Bikepacking The Pennine Alps Between France & Italy
We had unfinished business. Tour des Combins is one of the most spectacular, but least known, trans-alpine routes in the Pennine Alps. With over 4,000m (13,650ft) of climbing along its 113 kilometers (70mi), the Tour is an intimidating exploit, and in 2015 an ankle injury to one of our party kept us from completing the massive bikepacking loop.
We had started a project called Clorophilla, a freeride video from 2005 entirely filmed in Abruzzo, Italy. Our vicarious passion was transformed into reality, only to be scuttled by an unfortunate crash that resulted in reconstructive surgery and an ankle full of screws and metal.Despite the setbacks and injuries, our appetite for riding continued to grow.
Nestled beneath the impressive 4,000 meter peaks, we couldn’t help but chuckle at the journey that lay ahead of us. Back in 2004 when we were freeride geeks, a 27 kg bike equipped with 3 inch tires was our preferred ride. A decade later, we still had 3 inch tires, but this time our entire ensemble including bike, tent, sleeping bag and provisions weighed less than the bike of our past.
We encountered a stunning array of terrain over our 3-day adventure, including 60 meters of Roman road dating back to 50 AD, perennial snow-covered peaks, breathtaking views, glaciers, defiant single-tracks, waterfalls, glacier rivers, precipitous climbs, mountain pastures and countless magnificent vistas.