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Do you ever get a sinking feeling when it becomes clear that everyone else on your trip has been taking things very seriously and, like, actually trained and, like, not taken the kitchen sink and, like, actually packed more than 15 minutes before getting on the plane, and even worse gone out and upgraded to a carbon hard tail 29”er? Or is it just me? And are you as hopeless as I am about mountain bike maintenance and techy stuff? If so this article is dedicated to you!

Vital stats Tour du Mont Blanc (riding the traditional walker’s trail)

  • 10,000 metres vertical ascent,
  • 4.5 days,
  • 170 km,
  • wall to wall sunshine,
  • 3 different countries,
  • featuring 5 gorgeous women,
  • 2 extremely lucky guys
  • and most importantly 10,000 vertical metres of single track downhill!

Meet the team
Luckily I choose my trip buddies well. I am a firm believer that every team member should bring a uniquely useful skill to the table. This time we had a smashing selection of eager riders: we had a school teacher to keep up standards of behaviour (Jake); someone who was fit and fast enough to make detours for food (Jake); someone who knew where we were going (Jake); someone who was really level headed and good at refereeing stubborn headstrong females (Jake); someone who remembered to bring a toolkit (Jake); someone who knew what to do with a toolkit (Jake); someone who was really generous with Haribo sweeties (Jake); someone who was really considerate of slow people (Jake) and, finally, some slow people (me, Lucy, Emily, Dan, Jaime, and Liz).

Anyway here’s the trip condensed into a paragraph;

We went up, and we went along, (but we mostly went up, about 2300m each day; and yes I mostly carried my 32 pound bike; and yes it was tiring!), we had lunch (cheese and ham), we nattered, we giggled, we moaned about why it was never this hot back home. Then the fun bit; we went down.......aaaa.... veryyyyyy.... longgggg..... wayyyyyyyy, whizzing over crazy steep single track, cliffs, rocks, roots, pastures, chicanes, you name it. We arrived at each mountain hut looking like grubby little street urchins just in time for a rustic dinner of local alpine produce (cheese and ham). We squished up in the same bed as 30 snoring French hikers (mostly walruses) then got up for a breakfast (wait for it... cheese and ham). Oh, and mustn’t forget the endless breathtaking high mountain scenery.

Hygiene update day4:
Dan (smelly and proud) Jaime (clean and proud) Lucy and Leanne (smelly and ashamed) Liz (smelly but less ashamed) Jake (retaining god-like status).
Now my other half points out that not everybody would find this holiday fun. Carrying and pushing a 32 pound full susser up 10,000m as fast as possible at altitude (which, granted, is not very fast) is surely the most fun a girl could possibly have isn’t it? Oh well, we had a complete scream and here are the pics to prove it. Of course we all know that what counts is not what spec is on your Santa Cruz, or how much air you can get, or how many hundred metres an hour of ascent you can do; or how many hundred metres per second of descent you can do; it’s whether you look good in the style-off in your new Rab technical fabrics ☺

First some pro photos by Dan Arkle:

[caption id="attachment_5827" align="aligncenter" width="450"] A hot day: from Swiss Val Ferret to Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini with a big climb to the Col Checruit and the best views of Mont Blanc[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5828" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Start of day 4, Italian Val Ferret to Les Contamines, France[/caption]

And now for some amateur shots by me:

[caption id="attachment_5830" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Day 4. Liz, Jaime, Jake, Leanne Day 4. Liz, Jaime, Jake, Leanne[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5831" align="aligncenter" width="360"]Liz day 3 Liz day 3[/caption]

Leanne Callaghan