JRNL:004 – Rivieride in AnnecyTuesday 08/22 :
Post 15th of August week in the south of France, everybody is slowly coming back to work. Barely time to meet my co-workers and I’m already running away putting my bike and stuff in Gaetan’s car. Let’s drive to the north, destination Annecy.
After annuities payed to Vinci for leaving South East using the highway, we’re escaping the heat wave and reaching more welcoming temperatures. A stop to eat and text David on the way to tell him we will be in Annecy at 23.
We don’t know yet but our freshly back to Annecy host, wait for us with a quite luxurious home in comparison with our last « Là-bas » trip in the Basque Country.
A shower and a good sleep, and we will be ready to start exploring Annecy! Refers to locals ridersWednesday:
First ride around Annecy starts in Talloire. We met Pierre HENNI, filmmaker part of the Giromagny enduro team, and followed him around the house he’s sharing with other riders in front of the lake. The first trail is what Pierre calls the “Goulet Magique” (magic gut), a tight tortuous half pipe of dirt. It rained the night before but the loam and the leaf still flying around every lap we’re taking thru this short spot. Slowly growing confidence, it gets faster and wilder but still scary due to the stump crossing the gut you have to avoid.
Emotional roller coaster just before leaving this gut to reach a bigger one: a little girl is attacked by bees, literally dozens of bees. The Magic Goulet is not a fun and welcoming place for everyone!
The transition is to the next spot is fun but tricky. It’s a fast single track with some technical bits. Coming from the Riviera we know how to deal with rocks, but we definitively have to learn about roots, especially wet roots. But no worries, Pierre checking the grass and the dirt outside of the trail after a right corner is remembering us we all still human.
After a small climb, we hit the second gut. This one sums up quite easy: high speed. Riding with Pierre is perfect here because you have all the lines and you can ride full speed knowing he will get out of here in one piece, as you if you can strictly following him.
The next climb allow our brake to stop burning before riding a playful single track heading back to Pierre home. A common point with our place is the trail ending in front of water, the sea at home and the lake here in Annecy.
Having two cars allowed us to shuttle the uphill, Gaetan and Pierre drove the cars back and sadly I discovered another common point trying another trail for the upper part: trail being destroyed by locals…
Pierre explained to me how to find the entrance of a jump trail, to change the way from the first gut. I rapidly found the first branches crossing the trail, and then the first destroyed kickers. It seems complicated everywhere to share the hills and the trails. Hopefully the lower part of the trail is based on natural obstacle, steep rocks section and fast flat loamy corners and helps to forget the disaster. Good luck for rebuilding this one!
Pierre having to leave for La Bresse, we leave him at the beginning of the afternoon.
Thanking him and putting back his bike in the garage, we realized that the life looks good here: bikes, boat, wakeboard, ski etc. Lots of fun in and out of the trails for sure!
After this short first ride, we took the afternoon to meet with OWN founders and designers at their working studio.
Discover Only What's Necessary beyond the name, at the brainstorm place of the brand is a really interesting experience. What are the inspiring sources to create from a common product as a shoe to design a technical and specific one for mountain biking. A lot of exchange about the actual product, our experience with it, and the future of the FR01 shoes and more. Thanks Warren and Dan to opened us the door of this mystery place.Same routine new playersThursday:
Another day, same rider’s chalet but new roommate as we catch with Julien, main man of the Giromagny enduro team. After meeting him at IONs French headquarter just before his mid-day break, we went for two trails fast ride near Alex built by the Born to jump Crew and on the Veyrier.
The first trail is intense. After a short and steep pedaling uphill we find a steep single track, with brutal turns where you’re coming in drifting and you only have half a second to find the support and push to redirect your bike. Just after the first two turns, a strain drop to a left hander berm is surprising you. This time again riding with a local gives you the speed and confidence to hit everything first try. After a quick jumpy section at the bottom of the trail, we charged the bikes and leave for the second trail.
It’s in the Mont Veyrier, where a lot of trails are built and mountain bikers tolerated, quite close to the city. And once again you can ride the uphill or shuttle it with your friends during a mid-day break or post work. Julien shows us a nearly natural trail with only small berms and small adjusting to keep the good rhythm.
Julien is already leaving us to go back to work. But as the good guide he’s, he made us stop at a local bakery before riding to try a sandwich winner of the national championship years before. We didn’t even know it existed, but it deserved a stop: good local product mixed the best way to end perfect second ride in Annecy area.
And good enough to motivate David our host and me to climb at the top of the old cable car from the “Col des contrebandiers”. We found a panoramic point of view on the lake, Annecy and the valley on the East side. And the prize for this long and steep climb is a long ride from this place nearly to the grassy beach boarding the lake. Really challenging at the top, where I ended up crashing trying a off camber line on a rock. Then showing the root of her name “la piste des 1000 virages” (1000 turns trail), where I also ended up crashing on a left switch back. And finishing with a wide trail you can ride full speed, praying not to cross someone climbing.
Too tired after this day, we couldn’t join the Thursday ride organized by the local shop in Annecy, a great way to create a strong community of riders, should be the same rendez-vous in every local shop to share good times with customers or futures ones!
Riding on the coast to Annecy, we started planning where and when to film for the next days. But first things first, what to cook on the barbecue this evening!Night of rain, the game changerFriday:
First day of filming. We started with the steep and short trail near Alex. Pushing uphill we first noticed that everything looked smaller following Julien. We agreed that we would have thought twice before hitting the strain drop to left hand berm discovering the trail by ourselves. After a quick shoot on the uphill, I start with nothing else that a big crash on the first clip downhill. Yep the grip is gone by the wet night. So pumped to finally ride after pushing the bike, I hit a tree with my right hand and flew meters away to land directly on my back. Thanks to the back protection of my Camelback Kudu I walked out from this one with a bloody right hand. The rest of the filming was quite calm. We only crossed locals scared for theirs mushrooms harvest. Nothing else to worry about. After pushing bikes and bags all trail long to film, and quite forced by the sore hand, we called it a day before calling the famous Pizza Pepone to heal everything quick.Time is running out
Went to the Veyrier labyrinth with our host to get the shots on the naturals trails. The trails aren’t steep, it’s flowy but could be tricky with some technical sections you can’t really see coming. The good part is the easy way to climb back for the shot, and the trails are cutting by the main road a few times so the rhythm of working is split. Whites rocks, turns with leaves, high speed between the trees, the Veyrier got so much variety, we didn’t see half of the potential of this mountain. After the shooting time, we shuttled up to get the POV shot, and we couldn’t climb without the livestream of the WC La Bresse on our phones, wait what, Martin Maes wait in the hot seat, watching all the others riders in the muddy track try to beat his time, we couldn’t go back to ride before the end of the race. After winning the EWS in Whistler, Martin Maes took the win in France, what an unexpected win, he made our day!
Go back on track for the POV run, the track is really fun in one shot, the diversity of the track offers so much pleasure, and when you know the tricky parts, it really feels cool to ride.
Last Coal back on the bike carrier, go to Alex for a POV shot on the born to jump trail. After the climb, Gopro power on check, gimbal power on and set check, drop in, and miss the strain drop, so stop and go back to the top again.
On one ride, this trail is sick, steep, with some cool stunts, and so much flow on the bottom, riding a half-pipe of flying leaves with some slippery turns is one of the best riding feeling on a bike!
After all these riders and surprises, it’s time for a french rule, « après l’effort le réconfort » we could says as: After all that effort, sit back and relax, it’s Apéro time! After a couple of drinks and french snacks, it’s time to get a real meal in old town Annecy-le-vieux, old stone, mains streets connected by narrows, a typical french village with a look of Venise. We finally reach the famous restaurant and ordered a classic fondue (cheese and wine cooked in the same pot), yep what a healthy stuff to enjoy the night. After this light diner, the must have to achieve this instafitness program is a stop at « Glacier des Alpes », home made ice cream, can't believe the 30meters queue for it !! As we got time, we spent our 20minutes to order the cold thing, and does it worth it ? Ohh yeah no doubt!
And what about a night walk to digest our french food routine before falling asleep. One more long lap before homeSunday :
For the last day, we wanted to take our time and do a tour of the lake. We decided to change the side of the lake we explored for 3 days, and drive by the west coast. Doing a break at the bottom, on the south side, was the plan so we start searching for a trail in this area. For sure if we didn’t find anything, there were the solution of riding the famous Semnoz. We wish we could have more time to try it with the city bus as a shuttle, but we rapidly found a trail named Starwars in the south part of the lake. Pierre told us about this one. He said the lower part is full speed between the trees. Having our Last Coal not for so long, we were curious about testing them on this kind of terrain. David approved the idea because he knew Col de la Forclaz and that the view from this place is matchless.
The drive on the west side on a sunny sunday morning was really pleasant. Different from the East, but still beautiful with the field or small town in the foreground and the lake and the mountains surrounding it in the background. It’s not so quiet at the top of Col de la Forclaz. Paragliders, too much tourist and fantastic cyclists climbing by the road, and the vehicles of families and friend joining them at the top. We stayed there to check the view over the lake, photography it and we dived in the star wars trail. The beginning is perfect for a first ride in the morning: not too steep, no trap, some wide enough switchbacks. But you have to be careful because of the walkers also using this trail. It’s what we call a « GR » in France, and you knew we are not always welcomed on these ones…
The second part is safer on this point because its more open and you can see as far as you need to see someone and brake. The trail begin to be fun as its a flowy and quite fast single track with some tight turns surprising you at this speed. And naturally you become you main enemy. You can ride faster and you do it until your limits. Gaetan remembered what overconfidence is ejecting himself over the bar with his full photographer back pack after a massive slash in a natural berm.
A close call before the last part. As fast as Pierre told us : no brake between the trees and the rocks on the lower part. We all took a good rush of adrenaline riding this way knowing you really can’t crash at this speed. And the bikes were quite impressive in breaking free zones ! Well done Jochen the engineer behind the design at Last bikes company.
Kind of stoned after letting the adrenaline rush get away replaced by hypoglycaemia, we took the road back to Annecy on the East side. Remembering our first days here and knowing we sadly not have to plan what to ride tomorrow.
It’s great knowing all these trails, and many more in the Semnoz and the Veyrier! We drove by Annecy many time before but never took time to stop. We will certainly do it every time now to share rides, cheese or ice-cream with the locals making this place even greater for mountain biking.RivierideOnlyWhatsNecessary
Words, photos and video: Rivieride