The 3 Countries Tour
The 3 Countries Tour is an adventure you will not forget. Five days of high altitude mountain bike touring with no panniers or rucksacks - our support vehicle carries your luggage, spares and personal things and meets us at the end of each day. We first had the idea for this trip in 1995 and spent many weeks finding the best route. A year later in 1996 we ran a few pilot weeks and in 1997, it proved to be a winner. Many of our clients had the best holiday of their lives.
The route takes us over four mountain passes in excess of 2000 metres in altitude, so there's lots of cycling above the tree line offering stunning views across the Alps. The route we've designed is a variation of the well known walkers route that circumnavigates the Mont-Blanc going through Switzerland, Italy, then back into France. Have a look at the graphs of each days riding.A one week holiday, you'll arrive in Chamonix Saturday where you spend a night before setting off on the five day adventure.
Day 1sees us riding up through the Chamonix valley on a trail known as the "petit balcon nord". The 2200m pass at the end of the valley is the border where we drop into Switzerland.First night is spent on the Col de Forclaz, a historic trading route pass.
Day 2First thing next morning is a singltrack descent of about 800m altitude, followed by a 12km road climb to lunch - a doddle for the "roadies" but a new ball game for mountain bikers. We don't much like the road bits either but it's either that or a 3 hour carry. And you might just surprise yourself. Most people dread this climb but at lunch coyly admit to having found themselves in a somewhat meditative state once they found their rythmn. After lunch, a great singletrack descent of 400m followed by an arduous spin up through the stunning Val Ferret where we find ourselves at tiny hamlet of Ferret where we spend the night.
Day 3The next day is a mixed climb up to "Grand col du Ferret" which at 2537m is the highest pass of the week and the border into Italy (photo above). The descent down into the bottom of the Italian Val Ferret starts off very technical and just about everybody will walk sections of this. Lunch on the sun soaked terrace is classic Italian and the best Spaghetti Bolognaise there is. After lunch, more single track followed by a road climb of 30 to 45 mins (depending how much you ate) to the gite in Val Veny where we spend the night.
Day 4After a short descent from the gite to the bottom of the valley, we start the climb up to the Col de la Seigne at 2512m. A slog even for the fittest but the reward on the other side is sweet. The best downhill of the week. Miles of singletrack rolling down to our lunch stop. After lunch, an hour of climbing, firstly off road, then on tarmac to the Cormet du Roseland for the start of the roll downhill to our hotel (photo below).
Day 5starts with the infamous 20/10 climb. A 4x4 trail of 20 switchbacks, a traverse, then another 10 switchbacks followed by a 20 minute shoulder up to the pass at 2300m. Take your iPod for this one. From the pass, it's more singletrack to lunch at the Col du Joly. After lunch, more singletrack down to St. Gervais where we take the cog railway up to bellevue for the extra downhill back into the Chamonix valley. Job done, time for a beer!
Accommodation is in mountain gites and is half-board. Gites are not tin huts, they are very comfortable stop-overs with good food, hot showers and real beds.
Because of the nature and difficulty of this trip, we can only make the Three Countries Tour available to people of good fitness and stamina. The whole route is only about 150km. That may not sound like a lot on UK riding standards but these kilometres are either steep up or steep down