Cunning as a fox drunk on cunning juice

Always nice to see the valley floor that far below you.

Ahh, the clear mountain air, the efficient clean travel on a bike, the pristine alpine environment.

Shame we drove here.

Fresh Swiss alpine air.

Worse, the ride’s plan involved knocking the vertical climbed down from 1500m to 450m by driving over in 2 cars, leaving 1 at the bottom then heading back to the top. More wasted miles, more wasted time, more wasted CO2.

But, in the future, it will be different…….

Crux of the ride, negotiating the re-re-re-re-frozen snow....

Electric cars are getting closer and closer (it’s a long read, but way more worth while more than the rest of this) and renewables are forming more and more of the grid capacity (Scotland managed 50% of power generation through renewables in 2014) so there’ll be less to feel guilty about there, but it’s still irritatingly inefficient to drive 2 cars.

Which is why I predict the next big thing in mountainbiking will be the google self drive car.

Yup, think about it. Sit there and let it drive you to the top of the hill, get the bike out, then plug in the GPS of the bottom of the hill and ghost the car off. Shred the gnar to the power of X-TRM then get back in to the motor and repeat.

15m into a 1500m descent. Life's hard sometimes.

Unfortunately, that’s the future and this is the now, so I needed a cunning plan to avoid the inefficiencies, a plan cunning as a fox drunk on cunning juice. I needed…..

An ultra runner.

Everyone needs a tame ultrarunner in their biking crew.

As luck would have it, Colin had got into town the day before and wanted to run up some hills, the game was on.

Lorne, the trail, the trail further away, Grand Combin. In that order.

It doesn’t take much of a glance at a map to notice the trail traversing from Col du Forclaz below the Pont Rond before dropping down the ridgeline towards Borgeaud near Martigny, with the perma-autumn showing no sign of letting up today seemed a good day to try it out.

The traverse round goes easily enough, a mix of pedalling, pushing and dancing as we discovered several tricky patches of well frozen snow below the coating of pine needles…

Easy doesn't need to mean boring, just go faster.

From Portalo (no, really) the trail pops out of the trees and into view, along with the Grand Combin comes a thin line of a trail heading off into the distance.

Looks like an out of season bike park, but this is how Switzerland does walking trails.

I’ll be honest, for the first 300m or so of vertical the descent it was only ok. Fast and open track ranging from about one to four or so foot wide. Never particularly technical except for the challenge of keeping the bike straight on the loose surface at the speeds you could reach. So far, a really good choice for less confident riders still looking for a big alpine descent.

Fortunately, as well as driving the car to the base of the hill for us, Colin had been scouting the track and gave us the heads up for a easy to miss trail ducking left off the main trail about 1/2 height.

North facing slopes. Great for keeping cool, less good for getting well lit photos.

Just as well he told us, it’s pretty easy to miss but well worth taking. Could do with a wee bit more traffic to clear some of the twigs and crap off the trail, but otherwise, smashing bit of riding. Obviously there are no photos of this bit due to the combined issues of the trail being too much fun to want to stop (common issue this) and it’s dark in the woods, we’re no riding with a flash set up.

It's not rained for about 25 days, might be mid November but the trails are bone dry.

As ever, even with the balance of down to up being tipped far in our favour, the descent ended quicker that the climb (mibbies there’s something to be said for trail running there) and some eyewateringly fast 4×4 trail topped by some fun but loose singletrack spat us out in Borgeaud and the conveniently parked car.

What's under the leaves? The trail hopefully.

Conclusion? Great idea, good trail, hopefully to be repeated.

In the future we'll have self driving cars. Until then we'll just have to use ultrarunners. Doesn't seem so keen for a second lap though.

Course, we could always just get e-mountainbikes and solve the problem that way. Or maybe not, just stick to convincing folk to drive the car down for us. Cheers Colin

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