Skip to main content

The road trip that made Finale Ligure seem average

I have been truly spoilt recently with trails and company.  As an all round package, Finale is great; sea, coffee, food, singletrack, beer and gelato.  We just found a package that was even better.

Leaving Les Arc for Embrun we decided after 3/4 of the journey to check out a tasty looking footpath up above Briancon, just to break the journey up you know?  It turned out to be an absolute banger of flow. Me and Ali were chuckling all the way down. Basically things carried on like this for a the whole week, look for a nice footpath on the map and go ride an amazing singletrack trail.



We started our road trip proper around Lac Serre Poncon.  You can read about my first visit earlier this May here and here2.  Since my last visit I'd been itching to get back and show people.  Unsurprisingly everyone loved what I had found.  THAT SOUTH FEELING!




I've never had a col (mountain pass) named after me, but I now have Col de Oli.  Part way through the summer professional mountain biker photographer, Sven Martin posted an inconspicuous photo on his Instagram of a Col on the French/Italian boarder. He claimed it was one of the best trails he'd ever ridden, big words from a man who travels the world biking. Within about 15 minutes of research I was able to find the said col, and the potential descents.  The problem was, this area is full of great looking trail's in every direction.  Time to measure distance and contours...

We drove for nearly 2 hours, drop vehicles in the right places, drink some coffee and head up this narrow road towards the Italian boarder.  Every kilometre of the drive has been stunning.  Everyone is happy, and the bikes are still on the 4x4.  What is this trail going to bring I thought.  Some of the group claimed it to be the trail of the trip despite the short breathless push to the nearly 3000 metre starting point.  High alpine singletrack indeed, super fast up top, super tech section's in the middle interspersed with dusty larch forest singletrack and a rock gaden to finish.  A 9km trail with a bit of everything.  And the views?  Oh the views were beautiful!


WE WILL BE BACK TO THIS AREA




Next up was the Mercantour area where there will be an EWS next year.  I'd found some routes online from the Portes de Mercantour Enduro that clearly needed to be ridden, including the infamous grey earth. Another member of the group knew a descent from the Trans Provence.  On top of all this me and Ali had been pouring over the map looking for more nice footpaths.

We nearly got shut down at the top of the Col passing into the Mercantour region, a light dusting of snow, we still unloaded the bikes and rode an amazing singletrack.



We didn't have many trails that turned out to be that bad.  There was one though that still confuses us.  Nice climb and traverse.  First section, amazing bench cut trail, like a UK trail centre.  A little bit more in the tree's and we break out in another amazing bench cut section.  We repeated this cycle several times till we lost the footpath in a field full of cattle tracks that all looked slightly like they could be the actual footpath. We "free-rided" our way down to the road and the next trail on the adventure.






It was my turn to shuttle as we headed towards the Grey Earth trail made famous by the Trans Provence enduro race.  I was disappointed to be on driving duty, but we all thought we'd want to do another lap as it would be so fun.  Waiting at the bottom,  Ali appeared first, but without the normal grin every other trail of the trip at been producing, then Lezley and Sam, then 10 minutes later Rachael and Pat. Again, no one was particularly buzzing.  Rachael and Pat had got lost on the lower section due to there being lines all over the place. Sam had jumped some nice lips, that lead into dead ends. Over rated, perhaps, but still scenic.

However, we had spotted a trail to the right that could be good.  We drove up, got lost, but then eventually found a dry rocky descent that lead into the most sublime roller coaster section of grey earth.  I was never going to keep up with Ali and Sam but we all still loved it.



After all this fun it was time to head to Finale for the EWS final race weekend where Nash and Ali were competing.  It was surely to be a great weekend of riding, partying, eating and drinking coffee & beer.  Finale is now world famous. Meh, it was alright.





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What guides do between work in the peak of July

Summer is here, and after fantastic spring riding in Southern France and then all over Valais, Aosta and Haute Savoie with good friends it's been time to get back to summer guiding, taking hikers around the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit.  There's much worse things to do, but with three weeks off the bike I was itching to get back on some trails.

With a carefully planned week between tours I was excited and made some plans to hit up some classic lines, and some new stuff too. It's mid July now, so in Chamonix valley you have to think carefully about where to go to miss the crowds, and to avoid going on the bike ban trails (July & August).  Luckily it's still easy to find quiet trails in nearby resorts, or to simply drop round the back of a hill away from the frontside lifts. It went a little like this:

Day 1- La Thuile with Wayne of newly qualified French legal mountain bike guiding service Chamonixmtb.com . Enduro race venue at it's best, rough and raw.



Day 2- Blue b…

Aiguille de la Grande Sassiere 3751m

One of those pure adventure days *warning mega photo post*Ali-venturing as it's been known by over the summer.  When Ali from trailAddiction gets grand idea's in his head it always leads to hike-a-bike. Read here on DIRT Mag about a previous mission, its the highest rideable peak in the alps!
A special team was organised:  A top ten finishing team from the Bivouac Enduro, Mael and Max, Ali, myself and Fred the mountain bike mechanic from Mavic. All keen, all stupid?
And then my alarm went off at 04:30.  Time to eat and drink as much as possible.  I hadn't been up this early since ski touring in refuges last winter.  In my tired state I did subconsciously know how to load the bikes onto the trailer, it's easy after doing it everyday all summer.  We drove up towards Val d'Isere, then turned left up a singletrack road.  It was around 6am, and it was still pitch black. Slowly the sun began to rise: And the hike-a-bike continued and turned into carry-a-bike, but with the su…

Alta Via dei Monti Liguri

Summit to Sea grande finale for the Provence Posers"The Alta Via dei Monti Liguri is a long-distance waymarked hiking trail in the Italian region of Liguria. In about 440 kilometres and 44 day hikes, it runs through the arc formed by Ligurian Alps and Ligurian Apennines from Ventimiglia to Ceparana"
How does high mountain rocky singletrack cut out of the the hillside during World War II which descends into beautiful deciduous forests and ends with dry dusty fast trails above a seaside town sound?  The final stage of Alta Via, 45km, 3000 metres of descent, 9 hours & 10 foccaccia's & close to 30 scoops of Gelato.  Many thanks to Martial again for joining us and showing us the way. http://www.alpsmountainbike.com/index.htmlfor booking a trip to do the whole thing in one holiday.