Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Road trip: Pass Portes du Soleil 2012

This year’s road trip was to the Pass Portes du Soleil, this would actually be our third attempt to complete it.
Our first trip was 2007, we started in Les Gets, lost loads of time Torgon and made it back to Morzine, just after the last lift left… 2010 saw our second attempt with a new strategy, this time starting in Les Lindarets gave us a figure of eight loop so it would be easier for people to drop out if needed. This time we missed Torgon but wasted a lot of time on the Champery route which was a road, coupled with the weekend traffic and very busy lifts we decided not to include Les Gets and at Morzine we headed back… So we had unfinished business, but with the organisers opening up Friday we saw the opportunity to do the loop without the busy weekend traffic.

Five of us made the trip this year, Chris, Paul, Greg, Si and I, we headed off on the Tuesday night (26th June) on the overnight ferry from Portsmouth and landed in France 7am local time. After a day’s driving we hit the campsite in Les Gets at around 5pm.
The team HQ...
The view from the camp site...
Thursday was our first day of riding and we headed up the Chavannes lift and rode to Morzine. Si's enthusiasm catch's up with him and he bins it on a fire road, hes fine so we push on to Morzine. When we got there we were disappointed to see that the Super Morzine lift was closed, so we returned back to Les Gets for some lunch. A couple of runs in Les Gets with some disappointing gopro footage (camelback strap flapping in the way!) a quick burn back to Morzine then back to the campsite for a BBQ.

Pritchard, Chris, me (riding), Les Gets red
Greg, Les Gets red

Friday came and we drove to Les Lindarets to sign on, I am number 1124!

From Les Lindarets we headed up the Chaux Fleurie lift then followed the trail around the mountain, I love this trail, very fast and flowing with plenty of jumps.At the bottom its straight up the de la Chaux des-Rosees lift. At the top there was plenty of snow and where there wasn’t, it was extremely rocky. From here is an incredible run all the way to Chatel, its very rocky and technical, here the rider makes the difference and it is extremely fast…

A quick stop at the Chatel feeding station then up the Super Chatel lift, only to come down a fire road to meet the road climb over the Swiss border to Morgins.

Chatel style....
Next is the Folleuse lift to the top, there are some super crazy trails on this hill with lots of wood work – only the brave need apply! At the top is down a field to a gravel fire road to Champoussin.

Up the Aiguille Champeys lift you are greeted with a climb up the top, around a small goat path around the mountain. I got stuck behind two British guys on cheap hard tails here, fair play for riding the event on bike like this, but there bikes must have been hard work… On this trail we took the downhill diversion to Les Crosets rather than the road loop to Champery.

Lifts are not cheating!
Up the Mossettes-Suisse lift then the trail loops around the mountain, then there is a little snow/ mud bath, I motor through it but Paul falls off! The track then heads down a rocky path then over a ‘moor’ like section with a few climbs, Chris is on fire here and is really flowing. I am riding with a French rider who goes down, I stop to check he is OK but he dusts himself down, smiles and we both take off again. Things start to get rocky then its downhill all the way back to Les Linarets. We gave ourselves a time limit of 3.30 to get back to Les Lindarets if we wanted to complete the loop. Today we are fast and we are actually 2hrs ahead of schedule!

its me!
At the feeding station Greg throws the towel in, so it’s now just Chris, Paul, Si and me. We take the Linarets lift up to Avoriaz.

From here is the least enjoyable section a linking section to the top of the Morzine switchbacks. The switchbacks are very technical and very demanding, but ultimately huge fun!

At Morzine we take the Pleney lift and ride to Les Gets, still feeling actually pretty good.

Les Gets... High in, fast out or too fast in, slow out, I'm not sure... :-)
Back up the Chavannes lift and heading back to Morzine when I notice my back brake starting to be a little vocal. We stop and I whip the pads out, one side the compound is burnt out and the blue paint is completely torched! A fresh set of BBB pads and we fly back in to Morzine.

We take the Super-Morzine lift all the way to the top; the boring linking path leads to a brilliant run back to Les Lindarets. This run is rocky and very technical; again a good rider excels here although we are all very tired we have a fantastic run down.

We get back to the Les Lindarets feeding station basking in our own glory of not only completing the route, but smashing 2 hrs of our previous best time. We grab a free beer and relax…

Mmmmm beer... 
That night we hit Les Gets for a superb Pizza and a beer, then sleep.

The next day we de-camp and head to our next destination at Les Deux Alpes. The sat nav takes us over the Col de Glandon, which was an experience… We set up camp in Venosc, get a lift pass and head up to Les Duex Alpes.

Unfortunately it’s very windy, hardly any lifts are open and the only one we can get on is the ‘Marmot’ hill Vallee Blanche. When we get to the top we are told its closing because of the wind. We line up the blue run and let a lot of riders go before us because they all look a little ‘pro’, we needn’t of worried as we smoke most of them on the way down..

Next we head down the run to Venosc, our favourite… My hands are hurting after all the riding so I elect to follow Paul, so I can enjoy the run rather than push myself. It was a good call as to thirds down my left hand crank arm comes of my bike…. The last third of the mountain I ride seated and one footed…

busted, but it was user error....
Back at the camp I realize I assembled the bb in 68mm confirmation when the bikes bb is 73mm. I made this mistake after the frame was replaced under warranty and the manufacture changed the bb size from 68mm to 73mm and I didn’t notice… Anyway I re-assembled the b/b with a new crank bolt and its fine.

We check the weather and Les Duex Alpes is getting worse so we make the call and pack up early and head up to Normandy where we stay the night. The next day (Monday) we do a small ride, which is muddy and very tiring, but at least it’s not raining. We head back to the ferry and catch the 5 o’clock sailing and home.

the bomber team #55
Although it all went wrong (weather and mechanical) in Les Deux Alpes, the Pass Portes was superb. This year I feel I rode the best I have ever done and I enjoyed every second of the 80km Pass Portes route. Will we go back now we have completed it? Absolutely 100% I will be back!

Garmin GPS data from Paul
GPS route data from Paul

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