Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Alps - The Second Week

Given the lack of posts you probably all assumed I was only out for one week...

Not so!

On day 7 we went to Chatel to tick off a number of the black trails that run around the edge. All was going well in the morning, I cleared a northshore gap, a big rock slab drop and made it down some very steep, rooty trails with minimal dabbing.

Whilst we were sitting at the bottom (Pierre Longues lift), enjoying our 3Euro cokes, the clouds rolled in and we jumped on the lift to get onto that rickety shit old lift that takes you from the middle of the bike park to the top. Unfortantely, we were too late. As we were queuing for the aforementioned shit lift (I'm sure you know which one it is) it was struck by lighting, with the jolt arching all the way to the bottom, putting the lift out of action. In any case, the worst alpine storm I've witnessed in my 4 years of being there was underway so there was no way they'd open it up again. After huddling around the back of the control room, the storm seemed to ease and we decided to face the inevitable and walk up and out of the valley, take the fireroad down to Lindarets, the road to Montriond and then back up to Morzine. All was going well until the storm returned with renewed vigour, showering us with marble sized hailstones and striking sometimes only feet away. Walking up the ski run, both of us were convinced that at any second we'd be struck by lightening and it'd be game over.

Obviously, we survived that part but you could say the next bit was like coming out of the frying pan, straight into the fire. We road down the ski run come VTT route down to Lindarets (a big, rocky, loose fireroad like route), figuring this would be easiest given the conditions. Not quite. The sheer quantity of rainfall was wrecking havoc with the landscape and causing landslides. The torrent on one part was so strong that we couldn't walk across with our bikes without the water snatching the bikes or our legs from underneath us. Fortunately we found a route around and made it safely down to Lindarets, where we were faced with flooded roads down to Montriond.

The next day, we took a day off riding DH as all our kit was still soaked through and headed up to Nyon to do a little trail we found in 2006. Later on we headed up to the top of Super Morzine to watch the end of the Tour stage ending in Avoriaz. The procession of sponsors was a great spectacle as always but it was a shame not have seen them descending. Though credit where credit is due, I wouldn't want to ride up that road from Morzine to Avoiraz!

During week 2 we explored Super Morzine and found some incredible trails to the left of the Zores lift. In previous years we've always been busy riding off to the Swiss National, Chatel, Morgins and many other places but we found such a plethora of excellent riding in Morzine we found it difficult to justify the trip out. But on Wednesday we took the car over to Morgins to settle a score with the black graded "Freeride" trail there. Warming up on the "Blue" and "Red" graded trails, it soon became apparent that the Swiss don't get grading the same as the French. Sections of the blue were easily as hard as black trails and France, and the red had some particularly nasty steep corners which claimed a few victims that day (but where fun when you got them right).

After a spot of lunch we headed down the black trail with limited success, I crashed on a rooty shoot early on and we then lost the rest of the trail and somehow ended up back on the red. Our second and third attempts were far more successful, however and we both managed to clean the entire trail without a dab.

I managed to get the "berm jump" in Les Gets and on Friday we finished off riding the trails around the edge in Chatel. Damage from the trail had wrecked the trail in places and it was crazy to see the aftermath of the landslides and the sheer quantity of material shifted during that storm.
On Saturday we finished off the holiday by having a go on the "Fantasticable" in Chatel (that zip wire that sends you across the valley). With lift passes it was discounted to 20something euros and was totally worth it.

Parts Broken/Worn Out During the Two Weeks
-My Marzocchi 888 forks (went from getting 8" of travel to about 4" of super harsh travel which did not improve - Replacement Rockshox Boxxers were acquired).
-3 sets of brake pads - a pad spring was also randomly eaten by my brake
-2 Maxxis Supertacky Highrollers
-Bearings in my Cranks (Race Face Atlas FR)
-All the pivot bearings on my Iron Horse
-Headset on my Iron Horse
-The Meta is now creaking from the headtube area. I suspect it has a few rides left in it at best - seeing as it wont have been heat treated these frames are extremely weak.

Final Word
This year we decided to just go alone, instead of in a big group as we have done in previous years. I missed the social aspect to a certain extent but we got so much more riding done... even despite being a bit slack some mornings and not getting out until mid morning.

It also allowed us to just go off randomly - like up to the Nyon Waterfall to have some waterfall cooled beers, round to Lake Montriond for a quick walk along the most extreme path I've ever walked and then up to Avoriaz one night during a storm to get a better view.

Glad to be back now, but a lot of unpacking/bike fixing to be done!


dozer said...

Sounds like you had a good time and no injuries, as for the bikes injuries??

That Fantasticable looked fairly mental, I think Les and Willy wanted to give it a go, as for me, no way!

Well enjoy being back in the UK and pedaling up hill :-(

Dangerous Dave said...

Thanks :)

Glad to be back home but getting withdrawal symptoms already... I'm going to Aston Hill tomorrow for some DH and suspect it'll be a bit of an anticlimax after France, especially with a push up (what?!).

The fantasticable is pretty mental... I'll admit to pre flight jitters as we got off the lift and walked towards it (being on a lift without helmet/pads/etc was weird enough!) but as soon as I was strapped up they went away. It feels really slow and the view is just incredible, I'd thoroughly recommend it. You realise just how fast you are going near the end when you're stopped in the space of about 10m!