MTB in Serre-Ponçon, peaks, mountains and lakeside.
Never-ending descents starting from the most beautiful summits that surround the Serre-Ponçon Lake and ending on the banks of the lake or the Durance where you can follow up with a well-deserved swim, that’s what MTB in Serre-Ponçon is all about. A technical, altitude trail, a fun, single track beneath the larch trees and gentle paths alongside the rivers… Why choose when you can vary the experiences?
Green and blue… These are the colours that compose the setting in which I’m pedalling this morning. The green of the larch, immense and majestic, at the foot of which this lovely, easy-to-ride forest route runs. The cool in the shade of their branches are more than welcome. The blue sky, that of the southern Alps, and the numerous streams along my way. A small group of mountain bikers overtake me on the Bouch Clauze trail, above Crévoux. They’re chatting as if they were having a drink together. Electric bikes have their advantages, but not for me today. It’s with the strength of my legs that I’ll get to the Parpaillon tunnel. They cheer me on and congratulate me before disappearing around the bend. I would not see them again.
Amid the wildlife
The forest gives way to the pastures above an altitude of 2000 m. This is marmot kingdom. They are far from shy and bask in the sun on the edge of the trails, barely aware of these peculiar two-wheeled specimens. A little further, cows are busy grazing the lush mountain grass. I must remember to buy some cheese when I get back. It must be really tasty !
Deep within the mountains
I finally reach the Girabeau Pass but continue a few more kilometres to the mysterious Parpaillon tunnel. At an altitude of 2650 m, I need to push on the pedals more but here I am, facing this improbable hole in the mountain. What can possibly have led anyone to dedicate so much energy to building a tunnel at this altitude. I try to answer this question by heading, not without some doubt, into the heart of the construction. The exit seems far away, only the beam of my headlamp guides me through the tunnel.
I’ve reached the other side, I’ve changed valley and Department. I discover the majestic Haute Ubaye. Italy welcomes me with open arms. I take in the scenery then turn back and return via Crévoux, descending the Girabeau Pass
The rest is easier, more pleasurable after the technical challenge. The terrain is more versatile. The trail flows over more compact, cohesive ground, defying the relief to slalom among the larch trees. Mountain biking just as we like it!
Here we are heading full speed down the deep valley of Les Orres on a wide, easy trail. Locals suggest I continue down as far as the Durance via the Terres Noires de St Sauveur. More than happy to discover new trails, I follow my guides.
The right trajectory
A beautiful crossing on a ledge, with a breathtaking view of the valley and the Serre-Ponçon Lake leads to the village of Saint Sauveur. We soon reach a winding single track that leads to a black, arid ridge. A lunar landscape, ideal for cyclists. I follow the locals, to keep to the trajectory and make the most of this incredible terrain when, suddenly, the trail continues through a field of wheat. We can barely see above the ears. Shouts of joy can be heard in the valley. I thank my guides.
Off to the beach !
A little further among the undergrowth to reach the bottom. An incredible 1800 m descent, that is an absolute must for any mountain biker. I cross the little iron bridge over the Durance.
A few more kilometres on flat ground to give my legs a rest and I’m back to the lake in Embrun where I meet up with the rest of the family for some well-deserved swimming.
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