Patrick Strahm, Biel, Bern, Switzerland

Always Underestimating The Montoz

Saturday the sun was out. Gravel grinding or fat biking? The fat-bike got the pick. I took off from home with the big tires loudly humming across the few pavement miles to head up to the Montoz. With 11 gears at my disposal, I wanted to hit the steeper ascent to Pré la Patte.

Once at the top of the mountain I turned west to hit the steep downhill to Sonceboz. Despite the warming sun rays, it was quite chilly the more elevation I gained. Everything facing to the south was dry, everything to the north was moist and higher up frosty. Puddles were already covered by a quarter inch thick sheet of ice.

On a regular 2.4" tire mountain bike, I would have probably walked the whole downhill. The moist ground, slippery limestone and the awful steepness would have had me capitulate early. Not so on my fat-bike. It was still a challenge that needed skill, attention to pick the perfect line and ultimately a little luck as well.

After much of the descent was behind me, the trail leveled out for a few meters before dipping into one last steep section. I decided to stop for a minute and immediately smelled that my disc brakes were cooking. I studied the trail ahead of me and the second I fell into the descent with single push of a pedal, my front brake failed. The lever pulled all the way to the bar without putting any pressure on the rotor. With just the rear brake and a quick move to the side of the trail, I managed to stop without crashing. I walked the last bit of the descent and thought my ride was done. Once I got down to a wider gravel road, the pressure in the front brake was back to normal.

With the brake working normally again, I had two options for the second climb - go through the Porte des Enfers and climb eastwards or climb westwards to reach the Place Centrale. I chose to go west as I don’t do this often. The sun doesn’t reach this area a lot, in fact this time of the year it probably never does, so things were quite wet. Beautiful area though, often with spectacular views of the towering rock walls of the Schilt. From the Place Centrale more downhilling followed. At home, both bike and rider needed a shower. Despite the nice sunshine it was a wet day in the saddle.

As always, I keep underestimating the amount of elevation when including the Montoz in a loop. Almost 2'400 meters had to be climbed in just 56 kilometers.

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Always Underestimating The Montoz
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Bad ass ride across the Montoz. I always underestimate the climbing required when including the Montoz. Had one absolutely freaky moment in the steep downhill to Sonceboz. The fatty provided a safe grip despite the humidity, so I actually managed to ride it all until my front brake suddenly failed. Must have over-heated. I walked the last 50 meters and afterwards the brake went back to doing its job.
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Patrick Strahm, Biel, Bern, Switzerland
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