So, after a few discussions it was decided that we would do the Tour de Mont Blanc on our mountain bikes. There would be myself, Willie, Shona and Phil and we had a two week window in which we could all do, starting on 2nd Sept 2014. After reading a number of blogs and discussing it with some friends that had made the trip a couple of years earlier, we agreed anti-clockwise would be the best direction and, with Willies map reading experience, we soon settled on our preferred route of approx 150km-180km with approx 6000-7000 vertical meters of climbing that would take us four full days.
So which bike? I had an Orange Alpine 160 which can do everything but is pretty heavy for this type of trip or an Orange P7 hardtail which again can do everything and would certainly go up a lot easier but how much would I have to compromise on the way down? I finally decided that after a summer of biking, running and swimming, I was as fit as I had ever been so I would suffer on the ups so I could reap the rewards on the way down. So the Alpine 160 it was.
Now all we needed was the weather. Four days in a row of sunshine after the wettest summer for 40 years. The fingers were firmly crossed!
So, after my fork bushings disintegrating and my shock basically exploding, there was quite a panic trying to get a working bike together. But thanks to a number of friends in town I managed to buy a second hand set of forks and borrow a shock. I was back on track albeit not the best preparation.
Then the call came. It looks like we have the weather window we needed so we are off on the 2nd September. Suddenly the realisation of what we were about to take on hit home. What stuff do we need to take? How heavy is it all going to be? First aid kits, emergency numbers, insurance..... I had bought a new pack for the trip which I would highly recommend as ours, fully loaded, would be about 6kg. Although it felt heavy when I first put it on, I would soon forget about it. Weirdly the weight was more apparent on the descents as you really notice that you picked up speed quickly.
So Chamonix here we come.
We leave Morzine around 7.30am and get to Cham about 8.30am and start to build the bikes and do a final bag check. After plenty of 'do you reckon I need this?' and 'have you got one of these?' etc, we set off to grab a cuppa and a croissant in Cham centre before finally setting off about 10am in the direction of 'Les Houches'.
Keep a look out for the next instalment!