Tricot treat

Half the fun is making up the titles....

There’s definitely an autumn feeling in the air. Meeting in town at 09.30 we were all wearing jackets and looking for the sun. Our ride for the day was more of an autumn objective too, less about maximum vertical on the lifts and more about getting out into 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 suggested, we thought we’d give it a go before the weather got much colder.

Wayne on Glacier Trail

A spin down to Les Houches and we were up the Bellevue gondola, now the only bike friendly uplift in the valley, by back of ten ready for the “Glacier Trail” down to the foot of the Bionassey glacier. It’s a harsh way to wake up; the fast fire road becomes fast singletrack becomes super rocky trails with wires to hold onto in no time at all, which if you’ve not been paying attention can be a bit of a surprise! After some entertaining can we/can’t we ride it sections with Jan getting to grips with a non DH bike and Lorne sending a techy drop to first bail of the day we past the glacial lake, complete with mini icebergs, and arrived at the wire bridge to start our climb. The bridge looks rideable, but regrettably the builders weren’t thinking of future MTB handlebar width standards when they designed it, and it’s just too narrow for 760mm. Didn’t stop all of us trying, failing, and getting off to wheelie the bikes over through.

"The Bridge"; photo by Lorne Cameron

Wayne & Lorne on climb to Col de Tricot

The climb up to the Col de Tricot goes easily enough, a few rideable sections, but mostly we pushed and got to the manicured putting green that is the col at midday, just the right time for lunch. There’s a bit of every sort of descending I can think of in this ride, and you get a great view of the upper steep & rocky section from here.

Start of Col de Tricot descent

A fresh (very fresh, it wasn’t there when Tom came through the week before) landslip meant we had to get off the bikes for 20 meters or so, but otherwise it’s a great start to the main descent. Extra points go to Lorne for riding it almost clean without a back brake!

Col de Tricot descent, above chalets

Before reaching the Chalets du Miage, a trail cuts off up and to the right. This was where the descent became something special.

Miage chalets descent towards St Gervais

For over 3km the trail contours round and down the hill. There’re a few short climbs, but nothing unrideable and the flow is just incredible. Photos would do more justice than words, but no one was stopping when each section lead so well into the next.

Miage chalets descent, photo by Lorne Cameron

After reaching the hamlet of Le Champel the only trail type we hadn’t dropped down was eye watering fast fire road. Fortunately help was at hand and we plummeted down to La Villette, paused to let Jan have a puncture fixed by Wayne, then continued on fire road and tarmac to St Gervais.

Shiny bikes

We could have stopped here to get the tramway back up to the top of the Les Houches area, but it was early yet so continued past the St Gervais lift station to ride the Pipeline trail down into Le Fayet, over 1500m lower than the Col de Tricot and downhill pretty much the whole way.

St Gervais trails

As luck would have it, we arrived at the same time as a tram so, after fluttering our eyes as best we could at the ticket desk girl, we were allowed onto the nearly empty tram to trundle back up to the Bellevue stop where we’d started the day for a quick lap of the front face trails and a ride back up to Chamonix in time for tea and medals.

Tramway du Mont blanc

A cracking day out, exacltly what riding in the mountains can be: friends, scenery & ridiculously good riding without seeing any other cyclists, or even that many people, all day.

Col de Tricot descent Jan