St Gervais / So that was the first big crash of the summer


starts Thursday as usual with a canteen quiz and again no-one wins the big cash prize” Means nothing to you? No, well, your loss.

It’s been hard to keep track of events recently. The constant state of flux between what’s in and out, who’s calling the shots, behind the scenes negotiations, false promises. The dust seems to be settling now though and it seems the state of play is this:

Brevent & Flegere. No playing on bikes, or at least no uplift for bikes, until the bike ban ends at the start of September.

Megeve, Les Contamines, St Gervais & Combloux. All good and all included on the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass.

Nowt for it but to skip Brevent and Flegere, pedal down the valley to Prarion then over to St Gervais for some exploring.

If you get telt that there's no flowing singlertrack in Chamonix, just assume the person just hasnay ridden here much. High on Who's Way.

Conveniently, getting to St Gervais involves riding Who’s Way, which is maybe my favourite trail off the lifts in Chamonix. Certainly one of the more complete. Today it was even more complete with 2 sidewall slits in my possibly a bit past their best tyres. Lessons learnt being 1) tyres have a finite life span 2) when the sealant is pissing through the sidewall, it’s not going to plug itself 3) remember to put your tyre plugs in the rucsac you’re taking with you on that ride and 4) Lorne’s Lezyne minipump is infinitely better than my Specialized minipump.

More Who's Way, less tyre pressure.

Anyway, slightly slower than usual, we make it to St Gervais, where the next hold up is the unique shuttle timing system of the St Gervais lifts. They run for 5 minutes every 30 minutes. Don’t expect to get Pleney style fast laps here.

This is Lorne's front tyre on the beginner loop.

The next main difference to Pleney is when you get to the designated blue “whizz” trail (honestly, what possesses folks to give trails such awful names) and discover a complete absence of braking bumps. A hardtail would be a better weapon than a DH bike. A BMX bike would do the job pretty well if the dust isn’t too loose.

Smashing berms / smashing berms.

This is a good thing mind. Being based in Chamonix means I read commentary on t’interwebz about the death of “real” riding and the takeover of flow trails with a hint of bemusement. We just dinnay have anything like that near to us, so it’s a grand wee treat to get to ride a well sculpted flow trail where we hardly had to pedal or brake for 6km and just pumped transitions and found things to hop over.

Table top courtesy of St Gervais, facial expressions model's own.

After a lap for photos, it was still lunch time at the lift. (oh, aye, forgot to mention, closes 1200-1330) so we had an icecream (Lorne being well pissed off that there were no Calypsos) then went up for another lap with no stops before exploring other trails.

Seriously, smooth well built berms are a real treat for us folks. I know, your heart bleeds again.

It should have been no stops.

There’s a bit of boardwalk about a third of the way down where I was just thinking “this’d be bloody lethal in the wet” then I was sliding across said boardwalk using my skin as a brake. I’d also tried to impale myself on my bars, which wasn’t apparent at first, but got worked out by not being able to breath for a minute or so, my favourite bike t-shirt being ripped open pretty much nip to nip, and a line of broken skin from sternum to my left bicep.

My chest is no happy at this point. I'm bloody ecstatic however.

And that was pretty much the end of my day really. I was blinking sore, felt like I’d been kicked by a donkey and didn’t have the spirit for exploring. So instead of me now getting to tell you about the pure super-sick-gnar-fest of megarad natural singletrack we then found…..we cruised back to Le Fayet on easy trails, took the tramway back to Bellevue then the “easy” way down of GR5. Which is still a fair bit of good riding.

Plenty more days to explore this summer, so we’ll be back with something more useful before long, but until then, give the St Gervais trails a go. It’s not going to keep you entertained all day, but it’s pretty good for a bit of a change.

How's that for a berm with a background?