_28 Birthday Ride, Vercors With Umberto

28/03/14

Route map here

Today was my birthday and a few days before I realised I would be finished uni at 10:30 am and had until 6:30pm until I had to go meet some people to go away for the weekend. Therefore a ride out on the bikes was definitely called for! Obligatory chilled out birthday ride with a few mates, I wasn’t really fussed about where we went, how good the trail was or anything, just as long as I got to ride my bike for a couple of hours with a few of my friends.

In the end me and Umberto (a friend from Italy) went for a ride up to St. Nizier de Moucherotte, stopped at the top for a well deserved coffee and then a blast down a rather long downhill back into the city all under a rather hot sun! Perfect.

Cafe dog which I realise is starting to become the norm with the more cafes I visit around here
Cafe dog which I realise is starting to become the norm with the more cafes I visit around here

For a change I took more photos on the downhill than on the uphill! So there are no photos of us riding up the hill, however we managed to take a nice shallow gradient offroad route all the way from the city up to the top (which some local guys had shown me a couple of weeks back), therefore managing to avoid using the busy road that winds its way all up the hillside to the top. We took a pretty chilled out pace up instead of racing to the top however still arrived rather hungry as we had set out around lunch time and not taken any food (as per usual), so we decided to stop at Les Trois Pucelles cafe which sits on the inside of the last hairpin on the road to the top.

Not sure I would go back as it was far to posh for a couple of sweaty, muddy bikers. They did have a beast of a dog however, a little bit intimidating but a big friendly softie really.

Enjoying our coffee at the top in the sunshine!
Enjoying our coffee at the top in the sunshine! Despite Umberto looking like a bit of a mas man here.

Coffee done and macaroon eaten we pedalled up the last 200m to the beginning of the descent which sits in an old car park underneath the old ski jump that was built for the 1968 winter olympics in Grenoble. BUT OF COURSE there was a man plying his accordion next to his van in the middle of nowhere on his own, what else would you expect when you get to the top of your mountain bike trail? We faffed about for 5 minutes and shuffled the seats down into downhill position and listened to accordion man before heading off down the trails…

BUT OF COURSE! There was a man sitting outside his van playing his accordian in the middle of nowhere at the top of the mountain... I mean, what else is he going to do?
BUT OF COURSE! There was a man sitting outside his van playing his accordian in the middle of nowhere at the top of the mountain… I mean, what else is he going to do?
DOWNHILL TIME!
DOWNHILL TIME!

We were super stoked to be pumped as a friend of mine would say, before setting off since we knew we had around a 30minute descent back into the city. Awesome.

Quick look down the first section of the descent... ohhhh looks sexy
Quick look down the first section of the descent… ohhhh looks sexy
Serious face, concentration face
Serious face, concentration face
Flying out of the gravel shute before the sharp little uphill
Flying out of the gravel shute before the sharp little uphill

2014-03-28 15.57.20

 

The first section of this trail is really open and fast, something along the lines of a well eroded fire road, you can get some speed going and really let it fly and get a bit loose! Watch out for the big rocks littering the trails however = one nicely dented rim if you are not careful. The track then goes down into what feels like a bit more of a specifically made bike trail, with a few jumps and berms here and there and some rather technical sections which if you dont already know a line through can look pretty scary.

 

Pretty technical bit we had a good look at before heading down
Pretty technical bit we had a good look at before heading down

Despite Umberto continually claiming he is just a beginner and not very good at riding he hit all of the steep and difficult sections and was never very far behind me, got some balls anyway! We stopped at this bit to have a look at a few lines and see what was the best way to get through smoothly.

Since it was my birthday I allowed Umberto to take one photo of me at least
Since it was my birthday I allowed Umberto to take one photo of me at least
Looking down the second half of the trail back down into Grenoble
Looking down the second half of the trail back down into Grenoble

Only half way down at this point. After a little traverse of 1km across the hill to arrive at this point, the trail really changes and heads into the woods, becoming a bit more twisty and tight between the trees making you work the bike a little bit more dodging trees and big rocks.

Looking back up the mountain as the sun falls behind it giving some pretty nice light over the trees and the hills we had just come down
Looking back up the mountain as the sun falls behind it giving some pretty nice light over the trees and the hills we had just come down
One of the last corners on the trail, you can absolutely rail this and let it ping you back out onto the trail as your bike uncompresses from the turn, great feeling
One of the last corners on the trail, you can absolutely rail this and let it ping you back out onto the trail as your bike uncompresses from the turn, great feeling

We flew down this section since we had both done it once or twice before, Umberto managed to tommahawk a tree at some point which I unfortunately missed seeing, but I was assured it was pretty funny! Halfway down this section we came across a bunch of guys building a few pretty nice looking gap jumps (a good 10-12ft in length) so next time I think they will have to be tested!

The trail was pretty much perfect, dry as a bone, fast, with the sun flickering brightly as we rushed through the trees, feels like summer! All in all a pretty awesome ride out on the bikes, could not ask for much more for a birthday ride!

OH! Keeping up with the latest mountain biking trends I received a 32t narrow/wide chainring for my birthday from my family so I had stuck that on to test, I must say it worked a treat! Not even a hint of the chain falling off even on the 1000 set stair case I rattled down on my way home… and now that I have a 32t (instead of the huge 36t I had before) I might be able to climb up a few steeper climbs instead of pushing so often! Highly recommend one.

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4 thoughts on “_28 Birthday Ride, Vercors With Umberto

  1. Found your blog through the Singletrack Forum and ended up reading all your posts, really enjoyed your ride reports keep it up! Hope you don’t mind but I’ve followed you on Strava. I fancy updating my own blog more now after seeing how you run yours. Rob

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  2. Thanks man, glad you enjoyed it, I tend to find I just ramble on about what we did rather than try be descriptive or imaginative (let the photos do that) and end up just writing a bit of ‘we did this, then that, then went down there, and up here and it was fun’ haha, as long as you get the idea I like bikes then im happy.

    No worries, with the Strava thing and good luck with your own, I find the main thing is it just makes me take more photos more than anything which is nice as you have more to look back on where you have been!

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    1. Yeah the photos add to it and theres nothing wrong with a bit of rambling on! Cheers I’m going to update a few things from last year now and start posting again. Yeah its a great way to document stuff like you do with yours. I presume you can speak pretty good French as you’re living out there?
      I’m meant to be coming over to the alps this summer for 3 weeks, staying mainly in Chamonix but also hoping to visit some of the surrounding areas and fingers crossed Zermatt. Should make for some interesting blog posts hopefully!

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  3. I am getting there with the French, did it for A-level at school and just kept it up from there, all my uni classes are in french and make an effort to speak it. Still plenty I don’t understand mind you!

    Very nice, when are you planning that? I will be moving back over to London for the summer to work then off to Norway for a year of Erasmus in August!

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