Well, what a trip this turned out to be. My best mate Paul is 50 this year and always said he’d love to do the tour again, so we decided to do it in his 50th year. Myself and 8 friends including my partner Kelly (who drove our bags around to each refuge and set up our rooms) left Chamonix en route to the Col du Forclaz where we were booked in to stay. We rode Le petit Balcon Nord to Le Tour and got the cable car up the Col du Balme. I love the descent down from Le Tour to Trient as it flows beautifully, but the climb up the 4×4 track to where we stayed was a killer in the heat.
Day 2 saw us begin the climb and hike up to Bovine. This took some time and the walkers we met thought we were mad to be going up with bikes, let alone riding down too. Well, what can I say about the descent? It had everything from shale steeps, tight switchbacks, some consequential lines too and we loved every bit of it. After lunch at Champex lac, we continued, following the route Phil had given us. Andy and Stophe (the owner of Contour Cycles ) had plotted on gps and maps. The ridge line and singletrack balcony were a highlight as we rode to La Fouly for a few welcome beers and sleep.
Day 3, The day began cool as we rolled out but by the time we began climbing the Col du Ferret, the temperature was rising and peaked at 41 degrees!! The climb was all done at our own paces and the heat was really beating us up, especially Paul and Lester. The descent was a picture postcard with an awesome backdrop. We choose our own lines down the multiple streams of singletrack and had an awesome pasta lunch at Le Tronchey in the valley below. The afternoon saw us climb up to the refuge Monte Bianco. That climb battered us all. Paul was suffering heat stroke and got in the van for the last 2 miles. When I arrived, I was rung out. I could barely talk but after a cold shower to cool down and some beers I was back to normal :). The storm that night I will always remember.
Day 4, We started early, Lester was too tired to start but joined us later after lunch and the rest of us set off to Col du Seigne. The climb was long, maybe 900m vertical but we took our time and even had time for a very friendly marmot to come say hello. We all loved the descent down. Fast , loose turns all the way down to Chapieux where we had lunch. The the small matter of the road climb up the Cormet du Roseland to the lake where we stayed and drank the place dry! The lady who runs it is a great host and the views from our rooms were breath taking.
The final day has always been my favourite. We climbed for ages. Ross, Llew and Nick were on it and flew up. Myself, Andy, Stophe and Paul made our way up taking time to check out the eagles that were soaring on the thermals and looked back at the lake we stayed in last night. The top of the Col de la Gitte was reached and we descended an awesome, rocky and loose trail to the Col du Joly where we met Kelly and Lester for the best omelettes ever! Phil, who used to guide the route for years for his company mbmb.com joined us for the final half day back into Chamonix as did Lester who was feeling better.
We rode down to Les Contamine and through the parc Thermal to St Gervais. We took the cog railway up to La Vorza where we completed our route back to Chamonix and some very very welcome beers!
We ended our trip where we began, in Chamonix and stayed at Le Vert hotel who do rocking food and awesome beers and wines.
Myself and Kelly spent the last day in Cham by going up the Aiguille du Midi to chill out and dream of our next adventure.