Leaving Zermatt under overcast skies and rain seemed par for the course. We loaded up all our gear on the train and rode back down to Tasch where our little blue rig had been waiting. With the next stop being La Thuile our best route was to drive to Chamonix then pass under Monte Bianco to the Italian side where we'd stay the next couple of nights in La Thuile. The stop in Chamonix was a bit of a shock. We'd been here in the winter and the town usually seemed pretty tame. The summer was a whole different ball game. The main streets in town were packed with tourist. So much so that we had to walk our bikes while we looked for a cafe. Deciding we would get out of dodge as soon as possible, we made a quick stop for some shopping for the apartment and a quick beer/wine. The drive over (or under) to Italy was also no stranger to the summer crowds. We had to wait over 30 minutes before we could pass through the Monte Bianco tunnel into Italy.
Back into Italy we made another quick shopping stop in Courmayeur before heading into the smaller La Thuile for the night. We checked in to our hotel, took a quick shower, and walked down to our favorite restaurant in La Thuile. Pepita cafe. Our friends Ben and Nelly had taken us here in February for lunch and we instantly fell in love with the food. This night was no different. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner of pasta, steak, lamb, and antipasta. Just what we needed to recharge for more riding tomorrow.
We knew that the bike park in La Thuile had a lot to offer us so we bought a one day pass to ride the chair to do some exploring around the ski area. The Enduro World Series mountain bike races had made a stop here just a few weeks prior to our arrival and we quickly realized why. We chose to test out one of the trails that the EWS had chosen for one of its stages and it was gnarly. Steep, rocky, rooty and non stop "game on". Maybe not what we needed to start off the day. Heidi had had her fill of the bike parks, so we chose to skip the park and take a tour out to the next valley to get a good view of the area and Monte Bianco.
The weather was actually pretty cold. The wind had picked up and the temps in the alpine forced us to do some bundling up for the ride uphill. We rode back to the top of La Thuile and climbed a few hundred meters more over to the next valley which would lead us to the pass where you can drive over to France. This ride was more of what we were looking for on this day. A little up and little down. As we reached the Col de petit St. Bernard, Monte Bianco was hiding under the clouds but the views through the surrounding valleys were stunning. Beautiful alpine lakes, fields and mountains covered in green grass along with blue skies made for the perfect mood.
Our plan was to camp in La Thuile one more night before moving on to France to visit Ben and Nelly but the campground was packed. They offered us the one place they had left which sat right in the middle of what seemed to be the busiest part of the campground. We passed and made a great choice in moving back over towards Courmayeur to camp in the Val Veny. Val Veny is the valley that separates Monte Bianco and Courmayeur. We had skied down this valley in February and knew the views were top notch. We found a wonderful campground with plenty of space to spread out and get comfortable. Hobo Camping was the name of the campground and it was our best campsite of the trip.
Our next ride was part of the Tour de Monte Bianco. A route for both hikers and bikers to basically walk or ride around the Mont Blanc massif. The same ride Heidi completed last summer. This ride was going to be all human powered. No cables, trains, ebikes, or shuttles. We'd start from our campsite and climb from the valley floor at 1530m to the highest point in the ride at 2440m. Where the picture above was taken. We'd then have a downhill ride back to our campsite. It was a really tough climb of pavement, gravel and singletrack to the top but the views kept you distracted from any pain or fatigue your body was feeling from three weeks of riding. The downhill portion was well worth the work. One of our best!
Our next morning was a beautiful bluebird morning and after downing a few cups of coffee we'd drive back over the Col de Petit st. Bernard to Bourg st. Maurice to visit our good friends. This last leg of our trip was going to be a pleasant visit back to Savoie where we'd visited many times and a place that almost feels like a home away from home.