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3rd/4th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - the journey down

Just two short weeks after the YT Capra arrived and I'm driving down to Morzine to ride it for a week in the Frenach alps. This bike better be all it is cracked up to be as I've just had one short test ride on it and not even set the suspension sag yet.

The chunnel crossing is at 22-20 but I set out early to collect Terry and then Laurent because we have heard there is trouble with French dock workers on strike. We make it into the terminal with just a short delay as we drive past the dozens of HGV's parked up on the M20 but migrants on the tracks at Calais meant that we were delayed for an hour before boarding the train.

But we finally touch down on French soil at midnight or 01-00 local time and have a long drive ahead of us. We aren't pushing it, no point in being unsafe and are sharing the driving across the three of us which gives me a much needed break as I usually do all the driving myself.

We are at a service station stopping for fuel for the V70 and to stretch our legs when dawn breaks deep in France.

Some 14 hours after leaving Surrey the mountains appear on the horizon and we finally arrive at Chalet Fornet, our home for the next week (booked through Treeline Chalets). We were in the building on the left and were pretty much the only people in there. One other French family were somewhere around but we didn't see them all week.

The weather is scorching hot, 31 degrees cee (that's 94F to you Adam). After a quick walk round the chalet by Wendy, the Treeline rep, and unloading of the car we walk into Morzine town centre for lunch and some beer.

We then head to another bar to meet Leon, our local contact for some more beers and to watch the World Cup DH from Lenzerheide, Switzerland, live streamed into the bar. There's a few famous faces there including some blokes who's names I can't remember and Greg Minaar's mechanic's wife!

But the long journey, the heat and the beers have got to me and I'm dozing at the table. It isn't helped by the fact that there is a hog roast going down and they build the firepit within about 10 metres of where we are sitting and we can feel the extra heat being generated.

It's all too much for me and I walk back to the chalet for a couple of hours sleep.

We are planning on self-catering but the beers make us miss the opening hours of the local supermarket so head into Morzine again for a quick pizza and after setting the sag on my suspension we get our heads down in anticipation of the big day tomorrow.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


5th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - Sunday, riding day 1

An early start this morning as we need to get all our kit together but more importantly we have to do some food shopping in the Carrefour market in town so that we can self-cater for the week, although we treat ourselves to a breakfast of Croissants before we roll up to Super Morzine lift for 9-30 to met Leon.

Leon's not there so after buying our passes we head up Super Morzine then up the Zore lift at the top and play on the blue trails to get ourselves warmed up for the week. Although with the temp above 30 degrees again we need cooling down rather than warming up. I'm pouring sweat in this body armour, full-face helmet and goggles but once you get some air flowing past on the descents or even on the lift it's slightly more bearable. Either way, I'm glad I put on plenty of deodorant this morning.

The trails are super dry and dusty, even turning to sand in some corners but fast, very fast. After the horrors of last year I'm not complaining though.

After a few practice runs Leon turns up and we head over to Les Lindarets via a cross country route. Again the heat makes this pretty hard work but there's some fun descents on what is part of the Passeportes de Soleil (PPDS) route.

We've just overtaken an English woman out walking a small dog when Terry manages to cross up his bars right in front of me and he's over the bars with the rear wheel six feet off the ground as he slams to the floor tangled up in his bike. A passing rider helps him get untangled (I've obviously got to record the whole event so have to remain independent - only joking Tel).

Fortunately I was following him and managed to record the whole lot. Wait, no hold on, fortunately Terry was okay and after brushing the worst of the dust off himself we head down to Les Lindarets and cover some of the trails over there. A number of blue trails, it's our first day don't forget, then lunch.

The boys are laughing at my dust-beard. Not sure why it's only me that's got this, maybe it's the humungous amount of sweat that's pouring off me and allowing the dust to stick to me and to the Capra but it gives everyone including the waitresses a laugh.

After complaining of the small portions of pulled pork and getting a discount we head up to tackle the red run. Its a bit more technical and lots of loose rock and it's my turn to take a tumble. This time we've got it on two cams, mine and Laurent who is following. But it's only a small fall and no damage done so we crack on.

Leon demonstrates how to tackle one of the small ladders but it's our first day of a week's riding so we keep our wheels on the ground for the time being.

More riding, more trails and plenty more fun in the dust. There's plenty of building work and maintenance work taking place on the trails which is great to see.

All of a sudden it's getting close to 4pm so we take the lifts back towards Morzine.

A meat feast cooked on the BBQ and plenty of beers followed by table tennis sees us happy for the day and we are soon fast asleep in bed dreaming of more trails tomorrow.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


6th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - Monday, riding day 2

It's not about the bike as an infamous American once said. Well Lance, I know what you mean but you obviously weren't trying to ride my SX Trail around for the last few years. The YT Capra AL1 is so much better at handling these trails. The Rockshox Pikes up front soak up all the bumps giving a much better ride and the Monarch RCT3 shock in the rear allows me to pop the bike off small boosters and I'm even getting smallish air over the drops and tabletops that abound on these trails. And what's better is that I'm enjoying my riding again, it's much more,fun and doesn't feel like I'm flogging a dead horse

I'm sorry SX Trail, you're like an old girlfriend. I loved you once but you've become old and tired and I'm now infatuated with a new younger model. Sorry 'bout that.

More trails today as we head up the Super Morzine cabins again followed by the Zore chairlifts to the top of the Col de la Joux Verte and throw ourselves down the mountain about five times until Leon finishes his work conference calls and joins us. Again we head to Les Lindarets for an early lunch (we try another place this time, le Menu VTT for just 12 euros is very good) before riding over to Switzerland for the long 15 minute ascent up the Mossettes chairlift for the Swiss National DH course or " Swiss National baby" as the saying goes in these parts.

It's absolutely boiling again today with the temp hitting 40 degrees C (that's 112F Adam) and I'm sweating like a Radio 1 DJ at a children's xmas party but it doesn't detract from the riding which is super quick, super steep and great fun as we descend from over 2000 metres down to the valley.

We are the only riders on the whole mountain except for a small learner group who are sticking to fireroads and as we catch the next lift up the other side other side there's even more steep, dry and fast trails to ride.

We are fully satiated now and start the long return to Morzine for a few cheeky sherberts with Terrence in the new cool bar in town.

All the downhill dudes are hanging here as we drink beer with Hannah Barnes, Matt Simmonds and Sam Dale (well they are in the same bar, I'm not sure they know we exist). We end up chatting to a lonely looking bloke from Glasgow who I christen Bob MacBus. After the third time of asking why he's here on his own (Laurent, Leon and then Terry all ask him) we decide to leave him in his newly found single status and wash all the dust, yes dust off the bikes and ourselves; that mountain water is still icy cold.

We head back to the chalet via Ed's supermarche, never a good idea to go shopping when you have been drinking...

Oh and it wouldn't be a proper Alps trip without Fishybob666 breaking some spokes as he discovers three blown spokes on his rear wheel and a load of Stans juice blown all over the back of his bike and a split in his tyre. That's his evening sorted.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


7th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - Tuesday, riding day3

It's Tuesday, day three of riding and it's another face melter of a day as the temperature hits 41 degrees C according to my Garmin file which is very hot when you have three layers on, a full face lid with goggles and are exercising too (base layer, body armour and cycling top if you are counting).

Leon is at home with his parents today and hopefully a tubeless kit for his rear tyre which we fixed three times over the last two days. So we find our own way across to Les Gets to sample the bike park and its dusty and rutted as hell, full of braking bumps. Aside from the Pleney run in Morzine this appears to be where the majority of riders in the PPDS area have gathered.

But it's still great fun and we hoon around here for a few hours playing on the doubles and enjoying the DH runs.

The heat is really taking its toll. It was difficult to sleep last night and I'm sweating buckets. Even though I'm drinking plenty and using rehydration tablets to replace the salts I'm losing my mouth is feeling so dry with a combination of the altitude and the heat making it seem like hard work. But the riding is still great and we cover plenty of mileage.

There's lots of bermed corners but some of them too tight and it's difficult to keep a good flow down the trail (no, this is not a 650B wheel issue, I had this last year too on the 26” SX Trail. It's probably a lack of skills issue).

However there’s a great blue run off the back of Les Gets that takes you down to a different lift. There's a great booter here that you can push hard into and just float over the other side and I get more and more air off as we ride the trail again and again and again during the day.

Fishybob is blasting down those trails and I'm struggling to keep up with him. I tell you, he's got very quick on this holiday and is hitting all the jumps in sight. Maybe he will even be allowed out on a gnarlsters ride when he gets home.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


8th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - Wednesday, riding day 4

Finally some cloud cover and it's blessed relief from the heat which has dropped to a much more bearable 19 degrees c as we cover a selction of trails including a long push up hill when our route back to Morzine via the famed Canyon trail takes a wrong turn (we never did find it, the signposts just disappear and you are on your own).

I replaced my brake pads last night. There's still plenty of meat on them but it just feels nicer on those stupidly steep descents to have less travel in the lever and more response when you pull hard on them.

We take the lift up on Pleney side and back across to Les Gets, even hitting up the black run but find there are too many braking bumps over this side. Nevertheless I spend 32 of my heard-earned Euros on a Les Gets bike park riding top to accompany my personalised lid. You can never have enough bling.

We stop for a drink next to Wobbem's car and even GoPro a game of boules.

The Capra is giving me so much confidence and I'm hitting tabletops with confidence and even occasionally getting some air! It doesn't happen very often for me so it's a noteworthy happening. All too soon it falls apart and we are flying down a red run off the front of Pleney and I take a tumble. It's only a small one and caused more by the bone dry and dusty conditions but it knocks my confidence for a while.

A stop for lunch at a lovely restaurant at the foot of Pleney with the best chicken wrap that I've ever had and then back to the trails but not before we picture Laurent doing his rad jumping off kerbs ting for Stevo and Jonesy (you see guys, we are always thinking of you).

Terry heads back early as his wrists are giving him gip and fishy and I hit the blue run another three times as we are really enjoying this route and build my confidence back up.

Back to the chalet after another big day and then out to dinner as Fishy and I share the 'all you can eat meat and cheese' dish (no, that's not a euphemism).

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


9th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - Wednesday, riding day 5

It's the penultimate riding day and we all agree that Chatel has the best trails in terms of variety but also the lack of braking bumps. It also has really, really massive berms and tabletops aplenty which are great fun.

A few practice runs on the Blue and Terry and Laurent hit up the gap jump that's been on our agenda all week. I bottle it though and stick to taking pictures of Laurent, Terry (who cases it hard but rides through) and another couple of Brits abroad - Mark and Dasiy and their mates while Laurent fixes his latest mechanical - a dropped and stuck chain.

Then we head over to Les Lindarets and, once Laurent has fixed his chain again, hit another blue trail that we have already ridden a number of times this week. But what's this? They've just opened two new tabletops that they were just building when we passed this way earlier this week.

And man, these babies are sweet. Perfectly built so that with very little effort you are up in the air and clearing them. There's a great run into them too, sweep right into a big berm, sweep left into another berm and then straighten up for the roll into the tabletops and you are up and away and flying. We ride, push back, ride and repeat with plenty of opprotunity for photos. This is such great fun.

Up from Les Lindarets and cut across to Chatel. Even though it's a connecting trail this is pretty good fun too; a gentle slope down but plenty of whoops and kickers to get air off. Then you get to the trail that drops you into Chatel which is fast and flowing, moguls all over the place along with drops, kickers and tabletops. It's badged as a Green trail but it's frighteningly fast and and lots of opportunity for air or to get in trouble e.g. on the moguls where I’m not quite confident enough to get air over all four of the humps.

We then drop straight into Le Panoramique; another Green rated trail but it's more of the same fast, flowing and really fun trail.

Then there's more blues, reds and a taster of the black (avoiding the frankly ridiculous river gap) and we stop for lunch before heading towards the two ladder drops we have seen near the foot of the lifts.

We tackle the smaller of the ladders and Laurent who has been riding everything this week looks a bit cautious. So I hit it first to demonstrate how easy it is. In fact I'm more comfortable on these drops that require no skill, just committment and a little bit of speed.

Push up the rooty climb that provides the run in to the ladder, push those negative thoughts to the back of your head and clear your mind, let go of the brakes and grip the bars (keeping your fingers well away from the brakes) and commit.

Roll down the slope, onto the ladder and that's it. You don't even have to pop off the end, the speed will carry you over. Keep your nerve and the suspension does all the work as you land on the transition.

Me first, then Laurent, then me again and then Laurent. This looks easy thinks Terry and off he goes but as he gets to the end of the ladder that part of the brain that has caution in it makes him grab a handful of brake. He's off the ladder but nose down and endo's it as he hits the transition. He almost saves it but veers off the right and into a ditch (note the dust trail and yes, that's him in the ditch) with hidden rocks in it gouging a deep chunk out of his forearm.

Oh dear, we stop and bandage him up (fortunately he's carrying a first aid kit) and then nurse him back to Morzine for a visit to the local docs (who advise Laurent they carry out an average of 17 x-rays a day - a DAY!) and seven stitches later Terry is back for dinner.

A big, big day of awesome riding today.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


10th July 2015
Riders: Richard & Laurent
Morzine & Les Gets - Wednesday, riding day 6

Terry decides to stay at the chalet today following his visit to Morzine’s finest medical practitioners, (we're now caling him Snow White and his seven stitches) so Laurent and I head back out on the trails on our lonesome. We borrow Terry’s GoPro and decide to do a day of filming which requires a lot of messing about, stopping and starting and pushing back up steep trails but is pretty much what we need to ease ourselves into the end of the holiday after five hard days of riding.

After yesterday's excitement I decide to hit the gap jump too. What the hell, it's the last day. What's the worst that could happen? After a false start I hit it up and clear it twice. Sorted.

We also spy some strange men in bib shorts and full-facers. Very strange. Laurent suggests we try the gnarly
Red trail
that Dave McBus had mentioned. Well, that was tough. Extremely gnarly, harder than the black and I suffer two burped tyres and a crash. No knob jokes please. Next!

Videos to follow if I can ever get my flaming Adobe Premiere Elements version 8 to work properly (it doesn’t like Laurent’s footage as it loses as the audio on playback and it also hates mixing Terry’s 4:3 aspect footage with mine and Laurent’s widescreen footage and it is also messing up the accompanying music that I have selected. Apart from that it's fine).

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


23rd July 2015
Riders: Richard, Sam & Ben
Tour
de France, the Alps day 1

We arrived in St-Michel-de-Maurienne yesterday on a scorching hot day in the mid 30’s only to discover that the luxury chalet we had booked was essentially an overgrown shed on a campsite that had no air conditioning and was uncomfortably hot. Still at least it had hot and cold running water, a shower and was dry during last night's massive thunderstorm and torrential rain which was more than could be said of Greg’s tent which was pitched over 2,000 metres altitude at the top of the Croix de Fer.

St-Michel-de-Maurienne is a bit of a one horse town with not many places to eat but if you like your road riding this is the place to be with the Col de Telegraphe, & Galibier signposted from the village centre and the Col du Glandon, Croix de Fer, Lacets de Montvernier, col de la Madeleine a few klicks down the road in St Jean-de Maurienne.

There are a choice of climbs today and we decide to head for the Lacets de Montvernier which is 20km down the ride beyond our sister town St-Jean-de-Maurienne and we head down there early on our bikes. Unfortunately the Lacets although very picturesque is also very narrow and spectators, team cars and even the publicity caravanne are banned from being on the climb meaning that although we have climbed circa 600 metres we are sitting at the side of a nondescript piece of French road. We have only been there around 20 minutes when Greg rides by. I knew he was in the area but it’s amazing that given the thousands of people around he just rides by and spots us. We decide to move to a slightly better location a few km further along the road and settle on somewhere with a good view of any riders approaching.

It’s uncomfortably hot again without a single cloud in the sky and the growing collection of Brits and an American couple spend the next four or five hours searching for drinks and rotating around the base of a solitary tree that is giving us shade. The sun is so relentless that I end up getting burned on the back of my knees which is a first for a 50 year old.

The tour eventually arrives and we enjoy the usual chaos as they pass through. The breakaway first followed by the yellow jersey group, then the peloton and finally the grupetto led by Cav who are doing just enough to stay within the time limit.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


24th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Sam & Ben
Tour de France, the Alps day 2

La Toussuire, 18km climb is very tough. Again very hot and again we aren’t allowed up the climb the riders will use so we approach via the ‘back road’. Slighlty unnerving as I’m unsure if I’m heading the right way up an 1,800 metre, 18 km climb and I really don’t want to be on the wrong mountain. But it all works out okay as we eventually cross the official route and position ourselves at the 900 metre to go point. This the day that Nibali makes a breakaway whilst Froomedog is having a mechanical, Nibali is chewing his chain which apparently he only does when he’s winning. He’s followed by Quintana who has also attacked and then Froome to make up the top three finish. And they are all absolutely racing up the final kilometre. We get to see the caravanne today and collect numerous freebies including the rather fetching lime green Skoda hats (new this year, they are normally white).

The race passes and we head down the mountain just as it starts to rain. This quickly turns into a torrential storm with a deluge of water rushing down the road and having sweated all day we are now shivering with cold being absolutely soaked through. We descend about eight klicks before it becomes impossible to ride anymore and pull of for some meagre shelter at the roadside.

Once we stop shivering and the rain eases off slightly we make a dash for it again, the more we descend the warmer it gets and I’m soon drying off nicely as we get back to the valley. But we’ve still got a long way to ride back home up a long climb along the main road.

But Team Sear are working well together as I head up the group into a strong headwind which has appeared form nowhere and the boys stick like glue in my draft. They are really working well and I almost feel like a pro as everytime I glance around I get a facefull of a stern looking Sam with his impassive face behind shades and helmet right on my back wheel and Ben in close attendance behind him to complete the trio. (It turns out the face is only cos he’s working hard to stay with me but the effect is eerie as we cover the 20km climb back home).

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


25th July 2015
Riders: Richard, Sam & Ben
Tour de France, the Alps day 3

When I originally planned this holiday back in the Winter I had planned on riding the alpe d’Huez today. But given that we have ridden this twice before, it’s a 60 mile drive away and Le Tour passes within 50 metres of the front door of our oversized shed and the roads locked down to cars from 10:00 it seems a bit pointless to make the car journey over there.

There’s also a bit of confusion over the route Le Tour will take today. It was supposed to climb up the Telegraphe and then over the Galibier before descending into Bourg D’Oisins and up the Alpe. However a crack in a tunnel has forced a re-routing up the Croix de Fer. I decide that we will ride the Telegraphe in the morning as it is a climb we haven’t tackled before.

It’s tough but very doable on the compact FSA chainset although the non-driveside crankarm loosening halfway up and almost falling off is pretty painful. I stop to wait for Ben who has the allen keys in his saddlebag but a couple of South African riders on Bianchis who I had nodded hello to at the foot of the climb pull over to assist and I’m soon on my way again. (I always say it pays off to be pleasant to others and this was a case of instant karma).

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


29th July 2015
Riders: Richard & Terry
Pitch Hill and Holmbury Hill

20 degrees


Terry and I join a ride with the errr…Join-a-Ride peeps including Jimmy James and one of Davebus’s mates. These boys are mental as they hit all the drops, jumps, tabletops, gaps and doubles around Pitch Hill and Winterfold.

No crashes today but a few weeks later one of them gets a nasty double break of his wrist on Area 51. These boys are all clearly on a Mcdonalds diet as they ‘go large’ at every opportunity.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


31st July 2015
Riders: Richard & Ben
Ewell to Brighton

25 degrees

This is my annual ride to Brighton with number two son in tow. It’s a landmark for him as a week after returning from the alps he’s able to clean Ditchling Beacon for the first time (not easy when you have a paralysed left arm and are essentially riding up there one handed. You try it and see how you get on).

I had been planning on riding back solo but the draw of a large cod and chips and a pint of lager at The Regency Café meant that when the lovely Mrs S turned up to collect Ben my bike easily slid onto my Thule S3 Euro-whatever rack and I sat in the passenger seat and dozed on the way home.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Ride Archive

December 2015
November 2015

October 2015

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August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

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Top

click to view click to view click to view Steve Neill Big Trev Orange Dave dialled bikes pewter headtube badge Dave and Dave outside LOMAC Dave on Summer Lightning A grinning Trevor Steve (again) Davebus and Neill on Stane Street Jason next to Denbie's vineyard Trevor struggles up the climb Dave followed by Jason on Stane Street Banstead Downs singletrack It was getting dark by the time I got back Richard (that's me!) Surrey Hills logo at the top of Coombe hill Gary dicing with the cars through New Malden Stag party Gary's Giant SCR 2008 model  A cheerful looking Gary part way round Richmond Park speed limits for cyclists! Kingston Gate, Richmond Park view off the side of Headley Heath Bianchi K-Vid carbon forks self-portrait whilst climbing between second and third hairpin on the Zig Zag Road, Box Hill Dave and Mat, the folly, Reigate Hill urban riding, Richard in Ashtead High Street a bit underexposed but a nice shot of the view from the North Downs Way Richard dropping in on Colley Hill No, not the Mediterranean, this is outside LOMAC, Ashtead High Street Richard showing off for the camera Mat and Richard, Stane Street Richard, Headley Heath Mat on Headley Heath Gary with our 'rabbit' in the distance Gary in the dusk Richard Gary chasing the yellow 'rabbit' in the distance Cas Cas Richard 'self-portrait'