Something old, something new. something borrowed, something tree.

Chamonix. Does good backdrop. But then, you know that by now.

“The first sentence is the hardest to write.” Once you’ve got a beginning then the rest of the piece should follow easily. I’ve not made this up, it’s been written about here and here, and they’ve earnt way more money than me from writering.

But that first sentence was pretty easy to write, nae effort at all frankly. The issue is the next bit, the quality content.

Quality content. Supplied by Toby's photography skills. #phonephotae.

Charlie Brooker is a bit of a hero of mine. Many years ago he wrote columns for the guardian, which were brilliant because he is a god that moves amongst us mortals. The problem was he didn’t think the content was adding much to the discussion, so stopped them. One of the best writers currently putting finger to keypad stopped writing columns because he didn’t want to add to the piles of dross out there.

Which puts the rest of us in a bit of a shitty position. Just like Candide Thovex killed the headcam with his “oneofthosedays” series, Charlie Brooker essentially killed off all opinion pieces with that opinion. If you’re not improving on what they’ve done, what are you doing?

Not so much piles of dross as piles of choss.

This concept of “infinite piles of dross” got mixed with the old “an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters will eventually write Shakespeare” idea and fleshed out into Jorge Luis Borges’ book “The Library of Babel” which describes an infinite library that contains not only every 410 page book that has been written, but every 410 page combination of letters of the alphabet.

Obviously though, things in fiction never cross into real life.

This trail is brought to you by the letters T, E, C and H.

Except 2019. Go to http://libraryofbabel.info/ and you’ll find the Babel Library. Every possible combination of letters, commas, spaces and full stops, all archived and waiting for you to read it. All of Shakespeare. All of Romeo and Juliet except where they just spoke to each other rather than getting rash with chemicals. All of the entries of this blog. All of the entries that will ever be written for this blog. The story of your life in the style of your favourite author. The exact details of when and how you will die. All of this exists in the library. You just need to find it.

Toby finding flow.

Which is, finally, where we pull this back to biking. See, in the above not-quite-infinite example are all the greatest pieces of writing (and the possibility for some very interesting intellectual property cases) but they are damn well hidden amongst an ocean of incomprehensible drivel. Though at least we now know where the (insert newspaper that least represents your political and moral opinions here) journalists get their inspiration.

Pan shot Thursday. Maybe I should have published this on a Friday?

In the hills above Chamonix there is near infinite possibility for trails, but very finite number of rideable trails. It wouldn’t take too much work to write a programme to scribble lines on the map (I suspect this is how some open source mapping works…though in the novel suicidal librarians scour the bookshelves looking for the index which, as all books possible exist in the library, must be in the library. Hence said mapping may indeed be the key.) but it takes a bit more effort to find or create them on the ground.

It's a rock. Get over it.

So. Blog needs good trails to create good content. Blog doesn’t want to repeat writing about trails it’s already done. Blog has pretty much exhausted the exploration of lines on the map. Conclusion. Blog needs to get off sofa and go and make some more trails.

Why build a trail when you can just ride a little known one instead.

Being a bit lazy, I figured it would be easier to take little used existing trails and just tidy up the bits inbetween, so after a fair bit of wandering about the woods above Les Bossons I’d found enough old hunters trails, cleared away enough bits of shrub and branch and moved enough stones around to call it a trail.

It just needed ridden top to bottom.

The trail starts here. Well really it starts about 10 meters back, but the picture wasn't as good from there.

Enter Toby who, in good late season riding form and on a day off, agreed to ride one of my “it should be a good trail” ideas.

There’s a few easy ways to get up to the Mont Blanc tunnel. From there there’s an easy way to the Chalet Cerro. From there it’s just grunt work getting you and your bike up to 1550m, the start of the trail and the (current) end of the Bosson’s glacier.

Some parts of the climb went easier than others.

You’re going up the same way you ride down for this part, which is good as you know what you’ll have to deal with on the way down, but which is bad as you know what you’ll have… etc, etc. I assume repetition takes up a considerable part of the 104677 books in the Babel Library. In the height of summer there’s a fair bit of pedestrian traffic on the trail here but outside July and August it’s fairly quiet. You’re never going that fast anyway…

The upper half of the trail is best described as challenging.

We’d wanted tech, and we got tech. Sitting at the top of the trail looking at the hills had been a pleasant wee interlude, but from the tenth meter in the trail demands concentration. In Toby’s words ‘you wouldn’t want to ride it everyday’ but once in a while is good to remind you what “technical trail” really means.

Looking good Toby, looking good.

Toby was riding on good form, Toby got to the last trail feature before the trail mellowed to the Chalet Cerro. Toby committed to the line. Toby committed to the crash.

Full commitment. To a subluxed shoulder.

The full descent would need to wait, fortunately it wasn’t going anywhere.

I was however. A few weeks guiding in Italy and a holiday later I was back in Chamonix ready to ride. By now winter made a return the the valley and the trail above Chalet Cerro was too buried to be worth the hassle. But, all this content was written and I felt the need to get something posted before the bike hibernates, who could I persuade out in the snow to finish it off?

Jesus riding the line between winter and not quite winter.

Jesus is leaving the valley to go back to Malaga and if there’s one type of riding you don’t get in Malaga it’s snow covered trails following terminal moraine banks so he was game. The snow didn’t make the trail any easier but there’s still more grip than you think there should be so it pretty much all went as intended.

Not every tree was in for the chop. Mind and duck eh.

It turned out someone else had been in, seen what I’d started and run with it. The chainsaw owning trail pixie had cut out the trees that I’d had to leave to improvisation and improved riding technique and the trail is starting to wear in nicely through the more hidden parts. Flows much better now, cheers. It doesn’t make the top ten descents in valley list, but as 500m descents that start from the foot of a glacier and end by a motorway, passing almost all possible types of terrain (but only one full stop) on the way go, it’s pretty good.

Lovely light. For the 1 hour the winter sun gets onto the trail.

The top half is pretty obvious. For the lower section, after a long traverse rightwards, look out for the second trail heading off to the right. Then just keep following the cleared trail, moved boulders, small benchcuts, occasional chainsawed fallen trees and tyre marks. Or search for “Cosmiques (fondu)” ‘cos the trail follows the melt of the line and is best finished with some IPA.  The more traffic the merrier. For now.

"Every sort of trail"? This'll be the bikepark style bit.

The Library of Babel was formed complete, but the Trails of Chamonix are still evolving. There’s more building happening that ever before, which means the mental index of trails needs constant updating too. More reason to keep riding, but mibbies there’s some skiing to do first.

Keep riding, keep looking, keep finding. (& keep failing...)

Confused by the title? Search the library.

  • Chamonix Bike Blog

    Mountain bike blog for Chamonix and the Western Alps

  • Latest instagram posts

    This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

    Error: No posts found.

    Make sure this account has posts available on instagram.com.