Finale / Lads lads lads

Ever wondered where trail names come from....? Finale Ligure trip 2019

It’s been a while since I’ve been down to Finale, but as the weather in Chamonix has decided to skip spring, and summer, to go directly to late autumn, it seemed a good way to escape the snow. Hence, lads, lads, lads go to Finale.

We looked at going elsewhere, San Remo, Molini, Sospel. But Finale’s just so easy. It’s easy to find out about the new trails, it’s easy to get around, easy to get somewhere nice to stay, to get pizza and glelato and coffee.

Finale. Blown out, rutted and overplayed. Spence looks happy with that.

There’s quite a few folk saying that Finale’s a bit played out, there’s no secret trails no more, everything’s blown out and rutted. Aye, mibbies, but that’s half of what I love about the place. Smooth trails are easy to ride fast. Holding on through the ruts and craters of umpteen years abuse really makes you appreciate how fast you’re moving.

Nose tap on the natural hit?

And this is important. Presence, being acutely aware of the moment, the here and now, is a skill we’re losing. If you’re flicking between driving a car, chatting to the passengers and texting on the phone, none of the above are getting your full attention. Our ancient monkey selves had to make sure that lump in the bushes wasn’t about to jump on you as you tried to dig out a particularly tasty looking potato, and if it did, that you got up the tree quick enough. Plowing through the chunder on Little Champery, either you’re in the moment or you’re in hospital. It’s a steep relearning curve to get those primate synapses firing, and if you don’t, you might miss out on the potato at aperitivo.

A few years ago, this was a perfectly smooth flow trail....

In fairness, things have changed a lot since my first visit in 2013. Back then trail info was hard to come by, my main technique was using old Superenduro race cards and riding to the trail heads then following the Minion traces. Like we used to do anywhere new really. Now you just fire up Trailforks and check the GPX trace. I do miss some of those days, you could have hours of fun directly above the town just pedalling up and riding down fairly fresh trails with no real idea where you were going. But you can’t deny that the network that’s available now is way better. And it has Little Champery, which is blown out and rutted and well good.

Inginiri. Not sure who was taking more risk, me at speed or Lorne taking the shot.

Not everything’s blown out either. Ingineri from below NATO for example. Raced in 2015, it was good then but even more fun now to ride than race, so many rises into bends where the bike gets set light as you’re about to turn in. So many corners with a little shimmy left before the right encouraging the scandi flick. And so much variety too!

Roller Coaster. There're rolls and you can coast down it.

Din gets in on the act too. We’d headed for Toboggan. Toboggan did not look like a good idea. A few trees down I can handle, but when you can’t see the trail for the wood, nah. Explains why the guided groups were being dropped 1/2 way along the trail. So we rode Rollercoaster instead. I’d not ridden here since 2017 when it was a bit greasy from overnight rain and it was one of my first rides back from injury.What a difference a more or less working body and a load more grip makes! The trail swoops. That’s ‘woop’ sandwiched between two sets of curves. The trail swoops.

There's a lot of this in Finale :-)

In and out of natural rolls in the terrain, around natural features that seem perfectly placed for the flow. And a wee bit of braking bump chunder here and there too, just to keep you on your toes.

Never been here before..... Somewhere near Mallare

There’s another way to get round the feeling that some of the trails are a bit past their best. Go further afield.

Backcountry Finale’s Luca took us by the hand and bundled us into a Pajero then, after shoogling us about on a variety of ever rougher and narrower 4×4 tracks, proceeded to throw us down all manner of trail we’d never have ridden otherwise. Partly because they’re a bit hard to find, but mostly because the logistics would be a complete nightmare and we’d have taken 2 days to ride the same using the knotted pipe-cleaners I call legs to pedal about with.

Spence heading for the sea at the end of a long days riding.

That and it had pissed it down the night before, so Luca mixed and matched trails. Maybe we missed out on some gems early in the day, but it meant we didn’t freeze and get covered in mud. And Lorne and I got let loose on Little Champery in the primest grip I’ve ever ridden it in, so that was nice.

Which'll land first, me or the shadow?

Finale’s one of the economic models that gets chucked on the table when riders are trying to argue the financial case for building trails, or even just not getting banned from the trails. Riding around Mallare, the new frontier for Finale trails, with Luca was trickle down economics in action, where 11 riders and a few guides and drivers arrived at the door of the hamlet restaurant for a slap up feed.

Spotting the riders at Spotorno.

It might cost more than a simple 10 euro shuttle up to Din or NATO, but you’re definitely getting your dollars worth. Cheers to Luca and Alessandro for the work they’ve put into helping open a new area of riding as well as their shuttling and guiding, and cheers too to the Swiss crew we were riding with for putting up with our complete lack of German.

Obligatory pissing about up at NATO shot, cheers Lorne.

The bike scene in Finale has changed in the last few years, but then the bike scene as changed everywhere. Nostalgia might not have killed anyone recently. Actually it’s not killed anyone for a century, the last record of it as cause of death is for an American soldier in 1918. I digress, as usual. Finale’s trails are evolving, so you can enjoy the change or stop going. We’ll be back.

Finale. We'll be back, even if it's just for the food.