As my alarm sounded at a balmy 05:30 (AM!) I almost rolled over and went back to sleep.
Nikki (Mrs Gairy) had been ill for a few days and so I’d been working, full-time parenting and looking after a poorly wife and so it was a broken husk of a man that awoke at that daft hour- not exactly the desired condition to begin a two day fatbikepacking trip!
The only thing that stopped me was the fact that Gian would be waiting for me at 08:30 at La Girvine train station just over the border in Switzerland and so up I got and began the half-arsed version of packing that my limited time allowed (throwing things I could see into a bag and hoping that I didn’t forget anything too essential).
Two fatiguing hours of driving later (shouldn’t have been that long but I put the wrong details into the GPS and ended up in the wrong place) I was desperately trying to get ready as Gian rolled (ready to go) off the train.
As we’d only ever chatted online introductions were made, bikes were admired (well, Gians’ was) and before too long (ok, ok, after a quick change of tyres, the fitting of my bikepacking bags and some final kit/clothing choice faffing) we were off…..
The initial climb up and away from the train station was uneventful but already it was apparent that my 1×9 (standard 32t:11-34t) setup was not going to cut the mustard on the climbs with a fully laden bike but there was nothing to be done about it and so I got on with it.
Once up into the hills we enjoyed some lovely crisp early morning snow as we alternated between following the snowshoe trail and snippets of fun singletrack which snaked off at tangents into the forest.
After a little while we came to the end of the marked/groomed trails and the real adventure began.
We had no particular route in mind but instead just sort of headed in roughly the right direction and took trails whenever we thought they might yield fun results. We climbed up and over a little pass and onto a footpath which was already becoming too soft to ride.
Some pushing ensued before we decided to head offpiste and shoot down a steep slope into the valley bottom (and over the bars, twice, in my case) where the snow was firmer.
We then entered the forest following some old skiing tracks which ran loosely in the right direction and we had some type II pushing, dragging fun (but no large hardship in such a great environment).
Eventually we emerged tired and sweaty from the forest and re-entered some semblance of civilisation (a stone hut near a track where we saw actual people!) and we then followed the xc trails for a few km to the main road.
A short climb later and we were sat happy and warm enjoying a couple of bottles of some fine local ales.
The day was moving on now (and my lack of sleep and general fatigue was catching up with me) and so we rode for another hour or so after the pub before starting to scout around for a nice bivi spot.
Before long we settled on a snow-free patch underneath a tree which was relatively flat and stone/root free and started to make camp.
Gian set about cooking his first in a long line of evening meals while I did my best to enjoy the petrol station pasta pot that I’d bought that morning (did I mention that my preparation was a tad half-arsed?). To be fair it was adequate!
Some light banter (and a failed attempt on my part to convince Gian to pop back to the pub for more beers) and I was ready for sleep.
The sky was cloudless as we settled down the for the night and the temperature was showing -6°c but to be fair it didn’t feel quite that cold.
Here are a few shots around the camp/bivi spot.
I was toasty warm all night but still slept fairly poorly and Gian was verging on cold but managed to sleep well enough and so it was two mostly rested fellas who emerged from our bags bright and early on Sunday morning, packed up and were on the move by 08:00.
The trail back to the main road and then on from there was a joy being so hard-packed and frozen at that time and so we made good time.
It was cold enough that we were able to ride freely wherever we pleased and much fun was had cruising around the valleys as we descended and climbed our way slowly towards our destination.
A large descent and a large climb later we were on the home stretch as we re-joined the snowshoe trail and made our way back to the car.
We arrived back having thoroughly enjoyed (almost) every minute of the two days and I’m already looking at when my schedule might allow for another quick visit to the Jura mountains before the snow finally says goodbye for the season.
What a bloody lovely trip!