Day 15 – Passportes. Big Crashes and Physical, Moral and Mental Breakdown
We got Craig from Geneva airport on Friday, faily uneventful other than the van went under the 2m signs with barely an inch to spare. Again, good job I got it lowered. Heres Craig assembling\fettling his bike (watch those torque settings cocker!) and Gaz drinking and applying a tubeless repair to his tyre, whilst drinking booze.
We rode all day Saturday, here are Craig and Gaz cooling down in the water butt on the way to Morzine, we went over to the Chatel bikepark and did a few blue runs. Good trails all round. The Passportes was on, and some of the lifts were busy, our first one held up for sometime by this tandem:
Subplot – Episode 7 - Daz and his Wheel
My turn for wheel\tyre hell, when I punctured (tubeless mind) in a very similar way to Gazs on Friday. Basically it looks like a snakebite with a hole in the tread area, and one near the bead. I persevered and managed to get it to seal after a few stops to put air back in. The rim (DT Swiss EX1750, basically a DT Swiss 5.1) was also dented, so possibility that these tales of 5.1s being made of fromage are true. Mavic for me from now on. The tyres in Gaz and my case are the 2.35 70a UST High Rollers, they are labelled as an XC tyre, so I guess the carcass of the tyre is thinner than the 2.5 ones. Won’t be using them again in the Alps anyhow.
Then the slog back to Morzine through the rooty muddy section I remember from last year. The fast red run down to Morzine was littered with folks doing the Passportes, and it was overtake mania, not to mention very dusty and dangerous at times due to not being able to see a thing doing 30mph or so (more of this later)
However, we have learned that the way Gaz gets to do this non-stop without a break is that he isn’t human at all, but in fact a T2000 android, Hunter model. He literally hunts down anyone in front of him, his passing moves are something to behold….
Craig got sunburnt, the weather was amazing again. I was annoyed because I had tried to clean my camelback bladder with minimal success, and then managed to loose the bite valve. I struggled all day with bottled water and Powerades, but its nowhere near as good as having it on tap. So, I walked down to Les Gets in the evening down the 4X track and managed to find a Camelbak Mule with a 3L reservoir for 60 Euros, which I purchased then headed to the Irish bar for a beer.
We set off at 7:30am to get registered for the Passportes. This was the maiden outing for my white-is-the-new-black bling-o-tronic outfit, as seen here, watch your eyes…..:
We blasted over to Morzine in double quick time, getting over there in about 33 minutes – 10 of which were spent on the Chavannes lift going up. As Craig said, we were like a pack of wolves hunting down poor slow passporte entrants, mostly scaring them to death I think.
There was then a bit of a queue at the Super Morzine lift, but once at the top of that we were away, only stopping just before the descent to Les Linderets to admire a particularly kamikaze fall by a rider just after the first drop in. We blasted along here, overtaking where we could, and sometimes possibly where we shouldn’t, but its so much fun. Not something I have quite got the hang of yet, but good practice for Mega.
Subplot – Episode 8 - Daz and his Wheel
Just entering Les Linderets, my wheel decided to loose all its air from the hole in the bead again. At least it didn’t blow out on a fast descent. Most of the wheel milk had gone by then, so not much chance of it re-sealing. So off to the lovely Mavic truck again, to use his compressor to finally fit downhill tube. Yes it’s the future folks, tubes all the way. I had to do all the work myself, I am sure if it was a Mavic rim the Mavic mechanic would have done it for me. Buy Mavic!
We had a round of beers here, as you do.
We also saw the oldest man on a bike, replete with neck brace – go baby! We got over to Chatel via some more quick riding in loose gravelly conditions, as ever a massive plume of dust following us. Heres Gaz and Craig enjoying a spiced sausage sandwich and a beer in Chatel:
Into Switzerland, the riding seems to be primarily on roads or tracks, no single track. So we are bombing as usual, with the usual suspects blocking our lines riding much slower. “Captain Croc” was one of these, he had a crocodile on his handlebars, a bright yellow goretex jacket on (it was probably 30 degrees), and one of those ridiculous Met Parachute helmets on. You know, one of those “might as well tape some lolly sticks onto my face for all the use this chin guard is” jobs. So hes passing us on the many road climbs, and we’re bombing him on the descents. At the next lift, we decided to try and get in front of us for some reason. Anyway he didn’t. But I think karma may have been watching, because just after the lift there are a couple of fences with little ladder things to ride over (they stop the livestock escaping) – I hit the second one at an angle and flew over the handle bars BANG! Winded. Ouch. Captain Croc passes us again.
Around this time we were gunning some more loose gravelly dusty roads, riding along side some MBR journo types. Anyway, Craigs pretty much writing for them by this point, and Hunter steps it up and goes bombing off, with Craig then me in tow. The MBR guys looking smooth as you like on his Intense 6.6. Things are getting scary fast on these loose roads, loads of flat corners and very steep drops. Suddenly, I can’t see a thing at all in front of me because of the plumes of dust, so I slam my brakes on and come to rest against the mountain side. Phew. So I roll down and see Gaz looking a little dazed, but no sign of Craig. Gaz hasn’t seen him pass. Only one possible result – hes flown down the side of the mountain! Keeerist, I thinks this is an airlift job. No way of surviving a fall down there. He could be in Champery by now. So we look a bit worried for a moment, shout for Craig a few times and I start up the banking to see if I can see any wreckage. I see Craig fettling his bike above me. Seems what happened is this:
- Gaz goes too fast into this right-then-left bend
- Gaz nearly loses it, feet everywhere
- The ensuing dust cloud catches Craig unaware, who slams his brakes on and basically bounces off banking on the left
- The banking launches him across the road and down the steep banking, his bike is cartwheeling over him. (This is probably the dust cloud that caused me to stop)
Craig landed sat down about 5m down the banking, his bike further down against a tape fence
- Only damage was a banana’d front wheel on Craigs bike. How on earth is was the only damage I will never know. The gods were smiling that day.
So the rest of the descent to Champery was slow for Craig on a very wobbly wheel, but I am bitten by the speed bug and am nailing it using all the road, probably doing around 40mph, when suddenly my bars get knocked by some idiot overtaking me, Arrrgggghhhh! The red mist descends, I pedal my arse off to catch him (and his mate with the white helmet) to give him a piece of my mind. Of course he is English – says “there was loads of room”, yeah, that’s why you hit my bars then, he acts all arrogant and I saw he should have shouted overtaking at that speed. Anyway, if you are reading this, mate, I expect karma to be knocking on your door sometime soon. Nuff said.
We are a bit dejected now, Craigs wheel and my incident with moronic riders, however our faith is soon restored buy the arrival of a wheel banging man.
Craig had gone to the Mavic truck in Champery to see if they could straighten his wheel. Mavic man say “non”. However a bloke comes over, grabs Craigs wheel and starts banging it frantically on the ground. A couple of bangs later, its nearly straight and ready for a final tweaking by the Mavic man. Who was this expect wheel true-er with nothing more than a hard surface and gravity – well it was the owner of Biketreks, Ambleside. So, thank very much, and people, next time your in Ambleside, buy lots of stuff off him. I am sure its all great quality, and very reasonably priced too…..
After a couple more lift rides, we are knackered and I suggest we roll back down the road from Avoriaz, rather than doing the pants section from Avoriaz to Morzine. All in agreement, we scoot back, overtaking a VW T5 on the switchbacks. Its amazing how far you can lean your bike on a flat corner on tarmac, with Super Tacky tyres.
We get back after 9hrs 40minutes. A long shift by anyones reckoning. How I managed that on my VP-Free last year I have no idea.
We are all physically and mentally spent. Here documents the fall of the White knight:
And I don’t think my white outfit will ever be the same again! LOL! Rest day in store for me….
Top bombing all round, however, I think this may be the last Passportes for me, I would rather spend a day or two at the Chatel bike park.