Monday, 27 September 2010
Where have all the people gone?
It's inter-season in Chamonix. This is the period of the year when the sun has gone but the snow has yet to arrive. Everyone who lives in the valley disappears on holiday, or off to their mates' weddings and the pavements are given over to toads and slugs. Ever trodden on a toad when running in the dark? Locals who stay love it because the colours are amazing apparently although a permanent shroud has covered the peaks for the last three days, rendering colour something for the imagination rather than the eyes.
The last time I was in Chamonix for more than a week I had a friend, Sara, who I think about quite a lot still despite a decade passing since we last spoke. Mainly because I can't remember why we lost touch and also because she said that she loved the Alps because they made popping out for a stamp an epic experience. Last night I went to post a letter and the cloud cleared for a second long enough to see the Drus briefly. It was a good day after all.
But a period of 'hunkering down' is upon me I feel. Bikes to ride, trails to run, pilates to go to. I've found Alpine Yoga run by the super enthusiastic Kelly Aikins (the bendiest woman in the world?) which means I can get practice in before the planned yoga and cycling course we're doing with Sweaty Betty Soho. I have also managed to secure a free kettle and toaster from the friendly valley folk meaning my new favourite pre-ride breakfast of Nutella on toast can carry on unhindered by oven grills which burn stuff. A lot.
Worth a mention too is Le Delice in Les Houches (not to be confused with a gentleman's - ha - club somewhere else in France) run by the very lovely Kate. Only she has now shut for a month. Last night I was greeted with a sign on the door that said: 'Shut. Ha ha ha.' I totally respect that girl's style.
It was necessary last night however, to watch Seasons in order to get psyched on MTBing again. And also because Sara at Flow is enjoying her 'inter-season' by riding in Whistler and I'm not ashamed to admit I envy her to a level I didn't think possible. I cannot wait until downhilling in Europe is as big as Canada and Morzine has no choice but to keep its lifts open through September. The Bellevue Bike Park here in Chamonix has improved from two years ago but its closing weekend was a washout. But the Shandro section as always got me in the mood for riding in the wet. Without him I would be a complete fairweather MTBer - clean mud off my bike for an hour? No. I don't think so. Damnit.