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Trip report: Switzerland, Italy, France

Echo

crooked smile
Jul 10, 2002
11,818
1
Slacking at work
After many years of putting it off for lame reasons, I finally got around to getting over to Europe. With my sister living in Geneva, and Deyv and Isabelle roaming around Europe, all the pieces were in place. I hopped on a plane with my bike and headed across the big pond. Arriving, I was picked up by Deyv and Isa along with my sister. We wandered around Geneva for a while, as much as Deyv is able to wander these days with his crutches and all. Here we are down by the waterfront, with Isa sporting the latest hairstyle, the jet d'eau.



Your tax dollars at work: here is the sunset as viewed from her house outside Geneva, complete with the Alps in the background.



These things were everywhere in France and Switzerland. Squid would have been loving it.



We continued to meander around Geneva for the first day, checking out castles and stuff like that. Don't worry, the bike pics will be along shortly :D



Here's Deyv and Isa, the famous world travellers!



At first I didn't like how this pic turned out, but now I'm starting to think it came out pretty cool:



Of course, there are always beer breaks involved when hanging around with someone on crutches :D



We decided to do some wine tasting, so we looked in a local paper for some info. We ended up at some bar, which we quickly determined would suck. The owner of the bar however called his brother who owned a vinyard. Normally his brother required a reservation for tastings, but he said it was okay for us to come over. Not long after that, we were on his estate, overlooking Lac Geneve and the Alps, trying about 20 different wines, all for free. Screw these wannabe wineries in the US that want to charge you $2 for a half a glass of crappy wine at a crowded table. This is the way wine tasting should be.



After that it was time to start figuring out where our biking adventures would take us over the next several days. Here's me trying to look like I understand the map:



And with that we were off in Deyv and Isa's little Nissan Vanette. Normally I'm not a big fan of cars or driving, but it becomes a little more bearable with views like this:



And this:



Our first destination was Zermatt in Switzerland. Zermatt can't be reached by car, you have to leave your car and take a train up the mountain. This made for a really cool scene in Zermatt, although it was a bit touristy. We were the only bikes on the train:



I had made the mistake of telling Deyv and Isa that I wanted to climb in the Alps. Note to self: don't smacktalk how much you like climbing to someone who is on a one year around-the-world biking adventure. Our first ride was a sweet loop up to Schwarzsee station and back down to Zermatt. The loop included a 3000+ ft climb, where at the top we would be at the base of the Matterhorn. Representin' the Trailblazers jerseys, pre-ride:



As we started up the mountain, the trail snaked up and up through little farms and villages:





Before long we got a little bored with the fire road and decided to take a hiking trail up for a while. Things started to get steep and technical:



But that did not deter us from climbing - Isa grinding it out:



Around a tight steep switchback:



After a while we popped back out onto the fireroad and continued upwards:



Through a cool tunnel:



And above the tree line:



At this point we were not only above the tree line, but also getting close to the Echo line :D



We just kept going up...



...and the views kept getting better...



Until things finally leveled out a bit and we started finding some singletrack:



The last section up to Schwarzsee station was a granny gear grinder of a climb. In fact, after many years of cruelly neglecting my granny, we suddenly developed a close relationship on this ride :D At the top, Deyv had taken the Gondola up so we could all enjoy some beers and sausages together and admire the Matterhorn. Unfortunately, clouds obscured the Matterhorn, but that didn't stop us from having sausages and beer!



Things were quite a bit cooler at the top, and we needed to put some more clothes on for the downhill portion of the ride:



On the way down, we were determined to take some of the many singletracks we had seen on the way up, which were too steep or technical to use for ascending. That made them perfect for riding down!



Isa on a fun section:



The views continued to impress:



As did the trails:



Good thing Isa was here to keep this split tree from falling the rest of the way over!



The final section of singletrack we had scouted on the way up was a walking path that ended up going through a really cool little village. We got some strange looks and possibly cussed out in German for riding there, but since neither of us understood German, we just kept riding :D



These trails were just kickass:





As we approached Zermatt again, we found some little "exercise stations" along the way. One of them instructed passers-by to perform gymnastics moves. But I don't think most of the people on the trail can perform gymnastics like Isa:



Our ride at Zermatt was awesome! And as luck would have it, as soon as we took the train back down to the car and headed to our next destination, the clouds cleared...

 

Echo

crooked smile
Jul 10, 2002
11,818
1
Slacking at work
After taking an impressive combination of mountain passes and tunnels to Italy, we arrived at a small mountain hostel in Aosta, where we again enjoyed beers while surveying the maps of the next day's ride:



This ride was one that Deyv and Isa had done previously. They loved it so much they decided to go back. It started with an easy climb on the road:





I had once again talked smack about climbing. You would think I would learn my lesson. Deyv mentioned that this ride included about 2000 feet of climbing. I made a comment that after doing 3000+ feet the day before, we wouldn't even notice 2000 feet. His reply was, "you will notice the first 1200 feet." When the singletrack started, it was STEEP.



But we were determined to ride as much of it as possible.



Once again on this climb we were provided amazing views of the mountains on the other side of the small valley.







This climb was awesome, but it wasn't all rideable.



And sometimes you had to be careful to stay on the trail...



But this much continuous singletrack in the Alps was truly a sight to behold.



Eventually, as expected, the trail started going down.





It kept getting more and more fun, and just seemed to go on forever.



Anyone who has ridden with Isa before knows how well she rides. Well now she's even better.





Somehow I managed to survive and keep up though.



After the awesome ride in Italy, we headed back through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to France, with our destination being Les Gets. We arrived there, and were deciding which trail to ride, when the sky opened up. Since Les Gets is only about an hour from my sister's place in Geneva, we headed back there for the night and hoped for better weather the following day. Our wish was granted, and as an added bonus my sister's husband joined us (using Deyv's Blur) for the ride. We took no mercy on him and chose the expert XC loop :devil: Here he has no idea what he is in for:



Once again, the views were incredible. But the beginning of this loop was some pretty serious climbing, and I don't think my sister's hubby was noticing the view much.



Eventually he found his lungs though and was able to appreciate his accomplishment:





As always, climbing is rewarded with downhill:





And what would an XC ride thread be without the token huck to flat :D



That's it for the pics. This trip was awesome and I did NOT want to get on that plane coming home. I'm already scheming for an excuse to go back, especially to Les Gets with a freeride bike :devil:
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
28,659
2,696
wow. i especially like the shots of climbing where a glacier (?) is visible in the background.
 

rpk1988

90210
Dec 6, 2004
2,791
0
Maryland
Wow. Those a simply amazing views. You did exactly what I want to do. I like how the people are really laid back over there. I had an enjoyable time while I was there, but unfortunatly it was without my bike. I will make it over there sometime. Sweet pictures man. Or as we say in German "Das ist gut". Haha.
 

mack

Turbo Monkey
Feb 26, 2003
3,675
0
Colorado
Zermatt is my favorite place in the world. Limited acess, and the ski resort kicks ass. Your a pretty lucky dude.
 

Echo

crooked smile
Jul 10, 2002
11,818
1
Slacking at work
He still needs to get some hardware removed, and he has quite a bit of physical therapy to do before he's back to the "normal" Deyv. But he should be able to spin on a road bike in a couple months, and ride DH in about a year.
 
J

JRB

Guest
Bad ass. I think you may have one upped Skooks, and that is saying something.
 

hooples3

Fuggetaboutit!
Mar 14, 2005
5,247
0
Brooklyn
wow echo.. that looks like the most amazing trip.That makes me want to win lotto to be able to travel everywhere in the world with my bike !!!!! Awesome pics.. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!!! Its 6:45 am and now i want to go riding!! thanks!!!
 

douglas

Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
9,889
0
Shut up and Ride
douglas said:
cool!sweet!awesome!rad!

I didnt even know Deyv huirt his leg, what happened?
nevrmind

For those that don't already know about it, I injured my knee riding in Norway
last month. I crash and hit my knee on my stem. It torn my knee cap legiment. I
got operated not long after and the operation went fine. I did not damage
anything else in my knee and I should make a complete recovery. After 2 weeks
in the hospital we decided to continue travelling even if I have very limited
mobility.