Can you remember every section of trail you’ve ever ridden? Or every metre of an HC climb? Or every corrugation of a huge gravel mission? Or every amazing vista and clearing you stopped in? The ones where your eyes are working overtime to try and consume the magnificence of what lay before them?

Younger readers could probably attest to this being something they can do, but as the miles and years grow their respective tallies, unfortunately we start to aggregate rides, missions and adventures into theme’s or a highlights package. Rolled up memory lollies  that we can unwrap to give us a little taste of amazing experiences visited upon us that slip further and further into the past.

A few months ago, before CuntVirus19 was a blip on our radar, or confining us to our living rooms, someone asked me a simple question which initially completely stumped me:

“Where’s your favourite place to ride in the world right now?”

Huh… I sort of shuffled my Shimano clad feet around, ummmed a bit and started to search through my riding thoughts, feelings and memories over the last few years, unpacking lollies. In reality, this should be a fairly straightforward question to smash out of the park.

Finally there was one answer that popped into my head with the sweetest of sugar rushes, accompanied with some confusion that it hadn’t been something that I just instantly replied with, but here it was:

The Aosta Valley

Before you ask, no, I’m not talking about Pila bike park… Nor am I referring directly to La Thuile, but they are both solid exhibits in my prosecution of the case that Aosta is at the top of my list of places I’d want to go if I had a free trip up my sleeve.

I’d now like to spend a portion of your locked down day not only paying homage to such an awesome location, but hopefully getting you frothing for a future visit at the same time. We’re going to focus on all the less famous and even unknown parts of the Aosta Valley, because this is where you need to go.

We came for the bangers

Before we get to that though, let’s grab the elephant in the room by the tusks (In the non-poaching way naturally). As I type this, Italy has been, and remains right in the middle of getting hammered by CuntVirus19. It therefore makes this post not only more poignant, but a reminder of the goodness hopefully waiting for us out there once this cunty phase of history is behind us. In another way, I hope it comes across as a digital love letter to Italy, as the world is a poorer place with it off limits.

I also hope it not only takes up some time in your locked down day, but encourages you to put Aosta Valley somewhere near the top of your dream cycling travel list once we are all able to get back to exploring. If you’re like me, you’re starting to realise just how much we took for granted being able to grab the passport, lock into the highly evolved international travel eco-system and transport ourselves to radness with a few clicks of a button, some mild over-packing and getting solidly fingered by the rental car company.

I can’t wait to kiss that travel gift horse in its giant soft mouth when it rolls back around.

Before there was Donkey, there was Pizza

So first some key context. Prior to Trans Provence 2019, The Creator and I were in agreement that not only was Europe a fair mission for only 6 days of riding, but we also needed some solid time to defeat jet lag and get used to runs with more than 350m of elevation drop.

We therefore hatched the ‘Pre-TP training camp’, which is an excuse as thinly veiled as a Rodfather G-String for just spending another week in Europe to dominate breakfast pastries.

The funny thing about selecting Aosta as the Pre-TP Training camp venue was that I had actually been here before, or at least I thought I had… As I was soon to find out, I was actually full to the brim with shit and in reality I had no idea. Just to make us look like cunts, Pila bike park and La Thuile all opened the day after we had planned to leave Aosta, which meant we had to lock in with locals who knew what was up to find some goodness outside the well known spots.

First to go, last to know

Given our social media status and standing, The Creator and I have to fly separate airlines to ensure the Gramming could go on in the event of a disaster. While I kicked it lounge side having too many free cappuccinos and practicing saying ‘Grazie’ awaiting my palatial SQ flight to Milano, I sent pics to The Creator as he lined up at Air Ghetto to see which part of the cargo hold he would be traveling in.

His response was alarming to say the least… So much so, I thought it was a piss take:

It took me the full minute for the horror to properly set in and I was able to provide appropriate moral support

Its worth noting that The Creator is always first into any form of shuttle for anything, so the fact that I was boarding while he was explaining to someone in a cardigan how he was going to miss epic alpine singletrack unless they performed some sort of administrative miracle was a level of burn that didn’t need any additional abuse heaped on top of it.

Given I was going to have to drive back and forth to Milan from Aosta, I promptly took licence and upgraded the rental car to the most bad ass Merc in the garage, 160kph @ 2,000rpm… I’m not that into cars, but this one seemed quite handy. (Very) fast forward 24 hours and I found myself back in Milan airport awaiting a freshly passported Creator.

As I introduced The Creator to the Milan airport pastry tradition, I also dropped in how many Euro’s he owed me for the return trip on the Autostrade down from Aosta to get him…

The first Euro fisting is away!

I’m not going to apologise for this prolonged foreplay opening, because, stay at HOME cunts (Especially you fucking morons trying to go to your holiday homes). And wash your hands… It’s about to get dirty.

Dirty tip #1 – Stay in Aosta central 

So there are obviously a shitload of places you can stay around these parts, as Aosta is a long AF valley with many parts to it, but you really can’t go past getting a tourist fisting by staying in the central HQ of the whole set up, Aosta:

Back when ‘Social distancing’ was something you did to a crazy Ex

What a fucking great town – Which is something I sort of knew already, or more accurately half knew. Yes, last time I stayed here, like a small town cunt I only walked around half of the town. You can imagine my delight then when I discovered it was like 60% bigger, with a corresponding increase in Gelato shops, as the last time I stopped by.

Here’s another angle to Aosta, high up in the hills above it. I only have this shot, as before we could ride we had to attend to a wild Creator goose chase cryptically trying to find some panic ordered French rubber, which involved a German middle man and an Italian grandmother who spoke no english… At all. If ever a plot line demanded pool balls ending up in our mouths, this was it.

Yes, that was as weirdly comical as it sounds, but ultimately we got to see a lot more of Aosta and ultimately ended up with the French rubber we so desperately sought:

Uptown vibes

In fact, The Creator and I would go as far as recommending HB Hotel Aosta as an excellent place to stay, not only super bike friendly, but in an awesome location for accessing town. Apparently, the beds are so comfortable you can also tap out in the middle of the day while I am speaking to you:

Feels early for Creator sleep porn, a rare double up of a no helmet shot too

Before we proceed on – You may want to grab a Limoncello to sip on, as there’s a shit load of photos here, possibly even more images than words.

This is not only because the trails and scenery are stunning, but because there’s less story definition to be had given we just rode, and rode and rode and high fived, fisted, screamed with delight and then kept riding again and again until it was time for equally insane Italian food. There are only so many ways I can spin that… But we have the time, so let’s indulge it.

Dirty tip #2 – There’s only one crew to roll with 

There’s no need to fuck about here, so not only save yourself some time, but also absolutely guarantee yourself some Tier 1 radness by locking in your time with Aosta Valley Freeride.

As it turns out, Aosta Valley is a fucking big place. It wasn’t until I saw a countoured map of it that I realised it’s really a collection of valleys all linking together and all heavily laced with radness. The extremely high risk you would run of rocking up here alone is that you could easily burn all your holiday time and absolutely miss all the stunning riding gems lurking in these valleys.

Avoid such a cunt up by locking in with the crew who not only know what the fuck is Aosta up, and down, but can also tailor make your trip to the exact specifications you want. Want shuttles only? Cool. Want big alpine missions? Sweet. Want multi day trips staying in Refuges? Fuck yes!

You know what time it is (Get out of my echo-chamber eBikers)

If the fact that the shuttle vehicle was a Defender wasn’t enough of a ball tickle for you, then perhaps consider that our guide was none other than Lorenzo Suding, yes, the Ex-World Cup DH and Italian National Enduro Champion Lorenzo Suding.

Regular readers may have noticed my uncomfortable affinity for MTB hero’s and PRO’s, so I was as excited at the prospect of 4 days of awkward fan boi interactions as I was for the trails that lay ahead.

Not your normal tour guide situation

Lorenzo may have retired from World Cup racing, but it didn’t take long to realise that retirement meant very little in the scheme of getting rad on it:

Relatively good chance you won’t get held up by the guide, no matter who you are

Initially I was mildly miffed that Pila bike park and La Thuile were closed, but the reality was that this was actually a blessing. We had no idea what was in store, but as I will try and articulate, if we had rocked up and just lapped those two bikes parks, while we would have had a great time, we would have missed some truly amazing adventures and trails – Many of which would make it straight into the Top 10 of Dirty trails. It was so exciting that I somehow ended up wearing a skirt and a road cone:

Kate commences questioning the people she associates with

The fact that The Creator is in a wet suit and Cameo Kate is grimacing indicates that it was indeed moist, not quite what I had in mind given the last ride I had up these ways was a dry banger. But with flamboyance and confidence that one could only dream to have, Lorenzo assured us this would actually make the trails ride better… Locals know, and the word was legit:

Incoming

Outgoing

This mission also served a dual purpose – Getting some legit time on the very fresh Megatower, or more to the point, getting it onto the right kind of terrain. Aosta was like a dream in that regard and was dishing up exactly the kind of scenario that the Megatower had in mind when it became self aware and exited the factory looking to terminate trail. I did my part by making sure my jacket matched my shock spring.

“It’s to make the photos pop”

The other main reason to roll with AVF if not only the superlative riding options and hidden gems they have on tap, but when you’ve hit the wall from more laps that you can shake a cream filled cannoli at, they also know the place to roll to for post shred beers, or something with a bit more kick to it should you feel so inclined. No wonder I was feeling warm and moist.

Happy as fuck Hour

Speaking of moistness, some of us were so excited to be back riding in Europe that we had to go to ingenious lengths to keep our fanny dry…

Little did that bag know it would go on to make history the following week

We’d only had an afternoon of canapés, there was palatable stoke at what lay ahead.

Dirty tip #3 – Shuttles are you friend

As I said above, Aosta Valley Freeride can pretty much do any kind of format or trip you and your budget care for. I’d been semi vague about our intentions, but did mention we wanted some solid shuttling to start with to get our Euro fever cranking. This was something they were absolutely on point to provide.

In fact, the bigger problem was too many options, not enough time. Standing around listening to Lorenzo’s stories also an excellent source of dirt procrastination.

Lorenzo talks through his experience with the structural integrity of GT Fury DH frames

I suspect it’s probably a good time to talk about the actual trails we found being dropped on us at a prodigious rate. The crazy part about this was we were in one small section of a huge valley system, yet there was new trail after new trail on every run. There is something about these long Euro runs that you just instantly fall in love with thanks to their length, gradient and fucking great turns.

Anything I can do…

…Creator can do better

Thanks to the power of the Defender shuttle, we were accessing zones that may have been one run & done on a normal ride, or up into areas that would have eaten batteries for lunch should you be that way inclined. This gave us access to not only some insanely long runs, but mind blowing flow and pop on the sort of trails that occupy MTB wet dreams.

The Creator wasting no time in getting off piste and finding new lines whenever given the opportunity.

Blind trail playful vibes

Speaking of wetness, Lorenzo was indeed frothing at the bung about how well the trails were riding with a bit of moisture on them. Usually this is the sort of BS you raise an eyebrow at from a local, but I could see his point as no matter where we went, there was unlimited hero dirt texture and plenty of grip.

Thank fuck for that, as holding onto the wheel of a rampant Creator was a full time mission as he got his Euro carving into high gear now the jet lag was starting to dissipate:

Rad corners stacked on rad corners

We may have only been getting into the swing of Day 2 at this point, but given the long high speed runs unfolding before us, the writing was on the wall that it was going to be a banger experience. Coming from a world of relatively short runs, being able to make fuck pigs of ourselves on this endless natural single track was the kind of Dirt experience that I craved. I was not alone in my stoke:

Only did one take

These trails were the reason you go full Euro and get into their Mon-Tons. As the bonding process with the Megatower accelerated through every corner, I began to have the distinct feeling that we had stumbled into an even better riding experience than I had ever anticipated.

The company was heavily laced with industrial grade good cuntishness too:

Endurolingus

I mean, fuck, just look at this picture here – Do your best to look past my terrible body positioning and straight arm and instead check the vista and that trail surface, not to mention how far we still have to travel to reach yet another crazy valley floor. Not a single fuck to be found that it wasn’t blue skies, we were too busy having an Endurogasim brought on by high speed and tight formation flying:

There’s a lot to disapprove of here style wise, but that soil is not one of them

If you want a visual representation of what I’m whipping myself into a frenzy over here like Jared Kushner who’s just worked out another way to steal more Taxpayer money, then scope out the Gram TV edit I dropped. Around 3.04 in there is a series of corners The Creator and I get to experience in said formation that result in a kind of giggly stoke usually reserved for restaurant/airplane bathroom sex.

As you may see should you subject yourself to 8 minutes of panting, Lorenzo’s insane wheelies and gratuitous fisting, we had found a magical zone for unleashing big bikes and good times on. The section from 6.45 onwards to the road in particular has some WTF riding moments that remind me straight away how fucking excellent these days were.

The screen grab can’t do this justice, but this was a wild ride

The history not too bad either… How about that lushness?

Told you the jacket makes this shit pop

By now the man crush on Lorenzo was gathering pace, not only was he deploying Tier 1 trail radness onto our tourist faces, but his riding had to be seen to be believed. Not just the riding either, but the wheelie’s were off the fucking charts.

In a rare scenario, this was turning into a two way bromance, as Lorenzo enjoyed having guests who wanted to smash the fuck out of everything he could think of riding and were frothing for the good shit. For once, my German accent impersonation actually finding a receptive & appreciative audience.

Das Bromance

I’ve sort of lost track if I’m talking about day 1 or 2 here and a lot of the runs have melded together in my mind, but to correctly categorise things, each run felt like it was our new favourite run in Aosta. Given we were there for TP warm up, charging into superlative blind trail after trail was exactly what The Creator had ordered.

That signature carving style

In pursuit while trying to figure out if that rock on the right is slick as fuck or railable

I had said that this was the perfect place to build up, and it was in some regards, but ultimately it had a lot less Jank and gnar than some of the days that we experienced on Trans Provence 2019. It would also be fair to say that Italian donkeys like a more chilled ascending route than their Southern French colleagues, meaning less terrifying switchbacks.

This all added nicely to the holiday vibe and hollering fun as we smashed out the runs. That’s not to say there wasn’t both some tightness and exposure, this banger down the valley a good exhibit of both:

Keep it tight, keep it right

I was loving all the trails, but then at some point on Day 2 we came across an absolute banger which is now burned into my brain forever. I don’t know the name of the run in question, or even which valley it was in, I think perhaps down off a ridgeline which saw us end up in Pondel, but we got to an experience an all time trail which I would easily park in the Top 10 EVER.

Dropping about 660m over 2km’s, this was a total dream trail. As fast as you could possibly want to go on a modern Enduro bike, with high speed flow and natural jumps with enough margin to encourage you to let rip.

The Creator embraces the sensational situation

But it also obliged us with some tech sections, switchbacks and gnar down the bottom to make this feel like a legit TP warm up scenario.

Lorenzo used the big rock on the left as a super sketchy makeshift berm… Because… World Cup?

Throw in some Roman architecture at the end and the afternoon delight had gone way past palpable and into the ‘I can’t control it‘ zone… Let the joy out bro, let it out – A run like that deserves it:

A face usually reserved for when someone else suggests a threesome for once

Given we had endurogasimed ourselves almost into a post-radness coma, it was time to call it on an absolute king of riding days and start the debriefing, shit talking, Gram-wanking and appropriate celebratory refuelling. I am documented as not being a fan of riding in the wet, but I couldn’t get enough of this action.

Raise a fucking beverage to this man, The Real Fresh Prince of Aosta unlocking some legendary shit for us to indulge in:

Fuck YES bro

Little did we know, that was the surface scratching.

Dirty tip #4 – But don’t get addicted to them

I’d got so comfortable with the shuttle action on the first 2 days that it was a shock when Lorenzo mentioned I hadn’t actually booked any uplift for the final 2 days… I think at the time I had the concept in my head that it would be appropriate to get a few big days in prior to TP of some proper Alpine action to remind us what was in store once we surrendered to the Donkey.

The enthusiasm for this was less spectacular after 2 days of epic shuttle fuelled shredding, but the mountains were calling and Lorenzo told story of insane trails waiting for us up in them there hills, so it was time to get our grind on.

Obligatory 1,930m elevation cheese

No such lack of Enthusiasm from The Creator, in a foreshadowing of what was to come the following week in TP19, he was pumped about getting into some high Alpine action. This is what you get when the Energiser Bunny fucks a Terminator:

An entire autumn spent on the balance bike finally paying off

Grind being a relative term mind you… We are talking about starting at 2,100m in elevation thanks to the Aosta VFR Defender drop off, because as much as I enjoy my big climbs, getting to the real gold is an entirely different game in this town.

The Creator and Lorenzo can both read maps, so while they did adult stuff at the trail head to ensure we wouldn’t die, I contributed by taking 38 photos of them posing doing semi-realistic map reading and having a topographical conference. While I didn’t confess this at the time, I also had the scandalous side thought that you could also bring a road or Gravel bike to Aosta and give your inner Bandito a fucking insane time:

“As you can see JC, it’s fucking awesome everywhere, yes, even over there”

I mean, seriously, what the fuck with these vista’s?

“Yeah, the trail head carpark is ok I guess”

But hey, just another day in Aosta to be honest… And a rare day where we actually had to get our hike-a-bike on. I did have a few moments on this final day wondering if we were collectively blowing our load ahead of what was to come the following week at TP, but with blue sky making an appearance and Lorenzo promising all day bangers, now was not the time to be looking the adventure gift horse in it’s sweet sweet mouth.

It was also a super rare chance to see The Creator put his bike on his back, shit was real:

The general surroundings indicating good times are ahead

As far as hikes go, this one was fairly tranquilo, and given what was to come the following week I wasn’t complaining. It was just enough to reacquaint me with having my downtube massaging my neck, but not enough to flog me like a portage sex gimp (that honour is reserved for Sospel).

Blue sky, awesome Italian Mon-Tons, rad crew… If you can’t LOVE mountain biking here, then it clearly isn’t for you. Finding spots to chill and talk story was an authentic aspect to the trip that you don’t always get with a large group tour.

“Why do I always keep my helmet on?”

“After we smoke a massive lunch we’re climbing up into that snow… Real talk Brah”

You my notice a distinct lack of story here, partly because as I am starting to repeat myself as well as run short on superlatives… But mainly because the scenery talks for itself.

Given (assuming you’re reading this fresh) we’re currently on lock down, these scenes almost feel like they’re from a different life, but they hopefully all paint a semi inspiring picture of what is out there waiting for us whenever borders reopen and we’re able to travel to these incredible spots again. And piss on them…

“Its Europe, you can get your cock out anywhere”

Aosta Valley: Legitimately no interest in stopping it’s banger factory

If there’s one thing that I love about cycling it’s variety (Except CX of course), and the self powered alpine days were an awesome contrast and change up to the trails and landscapes we’d been on for the first two days.

This is absolutely a sign of a great riding zone, a totally different flavour of bangers was starting to unfurl before our 29 inch tread.

Pre-lunch moonscape

In terms of a race build up, shit didn’t get much sweeter than this. Any fears of an early peak, a legitimate concern, were washed away by high speed maniac singletrack that had us firmly focused on living in the now and less concerned with possible donkey sponsored fistings the following week in the Maritime Alps.

Speaking of prolific fisting, the Aosta Valley tourist board needs to look no further than this look away number performed during a moment of high stoke for its summer 2021 promo material:

When your mouth can’t believe how fucking good this is

One thing for sure is that by now I could confirm that this was Megatower heaven. Running in low setting with the DHX2 coil shock, but with short chain stays, it was a revelation to be riding it finally on the kind of terrain its designers and numbers had in mind. I did realise this was the first time I had ridden a long travel 29er fucking flat out on actual mountains and it doesn’t take one long to appreciate how fucking awesome these bikes are.

Rocking the longest & most traveled bike I’ve ever owned, with a 170mm fork upfront, was definitely a key ingredient in why I was having such a fucking mental time. I’m used to watching The Creator disappear off into the pumice dirt distance, but armed with the Mega firepower, I was instead getting a front row seat to hip shaking and smooth moves that make John Travolta look like he’s having a seizure in comparison.

Run Rabbit, run

Side note, check out the variety as we worked our way down the Mountain, fuck I love this action and it’s a key theme of the higher Aosta alpine rides. Lushness on tap further down means the loam & foam-o-meter starts to hit the limiter like it’s rim job Friday.

The Creator helps us understand the experience here as he navigates switchbacks which are significantly more aligned to my skill levels: Checkers as opposed to Chess… If you know, then you know.

The Creator rocks the ribbon of radness through the lushness

After all, it IS a training camp

I love lazy donkeys and their wide turning circles

These were the kind of dreamy trails that created high stoke, but without letting you ponder if you were going to need a Helicopter extraction a la an EWS race stage for instance. The sweat loamy terrain mixed in with high speed and the right dosage of gnar was intoxicating to say the least. It demanded not only involuntary shouts of stoke, but multiple three-way fistings:

The Creator with some solid concentration to pull off the rare three-way fisting like a German pro

Lorenzo is not a man to let an epic day go to waste and a 1,000m vertical drop descent morning is simply a warm up for this global porn star dirt stallion (official title), so it was time to gorge on cured meats, giant fuck off cheese wrapped in artisanal bread and some sort of alcoholic beverage that stung the senses and felt like 50% a great idea in the moment and 50% a bad decision with what was still to come.

From Enduro as fuck to Euro as fuck

I suspect we would have been less enthusiastic for a 9km and 800m elevation gain climb post-lunch if the morning session hadn’t been so fucking golden. The main selling point was Lorenzo assured us that what he had in store was even better, which seemed as implausible as JC taking his helmet off or staying awake during a shuttle uplift… But in Lorenzo we trusted/crushed and so it was time to get on the pedals…

After an hour of climbing, naturally the conversation turned to whether or not we were burning matches reserved for the following week

About halfway up the climb we happened across one of the Refuge’s that are a feature of the upper regions around here, like the one I got the chance to chill at last time I was in town. While they weren’t technically open for business or dishing cold Coke’s out, the good people did allow us to decimate their bathroom, critical for preparation ahead of the final singletrack onslaught.

JC gets some ideas for his next house

We’d started at 1,500m, on our way to over 2,300m and we started to get some reminders that this kind of ride probably wasn’t an option a few weeks earlier, so a good reminder to talk to the crew when you plan to come here to make sure shit is actually operational. I believe they also do a tour from Refuge to Refuge around the valley, which would be a fucking sweet option.

It tuned out I was the only one excited about taking a photo of my bike with snow, as The Creator mumbled something about “Only doing Japanese pow” as he ground on.

One of us is more into the novelty factor

But that’s how he rolls right? Doesn’t even have the time to tell a home boy that he’s about to make a dreadful mistake by incorrectly using an Italian drinking fountain that pays alarmingly realistic homage to The Rodfather… Unfortunate:

I’m either redefining Thirsty, or joining the Republican party

On we crawled… The excellent shit talking, story telling and laughter both fuelling and delaying progress. Lorenzo had one eye on a legit looking storm across the valley, as good guides do. As you can imagine, this is not the kind of place you want to get jammed up, especially with a hairy guest who would be the first to die of panic in an emergency situation.

Back before Social Distancing was a thing, we had found the perfect place for it:

Any day over 2,000m is a good one

Given the time of day, possible storm finger banging inbound and that we had a BIG descent to get back to Aosta the group made the call to miss the final 250m of vert carrying up to the very summit and instead to detour around the side to get to the final Aosta act of the week. You can tell it was already gnarly, because this is like only the third time in 2 weeks I saw him benchpress that Tranny.

The next time I got to see this level of Portage from JC, we could smell the Med

And then suddenly it was on – The greatest business case ever for buying a Megatower or running DH rubber on an Enduro bike was about to unfold… As a rule of thumb, rides that start with this vista while you have to dodge snow and small boulders are usually ones to be remembered. I had no idea at this point I was about to ride one of the best trails I can remember:

Mega time

Not to labour the point, but if it had just been Jeff and I here, we would have likely ridden laps of Pila bike park by commuting up and down the road given the Gondi was closed.

The only reason we were getting into these insane locations and onto these trails was thanks to Aosta Valley Freeride, and the stoke you see below is absolutely the reward you get when you hook up with the right local crew. There’s a time and place for DIY, this is not one of them:

The usual format: Me fucking about for photos while Mr ‘Let’s get on with it’ is feathering his brakes in the background

The top was your classic alpine DNA – Rocky, janky, tight switches, pedal catchers, gnar fields, little ridge lines and overall a solid test. Devoid of forest and with a lot of the dirt washed away, the variety over the morning session was stark. The decision to run a 2.5 Assegai up front was constantly rewarded:

Little did we know, this was a solid dress rehearsal for 6 days in France

But as we made our way down into lush forests and the loam ribbon that snaked through the trees, the whole character changed.

Holy FUCK – I don’t know what this trail is called, just that it was in the Chaligne area (I do have a Strava file, but don’t be a cunt – go with the pros), but it was fucking amazing. The upper alpine jank roughed us up enough to make us realise we were on a pretty serious fucking run, before we were handed off to the magical middle section. More trees, greater flow, higher speed and as much pop as you could manage:

Warp speed, blind trail and The Creator still throwing shapes

This was mountain biking… The kind of mountain biking that I not only crave for or hope for in life, but the kind that makes you realise why you devote yourself to this lifestyle and investment portfolio of time & cash.

Speaking of, the Megatower was absolutely humming on this type of trail, as one might expect. Every single part on it was standing up and screaming why they were excellent acquisitions. From the Reserve 30 wheels, to the XTR 4-pots to the One Up handlebar or the 36 fork, it was a sublime symphony of modern MTB technology belting out a masterpiece to a lucky audience of one.

Runs like this are much rarer than I want them to be and while I feel grateful that I get to experience them, it was clear from the lack of any noticeable signs of traffic that we were in a minority of people who got to taste this awesomeness. We weren’t going to let it go to waste and any notion that we were in the back country gave way eventually to full gas blind race pace:

Well, it IS a training camp…

As for the lower section? Possibly almost as insane as a giant slab of orange cunt giving a press conference on the apocalypse. Smoother than the upper and mid-section, but still holding on to that golden steep gradient, it was just flat out FAST. Touching on 50kph at one point, but it felt safer than eating the biscuits the Rodfather just “happened” to leave in the back of his van. I couldn’t get my head around how fucking good this final trail was.

Unfortunately the Go Pro SD card filled up halfway down this monster, but what an incredible trail… From the crazy upper alpine sections filled with jank, gnar and natural switchbacks to the amazing flow of the mid-section and then finally on to the mind blowing high speed full gas lower section as we dropped around 1,100m in 7.5km’s or so… FUCK!!

So fucking good it was as close to a religious experience as I suspect I will ever have…

There was a lot to unpack at confession time

As we hooliganed our way back down to Aosta township, I couldn’t have dreamed of having a better 4 days on the bike, regardless of the context. I came to Aosta with a level of expectation that was ultimately shredded out the door by Lorenzo’s back tire as he laid on the buffet of radness for us to gorge ourselves on.

As you should unanimously agree, any alpine day with more than 2,000m of mind blowing descending demands an apres-ride beverage, as per usual The Creator was leading the charge:

The final run into town, loaded up with ridiculous levels of stoke

And just consider this – All these pics, words and froth and we didn’t even once set wheel in either Pila bike park or rode at La Thuile. To quote the lock down Che Guevara of the Kapiti Coast:

“I’m fucking moving here”

In summary – Hook up with Aosta Valley Freeride, don’t get blinded by just the well known named spots and bring some big fucking tires as you prepare to have a next level experience. You’ll be left with a sweet memory lolly for decades to come.

A massive thanks to Lorenzo and shuttle captain Rudi for 4 incredible days of riding, we will return armed with more middle aged maniacs one day to celebrate the reopening of the world.

Dirty tip #5 – Be a tourist 

Given I will likely talk at your face about coming here for 10 days, you will want to schedule in a rest day which takes in the QC Terme thermal baths up near La Thuile. It’s so fucking Euro that I spent the entire day speaking with an Austrian accent and almost had a cigarette:

“Ja, that’s what we say”

I had hoped for just a chilled rest day, but that was never going to happen when the local Rai TV paparazzi got word through the valley grapevine that the reigning 2W Enduro Masters champion was in town to sample the loam. Predictably they were astonished to find him sans helmet:

“I don’t really set out to win all the stages, just some times happens that way”

Great place to chill, work on your Euro mincing and get a massage in-between shred sessions while also using half of your holiday expense budget.

Given it’s Italy, the default setting is obviously awesome cuisine and Lorenzo had this on lock down much like the trail selection. If you time it right, you may also end up having dinner with famous people. The only thing that kept my inner stalker at bay sitting down for a meal with Ratboy was only being able to understand about 30% of what was being said around the dinner table.

Using a lot of “Haha yeah” as people talk about riding bikes in ways I don’t understand

Depending on your lock down mental state, it’s a coin toss whether or not this whole enormous Aosta love letter has inspired you for future missions and loam massacres, or alternatively if it’s depressed the fuck out of you as you have suddenly realised how much you miss this shit right now.

It’s obviously designed for the former, as at some point  we’ll all beat CuntVirus19 (And isn’t every cunt just an expert now on how that will work?) and when we do, assuming there are still some airlines are left in business, make sure the Aosta Valley is on your very short list of places to go. The call will go out, hopefully we can all answer:

As seen in Lorenzo HQ – Possibly the best way to sum up the valley

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