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