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haven't been around these parts much, but i figured i'd share a bit. just got back from France last Friday, after spending 5 days riding some of the best and definitely fastest DH trails i've ever been on. throw in some amazing scenery, a cool town, some awesome french food, the french hotties and a fun crew to hang and ride with and you've got a killer trip. here's a quick report on the stuff we rode (there were 9 of us on the trip, 6 DHers, 2 XCers and the youngest guy's sister who was keeping an eye on him).

morzine/avalanche (pleney lift) - the main track from the Morzine side. we probably rode this one the most, as it was the most convenient to get to. filled w/ loads of fast lips you could float off, a couple of big berms, some root action in the trees, a couple of small doubles, and the 10%, a really steep straight shot which goes into a left hander to right hander. there were two jumps in particular you could really rail, and they were a lot of fun.

blurry pic of a nice tweak, top of the run:

pagey jump, middle of the run:

steve on the big berm, leading into the woods:

this was the trail i also had my scariest crash on (2nd day, on Sunday); coming off a lip at top speed, i landed way too left, towards the sloped earth. got bounced a bit and had absolutely no chance of making the turn, sailing directly into the woods. i don't even think i hit the brakes, it happened so fast. all i remember was leaving the brightly lit trail and plunging through the tree branches into blackness. i was very lucky i didn't hit a tree. i think my bike did, as the boxxers are a bit bent. i landed on my left side, and totally roached my knee into a rock. the ribs are still a bit sore, and the knee is still swollen and it's 8 days later. took Monday off as a heal-up day, and it rained too so it worked out ok (the tracks were super dusty so the rain was welcome, but who knew it was gonna stick around :( ).
me, staying on the track this time (woods to the right are what ate me):

we also found an alternate trail late in the week; mostly a narrow xc-type trail through the grass and woods, but still fun. it was funny in that most of the lifts only really led you to one DH track; i'd think they would make more, esp as the braking ruts on avalanche were getting huge (did see a trail maintenance guy w/ a pick axe on les gets).

trail to les gets - you could take the fire road to paved road to les gets from the top of morzine, but on Tuesday we rode the "tennis court" track, so named as it dumps you into the town near a tennis court. this trail was a lot of fun, definitely more Sunday River-esque then the fast, bermed tracks of most of the mountain; steep, rocky, rooty, twisty. all the right ingredients. this trail was a struggle just to clean, not worry about going too fast.

red egg and les gets 2 - in les gets there are two tracks on either side of the road, the red egg (so named for the gondola which gets you to the top) and the mont chery. the red egg is a really fun, fast, zippy little track. it's an easy one but you can really rip it; there are a couple of really tight and big berms and one section which you do a small gap and head for a straightaway which can reach frightening speeds until you hit the brakes and go into the right hander. the bottom of the course was a 4x course w/ some big berms, a couple lips, and at the end a double which led to a hip; i finally cleared the double into the hip and you could get serious air off this thing. good fun.
dave on the top of the red egg course:

the mont chery course is a long one; it's accessed by a gondola and a chair lift. amazing views of the alps and mont blanc from here. the top is probably the most fun of any course i did. just series after series of turns, berms, hips and doubles/tables. excellent stuff. it drops into a rooty section, then over a fireroad, then down into a fast lefthander to a double which felt great to clear. then more root action, to a fast section, to more woods and then to a series of steep turns and berms to the bottom. definite arm pump w/ this trail.

looking from the gondola, down on the red egg course:

backside of les gets:

top of les gets (wolfie must have been camera-shy):

unknown rider in the top section of les gets:

Niall making his way down:

Niall pinning the top woods section:

Steve dropping into the roots:

since les gets is ~200 m higher than morzine, it's an easy coast back into town via the road.

super morzine - this was on the other side of the valley from avalanche. this track was more like the tennis court track, only longer and nastier. plus, they were logging in an area which chewed up stuff all over the place and left branches and logs everywhere. that sucked. plus, i snapped my der on a crash in this really steep, rooty section when i laid the bike down so had to do the rest of the run chainless (although i did hike back up so i could clean that section).

me, on the proverbial STIL:

super morzine also took you into the direction of the swiss side of things. i rode w/ a few scots on wed, and then w/ dave and niall on my last day thurs. you took two lifts, then did a trail to the lindarets area, then a long chairlift to les crosets which is where a swiss DH track is. i didn't do that w/ the scots as they said it was too mucky, so we did a couple of high speed rocky fireroad descents (one back to lindarets, the other from avoriaz back to morzine).

on the way to Les Lindarets:

on the last day w/ dave and niall, we did the les crosets track and it was virtually impossible to see w/ the fog. luckily the track was outlined in orange tape so it gave you a clue, but it was still pretty tough to ride an unknown track w/ limited visibility. at least i had a front brake, and more than one gear, which is more than niall could say. i'm still not sure how he didn't kill himself on the fireroad descent in the pelting rain, w/ no front brake. anyway, that track was super fun, and well-maintained. i'd have loved to do ride it in good conditions; maybe someday. also, i didn't get a chance to head over to Chatel/Morgins, which is where anne-caroline has a training track. rumor had it that 12 people got airlifted out of there last year, and they closed a couple of things to minimize the carnage.
Niall in the mist on Les Crosets:

Avoriaz tucked away at the top of the ridge:

the week was a total blast, and although i've not been to whistler yet, i'd def go back to morzine. but i'd bring some more parts, even though mechanically i made out ok (btw brian - no hayes brakes died, but about 4 or so hopes needed some work :p) . the mountain is brutal on bike parts because of the speed you are getting, even though it's relatively not rocky.

lastly, big thanks to the wife to let me do stupid things w/ the lads all week when she was minding the boys. it'll be her turn at some point.
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