Proper planning prevents (long climbs). Grand Massif

Can you just trackstand a minute longer, need to adjust the exposure...

Half way between Chamonix and the Portes du Soleill sits the Grand Massif ski area, and it’s sort of ½ and ½ PDS & Chamonix in the riding too, with Chamonix’s queues and busyness combined with the PDS’s rolling terrain and bike friendly attitude.

After scratching the surface there last year I was keen to return and explore more, with the descent from the top of the Flaine lifts at 2480m down to Sixt at about 750m being top of the to do list. Arriving in Les Carroz a quick look in the direction of Flaine was enough to guess that there is still, at the end of July, too much snow. Maybe next month.

Grand Massif Views

Instead our plan became to hit the Les Carroz bike park for a few laps before riding over to Samoens whilst the lifts were closed for lunch, lap Samoens & Morillon for a bit then head back to the car. Sorted.

The Les Carroz bike park hadn’t changed much from last year. Some maintenance keeping it in order, a bit more signage, a few new features, but still the same trails and still fun.

Les Carroz bike park

With the lifts closing for lunch we started the trek over. Armed with no maps, a reasonable sense of direction and a mix of bikes ranging from superlight enduro race rig to DH monster bike, we figured to begin with “up” and see how it worked out.

The previous year we’d ridden the “La Vieille” trail for part of the way over, which was good but unfinished. This year we managed to find it again, and it was finished. Unfortunately it involved a fair bit of contouring, but no complaining from Richie & Alex on the big bikes.

Starting the trek round to Samoens

Eventually we made it round to the Samoens trails and let gravity do the hard work again. There’s a maze of trails coming off the main Grand Massif Express lift here, both official and locals. We managed to avoid repeating anything from last year and found some amazing riding, a day could easy be spent on this one lift without getting bored.

Whoever built the Samoens trails knows how to use the natural terrain

My afternoon started to get a bit worse at this point, with the discovery that my shiny new Spicy 516 had been spec’d with cheap inner tubes too small for the tyres. After 2 punctures, 1 of which happened when the bike was lying on its side, I was getting quite grumpy.

The mood wasn’t improved with discovering that the second Samoens lift, the Chariande Express wasn’t running. This was the lift we needed to get back to Les Carroz. And the car. No problem, we can use the Morillon lifts for only a bit more effort. They weren’t running either. Moral of the story, check the Grand Massif website to see which lifts are running on which days before making the trip.

Rock-slab-berm anyone?

As we were armed with the pedalable bikes, Lorne & I set of to ride back over the hills to the car, whilst Alex & Richie grabbed some more laps of the Samoens trails. It wasn’t the worst riding back over, but in the humid afternoon it would have been nicer to be sitting on a chairlift with a gentle breeze.

Could we have a barrier please?

Next time, proper planning and no snow.

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