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   Champery – Portes Du Soleil   By Mark Freeman   Page 1

A road trip to Champery in the Portes Du Soeil region.  Stunning scenery and some top trails in the sun. By Mark Freeman  


Picking dates that were suitable for all four of us was difficult, which is why we ended up arranging our trip to Champery in the Portes Du Soleil in mid-June; one week after the 2007 UCI World Cup and one week before the opening of all of the summer lifts for Passportes Du Soleil.

No problem, I had done my research whilst skiing out there that winter and whilst I knew that a lot of the chair lifts and links to other towns in the region were closed, the main Cable Car, or ‘Telepherique’, in Champery was open, and that there were plenty of routes down the mountain from the top. We were driving and so there was always the option to drive to Morzine or Les Gets and possibly explore further afield – maybe visit Verbier or Bex or Rochers de Nayes near Montreux. We weren’t too afraid of pedalling up a couple of mountains if needed!

Trail Hunting
The departure arrived and we loaded up Matt’s Blue Bus with four lots of bikes, spares and clothes for the week. Worries that we would be taking too much and overloading the bus were unfounded. 

The drive down wasn’t too bad as far as a 9 hour drive from Cherbourg goes. We chose Cherbourg as our nearest ferry was Poole, half an hour’s drive from where we live. So the most convenient ferry port in the UK for us happened to arrive in just about the furthest French port from the Alps! We elected to travel and eat on the hoof. Literally stopping only to fill up the van with fuel and buy food. We were greeted on the first morning by beautiful blue skies, snow capped peaks and warm temperatures. The view of the mountain Cols that make up the border between France and Switzerland as we walked off the Telepherique was fantastic.


Electing to take a route in one of the guides from the Tourist Information, we were back down to the village waiting for the next lift back up within an hour. This first descent was a little disappointing. Although the descent was over 700 metres it was mainly double track gravel roads. Pretty sanitised and not much different to fire trails at home. At this point we got chatting to some locals, and realised we were going to have to hunt out the good stuff. We were advised to try the climb up to Col De Cou, then follow the ridge overlooked by the Dents Blanche back to Barme.

Bullish Behaviour

A 40 minute push under mid afternoon sun reaped its rewards with a cracking ride along a narrow, scary track on a ridge before descending a tricky trail with tight switchbacks to Barme. Once past Barme the trail turned into a fast, loose and rocky double track descent that brought us back to Champery.

The second day the sun still shone and we drove the hour and a quarter to Morzine. We parked and bought a lift pass for the Morzine / Les Gets region. We got chatting to a large Irish chap wearing body armour, riding an out and out DH bike. He eyed us up and down and said in a full Irish lilt, ‘you’ll be looking for XC trails then’ whilst looking at our ‘All Mountain’ bikes. Then he told us we might find the Pleney DH a bit ‘out of our league’.
This was like a red rag to a bull. “It’s not what you ride it’s how you ride it…”
Unfortunately not soon after on the Chaux Fleury downhill in Les Gets I managed to pringle my front rim beyond repair. In a mad panic I found a shop that would replace the rim and rebuild my wheel by the end of the day, at UK local bike shop prices. So I found a bar in the village and whilst drinking a beer waiting for my wheel to get fixed I got a call to tell me one of our guys, Mark L, had managed to ride straight into some mud at very high speed and go over the bars landing on his head.

To cut a long story short he ended up in Thonon hospital for an MRI scan to rule out any neck injury. Fortunately he hadn’t broken his neck. Unfortunately it was a serious whiplash injury that would curtail his riding for the rest of the week. Because of this we also > Next Page>

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