Don't stop in the couloir
As I sit here in the middle of a dark English winter, the frame of a new bike glints in the corner waiting for parts to arrive, but what keeps me going is the memory of the my last ride.
October in Chamonix was a stunning display of autumnal colours mixed with the odd snow shower and low sun, the perfect time to ride Le Merlet.
It takes a shuttle to get me to Parc Animalier de Merlet, high above the Christ Roi statue overlooking Les Houches in the Chamonix valley. A stiff climb before a signpost marks the start.
A thin set of worn out steps followed by a warning 'Don't stop in the couloir'. It’s disappointing but safer to walk (climb) down the first bit. The first part of the trail features a drop to the right that will kill you deader than dead and after the couloir you have to climb down a rock. A couple of hundred metres later you finally get into some flow down this rock strewn, precipitous singletrack. And what a trail. It’s October, the animal park’s closed and there’s nobody on the trail. It’s time to rip.
As the decent continues the trail gets easier and faster, a short dismount to climb up a rock scree and then pin it ‘til the end. About 4km of rocks, roots, drops and full on glorious Chamonix singletrack takes you to Gaillands. It’s not a trail for the faint hearted or those lacking technical skills but it will stay with you long after the event.
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