/ TDMB route beta

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cornishben - on 12 Sep 2017
A friend and I are planning to do the Tour du Mont Blanc MTB loop at the end of September (weather dependent). I've found one GPS route online and understand it mostly follows the walking route with the odd diversion to avoid the steepest parts.

Obviously the optimum MTB route will minimise walking/carrying time and maximise fun single track riding.

Does anyone have any MTB route beta/maps/info or just general beta which they're willing to share ?
mike123 - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to cornishben:
Probaly not what you want to hear,but I did it with it mate several years ago , pretty much sticking to the "normal" walking route , I seem to remember we took 3 days but I might be wrong . On the whole I think we both thought that while we had a good crack ,it was pretty much a push / carry with bits and bobs of good riding . Great thing to have done but in not really in terms of the quality riding . We had friends who picked us up after the first day and took us back to Cham and then back to where they picked us up the next morning , we then stayed one night in an auberge . I can't for the life of me remember where. I would be interest to see if we could have varied our route to get more quality riding but we organised it on the fly with not much/any prior info .
Dave Kerr - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to cornishben:
Below is a write up from when I rode it in 2011 plus some later observations:

We did it clockwise. My feeling is that whilst anti would still be good clockwise is the best way for rideability both up and down plus you meet most of the walkers head on.

The best bit of advice I got was to look for any easier alternatives on the climbs like landy tracks. We didn’t do this on day one and ended up with a 2 hr carry up from Trelechamp.

We started at Trelechamp and carried up the Aiguillette des posettes which was about 2hrs. The descent to the col of the same name was good but short and extremely technical. Given the carry it wasn’t really worth it. We contoured round to the Col de Balme which gave an awesome and not too hard (red) descent to Trient. At the top of the col are TMB VTT signs which are best ignored.

One point worth noting is that the recommended map IGN Pays du Mont-Blanc does not show detail like buildings in Switzerland and Italy. Also Trient is not marked at all and there is no distinction between double and single track.

The section from the Col de la Forclaz to Bovine looks to have been recently re-done and is mostly rideable (up). From Bovine round to La Jure is a pig what ever direction you do it. I couldn’t see any alternative to this that didn’t involve a massive detour on the road. Definitely don't be tempted by the alternative walking route over the Fenetre d'Arpette.

La Fouly to the Grand col Ferret would be mostly rideable in the dry. We had a rotten day and the lack of traction defeated us. As the weather was so poor (snow to 2000m) we missed out the Bonatti refuge / mont de la saxe section and rode down the road instead. This is actually one of the better and more commonly ridden sections.

From Courmayeur, don't follow the walking path but the ski centre tracks, these access mostly rideable tracks above Val Veny. From below the Elizabetta hut most of the way up the Col de la Seigne is rideable.

Les Chapieux to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme is a slog but again more rideable in the dry. The descent from here is one of the best I have ever done with only a couple of lifts over unrideable obstacles near the start. This would be a poor choice on the way up and most of the routes I saw online avoided it if going anticlockwise.

For the rest of the way to les Houches we followed the walking route to the letter and it was fine.

The Aiguille Rouge section probably has some worthwhile riding but there are bits that aren't suitable even for carrying bikes. There might be a good alternative but it would take more local knowledge than I have.

Overall thoughts? Like everything else the weather will make or break it. We had 1 nice day one cold and showery day and 2 days that just pissed it down (snow on the passes) from start to finish. This lead to a lot more carrying than might otherwise have been the case and lead us to the conclusion that it was only just worth it. Even with dry trails and good route choice you should expect some fairly long carries.
Post edited at 16:57
cornishben - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to cornishben:

many thanks for the info both. It currently looks like snow might be a bigger issue for us!
cornishben - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to cornishben:

snow and the lack of huts open at the end of September means I think we'll abandon for this year.

So instead, any recommendations for general mountain biking in the area taking into account the fact all the lifts will be closed (are they ?) ? Or any good well bolted multipitch climbing which is again accessible this time of year ?
ChrisJD on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to cornishben:

Head south and see if you can get a week with these guys in the Ecrins:

http://www.bike-alp.com/

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