Sunday, July 08, 2012

WhiteRoom Chalet MTB 2012

Previous posts reveal that Paul and I had chosen an alternative Alps trip .... Not too far from the posse in Meribel but arranged with the WhiteRoom Chalet providing a fully guided MTB holiday experience. Here is a brief summary of our 'adventures' during the first week of July 2012:

We arrived at the WhiteRoom Chalet around 7pm on Saturday June 30th and were immediately introduced to the other guests who split into three separate groups.

Jon, Laurence and his brother Nick, Piers and Louise, Daz and Jon. The groups age profile ranged from 20's thru to late 40's. Geographically the group was drawn from across the UK including the South/South West, London and the home counties, South Yorkshire and the North East.

Our hosts for the week were Stevo and Iona, guides and founders of the WhiteRoom and accompanied by Yvan a local French guide. Last but far from least, the Chalet catering team James and Mel who delivered fantastic breakfast, afternoon cakes and a 3 course evening dinner for the duration of our stay.

Day 1 (Sunday)
Our first days riding was to start with a van uplift to the upper slopes of Saint Foy. From here the group split into two. The more accomplished riders rode with Yvan and the remainder of the group followed at a slower pace accompanied by Stevo. This riding format was to be the theme for the remainder of the week.
We were immediately introduced to great forest single track, fast, flowing with roots,rocks and switchbacks.
We rode trail after trail until we reached the valley bottom at

Bourge-Saint-Maurice. From here we used the funicular and cable cars to work our way up to Les Arcs. The afternoon was a
continuation from the morning with more forest single track riding

Weather: Warm, cloudy and a little mid afternoon rain. Generally dry and fast riding conditions

Incident of the day: My front somersault (incl bike) having messed up trail rock!

Day 2 (Monday)
Heavy and persistent rain greeted us on day two. As a result Stevo decided that we should ride locally. We drove to the top of Saint Foy and set off on now familiar but very wet forest descents.
By now we had adopted a group riding order to ensure that we generally rode in order of speed. As we set off I followed Paul over a very steep but straight initial descent made harder
by two troublesome rocks in the middle of the trail. We negotiated these safely and as we reached the bottom and prepared for the next corner Paul caught his front wheel and fell. Unfortunately, what looked like a relatively minor crash resulted in a broken left clavical, Doh!

Game over for Paul and we spent the rest of the day at the hospital waiting for a diagnosis and treatment plan. I'm told the days riding was very good with lots more flowing forest single track

Weather: Wet turning to very wet!

Incident of the Day: Paul's broken Clavical!!
Paul under the knife for some Clavical plate and screws to be inserted!!

Day 3: (Tuesday)

The weather outlook was very good. Stevo decided to take the full group for their first full on back country ride. We started the day at Tignes bike park for a warm up on some of the man made trails (The riding was free courtesy of sponsorship by Canyon Bikes).
From here we set about traversing the valley side in a general descent before we were uplifted again.

The afternoon ride in

particular was Epic! We initially had a van uplift to enable us to once again traverse a high mountain pass. As the photo's reveal the riding and views were simply stunning!

to Stevo 'selling' us the final uphill climb of the day... I think he said it was
just a 15min ride to the top.... it was a
tough climb with an
even tougher bike carry to the top.

However, all was forgiven as this allowed us to access some of the best trails I've ever ridden!!

Great weather, unbelievable views and absolutely fantastic single track. What a day!

Weather: Sun and broken cloud!

Incidents of the day: Jon (Barnsley) over the bars into a river crossing. Very Wet!
Yvan snapping his rear triangle into two pieces on the first downhill of the day (crap French bike lol) Stevo gave him an Orange Alpine 160 to ride for the rest of the day.

Day 4: (Wednesday) Day off. Lazy day with a little bit of White Water rafting thrown
in for good measure. However, Jon, Laurence & Nick used their day off to find some suitably technical rock sections to ride.....

Day 5: (Thursday)

Stevo suggested another Epic day for our group while Yvan's group (Laurence, Nick & Jon) would continue to find supper technical challenging riding somewhere else... After Tuesday's success the group response was very enthusiastic!

We set of in the van and drove for an hour until was had passed through Bourge-Saint-Maurice and quite some distance along the valley. We then proceeded to drive up the mountain side, switch back after switchback, until we reached an altitude of around 1800 metres. It was at this point that Steve indicated that we had a 'short' ride and carry to the top of the peak at 2300 metres.
Well over an hour later having pedaled, pushed and finally carried our bikes along a narrow ridgeline we reached the summit. We were greeted by a fantastic view of single track descending from the very top
and far into the distance.

Our task was to spend the next 3 - 4 hours descending to the valley bottom, initially following the ridgeline in open country side and eventually entering the forest for a now familiar pine needle, rock and switch back decent. Another fantastic day!

Weather: initially damp to wet drying quickly for a sunny afternoon descent

Incident of the day: The very stylish Piers crashing (very rare occurrence!) for apparently no reason at all!

Day 6: (Friday)

For the final day the whole group headed off for some Italian riding at La Thuile. Initially we took a high mountain pass down into the resort and then accessed the chairlift system to enable us to ride some of the steepest terrain of the week. Mostly natural trails with a little bit of man

made intervention. Unfortunately I managed to pull/strain a stomach muscle on the first descent of the day and had to spend the rest of my time in the village soaking up the sun and eating Italian ice cream. Such a shame!

Weather: Warm sunshine
Incident of the day: spilling cherry ice cream on my shorts!

General Thanks:
Firstly, Thanks Paul for supporting me on this one. I feel especially guilty as you spent most of the week in hospital. At least it gives us a good excuse to go back!
Thanks to the Chalet posse for being such a decent group all blessed with an appropriate sense of humour!
Thanks to the WhiteRoom for providing an excellent MTB experience
Finally, a big thanks to Nick, Piers and Jon for contributing such great photo's!


For my bike:
Formula Oro brake levers popped out on both side due to crash... really must buy a decent set of brakes!
Rear mech cable ferrel split due to crash...thanks Daz for the new cable!

For the Rest of the Chalet:
Daz's front brake (Hope Mono) dumping fluid from master cyclinder..... thanks to Paul for providing a bike for spares!
Louise's Formula K18 front brake master cyclinder dying on the last day.... I managed to lend her my K24 while I finished my ice cream.
Jon required the use of Paul's front wheel and 2.2 Rubber Queen to assist with grip...thanks to Paul for providing a bike for spares!
Jon, Nick and Laurence hammered their bikes to the point of failure every day. Their bikes were testament to what a Mountain bike will take before it dies. They managed to survive with a small amount of help from the rest of the chalet helping to replace and bodge such items as cables, cable outers, burred crankset splines, broken rear mechs, broken front brakes, worn suspension bushes and countless pinch flats. Needless to say all three of them were great riders!

Notes to self:
1a) I must practice my switchback technique! If I can master steep tight switchback turns my riding in the Alps will benefit significantly. Nearly all of my falls and incidents were associated with poor switchback technique
1) I must get a decent set of brakes! When I do fall off the Oro's nearly always break. The lever pulls the piston out of the master cylinder. I'm told that New brakes avoid this issue by using a cam activation system on the lever.
2) A dropper seat post would make a huge difference in the Alps. By the end of the week a few of us were just fed up with constantly raising and lowering our saddles.
3) I'm so pleased I took advice on tyres. My DH 2.35 Dual Ply Maxxis High Roller supper tacky (front) and 60a (back) were the perfect choice.
4) Going tubeless worked very turning back now.
5) My new frame and forks worked very well and were only limited by the rider sat on top! Bike Blog review coming soon......
6) I'd love to go again!!


Here is a link to see a selection of photos full size:


Gemo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

uphilla said...

Sounds like an amazing trip, you did well to survive what sounds like a full on week of riding! - thanks for the detailed report - only complaint is that I wish the pictures were bigger!
This and the Meribel report make me realise that I would be out of my depth with this kind of riding now - especially now the Turner has gone to be replaced by a 'plastic' bike!
Hope Paul is ok - he must be gutted to have missed most of the riding! Geoff

Rob#2 said...

Hi, I've added a dropbox link at the bottom of the post. This will take you to a selection of photos that you can view full size :)
The riding on offer was very variable with lots on offer. Such a shame for Paul although he seems to take a very pragmatic approach and is keen to ride ASAP.
Tell us more about the 'plastic bike' ????

uphilla said...

Found the link, Thanks! I would thoroughly recommend a session with 'Jedi' (Tony Doyle) - UK Bike Skills before you go again, worth every penny. Think I started a write up of my session, will try to complete now. David has been since, I only see positive feedback.
Plastic bike is - I was looking for a size small frame and this came up 'low mileage'. Not really ridden it that much yet, but will write something when I have.

uphilla said...

Just thought there are is a tight switchback trail in the Malvern Hills - remember having to skip turn to get down, Penmachno also has some tight downhill turns for practice!

Rob#2 said...

Thanks. Paul and I contacted Jedi before we went but he was booked out until November! We will book in time for the next Alps visit!

uphilla said...

Amazing photos - can understand why you want to go back!

Willy said...

Absolutely gutted to miss the majority of the trip but the type of riding just is absolutely what I was looking for so will defo go back. Arm still a bit sore but should be back on the bike in a few weeks and reckon a Jedi trip will get any lost confidence back. Who is up for next year??

Farqui said...

Wow, what an eventful trip. Am glad the riding worked out for ya's. Sounds like a blast and a terrible shame to break a rider so early in, get well soon Willy - oh and don't make a habit of this either!

Dan Howell said...

Great read - and only just gone tubeless? Man, welcome to the fold ;)

Farqui said...

Fabstatic pic's, the trails look awesome.

dozer said...

Great pics R2.
I agree with you on the brakes, but I'll be looking for something that can handle a bit more weight than you, any suggestions (not rude) from anyone? Shimano Saints?
Also for the this type of riding where you still have to do some pedaling, a gravity drop seat post would make life a lot easier.
We didn't get any pinch punctures this time, so not sure if that was down to higher tyre pressures or the DH tubes. We did have a few thorn like punctures and Darren had a drawing pin in his tyre, Lee did say he had see a whole bunch on the ground up near the lift, so maybe that is what got all of us.
Yes up for rides after the summer and another trip to the big mountains, but every year might be pushing it for me.

Rob#2 said...

Some of the guys we rode with were using shimano xt brakes which they purchased on line from Rose bikes for £190 including disks (both brakes). They were really impressed and they looked like nice brakes.. I'm interested but I've checked spare part availability with Madison and it seems you cannot get spare pistons or seals or master cylinder seals?. The calliper and master cylinder is , it would seem, a throw away item and non serviceable?? such a shame!
Hope EVO M4 is a lot more expensive but ticks all the boxes for performance, build quality, durability and spares... Maybe I will save up for some of those......