I’ve just put together the provisional itinerary for this summers roadtrip…
Tuesday 4th July
Leave Norfolk about 8.30pm and drive down to Folkestone
Total distance: 161.9 miles (260.5 km )
Total estimated time: 3 hours and 50 min
Wednesday 5th July
EuroTunnel Outwards Journey
Early doors rag it across France to Switzerland. Hopefully crash at Suzi’s place in Luzern in central Switzerland. If we get there early we can chill by the lake 🙂
Total distance: 507.6 miles (816.9 km )
Total estimated time: 8 hours and 41 min
Thursday 6th July
Riding opportunity in the morning. I have routes 🙂
In the afternoon pack up and head over to Grenoble to see MacPuppy.
Total distance: 253.1 miles (407.3 km )
Total estimated time: 4 hours and 18 min
Friday 7th July
Riding opportunity in the morning courtesy of MacPuppy with luck.
In the afternoon head off for Argentiere. Settle in and check bikes over. Meet guides and briefing for the trip.
Total distance: 91.8 miles (147.7 km )
Total estimated time: 2 hours and 1 min
Saturday 8th July
Ride to Le Tour and take the gondola up part way to the Col de Balme with stunning views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix valley. A fantastic but technical descent in places to Trient and an off-road climb on a grassy track up to Col de Forclaz. A tough road climb gets us to our over night stop of Champex – a beautiful Swiss lake side resort. 35km approx. 2,000m descent. 1,350m ascent. 5 hours.
Sunday 9th July
A fantastic, fast sweeping descent from Champex to Sembrancher on paths and tracks. A gradual off road climb through woodland followed by some technical singletrack descent and a short road section bring us to the gondola ride up to Verbier. Then it’s play time for the rest of the day as we sample some of the best singletrack descents in the area. At the end of the afternoon we take the last cable car up to 2,222m before climbing the remaining 300m on double track to our stunning over night stop at Cabane du Mont Fort. The sunsets here will take your breath away, as will the panoramic views from the Petit Combin to Mont Blanc to the Dents du Midi. 45km approx. 3,060m descent. 1,250m ascent (cable car assisted). 6 hours.
Monday 10th July
The elite pro racers do the next two days in one as we follow the Grand Raid Cristal Alp course, but its still tough for us as we climb around 3,500m today and tomorrow. In fact today is arguably the toughest day of the trip, certainly the longest in distance. From Cabane du Mont Fort we descend back to 2,222m on single and double track before traversing to the top of the Croix de Coeur at 2174m followed by a fabulous descent on rocky, rooty and swooping singletrack. We will do three climbs today, mostly on forest track with some road and some singletrack. We may get a helping hand on the second climb with a chair lift, depending on the time of year. Either way, we are rewarded by a switch back descent through pine forests on rarely ridden, technical singletrack. If we take the chair lift then the last climb before our overnight stop at Evolene will be the toughest, with 600m on road and dirt track up through forest and alpine pasture before an exciting traverse on technical singletrack with beautiful views to our left, followed by a fast descent into the town. If the chair lift is out of action then we will skirt round this final spur and take the lower road climb up the valley to our overnight stop. Evolene is a picturesque rural Valais town which has retained all of its traditional alpine charm. 75km approx. 2,400m descent. 1,750m ascent. 9.5 hours.
Tuesday 11th July
The big one today and we start early to get the coolest temperature as we tackle the Col and Basset de Lona at 2787m and 2792m respectively – the highest points we shall reach on this trip. The route up is mostly rideable on double dirt track and then singletrack but the final section will involve some pushing or carrying. There is actually a double pass here with the Col coming before the Basset. The descent from the Col is smooth and flowing and the climb up to the Basset is all rideable. Spectacular views from the top all the way back to Mont Blanc and the Grand Combin we left a few days ago. It gives a great sense of achievement seeing how far we have come. The descent is fast and again spectacular as we approach the lovely turquoise water of Lac de Moiry. We continue our seemingly endless descent towards Grimentz on varied, fun singletrack where we break for coffee and cake and a rest for the brake pads. A lovely forested singletrack descent to our overnight stop outside of Grimentz. 45km approx. 1,950m descent. 1,750m ascent. 9 hours.
Wednesday 12th July
Today is a well-earned half rest day. We have the option of a road or off-road climb followed by a funicular train ride up to Tignousa where we can spend the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the views or visiting the spectacular Hotel Weisshorn which has a wonderful location perched high above the valley. For the brave at heart there is the option of riding the Swiss National downhill cup course which twists and jumps it’s way down under the funicular (500m descent). From Tignousa we will receive our first and only veiws of the Matterhorn before we reach the Zermatt valley. 15km approx. 200m descent. 500m ascent. 3 hours.
Thursday 13th July
Another big pass today over the Illhorn at 2,552m. Depending on the time of year we may be able to take a chair lift assisted route, otherwise it’s a climb on dirt track before a short push on singletrack and a narrow traverse to the Col itself. It’s another double pass day with a technical descent followed by a 20 minute push to our highest point of the day. From here follows an awesome, uninterupted 1,300m descent split into three distinct sections; the first is fast, high alpine with big views, the second and hardest section forms the start of our descent into the trees with boulder-strewn switchbacks, the final section in the woods is the best by far with corner after corner taking us down steeply through the trees – 58 switchbacks at the last count! Taken as a whole the descent will test some riders to their limits but the first and last sections should be almost 100% rideable for every one. You will have to go a long way to find a better descent than this! After a short road climb there follows yet more descent, on fast and flowing singletrack through woodland. More great riding brings us back to the the very edge of the Rhone valley and our overnight stop at one of the best hotels en route. 35km approx. 2,270m descent. 1,200m ascent. 8 hours.
Friday 14th July
Today we say goodbye to the Rhone valley as we turn the corner into the Zermatt valley, ever closer to our final destination. It’s a fantastic day which contrasts nicely with yesterday’s high alpine experience. We follow varied singletrack trails with a series of short sharp climbs and descents on soft pine needles, through beautiful alpine villages which cling to the valley side and more of those never ending switch back descents! The day ends with the “technical singletrack challenge” – a testing climb on a rooty trail which brings us out near our home for two nights – the comfortable and friendly Hotel La Reserve in St Niklaus. The hotel is run by a member of one of the oldest mountaineering families in the area, the Pollingers. The modern day Pollingers also make an excellent pizza! 33km approx. 1,120m descent.1,050m ascent. 6 hours.
Saturday 15th July
A fitting end to our trip we head up the valley on cycle trails by the river and marvel at the height of the mountains surrounding us – the Weisshorn, the Briethorn, the Dom and of course the Matterhorn. Once in Zermatt we take the Sunnegga Express funicular train up to a high view point for breathtaking, stunning views of the Matterhorn. The perfect spot for lunch and a celebratory photoshoot. From Sunnegga there is a choice of descents back to Zermatt town. You can take the leisurely winding doubletrack descent with glimpses of the Matterhorn through the trees or alternatively climb up a bit further from the lunch stop on singletrack before a spectacular traverse trail leads you to a hard technical descent into Zermatt. There is time now for shopping and sight seeing in the town centre. As if the day couldn’t get any better, the jewel in the crown is an excellent singletrack route back to St Niklaus which gives a magical end to this classic route. 52km approx. 1,500m descent. 700m ascent. 7.5 hours.
Sunday 16th July
Departure day from St Niklaus. Hopefully Hitch a lift back to the car in Chamonix and then drive over into Italy and head for Lake Como. Crash at Chris’ Kitesurf place down by the lake.
Total distance: 165.5 miles (266.3 km )
Total estimated time: 2 hours and 54 min
Monday 17th July
Relaxing day by the lake and hopefully a bit of kite-surfing and then think about the drive home…
Total distance: 632.3 miles (1017.5 km )
Total estimated time: 10 hours and 46 min
Tuesday 18th July
Arrive back in Norfolk.
Total distance: 161.9 miles (260.5 km )
Total estimated time: 3 hours and 50 min
Reality Check. It’s going to be epic.