BV boss Sam has been dreaming a dream for many years of a singletrack traverse of France from north to south – a bit like the Tour Divide in terms of adventure but with amazing riding and much better cheese. Then BV guide Huw Oliver mentioned a very similar dream of a route from Geneva right down through them tharr Alps to the Mediterranean and the two of them started to get serious about things. The main event is a bike-packing rally right the way down through most of the juiciest bits of France – the Savoie Alps, the Haute-Alps and the Mercantour Alps, dodging marmots, national parks and soap all the way to the seaside.
Sound a bit beastly? Well here comes the clever bit – the route breaks up nicely into two segments and those segments feature smile-inducing luxuries such as hotels/refuges, restaurants, optional van uplifts, vehicle support and professional guiding. The segments split neatly according to the ranges through which we pass: Savoie Alps, Haute-Alpes and Mercantour, each one forming a week long singletrack road trip.
AlpPacker Stage 1: Savoie Alps into the Hautes-Alpes
Need to know:
When: Saturday September 9-16th 2017 (1 week)
Where: From Geneva, past Mt Blanc all the way down through Briancon and into the mythical Queyras Hautes-Alpes.
Distance: Around 265km – it varies slightly depending on route options.
Climbing: + 7500m over the week
Descending: +16000m over the week
Uplifting: 1-2 uplifts a day to help us on our way, gaining roughly 1000m each time.
Holiday Cost: €1595, which includes:
- full guiding with a dedicated professional guide
- uplifts, whether from your dedicated uplift driver or using cable cars etc.
- accommodation in twin rooms/refuges
- all meals
- vehicle support (carrying your kit and spares between overnight stops so you can ride light)
All you really need to add is money for evening drinks, post cards and any bike spares.
Flights: Just get yourself to Geneva by 4pm on Saturday 9th and book a flight home after 1pm on Sat 16th.
Booking: Just hop over to the regular booking form and fill it in, selecting the AlpPacker dates.
Riding type: Everything the Alps has to offer! This is technical alpine riding at its finest. You should have experience of riding natural technical singletrack in the Alps however – we will often be hike-a-biking up and riding tight switchbacks, steep rock gardens and every other delight mother nature has to offer on the way down. If you are at all unsure then we heartily recommend you come on a ‘normal’ BV trip first to prepare yourself for the AlpPacker.
Riding altitude range: from up to 3200m right down to 400m. Huuuge!
What bike to bring: a modern, 130-160mm travel trail/endur0 rig will do nicely. An ‘enduro’ hardtail would work fine too. Tough tyres over light ones will save you endless heartache.
What kit to wear: we advise knee pads. Beyond this it’s up to personal preference. Lightweight elbow pads certainly aren’t overkill so long as you don’t mind wearing them all day.
What will the weather be like? The most likely scenario is sunshine with cool mornings and afternoons into the mid-high 20s. Ideal for mountain biking. However, whenever it rains in the mountains it is cold and in 16 years of Bikevillage we have ridden in snow every single month of the year. Be prepared for the cold and wet so that if it happens we can still have fun!
How technical is it? We have kept the route a flowing as possible but loads of the best trails in the Alps are quite techy! The majority of climbing is on double track or mellow singletrack, without many hike-a-bikes over 30 minutes. The descents are simply mind blowing and totally rideable with the odd hop in a tight corner and a certain ease in steep terrain.
Will it be too tough/technical for me? If you love the UK ‘big mountain’ classics like Snowden, Helvellyn, Kinlochleven, Nan Bield etc then the AlpPacker will be right up your street.
What else to bring – basic bike spares – brake pads, spare mech hanger and rear mech. We carry a selection of spares including tyres, cables, brakes etc but with the recent-ish explosion in standards we can’t cover every mech/axle/wheel diameter/tyre width option.