Monday, July 16, 2007

Sh*t Fest 2007 (French Alps trip)

Hey gang, I'm back in Blighty and thought I'd write you all a bit of a "ride" report.

The Outward Journey
We departed from mine in Alex's new Ford "Mundaneo"* Mondeo Estate (2.0 TDCI Zetec) on Friday "some"time in the afternoon. Our house was in chaos as we'd stripped out all the rooms ready for the new carpets and of course there were 2 extra people plus kit to deal with. Unfortunately I had to leave before the carpets arrived so that pleasure of seeing our house turn into our house had to wait.
Some time later after navigating the nightmare that are the roadworks on the M1, we get to the M25. Guess what? It was usual M25, and we spent the best part of 2hours on it hoping the parking attendants wouldn't turn up and fine us for sitting on London's outer carpark for too long.

On the bright side, we got to the tunnel ahead of our departure time and were allowed to travel early.
Several amusing hours on French toll roads later and we decide to stop, so we could face the mountains in the daylight.

After catching 3hrs kip we head of into the French alps... we decided the only way to describe driving these mountain roads, on the wrong side of the road, in a fully laden car was: "death".

We arrived, greeted by gloriously scorching sun, about 7hrs early for check in at our apartment so we wandered around Morzine, with nothing to do, we found somewhere to eat breakfast, then at lunch found one of the many Burger bars and had our first of many beers of the day......

The Sh*Te fest begins....
We woke up Sunday morning weary from our epic drive, and eager to hit some dry dusty trails...
Dry dusty trails? Didn't happen to the last two days. It'd had been raining heavy previously and the trails were still soaked... rutted? You bet. It didn't get better - just worse. It rained solidly until Wednesday morning in the second week. Disgruntled but determined to ride, we hit up the gloop and I got extremely good at wet weather riding...

Unfortunately riding in the crap mean that we had to spend a day waiting for our kit to dry out... which kind of left us with nothing to do... eventually we found something to do... get hung over.

We did manage to get one good day of wet weather riding in, absolutely awesome, blasting down Le Pleny run at full speed with minimal grip but more than the rest of the holiday so it was a treat.
It dried up on Thursday so we hit The Kona Bike Park and Chavannes... and Mont Chery... they were complete crap fests still so we went back to Le Pleny and ripped the crap out of it.
Friday came and we met up with a guy called Sam who knew the Portes de Soleil area like the back of his hand (been going for SEVERAL years) who guided us over to the Switzerland to ride the Swiss National... an awesome short track near by then headed over to Morgin, to ride the most INSANE switchbacks I've ever done... steeper, tighter switchbacks that ran down a ridge so high in my life. Oh, and it was wet, and I was riding with summer tyres... To say I walked bits might give you an idea of it's difficulty... I did hit the northshore vertical shoot... though!

After narrowly avoiding "death", we headed back home, first we had to ride down to Chatel, then get the bus to and lift up to Avoriaz, and from there we hit this trail called "Russells Back Yard".
Now just to put you in the picture... Avoriaz sits on a cliff above Morzine. We rode along that cliff. Sam, our guide said it was a brilliant piece of single track that simply had to be ridden... well it was utter madness, rooty, cross camber, slippy, I rode most of it but couldn't get the fear of falling off this cliff.... I guess we should have known what it would be like, after we took a piece of "singletrack" off the Pleny the day before with this guy... it was an uber tecchy tight switchback section that was basically a rock garden with lots of roots thrown in to make things "interesting".
We got back to Morzine just in time for one final run on Le Pleny, and we knocked seven buckets of crap out of it... it had dried out and I touched the brakes once: at the end.

The holiday went out with a bang as there was some festival going on in Morzine, and we were treated to the best firework display that illuminated the whole of the valley... and my god, the noise of it echoing around the valley was simply awesome.

The Return
We left around 11ish on Saturday and made it back to mine for 12 midnight... my god French toll roads have dull scenery!

Trails Ridden:
Morzine: Le Pleny (Avalance Cup) + Variation.
Les Gets: Chavanes + all the freeride runs off it, Canyon, etc. Kona Bike Park, and Mont Chery
Les Linderets: Chatel Bike park and the single track down to it from the Super Morzine lift. French National DH.
Switzerland: Swiss National, and Short Course DH (Les Crosets) Morgins Freeride route
Various other random bits of single track, and LOTS of "uber fireroads of death" (50mph+ rocky tracks that usually involved large amounts of drifting)

Dangerous Dave (Gemini DH), Alex "Chasewai" (Specialized SX Trail with numerous pairs of forks depending on the weather) Lewis (Gemini DH), and John (Specialized SX trail with Z.1s with approx 3-4inch travel).

Numerous Boxxer failures (No pre -06 Boxxers next year, or even 888's to be double sure) My mojo Boxcart exploded (it's nitro charged). I fitted the stock internals and the plastic inside shattered. Lewis' Boxxers needed a service and pissed out black oil.
A few brake failures.
Wrong tyres count?
Things falling loose, and my bushings on the shock died.

Sorry, no pics as we spent so little time riding that we didn't have any photo shoot days.... some scenery so I will try and get those up at some point!

Thanks for reading and hope to ride the knobblies with you all again soon.

*He used to have a Focus (Now mine) which is an exciting gokart in comparison


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome place to ride!

Farqui said...

Sounds like an entertaining trip mister, albeit in your wellies.

So you've now well and truly dosed up on your annual DH fix. Without any human breakages either :p, although it appears that your kit didn't fare so well.

Would you recommend driving there/back over flying/hiring ?

dahnhilla said...

Definatly drive - so much less hassle, less cost and means you're not restricted on what you can take. (Like a workshop and supplies - spares, servicing and oil etc are expensive out there!)
Not dosed up yet!!! Lack of riding on this holiday means I've got several more trips in me yet!!!
Bike was awesome apart from the Rock Shonks!!!