Crash and Burn

It’s hot in the Alps at the moment yesterday I succumbed to heatstroke and sat out the last downhill run back into our current village, Samoens. The previous two days had seen us based in Morzine and sampling the Singletrack trails on the surrounding mountains, including an excellent day riding out of Champrey, including it’s mind boggling UCI downhill course with an average gradient of 38% (aka the Hill of Death).

Today we ascended the valley to the chairlift up to Les Vagnys and from there tackled loose gravel and steepness to make the tough climb to the shoulder of the valley. The descent after lunch was fast and loose and after launching off a rocky drainage channel the landing turned out to be an unforgiving rock garden. There was no chance to scrub off the speed needed to straighten up.

Next thing I know there’s been some unscheduled tree hugging (in a bouncing off kind of way) followed by a good couple of seconds hurtling through the air before tucking into a ball for the impending crash landing. The commando roll degenerated into a desperate bid not to roll of the mountain all together.

Fortunately mother nature had conveniently placed a rather substantial tree in the way which provided an effective, but uncomfortable stopper. After a few seconds working out where I was in relation to the rest of the world, I was back on my feet. After ascertaining that all my limbs were a) attached and b) still working, I started looking for the bike.

Everyone else had by this time twigged that I’d had an off so there was quite a welcome party to ensure that I was okay. The bike was some 15m higher up, but still way off the trail and once I’d lugged it back up onto the trail it emerged that I’d twisted the bars and buckled the front floating disc rotor spider.

Straigtened up it kind of went through the calliper and it was a final tentative descent with a front brake that needed constant pumping to the bottom. Here we really had a chance to take in the massive cirque known locally as the “End of the World” with its stunning waterfalls and panoramic views. On the way back to the Chalet, Wally was unlucky to have an errant rock rip his rear mech off his bike and we ended up pushing him home.

For those with any energy left the final run of the day was true alpine Singletrack. Exposed drops, roll ins drop offs, jumps, rocks, roots and a ribbon of trail snaking its way through forests and meadows. It was a chance to prove the bottle for this riding was still there and enjoy a cool beer or two at the bottom. Chamonix tomorrow, it’s going to be ace!

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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