The longest day

Long days mean long shadows

Summer solstice. The longest day, shortest night and start of the countdown to winter. Also an excuse (if an excuse was ever needed) to both go in to the hills to do stuff and go out on the town.

Starting the day off the back of Les Houches, where even fire road is fun

After some warm up laps around Les Houches (trails all riding nice, bit of rain would be good to give some more grip though) we headed up the Bellevue gondola and climbed round towards the Col du Mont Lachet.

Start up here, end down there.

The trail down from the col is fairly exposed in places, but I think it’s pretty fun. Not everyone else, or possibly anyone else, agreed…..but I was enjoying myself.

We all chose to walk this bit....

With plenty of daylight to play with we had been aiming to get high somewhere in the valley and ride down in the evening light. Unfortunately all the usual supects that face west and would be bathed in dusky evening light are still just a bit too snowy, so we settled on an east facing lap down to Trient instead

Trails like this are why we chose a lap to Trient, disagree?

With efficiency few locations in the developed world can equal, the last train from Chamonix to Montroc gets you there with enough just time to sprint up the hill and just catch the Le Tour lifts as they are closing. We had an anxious wait at the top of the Autannes chair to see if our bikes had been loaded or if the lifty had clocked off for the day….eventually they climbed into view.

In contrast to last year, the climb up to the Col du Balme only needed a couple of quick snow crossings rather than wanting to have an axe and crampons. The descent on the other hand still has a few snow patches, succesfully negotiated by all bar me. Saved by my bike and Lorne.

1km vertical of singletrack

The trail to Trient was as good as always, more fast and flowing than the trails earlier in the day, great to ride in a chain of 4, even if being last generally meant choking on the dust from the others.

Although we were on the wrong aspect to get the best light, the later time meant we met no one else on the whole 20 minute descent, only tired arms and overheating brakes gave reasons to slow up or stop.

Riding in a train with your friends. Pretty good.

The tear down the road from Trient to Chatelard wasn’t as good as the tear down the trails, but did prove that tucking works, tucking and drafting works better, and tucking, drafting and running a semi-slick rear tyre works best.

The climb back up to Vallorcine is slow enough that tucking does little to help, though again less tread is better. Either way, it goes easy enough and soon we were looking at the lengthening shadows around the train station and waiting for a helping hand over (or through) the Col du Montets to Montroc where Lorne & I got out for the last few miles down the valley to beers at Rhodedendrons whilst Nina and Spencer put their feet up.

Blatting down the valley in the last of the light

Of course, summer solstice in Chamonix is not complete without the Fete des Musique so a long day still wasn’t finished.

Fete du musique doing what it does.