Tricot two

It's a single, err, track.

Who said September’s the best month for mountain biking in the alps? I did, and I submit this last week as evidence. Stable weather, cool temps, blue skies and quiet trails. We’ll just ignore the snow of a fortnight ago if that’s ok with you.

Last big day off the Chamonix lifts for the summer, where to go and what to do. Well THE Les Houches classic ride from last summer was the Col de Tricot down to Le Fayet. None of us had repeated it since so we figured, why not?

Spotlight for the pedal up to where the lift should go.

If I’m honest, the weather was a wee bit better last year. Cooler for a start, and without the sense of menace that humidity in the air and building clouds brings after a long period of good weather in the alps. Getting to the start of the route was also easier with the Bellevue cablecar running, but it’s an easy enough ride over from the top of Prarion so I won’t grumble.

Roll up roll up, get your warm sunshine whilst you can, limited time only

The initial descent down to the snout of the Bionassay glacier has got a fair bit more washed out than last season, with all of us choosing to walk some parts that we hardly hesitated on the year before. Conversely other sections had got easier with the worst of the loose rubble cleared away.

The bridge still hasn’t been upgraded to modern 750mm bar standards, but Robbie’s slightly older, and hence narrower, set up did make it further along the bridge than most.

I tried to ride it again, I failed again.

The ascent to the col hadn’t got any easier either, though fortunately for me my bike’s a lot lighter this year so I didn’t have to work as hard!

The putting green surface of the col encouraged a leisurely early lunch and suncream application, it’s probably just as well the descent looks so inviting from there, it’d be virtually impossible to leave otherwise.

That'll be Col de Tricot then

Once we had mustered up the enthusiasm to get going we found the descent to be in great condition, the section that had been removed by landslide has been repaired and the whole line was ridden feet up (unless you count stops to take photos, what are the ethics there on claiming a dab free descent?).

Would this view tempt you into finishing lunch and getting back on the bike?

We knew though that the initial section to the Miage chalets is just the prologue, the teaser. The real reason for doing this ride comes next, fast flowing singletrack all the way to Champel.

It was just as good as we remembered it, just as flowing, and we stopped just as few times as we were enjoying it just so much. It says a lot about the riding in this area that the last man in the group got shouted at by a group of walkers…….for going too slow and to get off the brakes and speed up!

Still before the Miage chalets.

Of course the slower you go, the longer you get to enjoy the ride. Fast or slow, the trail still eventually comes to an end. With ice cream once again calling further down the valley and us all being keen to ride the pipeline trail into Le Fayet we missed out the fire road section down from Champel and just blasted straight down the tarmac, into St Gervais, past the lift station and on to the start of pipeline. I went off ahead to get photos and waited. And waited. And waited. Lorne & Robbie had missed the turnoff. I could have followed the other trail back to the road and caught up with them, but I’m selfish and I wasn’t going to pass up on some singletrack just for the sake of friendship.

And more photos of the prologue descent

We all met back at the tramway where we had a few minutes to spare till the 1410 tram. As the 1410 tram wasn’t running, this meant we had just over an hour to eat ice cream at the station café. Result.

Whilst enjoying our assorted ice creams (and very good they were too) it became apparent that we weren’t the only riders making the most of the last of the uplift as mtb after mtb came into the station. Chatting to the riders it also turned out that no one was doing very well at finding the turn off to Pipeline! Still, great to meet some new riders and new faces for future missions…

Finally! A solitary shot of the flowing Miage chalets - Champel shot, and that's your lot too.

By the time the tram was setting off, bikes and riders onboard outnumbered walkers for the first time I’ve seen. I can’t imagine that 100 years ago when the tramway opened the operators of 1913 envisioned bikes being strewn through the carriages!

Last lift, last descent and what could it be other than the classic line near the Bellevue cables down into Les Houches.

My new bike's so light, it actually floats over the terrain...

Three weeks of pedalling everywhere awaits. How will we cope?