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PDS 7: Blood, Sweat and Tears (of laughter)

1395 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  SwissBuster
The SMS from Ripzalot came in as I was sitting down for breakfast. "We'll be there in 5. Taking the 9 am lift". To get up to Champery by that time, he and Mrs Ripzalot had to have left home by 7:30, so they were obviously keen. I had hardly risen and Mrs Swiss Buster and Old Man Buster were still helping themselves to a first jolt of coffee. Stepping onto the balcony and reaching in a pile of Croisants for my first Pain au Chocolat, I saw the reason for their enthusiasm: a picture-perfect bluebird sky and a warm sun rising from behind the Dents du Midi.

We got our stuff together in time for the 10:15 lift, and strolled onto the Planachaux telepherique after laying down the tortuous fee of $15 for our day pass (Old Man Buster's ticket, with local and senior citizens discounts, cost a whopping $6). We rose quietly above Champery,
with just the excited chatter of the other bikers disrupting the Sunday calm in the lift.

Here old man Buster inspects his brakes, which, it turned out, were to get a great deal of use

Alighting at the Planachaux station at 2000m
altitude, we quickly mounted and rode towards the Mossettes lift and Les Lindarets, playing catch up with Ripzalot and Mrs Ripzalot. The Mossettes lift is a main liason between the Swiss PDS stations and the larger French stations like Avoriaz. The top station sits on the border of the two countries, and offers this bi-country view of the Alps. The hill side in the background, the Montagne de Fecon, is hiding the valley of the Vieze de Morgins which leads towards the small ski station of Morgins, later to be our lunch destination.

Ripzalot had punctured on the way down, so we weren't far behind, and I reasoned that after a quick descent into Lindarets we would meet up. I had forgotten about Old Man Buster's unusual riding habits: he rides faster uphill than down
hill on a mountainbike. He has 50 odd years of roady experience which - together with advancing age - he cannot seem to de-program. A slow ride down alpine tracks led to a few incidents and the first minor wipeout of the day, so when we finally met Mr and Mrs R., he decided "to sit one out". I don't think he had fully recovered from the sound of my laughter as he had tried to dismount on the steeps and ended up running ahead of his crumpled bike. Hey, it might sound cruel, but you try not laughing at the sight of an oversized, Lycra-clad beer belly running full tilt down a gravelled road in biking shoes.

Ripzalot led the way as
Mr & Mrs R. and Mr & Mrs Swiss Buster took a slow chairlift towards Le Linga. At first, we cruised along an easy fire track, enjoying the views down to the Lac de Montriond (see above), and then turned back towards les Lindarets where the track turned into a tight but fun single track. This didn't last, and it dropped into an unrideable walking trail which we had to climb down to rejoin a lower fire track. After a long delay, and a short climb through the touristic zoo which is the village of Lindarets, we returned to the now morally fortified and restless Old Man. He elected to join us on the run towards Avoriaz, another fire track descent. With no incidents and with courage restored, we rode in unison back to Les Mosettes and the Swiss side.

By now it was past 1 p.m., and we were starting to need lunch. The Ripzalots had already eaten, and so elected to ride back towards Champery and an early trip home. We said our goodbyes at the Portes du Soleil cross, a pass which gives its name to the ski area.

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PDS 7: Thus started part two of our day..

Our second half was an extended tour with lunch via Morgins and Champousins to Champery. A quick fire road and single track descent led to the Cabane at La Tovassiere, and a quick bite to eat. As we arrived, a live band were setting up their show. Now we're rocking!

The coast into Morgins glided by on a stomach full of Tarte aux Murtilles, the beautiful backdrop glittering as the sun started its afternoon descent.

As single track transformed into fire track, we coasted gently into Morgins and caught a quick ride up to La Chaux and the breathtaking panorama across the Rhone valley and the Dents du Midi (the Teeth of Noon). A short run through cow pastures led to the last lift of the day, from Champoussins to the Point de L'Au.

Most of these pastures are marked with an electric fence to keep the cattle in. For hikers, there is a turnstile system which looks like a minor humped-back bridge made out of a steel grill. For biking, these look worse than they really are, but some are narrow and demand respect on a bike. Old Man Buster took to them tenderly, and a few early successes saw his confience boost
ed . We all know pride comes before a fall, and his 4th or 5th attempt saw him clip the adjacent fence post with his handlebars just enough to send him off-line. Unfortunately, off-line in this case was a barbed-wire fence which he got badly hung up on, his Lycra-clad form offering a canny pastiche of the Sound of Music and The Great Escape. Laugh? I nearly shat myself. He also drew some pretty impressive blood.

The last section, walked in the main by the Old Man and his now tattered ego, was freeriding of the purist kind: a little bit of climbing followed by some wicked single track. I was having too much fun to stop and take photos, though. Suffice to say that this section forms part of the Freeriad Classic, a 70km tour of the Portes du Soleil which picks the best lines and takes a whole day to complete. Mrs Swiss Buster and I had enough time to get to know the local wildlife before the Old Man caught up.

Herbivor meets Carnivore: It's wierd looking at this to snapshot now when thinking of what we later had for dinner.

From Les Crosets, its a small climb
around the valley to the Pointe de Ripaille, where you can coast to back to Champery. This gives a different perspective on the Dents du Midi, and one which by the time we arrived, was starting to fill with the promise of an afternoon thunderstorm.

To me, this is one of the most amazing aspects of the alps in August: blisteringly hot days followed like clockwork by evening thunderstorms. As we sat down to Steak Parisien with a bottle of Chilean wine, the blood, sweat and tears wiped away after a long shower, the lightning storm rolled in. Finishing our cheese platter later, we were treated to the most amazing rainbow with the Dents du Midi as a backdrop when the sun broke through the clouds before setting. "Damn" I though as we counted the distance to each peal of thunder, "I have to go to work tomorrow, Old Man Buster gets to do this everyday". Who's laughing now?


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Absolutely stunning!

Possibley the best scenic mountain biking pictures I have ever seen.

Thank you for sharing both the images and the words and reminding me why I love this sport so much.


P.S. That is one pissed-off looking cow.
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More pics

And now for some not-so-stunning pics from the same day (and day prior).


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Dude thats some Awesome photography

I can't help but feel highly envious of you for being able to go biking so close to home in places like the Swiss Alps. Thats some gorgeous country you've got there man! We've got some beautiful scenery near my house, but you've got breath-taking, beautiful and immense.

Darkan said:
P.S. That is one pissed-off looking cow.
Yeah man! The tail is rising to deliver a parting ode to Mrs. Swiss Buster and contribute its 2 cents worth of scenery to the camera.
wow !!!I always look forward to post from you and Ripzalot... that was awesome!!!
That gondola shot is nice

Ripzalot said:
thanks again for the pictorial..
Only the picture of the view outta that cable car is enough to make me dizzy! Awesome.

those are some great pix, what kind of camera are you using?
Powershot G3

merlin said:
What kind of camera are you using?
Canon G3, plus a little tweaking with Photoshop.
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