OK, I guess all good things must come to an end, and it’s certainly been a busy and full couple of weeks! As I sit here looking out at the rain pouring down outside the chalet, I can’t believe how lucky we have been up until now!
With a few more trails in the Samoens valley still waiting to be explored, we decided we would do a ‘self-driven’ descents day, once Deborah agreed to drive the van! So first stop was the Col du Joux Plane at 1800m. From here we cruised out along the plateau above Les Gets, before gradually dropping height along a few fun and fast fire-tracks. In the end it took 17km before we dropped out at Morillon lake at 700m, just in time for lunch.
After lunch we stepped up a notch on the pace, and headed up to Samoens 1600 for a quick steep decent through stunning farmland and forests- this time the 900m descent was over in 6km!
Finally we headed back up to the Col to head back up to La Bourgeoise, and a tricky rooty descent all the way back to Samoens.
A shorter day today, but still plenty of fun. When all the riding was over John, Geoff and I headed off to try out the high-ropes course that David, Anna and Michele had had a crack at on Saturday. This proved to be excellent fun, with high-wire obstacles and two very long zip-lines across the lake.
It got even more interesting half-way around when the rain became torrential and it started with the thunder and lightening! Being 20m in the air in a tree and attached to metal cable was possibly not the safest place to be! Gotta love the French!
So, today was the day set aside for our real high-alpine adventure. The weather report looked OK, so we thought we would give it a go. The first part of the adventure involved a 45 minute drive around to Passy, and then it got interesting! Next there was 5km of off-road track to navigate in the minibus with the trailer attached. I think we scared a few people! But luckily we finally made it to Chalets D’Ayeres with all passengers, bus, trailer and bikes in one piece!
The weather at this point was still a little questionable, with low cloud, and high cloud, and the occasional bit of blue sky. We also saw the occasional glimpse of Mont Blanc.
Then it started getting steep! The first 4km were all uphill, with the last 1km climbing 300m and involved a very steep singletrack, for which there was no option but to get off the bike and push!
The beauty of this though was that we gained height quickly, and also we got to see a family of Ibex hanging out on a cliff above us- we would have missed them if we had been riding, and they were quite amazing to watch jumping around on the cliff-edge.
But boy, was it worth it once we got to the summit! We were by then up at 2300m in altitude, and our chalet was in the valley below at 700m- and there was just 23km of downhill between us and home!!
After a quick lunch and putting a few layers on, it was time to start the descent. The first 2km were over open land with some awesome tricky rocky sections as we dropped down to Lac d’Anterne. It was a case of picking your line, and holding on!
Some sections were so tricky only a few made it on their bikes……
But then we made it to Lac D’Anterne, which was a totally stunning sight, even more interesting shrouded in the clouds.
We then crusied along some more stunning high alpine pastures, with some amazing views. We also came across a flock of sleep being protected by some very well trained sheepdogs…..who came over to make sure we stayed away from their flock! They looked more scary when they were barking!
Then started the main descent of the day- 1000m in one 8kmhit down some stunning singletrack with amazing views that snaked down below steep cliffs to the valley below.
And to add to the fun, we then bumped into a local farmer driving his cows from the high pastures down to lower ground. We had to wait for a good spot to get past his herd, but he was most friendly.
Then, after a further 6km we dropped out to a river, and the small Refuge Des Fonts, which was still at 1370m, but where the group were delighted to find we could get a coffee, hot chocolate or crepe!
It was then supposed to be a simple ride down a firetrack for the next 4km, except that since my last visit a huge storm had caused the road to the hamlet to be washed away, and in it’s place was a very flimsy ropebridge- it turned out it was easier to ride accorss it than push your bike, as the bridge was so narrow!
It certainly added to the fun of the final ride home……
Once we were all safely across it was a quick ride down to the turn-off to the Cascade Du Rouget. This was the last challenge of the day, as the next 200m were covered in wet roots that were particularly treacherous. But we all made it, and popped out at the Waterfall. Then it was a simple few kilometers down the valley back to the chalet.
So, in total it was a 27km ride. Not much of an epic on paper- but it involved 4km of climbing up 600m, and then 23km of descending over 1700m of altitude on some of the sweetest singletrack you have ever seen. It was an absolute epic and probably the highlight of the trip…..
And then it was the last day of riding….. and guess what- it was chucking down with rain when we woke up! A few of the guys were wanting to have an easy day anyway to pack their bikes away to travel, so most people decided to have an easy day. In the end it was only John who was keen to go out for a spin, so we waited until there was a break in the rain, and we headed back up the valley to repeat our first ride up to the “End of the World”.
It was nice and cool and with all the rain the waterfalls were going crazy. We got to the end of the valley, and remembered that previously the bridge had been washed away, so found a spot lower down on the river to wade across.
It was only when we resumed heading up the valley that we turned the next corner to find a new bridge had just been finished and built since we rode here 12 days earlier!!! TYPICAL!
It was a great blast back to town though, and the feet dried quickly 😉
So, that brought to an end our two weeks of riding in the Alps. It’s been a fantastic trip, and we will be looking forward to returning next year. We hope everyone enjoyed the trip as much as we did.
More photos can be found here!
See you next year!!!
Ian & Deborah.