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The biking is dead, long live the skiing!

With the end of muddy conditions and wearing lycra in the UK its time to say goodbye from Chainmark for a little bit:
Some snow cover is here in France so its ski touring time:




A Bientôt!See you soon!

November Sun- Midlands style

UK Riding in the Forest of DeanI've been in the UK for a few weeks now and have ridden some of the classic loops that Herefordshire, Shropshire and other locations have to offer. This last week I have been on girlfriend duty and the week before I was in a North Wales getting very wet whilst doing my International Mountain Leader Summer Training.
After the first frost of the year it was with some relief, that the sun came out for a spectacular Autumnal ride in the singletrack haven that is Forest of Dean.  We've been coming here for years and years so I know my way around fairly well.  Last weekend two of the group had been up here exploring around and found some new bits.  It then rained all week so when we were told of, "dry pine woods" in emails we were all still very much interested...
The visitor centre was packed out with all kinds of riders.  Downhillers through XC weekend warriors too novices seeking easy flat riding along the old railway lines.  Since the openi…

Cheating for the goods

One car was driven to les Houches train station while another went all the way up to Flatiere with the bikes.  October shuttling at it's best. Cheating some might call it.  I've ridden all the way up several times before, but I'm not doing it on a DH bike!

We were on our way to get access to some of the best out of season trails Chamonix and Servoz Valley has to offer.  It was still fairly warm so t-shirts and shorts were order of the day as we hung onto our last bit of summer before heading onto the leaf covered Autumnal forest trails.

On the way to les Grosse Peirres the all-mountain mini ridge line pedalled and flowed ok on big bikes and we battled the super slick roots with ease as well as the poisonous mushrooms.

At the left turning you enter a descent section with some of the best switchbacks ever. Some are flat, and some have almost natural berms and jumps out of them.  It is a superb lower alpine trail that is great on any bike as it never gets too technical except fo…

Best Corner in Chamonix?

corner marked on map hereOctober and still riding in shorts and t-shirt!I pushed my big bike up to Plan Lachet 1570m today and then turned back around.  An hour and half push up was made easier by listening to this great podcast : Off_Track Podcast .  Perfect for bike geeks!

There is a great section you can ride flat out which drops you into this perfect, flat, loamy right hander.  I've hit this corner in many seasons, but last November when Brevent re-opened for school holidays was probably the best with loads of leaves covering the roots coming into it.

Is it the best corner in Chamonix?
corner marked on map here

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Verbier

The 'want' for big bike shreddingRich wanted to get out on his new DH sled again after several weeks of intense Alpinism. This suited me and Tom H so we made plans to go to Verbier.  We've ridden a lot in les Houches/St Gervais area and we can explore again another season.  Plus we are all heading off in different directions over the next few months before winter arrives so chances to hit up Saleve, Crans Montana, Verbier, Chalais, etc may be slim.
There aren't any photo's I'm afraid as we barely stopped all day long! Bad blogging, but we just kept going, floaty little jumps, big jumps, drops, rocks and perfect berms.  There may only be 3 main lines at Verbier, but they are so well built they all deserve several laps to get into the flow of them and know the best lines and jumps.  There is steep tech on the red line, but not Cham style so you can open it up on the big bikes and zoom round berm's into a large root garden's and floaty jumps.  The yellow li…

Queens day

After riding with Jo off-road on our VOIE TOLLER TMB adventure I realised he was trying to sit down whilst descending.  A classic mistake made by new comers.  About 4 years ago I had taken him around Cwm Carn in South Wales where he'd survived aboard my Dad's old Stumpjumper.  In return for that he'd taken my on a multi-day walk in Snowdonia that was surprisingly fun.

With the lifts closing, a borrowed bike to use and some Queens to see in the afternoon we Montee-ed the lifts of le Tour.  Before dropping down the Green Piste de Descent I gave a two minute how-to ride a downhill mountain bikes talk. And then I went...
"Oh its rough on my hands, its dangerous this sport!" He said as we re-grouped about 50 metres down the trail.  We did a few laps and he actually preferred the Blue over the flatter Green.  He was getting fast on his borrowed hardtail!

With Jo's increasing speed and confidence we where joined by Tom H for more downhilling action. Me and Tom railed s…

September cruising

Not much to report since our epic TMB ride. Just cruising and smiling!

Last weekend Brevent and Flegere closed so I ticked off many of the classic descents that litter that side of the valley.  Fast, tech, tight, everything you could dream of, right from Cham!

After a few very wet days, where I was luckily working, I've visited les Houches and le Fayet, again for classic trail riding before they close next weekend (29th).

It's that time of the season where a trail bike would be great to access some stuff around Servoz or Vallorcine. However I've only got my downhill bike now so there is talk of Saleve, Verbier and Crans Montana trips as these places stay open a little later and are within an hour or so's drive.

http://www.crans-montana.ch/ete/fr/vtt/ticketsvtt

http://www.saleveautrement.ch/Pratique

http://www.verbierbikepark.ch/

Tour du Mont Blanc: Voie Toller- Just heading home...

Sometime around 21:10, Le Fayet, Haute Savoie, France (580m)Somebody's office building in the backstreets, some guys are sat sheltering from the rain drinking cans of Red Bull.  They were discussing yet another new route back to Chamonix...
Me and Jo were now 17 hours in, we'd done around 5300m of climbing.  My Sunnto altimeter watch had re-started itself.  Either it can't handle 6000m of vert or I've got memory stored up on there I don't know about.  We had the last 500m of climbing left to do up the horrendous Vaudagne road to Les Houches and onto Chamonix church.
The Red Bull really helped and we were soon going the up the road, the quick route, the Voie Oli to this Jo route.  It went really well, with lights off to avoid detection, a quick sprint and we were at the beginning of Vaudagne before we knew it.
We caught our breath, and shared a caffiene energy gel.  We cruised up the Vaudagne climb in good time, 30 mins?  We made calls to say we were heading home.  As …