All good trips start with a pitch, or some sort of half baked idea. This one started simply; an idea to cover Roc D’Azur that spiralled into something bigger thanks to a series of ‘we could always also’ additions which resulted in us being here in Finale Ligure typing this, a third of the way into a journey.
There’s an optimism thing that goes in your mind which blanks out certain climbs on a ride making it far more likely you’ll be suckered into attempting it again. Likewise I’m fairly sure that long boring sections of motorway are similarly deleted from memory, only to surface when you’re already committed to a trip that somehow extended to 2500 miles between conception and midway down France, on an autoroute, in a place you have no recollection of mapping out, and there’s still four hours of driving to go.
So this plan began with a fairly straightforward destination; one of Europe’s largest mountain bike festivals. Then along the way we decided that Mavic’s Annecy Design Centre was ‘on the way’. So that became day one’s destination.
We’ve got a long wheelbase van, a budget, a vague plan and a romantic idea about dirtbag camping along the way. Six hours to the ferry, a quick hour and a half’s sleep, then hours of driving later. we arrive in the mountains. And all is good.
Factory visit in the bag (watch out for a future article in the mag), it’s time to ride. You get a better feel for a company when you get to ride their local trails. And it’s sunny. And the trails are in prefect condition. You’d be crazy not to right?
Annecy it turns out has some pretty sweet riding right from Mavic’s doorstep. We head up into the wooded mountains and get a few hours on steep, switchbacked, and off camber trails that offer perfect traction and plenty of flow. There’s an outstanding view out over the lake and the town below. A mid ride stop for scenic baguette eating breaks up the afternoon and leaves us wanting more, and a return trip, before we’ve even left town.
By mid afternoon it’s time to load up the van and head south. It’s a journey that’s punctuated by places we recognise the name of; Col du Galibier, Col d’Iseran, in amongst a whole series of places we’re making mental notes to check out future riding potential. It’s the usual mountainbiker’s trick of scanning endless hillsides for hints of rideable trail. Day dreaming about the lines that may exist on ridgelines and down side valleys.
It’s dark by the time we hit the second “it’s on the way” destination of the trip: Finale Ligure. It’s Enduro World Series weekend so it seems an obvious place to park up and ride for a few days. Arriving under cover of dark works out well as we sneak the van into a beachside location in amongst the team trucks and vans.
Sleeping bags stretched out in the back, a five minute walk into town and free showers and the Mediterranean fifty metres away. As dirtbag camping spots go it’s pretty perfect.
Two hours in and the journey is already forgotten.
Until next time.