• Tag Archives Mt Chat
  • What if we go this way instead?

    My French neighbour recently asked me if I would take steps to ensure that the snow which accumulated on top of our Lleylandi trees, fell on my side of the boundry between our two properties, and not hers! This was to save her poor husband the effort of shovelling away “tons” of “my” snow! So dumfounded was I by this demand, which was made in all seriousness by the way, that at the time I was unable to make a response. Now, months later on, and after recounting this tale to friends, I could easily have written a book of witty or acerbic replies, but the moment was lost.

    I recount this bizarre tale to demonstrate, in a roundabout way, the impact that the weather makes on us. In the case above it related to personal relationships with neighbours, but on a daily or weekly basis, it impacts on our riding, how far or how high we can ride, even IF we can ride at all.

    This Sunday was another example of a weather impacted day. The plan had been to ride some great roads at medium altitude in the Pontarlier region, but a check of the weather forecast had revealed that the previous day had been rainy, followed by -3 degrees C temperatures during the night. As we have developed into expert weathermen after hours studying forecasts, we quickly came to the assessment that this combination of rain, negative temperatures and altitude, would equal an icy and potentially dangerous riding experience, so yet again we had to change plans.

    The ride morphed from an all dayer to an afternoon only local affair, allowing the day to warm to a heady 12 degrees C and the roads to clear. Despite it being a little windy there were to be 3 of us out today. Leaving the supermarket petrol station I heard Mark’s GSA arriving, damn noisy these twins! After a brief greeting and a reminder that he was already running late, I headed off to meet Brian at the prearrranged 13.00 start time. I was a couple of minutes late, but Mark who had yet to refuel his supertanker sized fuel tank rolled up 10 minutes late. Useless complaining as this is par for the course, although last time we made him buy the drinks a a penalty for making everyonewait. Today we can almost accept his late arrival, as having managed to run his GSA empty a couple of days earlier due to  a faulty fuel gauge, he wanted to be 100% sure he had a full tank today!

    With so many fallen leaves the ever photogenic Fort l’Ecluse is clearly visible today as we head out towards Seyssel and Aix les Bains.

    Exiting Seyssel we joined the Circuit de Vignobles de Savoie which is peppered with lots of amazing and very picturesque old farm buildings. Must take more pics next time!

    We stopped alongside the Lac de Bourget and decided that we’d try and ascend Mt Chat rather than the planned Col du Chat. Brian hadn’t ridden either so was quite happy to go with the new plan, although I suspected that he might enjoy it a little less on his 1300S than either Mark and his GS or and me and my GT would!

    Yet again we were thwarted though, as less than halfway up we found the road blocked and had to retrace our tracks. No problem, back to the original plan and the Col du Chat then. Stopping briefly for Brian to admire the views, Mark’s way ahead and relishing the tight bends, but at the next junction he’s stopped for some reason looking down at his bike. Not sure why, but looking back up he suggested we take the alternative road behind him rather than our normal route which was straight ahead. Decisions decisions. Still, live dangerously I say, so plan C evolved, and we set off not knowing exactly where we’d end up but quite happy to try some new roads.

    Sometimes a spur of the moment change of plan reaps dividends, and this was another of those occasions. Soon we found ourselves at this viewing point overlooking the Lac de Bourget.

    Although nowhere near as high as the Mt Chat viewing point we had aimed to ride to, this was nevertheless an excellent alternative.

    View to the left

    View to the right and direction Aix les Bains

    Lakeside chateau

    Looking left

    Looking right

    After 10 minutes of reflection and photos, we headed off again on what proved to be an “interesting” road, and almost immediately an unseen rock came close to having me off . The ride developed nicely though and it was great to find “new” and previously uncharted roads and valleys, and only because we’d decided to go one way rather than another.

    Here is another chateau, one of many dotted around here and there. This is in the village of Fulley.

    After enjoying our new found playground we returned home alongside the lake near Belley and cross country to Bellegarde. Coffee and a chat at Brian’s in a village in Switzerland you’d never find again without a GPS, where we  recounted the highlights of the ride and looked forward to the forthcoming weekends track days where a few of us will be seeing how competitive we really are. Home after a mere 230kms, but nonetheless we’d had an enjoyable ride, especially so as it’s still officially winter!

    IF YOU ENJOY THESE REPORTS AND WANT TO EXPERIENCE SOME OF THESE FANTASTIC ROADS FOR YOURSELF, WHY NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS MONTHS SPECIAL PRICE REDUCTION OFFER ON ALPINEBIKER TOURS-

    SEE ALPINEBIKER.COM WEBSITE FOR DETAILS

     


  • Balade decouverte- ancient towns & mega views

    The French have a phrase, Balade Decouverte. It means ride of discovery, and this weekends riding was aptly covered by this description. With two good days of weather forecast the opportunity to ride was too great to miss, but where to go? Mark suggested we visit Perouges, a medieval city around an hour and half away, so with neither of us having been there before, we set off for a new destination.

    Leaving at 10.30 the weather was still a little murky, and with my pinlock visor steaming up and obscuring my view of the dials, and the roads still damp and leaf strewn, it wasn’t the greatest start to the day, but as time advanced the temperatures and visibility improved, and by the time we arrived at Perouges it was actually quite warm.

    Perouges is a medieval walled town perched on top of a small hill and due to it’s authentic historical appearance has been used as a location in several French films, including the 1961 black and white film “The 3 Musketeers”. .

    It’s not a very big town but has a lot of character with entry in via either of these arches

    Streets are narrow and cobbled with one main street encircling the town with several smaller streets leading into the centre

    The fact the stone walls are still standing after so many years shows the skill of the builders

    Here are a couple of the buildings in the centre

    Stand alone wall borders flower garden

    After a gentle hour wandering round taking photos, we bought a drink and a piece of galette (tart) from one of the local bakeries before setting off towards Belley through one of Frances great features, tree lined roads !

    This was quite a long stretch and quite striking without summer leaves, but such roads are often known to cause accidents due to fallen leaves and slippery surfaces, and the French sometimes remove them for this reason, shame asthetically, but they’re solid objects if you hit one!

    So, with an interesting morning passed and a note to return with better halves/friends at a later date, we headed off towards the tunnel du Chat, with the idea being to ride over the Col du Chat, which I’d ridden the Col du Chat in the opposite direction for the first time, earlier this year. Today however I took a wrong turn which turned out to be a great mistake! Heading upwards we followed signs for Belvedere du Mt Chat. The road started to get narrower and bends became tricky due to the sheer number of wet leaves, but after climbing for a while we stopped off to take pictures of these amazing views.

    Continuing on a few minutes later we were at the summit at 1504m and on the other side of the mountain with these equally fantastic views.

    The descent was somewhat perilous though. Snow at the side of the road gave the clue that the surface was potentially slippery, and like the ride the previous week down the Rousset where there were ice patches, so there was today too! Taking it very steadily and trying to use engine braking only, it was a good 10 minutes before we could safely continue without the worry of ice!

    Back home we reflected on how the day had turned out. Lucky firstly to have had temperatures hof circa 17degrees C in mid November, nice to have visited the medieval town with relatively few people there so we could stroll round and see stuff at our leisure, and finally, finding our way to the great viewpoint at Mt Chat. Overall an excellent “balade decouverte” of 349kms.