Post by Mary on July 19, 2021
Jamie and I celebrated both his birthday and our new EU Covid Digital Certificates with a trip to Italy for some Aosta mountain biking last weekend. Our fully vaccinated status means we can travel freely within the EU so we thought there was no better way to celebrate than a trip to sample some of the best trails of the Aosta valley.
There are so many great trails in and around Aosta that it’s become an Italian mecca for mountain bikers. One side of the valley features the Pila lift and the trails of the bike park. Jamie scared himself on the World Cup downhill course (I sat that one out!) and we both rode the long “free ride” trail back down to the valley bottom. A fun 1000m descent on prepared trails that we had all to ourselves! There is also the opportunity to ride some technically difficult natural trails off the back of the Pila lift that take you down to the beautiful mountain village of Cogne. From Cogne there are several big adventurous routes taking in some of the highest cols in the area. Jamie and I rode the excellent Col d’Invergneux loop a couple of years ago.
On the other side of the Aosta valley there’s a huge number of natural trails that can be accessed with a combination of uplifts and good old fashioned pedaling. My personal favourite was “The snake” – fun, flowing singletrack through the trees with some technical rocky sections to liven things up a bit. Aosta offers lots of opportunities to ride high, natural singletrack trails with big mountain views. We did a great ride with breathtaking scenery taking in the beautiful the Refuge Fallere (2385m). An uplift in the van gave us a boost up from the valley floor but we still had about 1300m of climbing to the highest point of the ride. The 2000m descent seemed to last forever including high alpine singletrack, a lovely flowy section through the trees and then some hard rock steps and loose rocky terrain on the final section into the valley bottom. Jamie took the hit and pedaled the extra 700m back up to retrieve the van. Special birthday treat 🙂
There are also other valleys close by with yet more great trails on offer. With so much choice of fantastic riding we’ve decided to put together an Aosta Explorer itinerary. We’re looking at incorporating a couple of refuge nights and some point-to-point riding into the itinerary. We’ll be offering long weekend and week long trips from next season. We’ll share more trip details when we have them.
The weather on the Italian side of Monte Bianco is often drier than on the French side. After a few weeks of wet weather in the French Alps we were keen to escape the mud and we weren’t disappointed. Nothing but dry trails in Aosta. And of course Italian pasta, pizza and ice cream make for excellent riding fuel. We found some great accommodation options including the aforementioned stunning Refuge Fallere, which would be a fantastic place to overnight. We had a delicious pasta and gnocci lunch there. At almost 2400m it’s definitely a place to linger and enjoy the high mountain views.
September is probably the best month for Aosta mountain biking as the full heat of the summer has passed over, the high cols are free of snow and the Pila lift stays open until the 12th. That said, we found the conditions perfect in mid-July and once you’re up high the temperature is good for riding.
The vacillating Covid travel restrictions continue to disrupt our 2021 season. There will undoubtedly be more changes as the summer progresses. The quarantine is still in place for fully vaccinated UK travelers returning from France but if you travel to Switzerland you no longer have to quarantine on your return home. We are hoping that some of our British friends will come out to ride with us this season, perhaps for one of our trips that are based exclusively in Switzerland: Alpine Enduro or the Eiger Tour. We have availability from now until the end of the season. Jamie is guiding a Chamonix to Zermatt trip from 1st-8th August but all other dates are currently available. If you’re interested in some last minute centre-based riding in the French or Swiss Alps or even a point-to-point adventure please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.