Turning over

Turning over. Merlet always features early season in Chamonix

You might not be thinking of the same movie as me, but you’ll have seen the generic scene often enough.

Two men walk into a dusty and run down barn. At the back of a barn, below a dust sheet soiled by several years of dirt, lies a car shaped object. The dust sheet is whipped off in a cloud of said dust and a disturbed chicken or two to reveal an outdated but none the less impressive sports car. The ‘hood’ is ‘popped’ (it’s always an american movie) and, after a brief tinker with the engine, the main protagonist turns the key. The engine turns over once then bursts into life, settling quickly into a purposeful V8 growl. Cue line about being back in the game.

Anyone who’s done anything similar in real life knows that nothing will happen until you give up and put a new battery in, then once the engine catches it dies pretty quickly as you discover a rodent has chewed through most of the filters. Even once you manage to get it ticking over, it takes a couple of weeks until all the problems get found, fixed, and the engine starts emitting anything close to a purr.

What goes down first goes up. Damn you physics.

Starting the bike blog up in the spring runs much closer to real life than the movies. Despite this, it’s the start of April and, like a normally aspirated 4 cylinder plant from a family car, things are running reliably enough and it looks like everything’s going to survive to the next MOT.

Might as well crack on, when do the lifts open?

Chamonix (usual CdMB caveats apply)
Bellevue: 10th June – 24th September
Brevent/Planpraz: 10th June – 17th September
Le Tour: 17th June – 24th September
Flegere: 17th June – 17th September, then 21st October to 5th November
Tramway du Mont Blanc: 17th June – 3rd September
Grand Montets: 24th June – 10th September
Prarion: 1st July – 3rd September
Vallorcine: 1st July – 3rd September

Those of you with a memory, or the wherewithal to use google, will have noticed that most of the lifts are opening a week later/closing a week earlier/both, compared to last year. Chamonix’s Marie is also looking into ways to encourage more cyclists to visit during the summer. Go figure.

Lorne and Toby playing chase somewhere below Flatiere, but above Servoz.

How about another way of looking at it. After a below par winter for snow, where are the lifts already open? As well as the usual all-year suspects (Saleve, Dorinaz, Bex…) you can right now, right there, go play uplift bikes at Verbier and Pila until the ski season ends and they shut for spring maintenance. The Chamonix train should be in there too, but it closes 2nd April until late June for (more) works and the replacement bus service doesn’t take bikes. In defense of the train, we did have the cheeriest conductor on the ride back from Servoz a couple days ago who let 2 of us away with no paying saying “you’ve forgotten your Gen du Pays, yes….”

Servoz trails are most definitely clear of snow this year!

There’s more to the alps than Chamonix, what other dates are there:

La Thuile: 24th June – 3rd September (probably, dates not up yet, check here for when they update it) http://www.lathuile.it/datapage.asp?id=404
Megeve: 1st July – 17th September. When I say Megeve, I mean Jaillet. None of the other lifts, including all the lifts you need for the bike park, are open this summer. http://www.lesportesdumontblanc.fr/fr/2017/03/27/previsions-douverture-ete-2017/
St Gervais: Not up yet, but probably 1st July – 3rd September http://www.ski-saintgervais.com/fr/ete/tarifs-ete/remontees-mecaniques.php
Les Contamines: 1st July – 3rd September http://www.lescontamines.net/home_calendar.html
Grand Massif: Assorted start and finish times across the area, and they’re not online yet, but basically between 1st July – 27th August http://ete.grand-massif.com/les-tarifs
Pila: Not up yet, spotting a theme yet, but probably 24th June – 10th September (mibbies longer….) http://www.pila.it/en/pila/estate/stagione-estiva/
Portes du Soleil: Also still not up yet, but likely 23rd June – 27th August with some earlier and later http://en.portesdusoleil.com/summer-lifts.html
Verbier: All weekends in June (but the Le Chable-Verbier leg is closed) then 3rd July – 39th October http://www.verbierbikepark.ch/horaires_fr.php

Anyways, until the dates above, it’s mostly trips to the south and pedalling uphills. Around Chamonix anything south facing and below 1700m is fine to ride, north facing you’ll still be finding snow from 1300m but for the most part the trails are clear a fair bit higher.

Not 100% yet, but it's good to be back.

Lets go play on bikes.

What, you think the blogs happen by magic? Lorne shooting Toby shooting me shooting rucsac cam for Toby....