The morning after the night before. I felt fine! No hangover, probably because I drank a LOT of water before bed. However there was a LOT more water outside than I was expecting. It was raining a good bit, which mean snow higher up… where I was planing on going, but hey all my clothes and bike were already covered in mud so what difference did it make.
I set off at about 1:30 wearing, 3 thick pairs of socks, cycle shorts, bike trousers (not waterproof), a long sleeve top, my Norrona windproof, two pairs of gloves and helmet. I took with my the bear essentials since I didn’t have a bag (you will realise I am always ‘prepared’): multitool, repair patches, phone, money, pump and fishermans friends (of course?).
The plan was to go back to Grenoble via the Cole de Liutel, with the hope that a few of the tracks marked on the other side of the hill would be worth the climb! It was pretty wet setting off and the two smaller roads up the valley to the bottom of the col turned out to be closed (one because of a huuuuuge landslide form a few years ago and the other because they seemed to be digging a massive hole in it) which meant I had to take the mains A road up most of the way, never a fan of using the big roads, especially not in the bad visibility.
The bottom of the pas in Sechelienne was at 360m and the top was at 1262m so a good 900m climb to warm me up! The snow probably started at about the 6-700m mark but there was tyre marks a good way up which made grip ok but after that it was compacted snow so it was either ride in the tyre tracks (skid a lot) or ride in the deeper snow (like riding in sand), meaning it took a good while to get to the top. The snow at the top was super deep a good 25-30cm and the visibility was about 20m meaning I was a little concerned I might make a wrong turn, I could barely see where the road ended and the verge began.
I managed to find the start of the downhill but was greeted by a couple of cross country skiers! Who were shocked to see me to say the least… asking ‘can you really ride in this much snow’, my response had to be ‘I am not sure, we will soon find out! and if you see me in a heap further down the trail feel free to help dig me out’. The snow was rideable and it was actually easier to ride where no one else had walked before but was a little out of control; drifting everywhere and little control from the brakes being too cold I think! It felt a little like when you see guys in videos doing off-piste skiing and there is snow everywahhhhh and you can barely see the skier for the snow! It made getting cold, wet and nackered worth it for sure! A new experience to say the least.
The rest of the ride was below the snow line and the trails were ridiculously wet and muddy, something like I imagine it has been like in the UK all winter?!?! I feel your pain. Resulting in the muddiest my face has ever been and some non existent rear brake pads by the last little descent, making for some interesting riding with only a front brake on some steep drops and a very sore right hand.
Thought? Riding in the snow is awesome! Shame about the mud and water afterwards however.