So the summer finally decided to show it's face this year, I mean it's only September and due to start snowing again in some places in October! It was time to hit the road again in our trusty van for the last leg of the season. We had the final world cup to go to in Val di Sole, Italy (thank God), then a week of well deserved holiday time & riding with friends in Lake Garda, Italy (where the sun always seems to shine) & then off to the World Champs in Champery, Switzerland (where it will most likely rain on us for the entire event).
We decided to go to Val di Sole via Provence and the French Riviera - not out of the way at all, but summer was finally here and we wanted to go for a swim in the sea. August is crazy vacation month in France, so driving around and trying to find a spot in the ocean wasn't that easy, but we squeezed our way (white bodies and all) through the beaches, restaurants and shops all along the beautiful beaches & coves of Cannes, Nice & Monaco. After a few days of maddening crowds and shiny, vessels, it was time to head back to the hills to visit our friend Fabien Barel, and to push on to the mountains and stunning vertile apple valleys of Val di Sole.
It was the first world cup of the year where it didn't rain, and it was wonderful. It was hot and we couldn't complain. Great for living in the van, because we could go and swim (shower) in the river everyday, and the sunshine just brought a great feel to the event. I had a great week of exploring the little villages and the beautiful Dolomite mountains (and helping Sven with a bit of his work). I just wanted this race to be over, because I knew we had a full week of chill time ahead of us in beautiful Lake Garda - our favorite place to go, with absolutely insane trail riding and camping on the lake - it really is the highlight of our European summers. There are a few of us who have made this a yearly tradition, we have the most ghetto campsite, filled with bikes & lilo's, but we spend our days riding bikes, swimming and eating copious amounts of pizza, pasta, wine, beer and of course gelato. This year the crew consisted of Victor Lucas, Chris Ball, Oliver Munnik & Jon Cancellier - all of us either sleeping in our van's or in Chris's case, on the mighty Challenger - his inflatable row boat that he bought.
The summer was here in full swing, with a heat wave that hit the lake, we were having temperatures in the 40's every single day, so we opted for more shuttling than climbing. The place has the best trail riding, and we still haven't even scratched the surface. It is Nomad heaven, but it beats up your bikes and bodies like none other (that is where the lake & all the lemoncillo comes in handy).
We rode, we swam, we drank, we Via Ferrata'd up a canyon (I got really scared & started crying), we hired scooters and rode around very old villages, ate some more, swam some more, shopped a little, lost an i-phone, worked a little, rode some more, ate gelato a lot and actually rested & had a summer holiday for the first time this year. It was bliss, and none of us wanted to pack up our lilo's to head back into the gloomy mountains of Switzerland...It was time to leave, and it was the end of August, which meant all the holiday makers also had to leave, summer was officially over, and i felt really sad that that was that. That was my summer. Over. Back to real life and Sven working all day long, every day, till the wee hours of the morning. I was just getting used to this. LOL!
Champery was spectacular. The mountains are absolutely spectacularly fucking beautiful. They are so dramatic, massive and overwhelming. You feel so small, looking up all around you, as far as you can see, they surround you. The colors, the textures, dimensions and depth of these mountains really do touch you. The riding out here on the other hand, is not the most exciting, they love their very steep fire road climbs & fire road descents, but they are very scenic, and well worth the slog. I didn't mind the slog up & down fire roads after having a week of insane trail riding in Garda anyways, and I was just trying to get some miles under my belt for the upcoming 7 day stage race, the Trans Provence that we are racing at the end of this month, so it was perfect.
The rain held off all week, of course waiting for the main racing days to come down, and I mean come down. The DH track was insane on Sunday, it was absolute survival out there. Danny Hart's run - unbelievable. No other words to describe what he did on a bike in those conditions. Hat's off to all the other racers, that was one hell of a hard day at the office - including the press. Sven's camera's all packed up and died as soon as the racing finished - a perfect end to another amazing, crazy season on the road. We did have one more thing to take care of though, the shaving of Gary's beard that he had started to grow at the first World cup of the year and now it was time to get that thing off his face!
2011 World cup season done. Thank goodness. Another hectic few months done, another set of waterproofs that aren't waterproof anymore, thousands of dollars of camera equipment that is either broken or needs some serious attention, a very tired, overworked, but relieved husband. Now the hard work really starts for Sven, to get everything edited and out to his clients. Hats of to you babes - you are amazing!
We do have one more very exciting adventure ahead of us, the Trans Provence 7 day stage race, where we start in Gap and race over 7 days to finish on the beach in Monaco. The best part of it all is, that they only time all the downhills and they have between 4/5 timed downhills per stage! Time to get Sven on the bike and riding, he only has Nicolas Vouilloz, Fabien Barel & Jerome Clementz to beat! I on the other hand cannot wait to have another great adventure with my good friend Tracy Moseley who will also be racing this event.
Check it out here & follow us on our adventure http://www.trans-provence.com/
That's it for now. Time to chill with the family in Vernassal & to enjoy the slower pace of this tiny village.