very friendly and had great banter. I think if you’re pleasant to them and don’t scream past them on the bike they are interested in what you are doing and generally ok about sharing the trails.
The descent was super good. The top section was a mixture of fast and fun, and steep and technical gravel riding. Into the col des Salenton it just got better and better. We climbed up again towards the Refuge de Moëde Anterne and traversed around the west side of the Pormenaz to the Chalets overlooking Servoz. The trail down to Servoz from there is all time. One that I will be going back to for sure. Having left Le Buet at around 9.10 in the morning and getting to Servoz at 6pm it was a pretty full on day, but an awesome adventure and one I would recommend to anyone who wants a proper day out on the bike. Here is my Strava for the Route. And an awesome mini edit from Irene of the top section.
For now I’m really loving the bike and biking for after work ecercise and having fun exploring areas that I wouldn’t normally get to see running or climbing. Winter seems to be approaching slowly and as always I’m looking forward to some proper freeride when the first snows fall. Catch you soon!
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