This Euro Tripping report is guest written by Riders Retreat staff member and Pila advocate William Elliot.
I have been to Pila four years in a row and each time I have always been amazed on what they have to offer. So naturally us here at Riders Retreat had to take a mini road trip from Morzine, through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Pila. Paul Thomas, Richard Coleman and I loaded my keen old 306 at 6am in the morning and motored into Italy. After some sight seeing along the motorway and a food stop we bought our passes and jumped on the lifts.
Even getting to the top of Pila is amazing. The first lift goes over a motorway and through two mid stations. Then there are two more lifts to get you to the very top. From here it will take you around 45 minutes to descend 2,092 vertical meters back down into Aosta. The views are spectacular. I could stand at the top for hours, but the fact that some of the best single track I have ever come across is below my feet, I find myself launching back down the mountain. The mega-avanche style track from the top is relentlessly long, constantly changing. It is made up flat out fire-roads, technical rock gardens, jumps and berms, switchbacks and off-camber turns.
One of my favourite trails here is the ‘World Cup Track’, the same one that Sam Hill smoked everyone by 6.75 seconds towards the beginning of his career. And at the same race Brendan came 3rd overall when he was still a junior. This track is nuts. It has a steep straight into a rock garden with a huck to flat (optional) off the start. The rest of the track is about flat out roosty chicanes and lose flat turns, step up hips and more rocks. You know its good.
If gnarly world cup tracks are not for you then there is a network of single track to the other side of the hill. Its kind of like a pick ‘n’ mix. All of it is really well marked with numbers at each split and a bit of tape here and there to keep you pointing in the right direction. These natural trails are not particularly steep, but they are fast. You find yourself railing turns, with your tyres holding onto that slight rut at the end of each turn. I could spend a few days on this side of the hill alone.
Then you have the Grand Finale. The amazing near never ending Pila – Aosta run. This is made up of two runs that weave in and out of each other, so you can find the best bits, even though any route back down is a winning combination. All of the trails in Pila when I have been there have always been extremely dusty but the Aosta run is always a dust bath, in some places four of five inches deep In areas, It’s like riding down a beach. It’s the type of trail that you can get really carried away on. Rich railed a berm so fast his tyre de-railed and the tube exploded. I clung onto an off-camber section better than I expected and hooned it towards a turn, missed it and hit two trees head on, severing my brake lines. I didn’t mind that I had broken my bike, I was just gutted that I couldn’t finish that amazing trail.
So what’s not to like about Pila? Well, we didn’t appreciate the Italians clocking off at lunchtime for their hour long siesta. Rendering the lifts closed. That’s all we can think of. To add to all of these quality trails Pila has a free-ride park and a few cross country loops. Its all you need, just bring a few bikes, tubes and tyres. Just free up a few days in your Diary for it.
Day Pass: €17
Written by: William Elliot @ www.riders-retreat.co.uk
Additional photos by: Paul Thomas, William Elliot and Richard Coleman