We’re now almost exactly mid-way through the season here in Morzine. As usual, I can’t quite believe how quickly it’s past, but looking back also how much has gone on – it seems like every other day some big event or epic ride has happened.
The biggest event of them all, the Tour de France, came to Morzine for three days – arriving in Avoriaz, then a rest day, then departing Morzine. I suspect most of you, like me, aren’t exactly ‘into’ your road riding, but the Tour really does have to be seen to be believed.
Firstly, these guys are just absolutely super human, how they can do this every day for nearly a month is incredible. The organisation of the event is also something else, they manage to control this many people (look at the crowds in the photos) and the riders, media and hangers on and yet somehow everyone seems to know where they’re going and everything happens like clockwork. Then they go to the next town the following day and it all happens again!
I’m sure it wont have escaped your attention that it was also the Champery round of the World Cup. There’s coverage everywhere on this, so I wont bore you with the details (Gee won). However, it was great to see an event like this return to our valleys and sod’s law that it would rain after nearly four weeks of almost unbroken sunshine – it certainly made walking the course and taking photos more difficult. Congratulations to Riders Retreat star guest Brendan Fairclough for storming to third place.
Away from the big events us humble mountain bikers have also been getting a lot of riding done. There’s been some good amendments to ‘The Stash’ in Linderets with a few ladder drops which have made the course really good fun to ride. They’ve also put a very questionable line towards the bottom of the course over the stream which has pretty much ruined that section and caused at least one poor soul to get a trip by helicopter to the nearest hospital – hopefully they will take it back out.
Morgins is also as good as ever. I don’t spend nearly enough time over there as it takes a while to get there and back, but it really is worth the trip over. Most of the tracks are a lot fresher than the ones locally as fewer riders visit. There are also the very steep black runs there which make me have kittens and laughs in equal measure – probably to be avoided in the wet.
At long last our Riders Retreat jersey’s have arrived! It was a bit of a wait for them, but they are absolutely mint, really good heavy material that breaths easily and a great design by staff member Tom Rogers (who reluctantly wears one rather than his t-shirt). They’ve been made for us by Six Motion who make great mountain bike clothing, although at the moment it seems unclear exactly what direction the company will take in the future. I for one, hope they pull their finger out and start getting more gear into the shops.
I have at last made the trip over to Crans Montana which is about a 2 hour drive from Morzine. This place has received so much hype in the press and the forums that once I got there I actually felt a little deflated by what was on offer. There are only two tracks there which according to the hype were as smooth and fresh as Rob Warners commentary (ahem), but they seemed as rough as Le Pleney to me. That said, the black downhill run was probably one of the best downhills I’ve ever ridden. If you’re in the mood to go up and down the same track and fancy a day away from here or as part of a road trip, then it’s definitely worth a visit.
I had the pleasure of riding one of our guests (Will Pomroy) Transition TR450 with BOS forks the other day. Although it really did hold the track well and smoothed everything out more than you can believe it did make me question the worth of this kind of bike. My steed of choice is a 6 inch Commencal Supreme, the whole bike (even in it’s pimped out Hope component form) costing me less than the cost of the BOS forks. While I suspect that in a race I’d go faster on his bike, I certainly didn’t find that they made me have anymore fun than I was already having on the Commencal.
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Additional photos by Mark Smedley – see Morzine through the eyes of a staff member on his blog – www.markinmorzine.blogspot.com
Written by Paul Thomas – www.riders-retreat.co.uk