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Clive's Travel Tales #2: The Endless Summer

17:31 2nd May 2013 by Paul Haysom
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Words: Clive Forth
Photos: Frazer Waller

Some years back I started racing in mass-start downhill events and enduros, having spent a few seasons cutting to and from the continent I finally got a break and a chance to go on the road full time. I purchased the obligatory VW van and went about doing my own conversion. With the van tailored to my specific requirements of ‘travel fast and light’, I hit the road off on my Euro tour.

Spare tyres to keep me rolling and a van stacked full of goods ready for another Euro road trip.

Spare tyres to keep me rolling and a van stacked full of goods ready for another Euro road trip.

The race calendar was a pretty hectic one and I would visit Andorra, Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Slovenia. Along the way in between events I was researching potential spots to lay down some roots and settle in the years to come and I also wanted to take in as many riding spots as possible en route to the next event.

The season started early with a Maxi Avalanche at Vallnord Bike Park in Andorra; a snow start was evidence that winter was only just over our shoulder. A trip along the warmer south coast of France and stop off to ride the well know spots linked me to the Southern Alps, I rode some cool spots and it was not long before I was due at another race.

Fruits of a labour (the hours of driving). There are so many bike parks and random hills with lifts to ride all across the Alps that it's a lifetime's work to get to them all. I'm trying my best though!

Fruits of a labour (the hours of driving). There are so many bike parks and random hills with lifts to ride all across the Alps that it’s a lifetime’s work to get to them all. I’m trying my best though!

After a couple of events I stopped by to catch up with old Friends Sam and Lyndsey from Bike Village near Les Arcs. I spent some time riding with the guides and Sam himself discovering the delights of that area before hitting the road to yet another comp. My season continued in a similar vein as I worked my way from the South West of the Alps right the way over, along, up and over again (and along a bit more) before cutting back up and over the far end of the Alps on the Italian/Slovenian border.

Once I arrived at the far end I made my return ticking off bike parks and famous riding spots as I passed through, endless days of surfing lifts and riding the finest Alpine single track followed until, eventually, the rain and snow came. With summer well and truly over I headed back to the UK and parked the van up: it wasn’t an endless summer but it sure felt like it, both bikes and myself battered but all the better for the huge kilometers covered, I knuckled down and did some more riding in less favorable conditions.

I’m still rocking a fine selection of cassette tapes…essential for the ridiculous number of miles I clock in my van every year.

I’m still rocking a fine selection of cassette tapes…essential for the ridiculous number of miles I clock in my van every year.

The following spring I was truly suffering from post Alpine depression so the logical but slightly reckless decision was made to get back on the road and take in lap 2. With so much ground to cover and a never ending list of events to choose from I’d be mad not to, right?

I found myself back at Bike Village for a stint, friends came and went joining me for various events and photo shoots as I took in another lap of the Alps, ticking off the resorts and roads I missed first time round. I realised the magnitude of my travels one day in Interlaken when I looked in a shop window at a large scale map of the entire Alps, holy crap! I’d navigated the length and breadth of the range twice and there were still so many areas in between my route I’d not visited. Panic set in. How many trails? How can I possibly ride them all?

I’d navigated the length and breadth of the range twice and there were still so many areas in between my route I’d not visited.

Try as we might, the reality is we will never ride them all but I’ll be damned if I don’t give it a go. My quest continues some 8 years later, countless kilometers have been clocked up and I’m still finding the most amazing trails, there are classics in between the classics, its easy to get stuck in the bike park but I encourage you to get out there, grab a map, talk to some locals and go adventure.

I’ll be back here at Bike Magic tomorrow with another tale of carnage.

Clive Forth. MTBSkills, Transition Bikes.

www.mtbskills.co.uk 

Follow Clive on twitter – twitter.com/cliveforth

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