Chamonix Bike Book 2012 & interview

Chamonix bike book

4 years after the last update of the Chamonix Bike Guide, a.k.a. the “green book” Tom Wilson-North and collaborator Angus Patterson have created an all new 168 page, all colour version. Want to know more about the book, the author, biking in Chamonix or just looking to kill 10 minutes?

Read on.

So, how long have you been here and how did you end up in Chamonix

I’ve been in Chamonix since 2006, and believe it or not, before I got here I hadn’t been on a bike for a good ten years. Biking was something new; I’d come to Chamonix for snowboarding and the winter scene, and as the snow melted the snowboard shop I’d got a job in started filling up with bikes. As soon as I bought my first proper bike, an old Big Hit, and started riding it…well, I was hooked.

What gave you the inspiration for the 1st book?

I wrote the first book, Mountain Bike Guide – Chamonix Mont Blanc in 2008.. So I’d spent two years hunting trails before I wrote that. You wouldn’t believe the hours I spent pushing up dead-end jeep tracks, climbing down massive great ladders set in the rock and walking my bike down impossibly steep switchbacks.

How does this one differ from the original, more rides or a new style?

The Chamonix Bike Book is an entirely new concept. There’s no repetition, a complete change of format, more rides, more pictures, enormous IGN maps and a whole selection of road bike rides too. We set out to create the start point for any biking adventure in the Chamonix valley. So many bikers come here every summer, for their hard-earned week away bombing singletrack in the Alps. Too many end up like me in my first summer here, completely lost with a crappy map in my hand, having a below-average time while the locals are all ripping killer trails just a ridgeline away.

Is there going to be more updates as time goes on, pdf bonus rides or a website?

Invariably things will change – trails will evolve, more will open, others will close. Important updates will be posted on our forthcoming site, but I guess by about 2015 an updated book will come out.

Favourite ride in the book?

Simple, Hugh’s Way. Hugh is an old mate of mine who worked as a guide for for a summer about five years ago. At that time we were just looking for long, cruisey, singletrack – not too techy, just full of character and flow. He showed me his way of getting down to St Gervais from the Prarion – by the end of the summer we’d decide how to go down, we always ended up going his way down, hence the name. It’s not dated a bit.

Bike ban, good thing for chamonix or not?

The bike ban isn’t going away anytime soon – in fact probably the opposite – so it’s just one of those things we have to live with. On balance I think it’s a good thing – it stops the trails becoming too brake-bumpy, and reduces the chances of bikers mangling hikers during the busy times. It also encourages bikers to come here out of season, which is good for the shops and hoteliers.

Now you’ve conquered the Chamonix guide book world, what’s next?

I’m happy, thanks. The objective of the Chamonix Bike Book is not to make money, it’s to help people enjoy this place to its full potential. Doing a guidebook anywhere else would mean having to spend quality riding time away from Chamonix, which I’m not up for!

Any shout outs to the massive!?

Yes, all the people who had the faith to advertise in the book. We really went to town on it – foil embossing, waterproof cover, the works. If it wasn’t for Zero G, POC, Yeti Lodge, Ice & Orange, Freshtraxxx, Snostation, The Kitsch’Inn, The Jekyll, Boax, Freeze, Premer Chalet Construction and The Ski Factory, we’d not have been able to turn this idea into reality. And every local biker in the valley – the riders here have dedication & passion you just don’t find elsewhere.


Flatties or Spuds? Flatties

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Lycra or baggies? Lycra for the road, baggies for MTB

Dogs or cats? Both!

Full bounce or hardtail? Full bouncer! 160mm trail bike, perfect CHX rig

Beer or wine? Beer

Lift access or earn your turns? The older I get, the more I’m earning them

Ski or snowboard? Snowboard

Kylie or Danni? Both!

Poco loco or Midnight Express? Poco, Berger ham & goat’s cheese sarnie, nom

Cheers Tom.

So there you go, all you need to do now is rush out to either Zero G, POC or Maison de la Presse to get your hands on a copy, or check out website once it goes live….and if that’s not got your interest, here’s a wee video from thechamonixcollective of one of the new trails in the book, especially for anyone who thinks there’s no flowing tree lined singletrack in Chamonix!

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3 Trackbacks

  • […] a few laps of the front we went for a run down to Les Houches. Tom (author of the Chamonix Bike Books) has raved about “Hugh’s way” for long enough, so having […]

  • By Tricot treat | chamonixbikeblog on 17th September 2012 at 14:41

    […] them thar hills. As Jan said, it felt more like going ski touring than biking. After a tip off from Tom that the trail down from the Col de Tricot was every bit as good, if not better, than the map […]

  • By Velo Ferrata | chamonixbikeblog on 27th September 2012 at 18:28

    […] perfect trail…. Acting on a couple of tip offs and a promising looking squiggly line on the map, Tom suggested we head down the valley to St Martin sur Arve to take a look at a loop below the “Tete […]