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Morzine MTB

Morzine Done

So that’s it. We’re down from the final run. One man slightly damaged (Mark T – shoulder tendons) and several legendary hangovers, but basically an all round success. 

Morzine is in fine form this year. You can really see the trail work that’s been put in (and is still ongoing). Les Gets was still looking a bit post-Crankworx gnarly and has clearly suffered with the rain. If you’re heading out here soon, I’d recommend staying Morzine and Chatel side – the fun is epic.

Everyone has benefited from some serious trail skills improvement this trip. This is the greatest benefit of visiting here in my opinion. It’s not necessarily the difficulty of the berms/drops/jumps – it’s the frequency – and the sheer number on any given run. As Buz described it – in terms of the physical effort it feels like doing press ups and squats – all day!

The weather has been very, very kind (30 degrees plus) and the beer  has been cold (but post-brexitly  bloody expensive)

Overall however, another win for Morzine as a superb MTB destination. Now all we have to do is edit together the Ridley Scott-esque amount of GoPro footage into something that does the trip justice.


Too soon to think about Morzine 2017? Nahh.

 Transition takes the Alps: Bandit, Scout and Smuggler

Well, we’re partly through the weekend of Morzine 2016. Two awesome days in and we’re all having a major blast. So while I sit here basking in glory and sun (in the hot tub) with a well earned beer, I thought I’d post some feedback on how the collective Transitions are handling the trails this year.

We have four Transition Bikes in attendance at Morzine 2016: two 650b Transition Bandits, a 650b Transition Scout and a new and shiny 29er Transition Smuggler.

All of the bikes are slightly different in terms of setup and kit, for example Matt’s Bandit has a Fox Float 34 versus my Fox Float 32, and he has the “oh-so-wide-internal-rim” Easton ARC’s vs my Hope Tech Enduros. Bob’s Scout is just “blinged-up” to the eyeballs with the best Hope and Shimano XT finishing kit and Dave’s Smuggler is just dangerously, worryingly fast. We’ve all “Morzine-ified” them with a disparate choice of tyres (Butcher Grid / Maxxis High Roller II for me, Dual High Roller II’s for Bob, Maxxis High Roller II 3c Max Terra / High Roller II for Matt and Butcher Grid / Purgatory Grid for David) and so far all is good.

I guess all of them are arguably ‘Enduro’ focussed bikes (whatever that actually means), not perhaps suited to the “blackest of black” Alpine backwoods runs but very happy in this terrain. Very happy indeed.

Fundamentally all of them are Transition through and through. Fundamentally all of them are awesome.

We’ve caned Chatel with a slew of Strava PRs and today had fun on the Les Gets berms below Nauchets working on bike control. The smiles are big. And we’re only one man down (Mark T had an end of day stack yesterday and sadly has ripped his shoulder tendons).

My Transition Bandit 650b


I’ve had a year of fiddling with my Bandit. Lots of things have changed, each making little differences to my Bandit’s ride feel.

My wheel change, I have to say, has been a revelation. The Hope Enduros are good, solid wheels which suits me down to the ground. Over the year and through this trip so far they have proved a wise purchase for me. Perhaps not the lightest wheels in the world, but hey, I’m not the lightest rider! The Hope’s have handled the incessant Morzine braking bumps, jumps, rocks and gaps with ease. They are happy here. There is no flex and they feel “rail-like” – real point and shoot kind of stuff. And they suit the larger tyres I’ve fitted for the trip. If I could sum them up in one word, it would be “trust”. I did however lose one spoke on the very last runs on the last day at some point. Seems trail marbles can get me wherever I go riding.

My wheels aside, the biggest change for me this year was moving to 1×11. Perfect for the Alps obviously but not bad in Surrey either. It was a love hate relationship to start with but I admit, it is a good upgrade. Ignore the less kit, less weight arguments. In real life it makes shifting a simpler process and for that reason alone just improves the ride. The Blackspire narrow-wide chainring is handling all that Morzine has thrown at it (they have marbles here too) and it’s perfectly matched to the Shimano XT 1×11 rear mech, which again, has handled the shifting duties with aplomb.

Brakes. Yeah. So last year I ran Shimano SLX brakes. Now the SLX is a great brake but perhaps not quite up to an incessant Alpine weekend of gravity related fun. Sure enough those SLX’s caved in after three days – Surrey they could handle, “Panoramique” down through “Serpentine” they could not.

But what about my upgrade to XT brakes for this year? Well, just to kick me off my “Shimano soapbox”, once again, after three days of incessant braking they had had enough. Or at least, the rear one had – the front brake was still OK relatively speaking. I think in truth, as the days progressed and the more tired I became, the harder I was starting to pull on the downs. Add in a good old bit of Alpine dust (which is just EVERYWHERE) to glaze the pads and my rear XT was squealing like a very cross piglet who’d been poked with a sharp stick. I think next trip I will just have to factor in a complete pad replacement / sanding / something at the end of day 2 and go with it.

However, was the upgrade worth it? In a nutshell – yes. I’ve compared my Strava times to last year and I was without doubt running much, much harder on the downs this year. The security provided by the XTs was worth the upgrade.

Now as for my serviced fork? To be honest I have not even thought about or even noticed it – and I think that’s probably it in a nutshell. My Fox CTD has performed flawlessly. I maxed out but rarely blew through my travel which simply meant I had time to think about “other” things on the trail – like the next obstacle. It’s smooth and very much not over-faced by the stuff we are riding. So if you’re riding the Alps – get your bounce fettled is my advice

Lastly, my mashup of tyres. Both the Specialized Butcher Grid and Maxxis High Roller have been absolutely fantastic in the dry Alps. Both provide a superb amount of grip in the loosest of berms or switchbacks. Just like my fork, I had total trust in them. They are performing. Period.

And that kind of sums up my my Bandit here in Morzine. As per normal, infinitely more capable than me, and infinitely flattering to my riding abilities. Whatever difference my kit changes this year have been, all I can say is my smile is “Transitionishly huge”

Matt W’s Transition Bandit 650b

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I have nothing but admiration for Matt riding his Bandit this year. Five weeks ago his finger was in four seperate bits following a crash at the Milland Enduro. However, with some excellent binding and some highly respectable riding Matt rode his Bandit like a demon all things said and done. I’m not sure he could let go in full Matt style so didn’t really get chance to evaluate the Easton ARC rims, serviced fork and shock but he had a smile on his face the size of Mont Blanc nontheless. The only major issue was brake failure of his brakes. Air was getting in somewhere and the rear brake totally failed despite a mid-ride bleed in Chatel. Matt solved this by fitting some Shimano Saints which sorted out braking duties in short order.

Bob M’s Transition Scout 650b

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So Bob’s still in two minds about his Scout. This is mostly to do with the utter love he has for his Orange 5 which also made the trip out here. Now Bob’s not a man of many words and I’m sure he was getting fed up with my constant questions (“How’s it feeling Bob”, “Feeling the joy Bob”, “Giddy-Up working for you Bob”, etc, etc) however, aside from the odd issue (his fork is not locking out post service) I think even Bob was reaching for the Transition Scout first – “Flowing well”, he said, and “Much more nimble”. I think we’ll call that a win.

David D’s Transition Smuggler 29er

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My Transition Smuggler’s first Alpine outing. In simple words – just outstanding! The bike is quick and tight through the turns, and oh so easy in the air. She needed some pressure adjustment on the front fork to get the most out of the travel but essentially that was it.

The Smuggler was much easier than the old Bandit 29er through the tight twisty stuff – it’s a proper “trail hooligan” through the berms, sometimes much faster than I can handle.

The setup is spot on with the exception of having to tighten up a spoke in the rear wheel (lucky spot in the chair lift).

In summary it’s just “all awesomeness”. My Smuggler feels light, supple and quick, limited only by the rider. And if I’m honest, if my old Bandit 29er turned up tomorrow, I’d turn it down. Fact.

Serpentine and Panoramique

So it’s Wednesday. Just today and tomorrow to get through.

To wet the appetite just a little, thought I’d post two favourite runs (for various reasons) from Morzine trips past over on the Chatel side. “Serpentine” and “La Panoramique”. Neither are too hard but both are fast, flowy and grin-inducing blasts of fun:

Serpentine (aka the Bermy one)

And La Panoramique (aka Mythical)

One teeny tiny week to go

Huzzah. Hurrah. And lots of other words that end in ah.

One week to go, yep just 7 tiny insignificant days to wait until we get some well earned French Alps wheel time in Morzine. That would also be 5 working days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes or 604,800 seconds – calculators on the internet – gotta love them…

 

Some logistical things:

We are packing the van on Wednesday 6th July at Matt W’s place any time from 5:00pm onward. Turn up when you want, personally I doubt I’ll get there until after 6:15 / 6.30pm, but the van will be ready when you are.

Bring your bike, your ‘hold luggage’ bag and anything else you want to go in the van (and possibly a beer or two?).

In terms of getting the bikes into the MVOJ, I’m expecting that we will have to turn handlebars into your frame and possibly take wheels and pedals off, so come prepared for that. As with all van packing “shenanigans” it will be an evolutionary process.

Also this coming Sunday (3rd July) we will be getting creative with “pallets” at Matt’s place at about 4:00pm ish and are intending to construct some kind of “frame” in the van for putting things onto. Feel free to turn up and offer encouragement, point, laugh or other things if you want to.

Note: Bike padding will not be provided (I’m not your mum) so if you want your pride and joy protected from knocks and bumps and things – bring your own “padding”, “bubble wrap” or the “downy embrace of a mudbunny” yourself.

You also have 7 days or specifically one weekend to get your bike and kit in order, so if you’re missing anything (like I am) all I can say is “what the hell are you reading this for? Crack on.”

Personally I am spending Saturday doing last money transfers, fitting new tyres and bedding in a couple of sets of pads to take with me and packing my bag. I’ll also be sorting out my extra insurance through snowcard.co.uk in case that is something you have not thought about yet.

The Accuweather forecast for Morzine is looking encouraging (20 degrees + and “mostly dry”) but apparently at the higher altitudes there is an outside chance of some persistent snow lying around so adjust your kit accordingly.

Any questions – feel free to drop me a line and watch out for the last Official Morzine 2016 email coming soon.

Oh yeah – last pre-Morzine TFIT tonight. Anyone up for a gentle “no-injuries permitted” ride?

10 point pre-Alps checklist

As the departure date comes closer, here’s a quick checklist for you all. Don’t leave home without these things ticked:

  1. Pre alps training. Burpees: burp By now you should be able to do 100 of these before breakfast. Here is a simple test: Get your bike, remove saddle and replace with nettles. Now stand on your bike while clipped in, preferably naked. You should be able to maintain this pose for a minimum of 8 hours. Ask kids to bring food periodically.  No selfies.
  2. Your bike
    1. Tires. Go large or go home. Aim for at least a 4.0. Use a small metal file to make space on the frame if necessary.  Zip-tie extra spokes to hub for added support.
    2. Brakes. brakeAs above. Consider adding another set of calipers. This will require some welding. Strap extra brake levers together with aforementioned zip-ties. Remember kids – vented and drilled.
  3. Riding position. When in the Alps its easy to want to look at the scenery. Like sheer cliff edges. Or cows, or bees. What you should do: Don’t look. Simples.
  4. Lube up. The harsh summer sun at high altitude is a killer. Protect yourself, and others by liberally smearing yourself with Deep Heat. Go for the commercial size tin. Avoid sensitive areas.
  5. Gorilla tape. Be one with the bike. Clip in and get a friend to help strap feet to pedals. Carry a sharp pair of scissors in pocket in case of quick exit requirements. Don’t run with scissors.
  6. Air compressor. 4.0 or bigger tires should be running approximately 1540psi atair 10,000 milliamps.  Industrial air compressors are readily available from Asia. Consider employing the services of a Sherpa (experienced riders go for two). Don’t forget to tip well.
  7. Clothing. Don’t be fooled by expensive body armour! Doctors hate this one simple trick! Get a used wetsuit – should not smell of urine – Get in, and finish with a light breathable sumo suit. Available at all reputable novelty shops.
  8. First aid kit. It’s not a wound, it’s an experience oyster. Clip back in, Lucy.
  9. Cash. Budget well. Remember, according to the British Cycling association, Mountain biking costs approximately £5 per mile. You cant afford this lifestyle anyway.
  10. Always carry your mobile. Try and set as many KOM’s as you can on the uplifts. If you own a blackberry, carry spare change for the telegrams. Stop.

Morzine Morzine Morzine

Can’t help it. It’s just over a week to go. First thing I do when I get in is check the weather forecast (as of writing today – just looks awesome!!), then I spend 10 minutes agonizing about tyres and then I check the interweb for videos.

And I’m not dissapointed – two-wheeled Morzine related shenanigans from this year have started appearing online. Firstly and most OMG-ly is Josh Bryceland and Josh Lewis riding like we all wish we could but never ever will.

So now you’ve enjoyed that, check out some of the other kind souls who’ve posted their fun online. 9 Days and counting.

Les Gets Bike Park Overwhelmed by Riders

Just thought I’d check the Les Gets webcams today, you know, see what the bottom of the lifts are looking like.

Wow – it’s busy!

Morzine Weather forecast

So it’s a Thursday. It’s a TFIT. Sadly no riding for me tonight as I still have a mouth full of stitches after impromptu mouth excavations last week so I will console myself with going to the pub to drink some beer as I finished my antibiotics this morning.

However, with a measly three weeks (today) to go until wheels down in Morzine 2016 I find my thoughts drifting towards anything and everything to do with the French Alps.

So, I checked out Accuweather’s long range forecast for Morzine and although I realise that a long-range weather forecast in the Alps is the meteorological equivalent of an “errr… dunno” at this stage I thought I’d share the news anyway.

And the news at the moment is rain.

morzineweather1

 

Beautiful before the weekend and beautiful after, but “thundery, raindroppy” type things on Friday and Saturday. But, looking on the positive side of things – that’s 50% great weather!

I’ve found that Accuweather is “mostly good most of the time” for predictions… aside from last year’s Morzine trip where the site said “torrential downpours, thunder, doom, destruction, etc” and the weekend was, well, simply beautiful.

So take it with a large pinch of salt but maybe I’ll just nip onto Wiggle and checkout those Schwalbe Hans Dampfs 27.5‘s after all…

Morzine lifts are open…

It’s a happy day today, the summer season is here and the MTB lifts in Morzine are officially open as of today.

The official part of that comes from Morznet but it’s good to see the main Pléney lift out of the village are opening from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm.

On a more logistical note, the 2016 Etape du Tour is finishing in Morzine on Sunday 10th July. It’s gonna be a massively busy day in the village with an estimated 15,000 riders riding the 146 km from Megève to Morzine, a fully-fledged replica of Stage 20 of the Tour de France which heads into Morzine later in July this year. Whichever way you look at it, 15,000 roadies is going to be a sight to behold, all heading towards the Palais du Sport (or as I like to call it the “Palais du Steve-skid”) with their freshly shaved legs glistening in the sun. The finish time stretches between 12:00 pm and 7:30 pm so we need to factor that in. If you want to see what these riders are going to put themselves through, checkout the official website here.

However, road riding aside, we’ve only got 26 days to worry about last minute bike fixes, tyre choices and body armour. It’s getting close chaps.

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