Posted by: sapaudia | 08/04/2010

Easter 2010

If Dabo the weekend before didn’t *quite* merit the title “Season Opener” because of the fairly cold, on-off weather, then Good Friday’s ride (with Rob, Phil & Lucy, and my very own Melissa) certainly did. The weather was grand and there are few better places to enjoy it than in Switzerland’s Rhone Valley accompanied by the most knowledgeable trail connoisseurs in the area.

The highlight of the day was this lovely little number, starting from a village at altitude and finishing on the valley floor…

…fairly tight and fairly steep in places…

…drifty and whoopy in others…

I was loving being back on the “proper” bike in good weather and company, and could see that Melissa was also pretty stoked to be back (after her two years off!), so we were sure to make the most of the next decent biking weather; this was Monday, in Bourg Saint Maurice where we rode a selection of sunny aspect stuff and managed -by and large- to avoid snow. I also finally got some decent chestcam footage with the new toy. Result.

So, Easter 2010…the only eggs I got were fried ones, but the trails / people / seeing Melissa’s stokededness more than made up for it.

Right then April, what else ya got??

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Posted by: sapaudia | 29/03/2010

Dabo (57)

Every man for himself…
Not forgetting to encourage, chat and tell
Downhill for the win
Uphill for your sins
Redlining it all the way down
Overall best rider takes home the crown

workhorse

I did my first ever Enduro race this past Sunday, the first round of this series:

Elsass Enduro Tour

Mixed weather but grippy enough conditions…a good amount of ascending…great swoopy singletrack descents weaving through the pine forests and threading between the chunks of sandstone…some amazing flammkueche and a couple of beers…and, last but not least, a very friendly and efficient team of organisers led by Jérôme Clementz. This is mountain biking. 70th out of 200 for me. Rob would have placed very highly indeed but made a navigational error. There should be more to read (and/or maybe some photos) here sometime soon.

Posted by: sapaudia | 27/02/2010

Buff

That's what I'm talkin' aboot

This morning I looked out of the window at 09:00 whilst swilling down my coffee. Perfect blue and 12 on the thermometer. Being as it was that MeteoSchweiz and MeteoFrance had both promised a day like this, I’d had a vague look at the map last night for a possible route. So, I scrambled to gather my stuff, threw it in/on the car, and drove on up to Thann, gateway to the Hautes Vosges, 35 minutes up the road.

Due to time restrictions I ended up doing a fairly modest loop (17km and D+/D- 615m).

Google Earth

OSM Cycle Map

Route Profile

I avoided my usual late-Winter mistake of getting too excited and heading too high…i.e. aiming for an unrealistic col and getting half-way up to the knees in slush. Instead, I played things by my (in the end fairly accurate) prediction of snow-free trails up to about 800m on south-facing stuff, so things went well in this regard.

Although short, the route I took was fairly singletrack intensive, heading from Thann up the Grumbach valley and via some lovely rolling trails past the Roche Albert.

At the Roche Albert

From here it’s was more of the same up to Camp de Pyramides, followed by a relatively technical descent (with almost Alp-like steepish rocky switchbacks!).

One of the less technical bits of a relatively technical trail!

Instead of descending straight back to Thann I stayed high and left and did a short out-and-back to Pastetenplatz which turned out to be worth it but not fantastic… a bit too straight for my liking.

Leaving Pastetenplatz

From the bottom of here, I reached the Waldkapelle chapel (tribute to the fallen soldiers of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 who faught in these forests). The singletrack from the Waldkapelle down into the Ihlerstal valley is surely some of the best I’ve ridden in the Vosges. Whoopy + tacky = fast. At the exit, I ascended the 4×4 track to the Croix du Rangen, out into the open and rode down past the vineyards back into town.

Thann

Two quite personal observations from today:

1) Riding good singletrack for the first time in ages (2.5 months in this case) is hugely satifying. It’s a bit like getting a decent espresso after the machine’s been broken for a week.

2) Riding great trails (especially if very close to other trails you know well) for the first time adds fresh perspective to things, and makes me feel positive… transferable to parts of life outside of mountain biking.

I experienced both of these phenomena today, so I’m most definitely a happy bunny tonight 🙂

Posted by: sapaudia | 11/02/2010

Capturing the elusive 300

I’ve been working as a cycle messenger (/bike courier/whatever you wanna call it) here in Basel since the beginning of January. We get paid a percentage of the turnover that we generate. As with any job, there is a certain amount of learning the ropes. Getting to know the city well from a bike-riding perspective is a must but it’s much more:  getting to know the clients, or at least grasping the technical ins-and-outs of the jobs that they order and the premises where they work, is also key to success.

For me on the job, it has been quite up and down, both experience-wise (I will expand on these at a later date) and earnings-wise (see the graphic below).

Needless to say, January was not the highest earning month of my life. In fact it was my lowest-earning month since “records began”. I am told that this is normal for any cycle messenger. It would seem that the average daily (5 hour shift) turnover for a seasoned VeloKurier at our place is CHF300, which is the figure I finally surpassed today at my 12th attempt. Happy with that.

Turnover

Posted by: sapaudia | 24/01/2010

Col de Prafleuri

A lovely tour in the sun with good company. Off the back of Mont Fort and down Phantom Couloir…

Phantom Couloir

…followed by a brief venture over the Col de Prafleuri…

Col de Prafleuri

…to within spitting distance of the Prafleuri cabane (this is proper Haute Route country).

Into a whole nother crazy valley

The route didn’t go 100% according to plan but we had a great day; it was a perfect example of the importance of the content of the day being outweighed by the “being out there in the mountains in the sunshine with mates” aspect.

Saying that, and although we didn’t accomplish exactly what we’d set out to do, I still thought it was a great little route. For another description of the day and more photos, see Rob’s blog.

Posted by: sapaudia | 23/01/2010

Freshies @ Van Zoron…

…it’s spelled something like that anyway.

Doug was over from Sheffield for the weekend, so on Saturday we went to this secret spot to shred some sweet lines. We got many more fresh powder turns than expected, so that was good.

The highlight of the day: a fairly short ridge hike onto a 2400m summit, followed by a mainly untracked north-facing corrie of loveliness. Short (350m vert) but very sweet, so we did it twice.

A video compilation of the day’s best powder pitches should be following soon…

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