_35 Fontanil-Cornillon To Les Bannettes

12/04/14

Route map here

I must begin with, this is definitely one of the best rides I have ever done in my life. I love getting up high in the mountains and into the real alpine ‘epic’ feeling terrain with huge ascents and huge, long descents and this is exactly what we achieved today, we set off from 200m above sea level and managed to get all the way up to 1600m before the snow began to get in the way, meaning an incredibly long descent and some amazing views from up high. The plan was to do the ride me and Steve had done a few weeks back that can be found here _19 Monastere de Chalais et Mont St. Martin however instead of riding up to the monastery we would take a track that went way higher up the mountain since the snow had melted quite a bit and we had the car to get us to the bottom instead of having to ride the 20km from my house.

In the car park in Fontanil-Cornillon
In the car park in Fontanil-Cornillon

 

Wobbling up the hill
Me wobbling up the hill

We left the car at the bottom and took the road that wound its way up the mountain from Fontanil-Cornilon at around 200m all the way up to Mont St-Martin which was at around 800m, after that there was a short sharp tarmac road up the side of what used to be a mill and then we were onto the forest road and trails for the rest of the ascent.

From this point onwards we would be riding back down the trail that we were riding up and the further we got up there more excited we got as the trail just got rougher, twistier, thinner and more exciting!

Daffodils are only just coming out up the hill, already dieing off in the city
Daffodils are only just coming out up the hill, already dieing off in the city

As we got higher the tress thinned out a bit and the trail got a bit thinner and less like a forest road, we got started to get some pretty good views back towards Grenoble whilst the trail turned into more of a singletrack through the trees which looked twisty and exciting.

Steep and rocky, just how I like it
Steep and rocky, just how I like it

Another 100m higher and the trail changed again, this time into something much wider and rockier, it started to look like it had been partly built up like a road sometime in the past but it’s age had eroded it and made it into a really wide technical rocky trail with heaps of line choices and plenty of sharp rocks hiding under the leaves.

View from the bottom up, view from the top down. Verrry long rock garden!
View from the bottom up, view from the top down. Verrry long rock garden!

A little higher up the trail and the rocks continued, I mean what more can you ask for? I just love this kind of trail, rocks everywahhhhh and a trail that really makes you pick your way down. By this point we were getting pretty tired of walking up and rather hungry, we decided we would try get to the tree line for a good view for lunch before heading back down.

Lunch spot, you can't get much better than this. The view was incredible
Lunch spot, you can’t get much better than this. The view was incredible

Our lunch spot! Can you ask for a better view, the height we were at, the view back across to the city and the knowledge of what was to come on the way back down really made this feel like an epic spot to have lunch. We were pretty nackered and lay down in the grass and ate every bit of food we had, unfortunately we didn’t bring enough water and were desperate for a drink, the patches of snow left over offering the only available water up here, even the two tins of beer I had brought up looked inviting but we both knew that would just makes things worse…

Nackered though
Nackered though
Views for miles and miles
Views for miles and miles
Towards Lyon and the Ardeche
Towards Lyon and the Ardeche, it is a bit flat in that direction
Ominous skies to the South
Ominous skies to the South
The very highest point we went to at around 1700m before we headed back down
The very highest point we went to at around 1700m before we headed back down

The views really were stunning, a little hazy but we were almost at the edge of the alps before it started getting flat again, so whilst we could see right across the plain that Grenoble sat on, we could also see a long long way West towards Lyon.

Heading back down the rocks
Heading back down the rocks

A little sequence of Jonny speeding down through leafy (with many hidden rocks beneath) trail up top.

It got very very steep right after this
It got very very steep right after this

 

Well it was a cliff really
Well it was a cliff really

We took a bit of a cut through from the trail we had done so far onto the trail that I had done previously with Steve, on the map it looked like just a little cut through of half a KM or so, when we got there we realised it was not so simple, it was very steep. Definitely not rideable and more of a hike-a-bike… but down, with a super steep path and ropes to hold on to as your walked down, a little via ferrata type riding!

Safely scrambled down that and we risked hopping back on the bikes despite the scary exposure away to the left
Safely scrambled down that and we risked hopping back on the bikes despite the scary exposure away to the left
Little flat section before the epic 2nd half of the descent
Little flat section before the epic 2nd half of the descent

Of course I knew it was worth it for the trail that it would bring us out onto! The type of trails I have always imagined in magazines and seen on websites like pinkbike of amazing rides out in europe, except it wasn’t dreamy type stuff, this is just in my back yard, my local trails. That is an awesome feeling!

Quick stop for a look at the view on the top of cliffs
Quick stop for a look at the view on the top of cliffs
Dreamy singletrack
Dreamy singletrack
Last blast through the woods before the bottom, very fast and leafy through the trees
Last blast through the woods before the bottom, very fast and leafy through the trees

The last section of the trail was quite fast but tame, down through tunnels of trees and bushes, with the sun starting to go down, we didn’t mind that it was easy though, the break was welcomed after the length and roughness of the rest of the trails we had road earlier.

As I said at the beginning this was certainly one of the best rides I have done in my life, it had everything; riding with one of my best mates, incredible views, good weather, a total mixture of trails, rocky and technical trails which are my favourite and just an awesome day out! I will be back to do it again without a doubt!

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