20 degrees on the 8th of March in the Alps? Are you having a laugh? Crazy, but I am not complaining, it is like summer here at the moment!
We decided to go and ride a trail that I had ridden at the very start of the year which had a pretty fast rocky open top section and a very technical steep bottom section. It means a ride right across town before you even hit the road up the hill but it meant we got to explore some new parts of the city we had not seen before, turns out Echirolles is actually quite nice and we finally say where the end of the tram line A was (it always says on the front of the tram but I never had any idea where that was!). The ride across town meant that this ride turned into a good 45km even though we set out at around 2:30, days are getting longer so we were still back home before it got dark.
We rode all the way to the very southern end of the city, over the old bridge at Pont-de-Claix over the river Drac and up the road to Claix (which is a very stereotypical french village in my opinion). A quick stop off at the Carrefour in the town for a badly timed poop and as we had done the usual and forgotten food! We bought a baguette and a pack of biscuits, perfect energy food?
The road to the top was a perfect ascent as it was a nice gradient, there were barely any cars and it was all in the sun, oh and it criss-crossed the trail that we were coming back down so we were able to get a look at what we were to expect.
I think the snow started at about 700m and we were heading all the way up to 1000m but luckily the road and the trail had had enough sun to melt virtually all the snow so we stayed pretty dry! At the top there was a house with a man who must have been obsessed with wood, he had stockpiles of wood everywhere and he was also out chopping even more as we went passed him!
A munch on half of the biscuits and some bread (lovely and dry) and we set off down the trail.
The first part of the descent is pretty fast with lots of big rocks to keep an eye out for but also some that you can use as a kicker and get a good jump off here and there. The trail sits down in a little gully which is they type of thing I love, I am not sure why but the trail just feel much cool or has more character when it sits down in a bit of a lull in the landscape like in the photo above.
We hit this part pretty fast with only one hairy moment from me with my front wheel catching on a very long and slippy stick resulting in a bit of acrobatics on the bike to avoid hitting the following rather larger rock… and the next one after that!
The part of the trail in the photo here is really wide and open however the section before this is exactly the opposite, it is very cool and both because it is a really nice section of trail to ride and it is really scenic running along side the river. It first winds its way down a steeper section on a mini sort of ridge thing and then crosses the river, once on the other side it runs right next to the river and twists in and out of the big rocks left over from the river erosion.
The last section of the trail is the best, I really enjoy a trail when it is a challenge just to get down it (well at least at the first go), with some steep, technical sections that you have to go at snail speed and use a good bit of balance and control to get yourself down (as demonstrated in the sequence above by Steve). This bottom section has a lot of sections like that and is quite easy to get out of control, it is also a fairly worn trail and is quite wide meaning there are a lot fo line options! Perfect, reminds me of the Lake District
Rode through some dog poop after this descent, was highly unimpressed.
Since there was still a good amount of sun left and the last part of the descent was on the road we decided to keep our height on the road and do a little bit more climbing and hit one more little descent. Le Rochers de Comboire is kind of an outcrop of mountain that sits between Le Vercors and Grenoble/Le Drac but is only about 250m higher than the city. We took a rather direct route up to the top and walked up with the plan to ride along the ride and down the other side but we decided the track we had walked up was too good to not ride back down!
A razz down that and a casual back along the river to the city and we had suddenly racked up 45km, safe to say we ate a lot of food when we got back!