Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Climb it like you stole it

Me and Daryl popped up to the crag 5mins from our apartment for a quick looky lou before his transfer. Really can't wait to get up here, plenty of space for a BBQ down the bottom while we try and kill ourselves!!

10 Mins outside of Morzine is the Rochers De La Chaux in Bas Thex. We've not had a chnace to climb there yet with the summer lifts being open it's all been biking and walking so far so we headed up to reccy the crag for the inter season when the lifts are shut.

Guide to Rochers De La Chaux

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The 'Elephant's Nose' as it's know locally, the site of the Rochers De La Chaux

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Routes through the trees, difficult to see the bolts on these photos but all the routes are incredibly well protected with bolts every 3-4m. Our adventure weeks next summer will definately be including several days climbing here. There are over 90 routes, most of them grade 4-5 with multi-pitch routes and some via-feratta. This makes it well within any intermediate climber to have an excellent 3-4 days climbing on a wide variety of routes.

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All the routes are clearly marked and really well protected. It's hard to get over just how many different routes there are.

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Scoping out the start of the 90m multi pitch route

Ride it like you stole it

Daryls been out for a long weekend, it's been uber dry for a couple of weeks so the trails were super quick, anyway, picture worth a thousand words............

Trail Gremlin

Magic Trail Dust
Sunlight catching the dust dropping down under the Super Morzine

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A blur through the trees, possibly due to unbelievable bike speed but could also be slow shutter speed in the woods on the little point and shoot camera, I know which one Jamie thinks it is!

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Dictionary definition of single track, see this photo,

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There aren't all that many places in the world you can ride trails like this, Alpine riding at it's absolute best.

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Sliding through the steep stuff!

The good news is the Champery cable car is open to well into October and being a fair bit fitter after a summer of riding, getting to the top on pedal power alone should be doddle, or not!

This bit didn't make it into the MS post due to Daryls foul mouth!!

Daryl in action clearing the last hip on Panoramique


Monday, August 17, 2009

Bormes Excursions

Steffi and I recently went south to see her mum and dad, have a break and flop around getting burnt by the sun, lounge in bars, people watching on the beach and drinking cocktails in the pool. Hard life. I should point out that she is still out there whilst I languish here, cat meowing incessantly at me to let me know she hates me for putting her in prison, whilst visibly loosing my hard earned tan...

Whilst away, I did do some active things. I went on several rides on the sweet Marin Hawk Hill that resides sleepily in Jerry's garage. Its a light, 8 speed, xc orientated mid range 90s rad machine with Gilla RST forks producing an joint shattering 60mm of travel or thereabouts and is truely quick on the road!


Its quite hilly down on the Riviera and has some large, awesome areas of forest which I don't know how legal it is to ride in and are stuffed with goats, snakes and wild boar. Excellent! At certain times of the year they are also stuffed with frenchmen, with guns, shooting all this animal bounty. Beware!

I often sit on the beach at St Claire, cooking, and scan along the line of the hills behind the beach and think 'I want to go round them'. So I did.

However, I took a bit of a different slant and turned it into a kind of cyclo cross training event! Rode on the road from the house and along the coast, then climbed up a hundred meters or so on roads before picking up a very vertical trekking path. at this point the bike was shouldered or rolled out in front of me as I sweated my way up the next 35o meters!


St Claire beach lies below. Beautiful.

And sweat...


After about forty minutes of grunting, sweating and being scratched by vicious thorny bushes, whilst trying not to think about the fact that this was prime snake country, I summited. Then promptly discovered a cliff by arriving on top of it! I then did an off road traverse before picking up a corniche road back for a few miles and along to a descent route. The amazing views were only paralleled in exhilaration by the sheer terror of riding the very xc shaped frame of the Hawk Hill down this route, which was steep and gullied and I felt continuously like I was headed over the long stem, whilst the RSTs did very little to pretend that they were suspension forks. Any review of these forks, no matter how bad, will be too glowing in my opinion.

Strangely though, by the end of two weeks and several rides, I was loving that setup and was hanging it out on the downs, whilst it was an absolute Trojan on my 14km climb later in the week.

We also had a day diving! Excellent it was and I'll do a post on it later on, but here is a quite devastatingly bad photograph of me in a diving suit to keep your excitement at bay...

This does nothing for my figure. However, even Gav would look fat in one of these Beuchat rigs.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bontrager 24/12

Well, as I sit here, glass of wine in one hand, slightly crunchy from the sun and totally bloody relaxed for once, it’s easy to forget the screaming lungs, exhaustion and sheer fun of a week ago.

What is it in modern life that just makes you knackered all the time? For me, its been six weeks of twelve hour days and full on weekends where you just try and ram in the good stuff and wake up on Monday morning worse than on Friday night. Vicious circle. On top of that, my sister was married during the week, which was excellent and amazing fun, but additionally knackering. Anyway, enough of that.

12 hours after dancing like a fool and shouting ARCH! whilst totally murdering kaigleigh classics, having somehow managed to wangle out off a weekend of babysitting (sorry girls!), Anthony and I were speeding off down to Plymouth for the Bontrager 24/12, my first ever mtb race, with only one person that I knew, totally excited and bricking it… - By the way, you’ll have to put up with a long waffling post, as my mother in law is watching eastenders and I have nothing better to do.

The smile of an idiot who has no idea of what is to come...

Arriving to find that the two old experienced dogs of this motley crew had organised the best bloomin pitch ever, we set up Anthony’s oversized MAN tent next to our non race branded gayzzeeeebo and Nicks super sweet split screen camper and set about talking shop. Timings, strategy, tyre choice (big discussion, that one – I’d brought one pair and they were black), weather and the whos who of whats hot and whats not. Mostly I was bowled over by the size of the event and was reliably informed that it was a lot bigger and better than the previous year. Sound system going, food, clothing and parts tents and a real buzz and with a course improvement on the last event, all that could ruin it would be rain.


James fettles in camp.

Steve power napping.

We were entered as two teams into the ‘Just for Fun’ event where six riders pass a baton and do as many laps as pos in 24 hours. Other categories were the open (I think) which were 5 strong (more laps per person, obviously), so harder, and then those nutters that fall into the serious categories of dual 12/24 hours and then solo 12 and the psychos in solo 24. Ahem.

The rest of the lads arrived the next morning, and I’d already been given the heads up on some of them. The whole of the two teams were strong and enthusiastic trail riders, with some extra special times expected from a few, one of which was billed as Dan the Machine, he’s an ex-marine. He did not disappoint and apparently he and Ash know Oli Beckinsale, so nuff said. I was feeling like a porky freeride light-er, with no climbing prowess to my name, but hopeful that the Remedy would get me out of the poo.

After the non-event of the briefing, we all fettled a bit and the first riders made ready for the elbows out start. It was great seeing Keith Bontrager start the gig with a shotgun. Classic. So we were off and I was already getting the nerves and I had over two hours to wait! The course was 13km, not overly technical with single track and quite climby. Really good times would come in in the thirties, whilst competitive rides would be mid forty mins to 55 mins or there abouts.


Elbows out!


Ash on the hone run.

Steve in the zone.

All too soon, I found myself in the pen waiting for Ian to arrive and hand me the baton – which we’d forgotten to take on the first two rounds so I had it in my pocket already! Then I was off, and adrenaline pumping, got my first run of the course (I should really have ridden it to sus it, but what the heck, I like to think I can ride anything on-spec). The first climb was open and long and as always, a rude awakening, followed by sucky mud single track (the kind that makes you think you’ve punctured) whilst still being pretty dry. There was then a good mix of climbing and one section of lovely fast single track with a slight downhill gradient, but a lot of the down was on fire-road type open trail. Boo. Then another big climb sponsored by Cliff Bar (I now hate them, having never tried their product), a river splash (or bridge) and trail before a slight climb and then down on grass and through the encamped riders, for cheers and abuse.

Everyone’s first runs were good, with promises of getting quicker next time. Everyone except Dan who had a blow out (putting him onto his single speed for the next runs!) and Paul on my team who went in with gusto and was cut up after clearly indicating that he was passing on one of the down hills. One 25mph crash later and the St Johns guys were so excited to have a real victim that he was neck braced and stretchered before you could say Kili Flyer. This had a knock on effect for our team and we were lucky that he was spotted by one of the other chaps from our two teams. He had the dubious pleasure of getting taken to Hospital and looked nicely cut up in the back of the ambulance. Luckily nothing too major except a broken collar bone.

Dan's single speed Trek.

Engineers are soooo organised...


Nick looses valuable tenths, showboating...

The rounds continued with people putting in quicker times and soon night was upon us. We’d all been comparing lights and I had borrowed Daryl’s Hope and Joystick combo which was awesome. I think that would have been my quickest lap, but both my contacts came out and my shoelace wrapped itself round my pedal, forcing three annoying stops. Dan put in some awesome times on his single speed (38 mins anyone?) and people were stating to look tired! Its great, thinking you’ll have four hours off but in reality that means pasta, loo, try and sleep and then before you know it putting wet gear back on and tinkering before taking your place in the pen. The fact that an Ausiie girl was shouting ‘PUSH IT WITH THE LEGS!’ continuously for 6 hours meant that sleep was fitfull…


Knackered Dan.

Mat on it!

I didn’t get any night photos cos I was knackered. Rubbish. The dawn shift came and we were all doing ok with some great consistent times from both teams. I went out and had a full on full speed impact with a rock on the fast swoopy section with the log jump option. This completely took out my left pedal and trying to continue I took the thread clean off both and had to cut short as my pedal kept falling out! I was ten mins early back to Ash’s surprise, but the rest of the guys did a sterling job with Steve and Dan being absolute heroes and doing extra laps.

It started to rain as things wound up and we were stoked that Anthony’s team had com in 5th and ours 9th. Awesome! Everyone looked shattered and people slowly wound on home. An excellent weekend and I can’t wait to get back with the IBFC crew!

James enjoying the single speed, seemingly oblivious that he's in a race!

Anthony coming in.