SkiBike Tour 2011-12 - Flaine

Posted: Saturday, 28 January 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

After a minimalist continental breakfast we bid an au revoir to Northern France and headed South. I found it a rare treat to be in the passenger seat and drank in the views of this pleasant country that now feels more like home to me than South London.
We passed the time swapping anecdotes, a story from Carl's days as a car mechanic about a colleague who broke his back removing a car gearbox was particularly memorable.
I marvelled at how social networking had made this trip possible. I wondered how you might find yourself stuck on a holiday with an incompatible stranger. Perhaps I should keep quiet about my current eBay bid for a pair of pink Raichle ski boots (for spares honest!). No doubt we will be bickering like an elderly couple by the end of the week.

We compared our different approaches to our engagement with the sport of skibiking.
Carl is "Capitain Le Chic", he has no qualms about assembling state of the art premium components into his skibike. I sadly am "Mr Thrifty", forever doomed to cobble together a melange of cheap, recycled components into my artisanal diy solutions, boldly heading down the piste wearing dead man's clothes.

Driving is made so much easier by company, the hours and miles shoot by, aided by conversation and frequent cat naps. We broke the journey by stocking up on food and consumables at Dole a pretty provincial town, within sight of the Jura mountains in the Comte region.
As I had anticipated it wasn't possible to make the last leg of the journey from Cluses to Flaine without fitting snow chains, this had been covered and a brand new set bought from Amazon were sat in the boot. We fitted snow chains at dusk by the light of other cars headlamps, both of my torches having disappeared in the matmos of items in the car.
Carl did surprisingly well in spite of tangles, but after stopping after a few hundred yards to check their tension  disaster struck, a vital link snapped rendering them useless.
With Flaine just 4 miles away we had to retrace our route back down the hill and find a new pair of chains in the appropriate size. The Spar mini market at Carroz came up trumps and after 15 minutes of effort we were able to continue our journey.
There was evidence of plentiful snowfall above 500m, huge mounds surrounded the road on all sides.
We located and quickly settled in to our skibiker HQ for the week. Carl immediately began skibike assembly, whilst I got all domesticated and sorted out some much needed refreshments. The long drive and mountain air caught up with Carl and he turned in early, whilst I made a midnight orienteering walk to try to establish the location of our flat relative to the resort. We have come up trumps, the Grand Platiers cable car at Flaine Forum is right beneath us and the excellent high speed Grand Vans chairlift is at the end of the street. It couldn't be better, we have access to the best skibiker runs on our doorstep.