Starting from the centre of Chamonix, head towards the Lac de Gaillands where you vere off to the right, alongside the climbing wall. From here keep going along the river path towards Les Houches.
There are a couple of short, sharp hills on the way to test your legs and lungs. Once you've come to the end of the river track near Les Houches station you'll start the climb up the tarmac road to the Parc de Merlet. It's a long slog, but worth it for the descent.
You'll know you're in the right spot when you see the picnic tables just down a little way from the entrance to the animal park. Stop for a breather here (you've earnt it!) and then head across and down the steps that mark the start of the down hill section.
Be careful as a few of the couloirs are not good places to stop for fear of falling rocks, and there are a few very technical rocky sections at the top that will either seriously test your skills, or have you walking over them! After this top techy bit there's some great single track back down through the trees to Gaillands. It gets easier to ride and faster the closer you get towards the bottom.
You can always treat yourself to a beer at Le Vert Hotel on the way back into town.
- Distance : 19km
- Time : 2-3 hrs
- Vertical Gain : 700m