Weeks 7 & 8 – Valloire to Cognin-les-Gorges 1


Fortunately my man-flu has abated, but now Mel has a bit of a cold.  I’ve told her to man up and get on with it – which she is doing and still having lessons with me.  The lessons are getting interesting, we’re learning some new tricks and improving our technique, but I seem to have ripped my trousers in the bum – think the coccyx protector has poked through.  Mel is covered in bruises though – none inflicted by me…

This week, Valloire is hosting an international snow sculpture competition, and over the last week or so they have been building solid snow “cubes” throughout (5m tall).  Today the competition started and the work looks very manual and difficult, and the pictures they are apparently going to build look stunning.  As usual for France, a complete lack of health & safety with guys climbing over the top with chainsaws with the public walking underneath.  Still – no one died today!

With our lessons continuing, our instructor is teaching us how to do “railies” which is sliding over, well, rails.  The first person to attempt it (a Dutch girl who is pretty good) came a cropper and appeared to bend her back over the rail!  Ouch.  Lessons will continue…

And continue they did – we both attempted 3 different rails with mixed results, but I managed to do a couple unaided and after the class I did all 3 in one go!  No one was watching so sadly no evidence of that.  Bruised knees from previous attempts on the rails though – you pay for mistakes heavily….  We also got introduced to “Boarder-cross” which is snowboarding over a course similar to a bike course, e.g. bumps, rises, banked corners etc.  I absolutely loved it (despite flying over the top of one of the banks).  Really fast and challenging and difficult to maintain high speed.  Mel however hated every minute of it and almost broke her wrist.  But apart from that….

Our final day of lessons saw us repeat the boarder-cross in a race in pairs – I lost due to an early slip, but still great fun.  Will need to do some more of that!  We also learned to do some of the “blue” jumps and actually get some real air.  Bizarrely Mel enjoyed this part of the park and I even managed some nice jumps and landings.  I hope these skills transpose well to help my Wakeboarding jumping!

After our lessons we decided to have a day off and rest, but this turned into a couple of days as Mel was feeling and sounding rough coughing most of the night.  We did a tour of the snow sculpture competition which had some impressive works – the photos don’t really do them justice. 

For the following few days, Mel was still recovering from her illness which was obviously more than a cold, and annoyingly after it had almost gone we both got struck with sore throats.  Great!  But even so we managed to continue our routing of boarding, playing in the park, and eating and drinking well.  I’m doing okay in the park, landing most jumps and not getting any bruises from the rails, but far away from being close to being any good.  Some of the youngsters are just so natural at it – and sadly we’re not.  

The snow is still getting bare and its getting close to the time to consider alternative options…

Well, famous last words and all that.  After another good day on the slopes and in the snow park, I did a few good jumps, did the rails and didn’t have any problems at all.  Then on the last jump of the day I did the mini jump well, then did the bigger one where I did a better Ollie than normal so jumped a bit higher and further….  No problem – landed okay but almost instantly caught my heel edge and smashed into the ground and did a summersault.  It was my biggest fall leaving me winded for 5 minutes before I could move, and on inspection I have damaged my shoulder/neck muscles and also my back/bum/pelvis.  A few days off required no doubt, but no lasting damage.  The helmet and impact shorts most definitely helped…

After a day off with Mel going out by herself, we decided that we would leave Valloire on the Monday morning and head SW and just see what we find.  On our last day we did have one more boarding day and I managed a couple of hours even though I could hardly turn my neck – and if I’d fallen on my backside it would have hurt like **** – but as it was we survived.

We paid our campsite bill of €1090 – eek!  Worked out at just under €21 a day (or £17) which I guess we can’t complain about.  Annoyingly, the “long term reduction” doesn’t include discount on electricity or tax, and even this “resets” after each price change (e.g. over Christmas) – so the bill was about €90 more than expected.  Overall though, considering it has been a very functional place I don’t think we can complain much.  Though we are looking forward to a few aires and wild camping to allow us more drinking money!

So bye bye to Valloire – our home for 7 very pleasant weeks – and we will be back.

When leaving Valloire we found out how important it is to have good preparation… The van started fine which was a miracle on a 5yo battery, but the rear brake drums had seized.  We managed to drag the van to the tarmac but this didn’t free them up – so had to use the jack to take the wheels off and clout the drums with a big hammer.   Fortunately we had all the tools and a CD workshop manual to confirm the nut torque settings.  Sadly one of the tyres is looking a bit rough from the drag.

Then filling the van up with water (it had been drained) – we had a “hissing” from the Malaga 3E hot water boiler as well as the pressure pump cutting in.  So, good job we had the PDF of the manual with us and the phone number of their tech support!  10/10 for Propex Heatsource support though – the guy that answered was superb and suggested the gasket had gone loose due to cold, so told me how to fix it as well as give me details of spares.  Fortunately I also carry spares to enable me to isolate various bits of pipework so this did us till the evening stop.

So – good job we have the toolkit – all taken apart and fixed – and both problems potentially major issues.  Phew.

Anyway, our evening stop ending week 8 was in a small place called Cognin-les-Gorges.  No other reason apart from it was the right distance from Valloire in the direction we wanted, but on googling the place there appears to be a stunning gorge walk – so after a night of wild camping and some beer we finished week 8 in anticipation of a good morning walk.

And its soooo nice to have running water and waste again!

Click HERE to go to week 9


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