Words and photos by Ambassador Seb De Meris.
Apart from the bike parks, biking allows you to explore places you don’t know. You can then make beautiful discoveries and ride on incredible trails but also get lost or not find what you were looking for. In order to find the “holy trail“, which would be the perfect mix of flow and technical, a weekend around the Val Ferret should allow us to find beautiful trails. After spotting on maps, all that remains is to ride and discover what the trails have in store for us.
On Saturday we take the train and a bus that takes us almost to the top of what will be a unique and long descent of 1500m. The first part is on the hillside with a magnificent view of Mont Blanc and the Grandes Jorasses. The trail crosses scree and avalanche debris and is, therefore, a little winding. Little by little the trail becomes less rocky and as you get closer to the forest it becomes really good to ride despite the few passages where you have to push your bike because it remains a hiking trail.
In the beautiful alpine forest, it’s possible to release the brakes and the fir needles fly behind the bicycles. Some passages are just beautiful and we could do them all day long. After a turn, we come across something incredible, a real “forest“ of blueberries. All you have to do is reach out and get some!
When we arrive at Les Marécottes, the first half of the descent is done and we will then enter the unknown. It starts right away with very steep switchbacks with endless stairs and you wonder when it will end… After this episode of hike a bike, the trail is incredible and makes its way through large boulders covered with moss. The rest is easier and we reach the plain by finishing on an old ultra rocky path.
Sunday we start pedaling from the chalet and climb through the beautiful forests around La Fouly. We arrive at the top and the trail where we will go down and it seems promising. It crosses a forest in one go and we quickly reach the intersection from where other trails start. This is less steep and looks like a giant pumptrack as you cross the old torrent channels.
Further on, thanks to the maintenance of the path, I finally find the trail that had disappeared under the vegetation during the summer. The switchbacks follow one another and lead us on a trail that is almost only off-camber. At the end of the trail is the “magic forest,” a steep and a little technical trail in a forest entirely covered with moss and where ferns are omnipresent. That place is so nice I could live there as a hermit! After this 7km of descent it is time to eat something at the chalet before going on the trails that none of us know.
In the afternoon we leave for a small valley where the trails seem promising. The climb begins with a 4×4 road and then we follow an old bisse in the forest. The climb then becomes very steep and it’s just possible to pedal up. Maybe walking would have been faster… It goes on and it seems like it will never end. We finally find the same 4×4 road to finish the climb smoothly. We then ride on the ridge to the top where the light at the end of the day is just beautiful.
Now, all we have to do is ride down the 700m of elevation. The trail is magnificent sneaks its way through the trees and small clearings before becoming steeper and more technical. We then find a raspberry “field” where we are forced to refuel before the rest of the descent. This then ends with a long crossing of a forest where it’s almost possible to not touch the brakes.
It’s time to go back, but we’re already thinking about the next one where we can come and find new trails in Valais, hoping to have some good surprises!