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  • This topic has 20 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 4 days ago by Alex.
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  • Who’s ridden the Stone King Rally? How tough?
  • CliveA
    Full Member

    Hi folks

    A friend is proposing a few of us go over to the Maritime Alps to ride the Stone King Rally for his 50th birthday. Not the race, obviously: just riding the route.

    https://stonekingrally.org/touringclub/

    Looks great, but here’s the thing:

    My friend, and the other riders we might go with, are better riders than I am. I’ve ridden with them in the Alps before, and found that I struggle to manage some technical sections that my mates love. Finale Ligure sticks in my memory. I struggled to keep up with them, and fell off big time.

    So: What of the Stone King Rally? I’m an experienced rider who loves swoopy Alpine singletrack, but I’m not a super-technical rider. I’m blue/red, while my friends are more red with a dash of black.

    Is the SKR likely to entertain me, or terrify me?

    superfli
    Free Member

    The description that I was in the making of video described the trails as red grade, not too tough. I’ve also seen a number of POV vids from last years race and nothing “looked” too tight or technical TBH. Thats Alps grading though, so maybe tough red in UK. Its more the distance of the whole thing and the 8000m climbing which might put some people off.

    I’m doing this. Also for my 50th birthday present 🙂 Booked and paid for. Just waiting and hoping a few of my mates will join me!

    JonEdwards
    Free Member

    I can’t help directly with the technicality, as I’ve not actually ridden it, but I have worked on it and seen the state of the riders.

    I’m not sure I’d try and grade it in “bikepark colour” terms. Its (mostly) natural riding, so it could be anything from green to double black from one corner to the next.

    Its big days, no two ways about it. There were 2 from memory that were 12hr+ for a good few riders. Expect some epic hikeabike and exposure (sure I saw some pics of what had a suspiciously via ferrata looking safety line)

    Touring it rather than racing it has swings and roundabouts – you’re not pushing so hard which takes some of the immediate danger of “blind racing”, but equally the more you back off the pace, the longer things take and medium days suddenly stretch into big ones – then the more tired you get, the harder stuff becomes, plus there’s not so many people on the hill looking out for you.

    Its also very much a wild mountain environment – and not nearly so well travelled as the better known honeypot MTB locations (which is kinda the point), but it does mean you need a parallel “mountain” skillset alongside the “riding a bike” one. The hailstorm on Day1 last year being a case in point. Balmy weather in one valley, not bad in the next, full scottish winter conditions in between. In June.

    A good chunk of it is about mental fortitude as much as physical. Every year (I’ve worked a bunch of TransProvence’s too) there’s some perfectly competent riders who quit after the first day because they’re shellshocked by the experience. Equally there’s always one of 2 who act like they’re utterly out of their depth, but who keep grinding on and finish with the biggest smiles on their faces. Last summer there was a scottish lass – Tweed Valley local who’d never ridden in the Alps before and genuinely didn’t know what she was letting herself in for, who was utterly gobsmacked by the riding on the first day – like nothing she’d ever experienced. But she kept it together, just kept the pedals turning or putting one foot in front of the other and made it to Bordighera, burnt, battered, bruised but absolutely buzzing. That grit is not something you can learn.

    That said, I massively enjoyed working on it, and it does live up to the hype. The landscape is stunning, the locations you pass through are epic, and the whole route is steeped in history. Use the wormholes maybe, if you’ve got a Coolbus driver, tap them up for knowledge (Bry’s ridden a lot of the trails with Ash) and it’ll be a proper adventure.

    kitebikeski
    Free Member

    I’m doing it first week in Sept. Looking forward to it – looks amazing!
    Gonna get a lot of riding/training in in prep for those big days though!

    julians
    Free Member

    (sure I saw some pics of what had a suspiciously via ferrata looking safety line)

    yep – you did see a via ferrata section – we did that bit of it earlier this year when we went to molini, sheer drop to certain death on the right, extremely narrow path with safety line on the left. Was squeaky bum time … lots of exposure. It is only a few metres long though, so you are past it quickly.

    OP my gut feel is that if you struggled a bit in finale then you might struggle on this route, it looks tough. Which trails in finale did you struggle on – can you remember their names?

    HobNob
    Free Member

    I’ve ridden some of the trails they have used around the Molini area (including the one mentioned above) which was long but not technically hard, mentally quite tough I would imagine if you don’t like exposure.

    You will ride an awful lot of switchbacks. Some of which are easy, most of which are just nadgery & awkward, as they are designed for hikers.

    FWIW, the days we rode the stuff they used on the SKR were actually my least favourite riding days, others loved that type of trail.

    DrP
    Full Member

    Wow – this looks fab!!

    So when you say ‘booked’, you’re not doing the race per se, but paid this company to assist/shuttle etc, and you ride the route at your own pace?

    I might seek more details!!

    DrP

    superfli
    Free Member

    @DrP who are you speaking to? Me? If so, messenger me. Not race, the touring one. Sept23-30.

    Alex
    Full Member

    yep – you did see a via ferrata section – we did that bit of it earlier this year when we went to molini, sheer drop to certain death on the right, extremely narrow path with safety line on the left. Was squeaky bum time … lots of exposure. It is only a few metres long though, so you are past it quickly.

    Oh yeah that bit. In fact the bit before as well was pretty ‘don’t look down there’ but that safety line bit.. I have got a lot better with exposure but I still was happy someone took my bike across.

    We met Ash at the bottom of that trail. He turned up with loads of riders, all with the app/route. They all looked very happy!

    I loved Molini but that section after the scary bit was the least fun trail I’d ridden. It’s nadgery and goes on for about 90 minutes if I remember correctly. Not my thing, but others may love it as @HobNob says.

    That was the second of our ‘big back country’ days. There were long days and I was glad we had a guide.

    Alex
    Full Member

    Molini MTB - Sept 2022

    There you go. That’s my friend Em making it look very easy. The landscape around there tho (and the trails) are amazing. I’ve not looked at the whole SKR route, but the trails we rode in that region were fantastic. Lots of switchbacks tho and a lot of slow (for me for sure) tech.

    Quite a few pics here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA9sbt

    julians
    Free Member

    There you go

    I have a very similar set of photos of us doing it last october (must have been shortly after you were there)- that drop on the left is BIG.

    Our full set of photos from the trip are almost identical to yours .

    Alex
    Full Member

    Hah. I guess we all stopped in similar places. Yes I wish I’d zoomed out a bit to show the drop, but I was still a bit, er, twitchy after that traverse. We’re back off there last week in May. Really looking forward to riding those trails again. But maybe not that one ^^^

    Anyway sorry OP, didn’t mean to detail your thread!

    continuity
    Free Member

    I honestly couldn’t get through the weird aesthetic of their promotional video. I’m sure Pinkbike would have a field day suggesting that it was a money sink for dentists who have sold their Yetis and bought motor assisted bikes, albeit in very pretty locations and I bet it would be a blast.

    The tracks they showed and demonstrated look about trail centre red at most, and online they state the technical difficulty as roughly equating to this.

    If you made it properly technical and mandated a lot of HAB people wouldn’t be able to portage their 30kg range extenders.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    @Drp

    Lots of information here.

    https://stonekingrally.org/

    But in summary

    You can buy a digital guide book

    If you get a group together they can do transport and uplift

    The route can be shortened to suite if need be. Either by longer transfers or cutting loops

    bikenski
    Free Member

    Their description says “most of the trails are s2 to s3, occasionally touching s4” level description

    Alpes Maritimes is full of rocky singletrack with switchbacks and exposure, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty of that. Though from the vids it looks like there’s some flowy and loamy sections too

    stonekingrally
    Free Member

    What of the Stone King Rally? I’m an experienced rider who loves swoopy Alpine singletrack, but I’m not a super-technical rider. I’m blue/red, while my friends are more red with a dash of black.

    Is the SKR likely to entertain me, or terrify me?

    I think you’ll find the route quite a challenge (nowt wrong with that!), but Touring Club allows you to dabble. For a first time, a bit of a taster, you could always go for 3-4 days and bypass the crazier stuff. There definitely is what I would call “red” stuff on the route, but not really blue. Feel free to reach out to me (Ash) directly if you need advice.

    We met Ash at the bottom of that trail. He turned up with loads of riders, all with the app/route. They all looked very happy!

    Oh Hi Al, howzit? Was good to see you down in Pigna in late September!

    I honestly couldn’t get through the weird aesthetic of their promotional video. I’m sure Pinkbike would have a field day suggesting that it was a money sink for dentists who have sold their Yetis and bought motor assisted bikes, albeit in very pretty locations and I bet it would be a blast.

    Given the general rhetoric of your post, you’re unlikely to believe this, but I have never really considered it to be a “promotional video”. I just feel fortunate to have been given a decent platform to say my bit. Stone King is basically a pretext to a trail restoration scheme, and to help certain valleys with eco-touristic development. Thanks for your feedback though, it’s a style of film that isn’t for everyone. The Pinkbike comments were pretty positive though, I must admit.

    The tracks they showed and demonstrated look about trail centre red at most, and online they state the technical difficulty as roughly equating to this.

    Trail centre red at most?? Dear me! Check out Jasper Jauch’s Youtube series about his experience of the 2022 race. That may change your mind.
    And sorry, you are incorrect about us stating online that the technical difficulty roughly equates to “trail centre red at most”. Nowhere do we state this. In fact, I would say that the Stone King trail technicality would be equivalent trail centre red at least, not at most.

    If you made it properly technical and mandated a lot of HAB people wouldn’t be able to portage their 30kg range extenders.

    It is properly technical. There is hike-a-bike. But the race doesn’t allow e-bikes so what point are you trying to make?! I use an e-bike for scouting/prep, so that I can get more done in a given amount of time.

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Trail centre red at most?? Dear me!

    You could have folk riding Rampage and it wouldn’t be hardcore enough for some.

    stonekingrally
    Free Member

    You could have folk riding Rampage and it wouldn’t be hardcore enough for some.

    😀

    It’s definitely amused me that, on the same post, it has both been suggested that the technical level of Stone King is too hard/nadgery, and that it’s too easy. In reality, perhaps it’s somewhere down the middle, i.e. about right?

    I love you STW, never ever change!

    Alex
    Full Member

    Oh Hi Al, howzit? Was good to see you down in Pigna in late September!

    Hi Ash, all good! We’re back end May for another crack at those amazing trails 🙂 Hope all is well with you and yours.

    On the trail difficulty front (and the trails we did only intersect not copy what Ash has in the SKR), I’d categorise myself as an average, experienced rider who struggles most on very exposed and steppy/stall’y/tight stuff. I walked a few bits of trail for sure but rode loads more that I thought were beyond me (big bike helps).

    I haven’t ridden many trail centres these last few years but it’s definitely more demanding/longer than any red I have. I think it’s the 4pm trail when you’re knackered and you’ve been at it all day and it’s just a bit harder than you feel you can relax on. There was a few of those.

    stonekingrally
    Free Member

    I’ve not looked at the whole SKR route, but the trails we rode in that region were fantastic.

    You do realise that now you’ve said that, you’re going to have to ride the whole route at some point? 🙂 DM me your postal address and I’ll send you one of these.

    Alex
    Full Member

    Done 🙂

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