Do you remember that first day at school.? Quietly quaking in your brand new blazer, filled with trepidation, when you arrive everyone seems bigger, better and scarier than you!
It was with some nervousness I was introduced to the other guys whom I will be spending the next 10 days or so travelling from near Geneva to Monaco! Adrian the organiser (and also mountain bike Guru and instructor!), our guide ‘carbon fibre’ Fabrice who apparently was born with his mountain bike attached and was 30th in the off road Tour de France a few years back, Fabrice’s brother Alexis, a chip off the old block and amazingly tall Christian (reaching tops of mountains must be easy for him) whom is my room mate, he speaks no English and I no French, so grunting at each other is kind of working so far!
All my fears were confirmed, they were not only bigger, had better uniform, but were better and significantly quicker – oh oh, this has just got tougher!
Although I have been mountain biking for years, this was the first time I have ever been faced with a real live mountain with real mountain bike trails some I would not consider even skiing down! Arrive eventually at a mountain village called Morzine, we gear up and onwards and upwards, climbing up into the mist and rain. I was beginning to think reconsidering that this was a good idea at all as the top was not getting any closer. One last lung busting climb took us out of the clouds to the top of the world high up above Les Gets. My new Cannondale bike which looks amazing no longer had a willing partner and we were not talking! When do we go down?
At last down we went and the three French guys disappeared skipping down like ‘blue smartie’ mountain goats in a flurry of stone chips and flying mud, Adrian too leaving me to slip slide on the tree roots and swearing at my bike and anything else around! Soon we (the bike and I) started to get some level of understanding as at last I let go of the front brakes which I had pretty well fully on. Rocks and steep trails starting to fly by and a semblance of a smile appeared on my face at last! Through forests, fording rivers, muddy pools, rocky descents, past beautiful mountain chalets and grassy meadows we eventually arrived in Les Gets and at our chalet. Muddy but happy!
Intact and much relieved, I survived the short ride on day one! It’s a 7.30 start tomorrow – oh oh! Now for a well earned dinner!
Approx, 500 meters climbed, 2 plus hours in saddle only and only approx 20km covered! No beers, 3 Cidres and 1 Mountain Snake Schnapps