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Verbier bike tour, 1998

A weekend in July beering it up in Munich with Jens and friends forced us to redress our lifestyle decisions with a healthy weekend in Geneva. After a BBQ with typical Swedish hospitality on Friday night at Jens', Jens, Richter, Petra and myself arose early on Saturday morning to drive to Verbier for a day of mountain biking. It was a picture perfect day, and the hot temperatures in the Leman valley cooling as we climbed up to the village of Verbier. The four of us set off from Verbier (alt. 1500m) towards Savoleyres, climbing along gravel roads. These soon opened up to the exposed slopes of the Savoleyes ski area, providing great views across the valley and down to Verbier. We were happy to be high above the hot plains, and Petra's consistant pace was a welcomed excuse to plod along and not have to race with the lads.An hour or so of climbing brought us to the Croix de Coeur, and a quick drink and rest. From this point, the road levelled out, crossing the mountainside towards Attelas. The first obstacle was a pitch-black tunnel, where for the first 100m, we had to ride blind but straight to avoid crashing both into walls and oncoming downhillers. The rest of the route was uneventful, so Michael thoughfully provided entertainment by bunny-hopping his hardtail, so disloging his T-shirt onto his front tyre. This was quickly jammed into the front brake, sending Michael into a spectacular and comical nose-dive on the flattest section of road in the Alps. At Attelas, we bumped into Carl Ankarcrona who had taken a more leasurely route up - the ski lift! Jealous but unperterbed, we continued around the hillside to La Combe (alt 2500m) and a Coke. From here, we started our downhill, cutting the Attelas corner for a more direct route home. At first, the route was a good technical single-track, which competed with anything Heidelberg has to offer. This soon escalated, with the route below Attelas turning into the official Verbier downhill, and site of this year's Swiss championship. I began to think we had bitten off more than we could chew, and was hoping that this wouldn't result in a mouthful of Alpine soil. The downhill became progressively steeper, and every new section brought a new thought: "I've never ridden anything nearly this steep before!". On a couple of sections I dismounted, as the route was obviously not rideable. As I struggled to keep my footing lugging the bike down, I noticed with horror clear tyre tracks! Towards Verbier, pride took over and forced me to attempt a few sections which, although not as steep as the bits I'd walked, were bad enough for me to have previously thought "impossible". It was a hard lesson in how much progress I still have to make. I also realise that fullys do have a place in a biker's weaponry and are not just status symbols for rich middle-aged Germans... Unfortunately, we didn't have time for another run, so for me much of Verbier remains to be discovered on a bike. With an MTB piste map which is almost as extensive as the skiing, there's a lot of riding out there. As these runs will be covered in snow within weeks, it'll have to wait until next year. Hopefully, some of the Heidelberg regulars will be able to make it so I can scare the shit out of them. Verbier is also the starting point of the Grand Raid Cristalp, a 130km ride with 4000m of climbing in what is recognised as the hardest day out in mountain biking. Maybe next year....

Oh, about that life-style equilibrium thing. We had to drive back early to make Reto's (Rachel's fiance) 30th birthday party, which involved copious amounts of food, beer and wine and plenty of schnapps to toast the birthday boy!

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