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Discussion Starter #1
Ripzalot and I managed to miss each other again this weekend. This is not altogether surprising though, when Ripzalot's plans involve mud, blood and endos whilst Mrs SwissBuster and I had planned on a quiet weekend of biking in Champery at my folks place. After a late night at the Dido concert on Friday night (part of the Montreux Jazz Festival), we had planned a lazy Saturday, but a web-browse revealed that the Swiss MTB championship were being held all weekend, with the downhill, XCross and trials on Saturday.

A quick change into bike gear and a ride on the Planachaux gondola later, we arrived at the mid-way point in the downhill run to watch the last few riders trying to kill themselves. None succeeded, and when the waiting ambulance drove off, we surmised that the fun was over. I didn't even get a chance to get the camera out. We cruised into Crosets where the MTB festival was based, hoping to see the XCross. Due to afternoon thunderstorms, they had advanced the program which meant all we saw were the trials riders. After cruising all the gear stands, we rode back home to the sounds of the Swiss National Anthem playing during the prize giving. As lazy days go this was pretty uneventful, but not entirely without purpose: Petra washed out on about the first corner, drawing blood on an elbow and knee and so she can claim to have properly baptised her new full suspension ride.

After home cooking on Saturday night, my folks dragged us out to watch a free concert by a 250-piece band of US high-school kids. On the way back, my old man 'inadvertently' mentioned that one of the restaurants in town has a collection of 150 single malts, so we felt obliged to drop in to show our support for such a fine business model. The net result of this was that we got up far later than planned on Sunday which, with thunderstorm predicted for the afternoon, meant that our original goal of climbing to the Col du Cou would be a stretch. We set off after a light lunch in the direction of Barme, the mid-way point to the Col.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The photo-reportage bit...

A picture speaks a thousand words, and as prose is difficult at rarified altitudes, I'll let the camera do the talking.



After Mrs Swiss Buster and Old Man Buster crossed the old bridge at Grand Paradis (above), we climbed up the road towards Barme. This section of road is the flat point on the ski run down in the winter).



The Alp d'Huez hairpin corner. By this point Old Man Buster was whining about back-ache and was threatening to turn home. Gentle peer-pressure prevailed and he felt shamed into reaching Barme.



Mrs SwissBuster in a section where the recent storms had washed out the road. In true Swiss fashion, the road was cleared within hours of the thunderstorm.



Finally at the top of the climb. Old Man Buster shows his gratitude for reaching the summit.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Around Barme



A quick 100m of downhill took us to Barme. Barme is a high alpine meadow, with a handful of cabins serving fondue and raclette in the summer months. It's a popular destination for hikers and rock climbers. We decided to loop around Barme to view the alternative 'extreme' route up.



My riding partners cross the river below Barme.



The fast way home or extreme way up. You can see the road below the scree slope in the centre of the shot. We usually ride down this way but the road is steep, rocky, and exposed which isn't Old Man Buster's idea of fun, and he wasn't going to be pursuaded.



Photo evidence of SwissBuster cleaning the last section of the extreme route. My serious biking partners claim this is rideable, but I think it's too steep and loose to get enough traction. Not to mention the fitness needed for 600m vertical of redlining.



Settled into a mug of Chocolat Chaud at Barme. The waiter claimed that the clouds would burst within half-an-hour, so rather than continue up to Col de Cou, we decided to reverse our tracks.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Bike Porn

We climbed back to the road summit and coasted home to Champery for a final pose by Mrs SwissBuster and Old Man Buster above Champery.




Sometimes, riding for times, distance or height gain just doesn't feel right and it can feel good to miss the goal. We got home feeling fresh, and I think I'll learn to appreciate that it's not the hurting but the ride that is the reward.
 
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