The Sunday was supposed to be the ‘hard’ day of riding however after Saturday’s epic we drastically reduced the distance, it still turned out to be a hard ride once we encountered the snow covered road on the ascent.
The original plan was to ride up to Fort St. Eynard via the road and back down via Bous du Mallard then back up over La Bastille and down La Vierge Noir, however this was changed before we even set out since we realised we would be too tired to enjoy it any more if we did all that. We simply climbed to the top of St. Eynard and spend a good long while eating at the top since the weather was so good again and then came back down via Bois du Mallard Corenc village and back along the river path into town.
We set off from my house with the mountain we were aiming for shrouded in cloud, thinking we may be denied our view over the city, however it soon burned off as the day got warmer. Steve had managed to get himself out of bed early enough this morning and met us in the town centre before we started climbing up the road.
We took the ascent pretty easy and just enjoyed the sun, we took the back roads up through La Tronche so we could chat and mess around, it is steeper than the main road but there are barely any cars so its more relaxed, apart form the last part coming up to Col de Vence there is a small off road section which is far to steep to be riding up, so a quick push and you are there. One of the nice things about the villages around here is that there are often little green taps that you can use to refill your bottle so once you know where they are you can plan how much water you need to take and where you can re fill on your rides, there is one at the top of the Col de Vence.
Once we got a big higher and near to the top of Fort St. Eynard the snow began. I thought with the amount of warm weather we have had, there would be none left, however there was more than ever on the North side of the hill, clearly the sun never reaches this part of the hill especially being shaded by the trees. This made it pretty tough going as there were only two channels cut through the (around 15-20cm) snow by the walkers which meant if you went off line you would get stuck very quickly. So the second half of the ascent took a while longer than expected, some 3hrs in the end I think.
When you reach the top there is this little alley and tunnel cut out of the rock to give access along the cliff tops, it is part of the fort from when all of the forts were built around Grenoble but makes for a cool little feature to ride though, it leads to the spot below with a fantastic view down over the city and valleys below, there must have been around 30 people there when we arrived.
Something I have wanted to do for a LONG time! Inspired by this video! Take my stove up to the top of a mountain and make myself a coffee with my little Bialetti coffee machine, finally we managed to do that today! We were however very unorganised, since I had not used the stove for a long time I was a little out of practice forgetting; the matches, a mug and water… Luckily one of the other people up top had matches, there was snow to use for water and we fashioned a mug from the bottle we had brought the milk in! We each got our coffee anyway and got our caffeine fix for the descent!
The top part of the descent is some rather steep steps, I have never managed to ride the very first set as they are far too steep (Steve has, but now he’s scared of them since he had an OTB on a set of easy stairs a few weeks back) but managed the 2nd set, even if I did have a bit of a ‘moment’! It then opens out into a couple of switchbacks of nice rocky technical (not too steep) trail, there was a few patches of snow still hanging about under the trees but nothing unridable. The rest of the descent is pretty simple but it is quite a steep bank away down to the side a wheel slips off the edge so it kind of holds you back on the speed front a little.
Steve in his ‘full pinner’ position
We took the Bois du Mallard descent which I have written about in previous posts, but I really like it… It twists and turns all the way down the ride and hillside built by some local riders, it feels very much like a trail centre trail near the bottom. The top part is actually rather exposed and if you make a mistake and head off the edge its a long way down unless you catch a tree as you tumble past, it can certainly be unnerving. We all made it down though… absolutely exhausted however!
A short blast back up the road to Corenc village and back down a track to city level ended the day with some RAD SKIDDERS being had on the slippery switchbacks. Once again the only wet part of the whole track was the last 20m which meant we had to go for another round of bike washing after the ride.