Link up

Col du Tricot. Autumn's alright really

Want to know what the next big thing’s going to be in mountain biking? Look at other mountain sports; skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, fell running. Trail centres are a bike only thing? Snowboarding went crazy for snowparks in the mid 90’s. These newfangled “enduro” bikes that are fairly light up hill but a virtually DH bikes on the down? Skiing’s been doing the fat touring ski and DIN 16 touring binding for ages*. Big days out linking your favourite trails….

OK, so we’ve been doing that for a while too, but mountaineers got there first. With the concentration of hardcore climbers around Chamonix the main lines got climbed fairly quick, so how to make it more interesting? Enchain a load of them. This got particularly entertaining in the 80’s when not content with just climbing lots of hard routes, climbers would hanglide between lines, resplendent in Raybans and headscarfs.

So we thought we’d get in on the act.

Link up, like a bridge. How's that fae a visual metaphor?

Just the Bellevue lift left open now, but it’s probably the best lift any to get into more mountainy terrain. An efficient early start saw Spence and me at the top of the lift by 11am ready to link 2 of the best rides in the valley. The Nid d’Aigle and Col du Tricot.

Abandoned Bond moon base or old jet engine testing facility?

The initial climb to Col Mont Lachat went as smoothly as ever, and also as ever we couldn’t pass the abandoned jet engine test station without having a poke about. If you want to do the same get up there quick as apparently it’s to be demolished this autumn.

Last chance to....

As the tramway’s closed now until the winter it’s an easy (relatively speaking….) push up the tracks to the top station at 2372m and a selection of Mont Blanc ascentionists descending and aspirants ascending. It says something about Chamonix that everyone accepted our response of ‘the summit, Mont Blanc’ when we were asked where we were headed.

At least you canny get lost.

A relaxed lunch in the sun later, we dropped in to the first descent of the day. The trail was just as good as last year, the views just as distracting, and the section by the ladders just as unridable (unless you’re this guy). Some things never change, just like the 650m descent went so much quicker than the 570m climb.

There were a lot of spot the rider shots from today.

The trail to Bionassey we followed last year crosses the track climbing to the Col du Tricot, so here we hung a left and headed down through the techy singletrack to the swing bridge. Our handlebars have got wider still, but the bridge remains as narrow, nae riding this time.

Maybe not the best riding trail ever, but no too shabby either. Yes, that is the trail you can see at the base of the valley.

Reaching the col a little after 2 we had the hill almost to ourselves, a nice change from the last few rides from the col, benefits of not getting started early I guess. The geology is fairly mobile up here and the descent had evolved a little from last time, but still 100% ridable and 95% fun. It’s only the access route for the second section anyway.

Spence in the woods on the way to Tricot.

With a huge amount of effort, I managed to stop this time to fire off a couple of photos of the trail, but they really don’t show how good it is. From the chainring gouges on some of the rocks I think a few more folk are finding out for themselves, maybe I should start saying the trails no good?

Col du Tricot, dropping.

The road kilometres from Villette to St Gervais give a welcome respite to the arms and a chance to enthuse about how good the trail was and how well you rode it….or otherwise, before the final bit of interest on the pipeline trail from St Gervais to Le Fayet. Why’s it called pipeline? As Spence said; if you don’t know, you’ve not ridden it.

Look, actually took a photo this time!

Of course, whilst the tramway being closed made our life easier at the start of the day, it now meant we couldn’t just hop back up to Bellevue and finish off a triptych of trails with the GR5. Instead we got to miss the train to Chamonix whilst I tried to work the automated ticket machine, then go for a beer in the sun whilst we waited for the next one.

Two photos in fact. Still doesnay do the trail justice but.

Could this be the best ride in Chamonix? If you can only ride “one” trail then maybe these 2, linked in with GR5 to get you back into the valley, is where it’s at.

But then, you could always start from town and ride Aiguillet des Houches from Brevent to Les Houches first.


Spence playing "point ot where we've just been" (the tramway cutting goes just above his head) whilst on the way up to Col du Tricot.

*So smart arse, where’s mountain biking going next? Well, snowboarding’s all about the split board, so I guess we’ll be keeping the all-mountain/enduro thing going. Skiing seems to be getting into lightweight rando-racing equipment and lycra though. Maybe mountain biking does lead the way sometimes.

So would this be better in lycra with a super light bike?