CHAMONIX, FRENCH ALPS
WITH DMR BIKES
PHOTOS: DAN MILNER | RIDERS: OLLY WILKINS AND CHRISTIAN FAIRCLOUGH
It’s not often that a trip go’s 100% to plan. Things go wrong and stuff happens beyond your control. One way to get around this is to go into a trip with no plans at all. Just turn up with your fingers crossed. We had been hoping to get out to Chamonix for months and the weather would scupper our every attempt. Turning up this late in the season was really rolling the dice.
We knew we were pushing it time wise. With our trip already delayed because of snow I was aware that we were cutting things close to the wire. Not long until every single trail was underneath that wet white stuff that you can’t ride on. Dan Milner was to be our guide and was shooting the photos of the trip. He assured us that the risk could well be worth the reward. That magic-hour light paired with the golden colour of the treeline would make for some amazing late season images.
I had never been to Chamonix. Being from the suburbs of London I usually find the mountain towns I’ve visited a little isolated. Chamonix is one of the largest I have been to and it was nice driving through a town similar to the size of that which I live in. I noticed a distinct lack of people out and about and Cham felt like it was ready for the snow after a long and comparatively quiet summer.
With only one lift still open to bikes we were left with few options. Dan lives in Chamonix and is a real life Mountain man. We set off knowing we were in capable, calloused mountain-hands.
Coming off the lift there is 900 meters of descending underneath you. With runs heading straight down ahead of us we started our traverse across the mountain.
As we got lower down the mountain we broke into the treeline and some really rough, exposed rock sections. A majority of the trails we rode down were really hiking trails. From time to time you had to stop suddenly as the veil was lifted and you realized that the mountain was not necessarily designed with bikes in mind.
As well as giving us some spectacular light for shooting photos, this period during the year made for some amazing colours as the trees and foliage prepare for the winter ahead. In our short stay we had no weather issues, but the threat of snow is ever present and apparent.
Normally I find I quickly become accustomed to my surroundings and forget quite how amazing the scenery might be. This is much harder with this panoramic view, including Mt. Blanc, ever present. Chamonix presented the most ‘Alpine’ views I’d ever seen…and at all times. It’s almost hard to focus on the trail ahead!
The natural trails in Chamonix can be deceivingly rough and physical. What might look like a pleasant piece of flowing singletrack could quickly turn into a minefield of big anti-bike boulders. It’s a lot of fun to follow amongst an avalanche of rocks. Not a groomed bikepark trail in sight!
Passing under the lift and reaching the end of the final trail marked the end of an amazing couple of days out in Chamonix. A mixture of lift assisted riding and bike-hiking with Dan gave us a nice sample of what Chamonix had to offer.
We both rode Bolt L’s for the duration of the trip. 150mm travel up front and 125mm at the rear. These bikes are super durable and a lot of fun! Both bikes were built up with parts from DMR’s new Alpine Division. A huge thanks to Dan Milner
for guiding us, looking after us, and taking some of the most killer images I’ve seen in a long while.Check out the full Alpine Division here.