Backpacks in the bikepark // Pila

Pila Bkepark. Toby's wearing a backpack in this shot, but you canny tell, so it's ok.

Ninety six percent of the human body is made up of just four elements; carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen*. As best science can currently tell us, the only way to form these elements is inside a star. The nuclear alchemy at the centre of a distant supernova, eons ago, created these atoms and flung them out across space. In the void of the galaxy, their tiny gravitation forces slowly drew them to other elements. Greater objects exerted greater draws and eventually they were pulled on the fused ball of spacedust we know as earth. Over further millennia these same atoms formed the building blocks of increasingly complex organisms. Bacteria, virus, plants, fishes, mammals. Finally, in 2020, these bits of actual stardust, form us.

With such an improbably fantastic heritage inside us, what have we been inspired to achieve? Mixed bag really. After that amazing journey to arrive where we are you’d think it would be easy enough to accept science as it is, you wouldn’t have folk claiming the earth is flat, that people of slightly different skin colour deserve to die on a beach, 5g gives you coronavirus and vaccines aren’t tested, all because it sounds too complex, too improbable. But we do, blame the solar system.

Any of the atoms in this picture, in the screen you are looking at it on, could have existed since the birth of the universe. Just have a think about that for a minute. Or 13.7 billion years.

There’s been some good stuff too.

Like Italy.

Coffee, ice cream, stylish engineering and Pila bikepark. These four elements may not be as vital to life on earth as C, H, N and O, but they compliment them well.

Mmm. Ridges. Been riding a lot of ridges recently.

So Pila, yeah, it’s all that.

Unfortunately I only really get to ride the lower section due to summer work clashing with opening dates but with the selection of atoms know as SARS-CoV-2 limiting that, best make hay whilst the sun shines.

Which obviously it always does in Aosta.

Bikepark. Why would you hate on this?

The bikepark gets all the attention on the socials, and it is right good with some new to me trails and features since I last lapped the Chamole chairlift in 2018, but if you can handle the fashion faux pas of wearing a backpack in the bikepark then the stuff you explore to from the lifts but outside the tape is every bit as good…

Not the bikepark. Why would you hate on this?

Traverse from the top of the Chamole chairlift along a newly built blue flow trail and you’ll quickly arrive at the Couis 1 chair. Assuming it’s running (it closes Sunday 23rd this year) and you’ll then slowly arrive at the top.

Really slowly.

Took us 30 mins bottom to top, so it’s just as weel the views are good. They get even better at the summit as the Cogne valley unveils itself below and your eyes get drawn to the ridgeline stretching out towards Aosta town.

Said ridge.

You can ride that ridgeline, and if you like ridgelines you should. Then you too can take photos like these.

Look like your cup of tea?

You need to make choices though, turn off left to ride to Cogne (we didn’t), keep going all the way along the ridge to join walking trails 23 and 21 to the valley floor (again, we didn’t, you had to climb a bit, too hot for that game), or turn off right to rejoin the Desarpa trail that winds it’s way back to Pila for more coffee and more fun.

Pull up and look optimistically at the backside. It;s a still so no one will ever know if I made it.

After dingying a climb at 2600m altitude, we instead climbed from the top of the Chamole chair at 2300m. The air was a bit denser, or we were. Either / or.

It’s just a short climb to the Lago Chamole though, then another short climb onto the Testa Nera ridgeline. Definitely got a thing for ridgelines these days.

Chamole muddy funster. (now that is a niche joke)

Again we eschewed the classic choices for a bit of exploring. Where normally you’d turn right for long descending adventure or left for a quick and enjoyable return to the lifts, we went straight.

Then wandered about in circles a bit, turned around, went back to the junction, tried going straight 10 meters further to the left, and found what we were looking for.

A little overgrown, but still grand riding.

Unfortunately it seemed no one else had been looking for a while as the trail was a wee bit overgrown and unloved. A shame as the basic shape of it was classic Aostan gold but them’s the breaks.

And it really wasn’t too shabby where it wasn’t too shrubby.

Still a long way above the valley floor (trademark Alpineflowmtb Guiding) but heading down quick.

Assorted trails later we were at the valley floor, where it was too hot to hang about so headed straight back up again and stayed up high until the lifts closed and we figured we’d have to head for home.

Via ice cream obviously.

From Chamole to Gelato. It sounded better in my head.

Pila; we are stardust, we are golden.

There's a trail to the right, but it's better to join it a little further along the ridge.

All pictures of me taken by Toby, on his bloody phone! All pictures of Toby taken by me on a Sony RX100 which I’ve gone back to playing with the dials on and as a result most shots are out of focus, over/under exposed, too grainy/too blurred. it’s a learning process.

Ciao Pila, grazie mille.

*Of course, these elements don’t just create life, they can destroy it too. Take the next major threat to life you’re going to be hearing lots about: dihydrogen monoxide. A clear, tasteless acid which turns up in nuclear waste, acid rain, fossil fuel power plant fumes and even in human cancers. It can corrode metal and rock, and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of over 350,000 people a year, yet is found in most food stuffs and drinks. There’s several petitions desperately trying to raise awareness and get this poison banned, hopefully at least one will get some traction somewhere.