SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Morillon Mentoring

Posted: Sunday, 9 February 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

OK I will have to take back what I wrote about the Grand Massif in my last post, today was the sort of amazing day I remember having in this area. I was back to meet with Mark Bayston, who is hiring my bike for the week, the last time we rode together was on a sledging hill in Derby about this time last year. He then took a late season holiday in this area and had a reasonably good time, but did manage to crack a rib in the process. It takes a lot of guts to "get back on the horse" after such an experience. Today I could see how he was getting on and perhaps do a bit of mentoring to point him in the right direction.
He had only arrived last night after a bad ferry crossing followed by 500 miles of driving in heavy rain. The plan was to ease him back into the saddle gently, with a succession of pleasant, easy, blue runs to cruise along and maybe the odd spot of unchallenging off-piste.

We met in Morillon and kicked off with a couple of warm up runs on the wide Sairon piste, Mark seemed to "dial-in" very quickly and soon settled down to some very tidy linked turns working his way methodically down the run. We met up with Mark's family for a quick refreshment break and the weather, which had been snowing quite heavily on and of suddenly abated and the sun burst through.

A couple of warm up runs on the wide Sairon piste

We headed in the direction of Les Carroz and its charming wooded runs, but Mark was unimpressed with the firm nature of the runs immediately above the town, so we headed over towards Vernant taking advantage of the bountiful off piste areas. Both of us managed at some point to get ourselves sunk in the "quick sand". Next we hit the bowl under the Grand Vans chairlift above Flaine.
We made out way down in Flaine Forum for a well deserved beer, I checked the time and to my amazement and horror realised that it was nearing 4 O'clock, I couldn't face the prospect of getting stuck in Flaine for a second time. We postponed the beers for later and hurried towards the Grand Vans Chair.
Scurrying off I was accosted by a wildly gesticulating snow boarder, who turned out to be local lad and Blog regular, Fabrice Mercier, hopefully we will ride together soon.

Mark Bayston - his skills were progressing so fast

We then had to head down the Dolomie run which had developed monster mogul fields, just what you don't need when you're in a hurry. Mark did amazingly well, for someone with a weeks freestyle riding behind them, to get down a steep monster mogul at a steady speed and in control is quite an achievement. To do it the first day of your holiday, when your body is telling you to it's had enough, doubly so.
We made it to the Corbalanche lift with time to spare and arriving at the Tetes des Saix, realised that we were home dry, from that point on it would all be downhill.
This gave us an opportunity to savour the ride, stop for that well earned beer and give Mark's family a chance to catch up with his eventful day and do a final grand run at sunset back to their Morillon 1100 base camp.
By the time we got back, the lifties told me that the telecabin down to Morillon village had officially stopped, but I could still jump in if I was quick; or take my chances by riding down the closed piste to the village. I had a few last minute arrangements to make with Mark, so opted for the latter option. It was a remarkable experience riding in the gathering twilight through the trees and chalets back down to the village, the pink and orange glow of the setting sun bouncing off the snow on the high peaks all around. With around 500 metres left to ride, I discovered why this piste was closed, the surface was little more than icy slabs and bare earth. At which point it was time for an evening stroll through the woods.

Both of us managed to get ourselves sunk in the "quick sand"

Why was this ride so different from the last? No crowds and on a Sunday too, this defies explanation. The weather wasn't too god at the start of the day, with snow and grey skies, but from mid day one of the first few bluebird days had arrived. There were no issues with queues anywhere at any time.
I shall meet up with Mark at the end of the week to ride again, his skills were progressing so fast he will no doubt have a few recommendations for me by then.