A bit of peace & quiet

That's a sick-track

September has started and Chamonix has emptied! Overnight the population of the valley has halved and, conveniently, the weather has stopped thinking it’s winter and moved on to cool mornings, low 20’s during the day, blue sky and bright sunshine. All in all perfect bike weather.

This week is probably the best of the year to visit Chamonix to ride the classic steep & technical trails that it’s famous for as the lifts are still open, the bike ban is over and you don’t have to stop all the time for walkers. After a week off the bike, I wanted to head out on my own to ride at the pace I felt like on some of the trails I’d not seen for a couple of months.

Brevant Gondola

Out of Chamonix, the Brevent gondola (open till 16th Sept, then again from 27th Oct to 7th Nov) whisked me up the hill and I set off up the hill for 50m to begin the contour round on the Charlanon trail. Once away from the 4×4 tracks near the lifts, the trails were empty. It’s a long bumpy way down to the Flegere lift (also open till 16th Sept), but soon enough I was there and straight back up again.

Brevant trails

The “Sicktrack” isn’t in any guidebooks for Chamonix, but ask a local and they’ll point it out to you. You can use variations of the trail to go to La Joux & Tre le Champ depending on how much climbing you want (it gives the brake fingers a rest at least!) but as I’d never taken the third way, I dropped down to Argentiere. I thought I was going to clear the descent with no dabs but obviously got too excited and 50m from the end of the track my luck ran out and both feet ended up on the deck. Next time!

Sick track to argentiere/tre le champ

The Posettes trail is probably as classic a Chamonix trail as you can get, unfortunately with the trains being off I’d have to pedal uphill to get there, so didn’t bother putting the saddle up and cruised through Argentiere to the Grand Montets lift (open till 9th September). I’m more used to the GM lifts in winter when the lift queues on a powder day are infamous world-wide so it’s quite strange the difference in summer where you just wander up, wait for a ‘bin to be ready to go, then head up with it almost empty! If you don’t like switchbacks, you probably won’t like Trapette Couloir. Apparently there’s 47 of them on the way down, but I prefer just to enjoy the trail rather than count. Inbetween the hairpins are lots of gentler bends with steep berms and wall rides on the inside, just make sure you don’t overshoot the other side of the trail…..

GM telecabine, no pow hungry scandi's to be seen

After all that technical riding, it was a bit of a relief just to cruise back down the hill on the Arve track, and even it barely had any walkers on it. All the trails I rode were in perfect condition with dry rocks and dry but not dusty trails, hopefully the cooler evenings will keep it that way as there’s definitely a lot more riding to be done before winter starts.

need a seat?