Megavalanche 2011 - An amazing trip.....
Well it was all the way back in July now, seems like yesterday though!! There was three in our van, Myself (Matt), Ross and his wife Nikki (Someone had to look after us ha ha!) And we met some of the guys from IMB magazine out in Morzine before heading to Alpe D'Huez!
Ready for the off at Dover.... a nice long over night drive ahead!
It didn't seem to take long at all, and we were soon in Morzine at the Chalet that IMB magazine head honcho Rou had sorted for us all (Cheers Rou!)
We didn't waste any time, we were un-packed and ready for a quick blast on the hill at Morzine, the boys had left us to have a nap after the long drive, but we wanted to get out!! Bikes ready..... off we go!! It was time for an afternoon on the big bike.... NukeProof Scalp
After a few days blasting the French and Swiss DH runs, it was pack the van time and off to Alpe D'Huez...... and the Megavalanche!!
It wasn't long before we had a few practice runs on the Qualifying course, gnarly is definitely a word to be used here....... Bike of choice was the NukeProof Mega, after all, it was designed for this kind of thing, and it worked amazingly well!!! With fast rocky sections, berms galore and some bits of pedalling, this was the bike for the job!
Here's a little video of the Qualifier track....
After a few hard days of practicing the main track and the qualifier, we were all pretty shattered, some were plagued with punctures, others with mechanicals............me, I was lucky, or riding a really well prepared and bomb proof machine!!
After a 2nd row start in my heat of the qualifier of 200 other looons (Only the top 35 make it through), I threw it away after a crash in the snow and then a mechanical as the chain device argued with a huge rock.
Time wasn't on my side, and I had to get my asse hauling downwards as fast as the bike would let me (And the GoPro hadn't been charged so no video!)
It's a good job I did some training before going out, I used every last bit of it! Fortunately I passed a load of guys in the rocks and managed to get on the tail of three really quick riders through the rocky technical middle section, and thankfully no slow riders ahead!!
After tailing them flat out for ten minutes and making it to the main resort, it was only the switchbacks down to the finish. I say only..... there's about 30 of them, and it takes about 6 minutes, so only two UK DH races left to go :-)
After I crossed the line, I couldn't speak, breathe, walk or even co-ordinate my legs..... ruined!!
I queued to get back up to the main resort in the bubble lift, I had no idea of my time or position, then Ross hit me with it, 38th........... To say I was gutted and in a big mard is an understatement, toys went out the pram big time!! Missed out by three places......
It was only hours later when I spoke to Rick back at the shop in the UK, that he told me I'd finished in 31st place.....qualified for the main event on Sunday..........Ecstatic!!!!
Sadly, not everyone had the same fortune, mechanicals, punctures and traffic meant I was the only one racing in the main event on Sunday, the others had qualified for for either the "B" Final or the Amateurs race on Saturday.
After practicing the main track a few times, I was happy with everything, except the snow at the top, or slush as it was... steep and slippy meant it was pot luck how you did getting down it!
Here's a picture of the steep snowy loveliness.......
After a hard week of riding the bikes certainly needed some attention, I needed a new rear mech, mech hanger and chain device, and Russ needed to do some emergency repairs to his forks with some nail varnish and a dremmel..... Not sure why he chose pink though...... ??
All the nerves were creeping in now, everyone was pretty tense about their race runs.
Friday evening was a quiet one for the guys racing on Saturday, for everyone else, it was time for beers and partying followed by a well deserved day off on Saturday!
Saturday morning, and up early, it was only right to go and cheer everyone from the top of the mountain. Pic Blanc 3300m, very cold and very high!!
Russ & Nige waiting for the lift up to the peak for their race run.....
Here's the boys from IMB Magazine at Pic Blanc getting ready for their run down the course. No mass start for them, but a nice clear track and against the clock, just like a proper DH race, pride and bragging points were prize of the day.... Russ (Master BBQ Chef) took the honours....
After a good days riding from Russ, Rou, Nige, Alex and George, it was time for them to get on the beers, and time for me and Ross to start preparing and getting nervous!
Our nerves weren't helped on the Staurday night when a huge storm descended on the resort, black clouds, golf ball sized hail and thunder and lightening, this could only be a good thing for the course?!?!
Race morning, up at 5am, and not really wanting to eat, time for some force feeding! The race was hours away, but we still had hours of standing in the freezing cold lift queues before we got on with it!
Bike prep'd and ready to rock n roll, number board on, food packed, toilet roll packed (You never know what's up at the top of the mountain!)
Time to get hearded into the lifts for an hour or so...... suprising how organised this actually was!!
Luckily once at the top, it wasn't raining or snowing, it was just windy and really really cold, hoody and storm jacket on!!
Papa Russ was to the rescue, with a big blanket, and a flask of hot tea, cheers Russ!!
Here we all are, the lemmings, waiting in sub zero temperatures to throw ourselves head first down a mountain for an hour...... mad you say?? I don't think even mad people would do this!!!
Ready and waiting, a very nervous smile just showing through......
This was it, the final seconds before utter carnage, nerves gone, adrenaline working over time and pumped up! The helicopter buzzing ahead nice and low and the insane euro techno music blaring out, this is what's all about.........
And we're off, lemmings are GO!! Totally hit and miss whether you rode over someone or got ridden over.....
This was where the carnage started as people slipped on the snow, crashed on the rocks, got tangled up in pedals and wheels.... but it was only one way now...... DOWN!!
After just reaching the snow, I had yet another encounter with the ground, seems I'm not amazing on the snow (Must practice more!)
My bad luck didn't end there though, only five minutes in and not even off the glacier and another mechanical problem, chain device decided it was going to spew chain out everywhere and wedge my pedals solid....... Aaaaaagghhh....... many expletives, and I even kicked the bike! Realising a calm head was required I set to un jam and make the chain device redundant. Turns out you can ride the full race without a chain device...... happy days!
Back on the bike, and looking behind me, last person off the snow...... time for some serious action, flat out for five more minutes picking off people that can't pedal....... this was more like it!
Then we hit the frozen glacier traverse.......now in practice, this was grippy considering it's sheet ice and off camber.....not today, it was lethal. The only way was fast and smooth and don't even dream of braking! People were falling like Bambi everywherere!!
Off the glacier without an off, time to get cranking the pedals againg into the rocks, sadly it was short lived, too many people with limited skills were clogging the track, time to chill out and breathe ready for getting passed soon....
Off the Rocks and into a climb, picking more and more people off, and nearly passing out from hyper ventillating....... time to haul asse and make some more places up, and time for some more tight and steep rocks, fun times!
Out into the open and the big flat sprint and a climb over to the next descent into Oisans, long, winding, narow and fast. This was time to relax a bit, no passig for the next ten minutes (Well maybe a few)
Once the top fast part was over, it's time to get rooty and dusty, passing Oisans it's into the trees for some deep and dusty rooty turns, and with arm pump creeping in, brakes getting cooked, it was hard to hang on!!
Out of the choking dust and a road and fire road section was a nice recovery, I say this, but when there's a rider in sight, it's head down and chase him down time!!
Back into the trees for the final section, only about ten minutes left, time to dig deep and get a shift on...... legs burning, blurry vision, arms killing........PEDAL.......
The last descent had been awesome in practice, close trees, steep chutes, roots, off camber..... everything we love, but when you're this knackered it kicks the s**t out of you. Nowhere to pass and too shattered to take any daft chances I waited until we hit the final fire road sprint to finish arena to pick off two more riders, they gave a fight but it wasn't enough..... Finished........ 1.07.27 and 276th place, pretty pleased but gutted at the terrible start........means I have to go back again though........
After a long 11 days in the Alps, the bikes were as thankful of a rest as we were..... so it was time for a relax in the sunshine at our favourite bar, and time for some well earned beers. Our ever faithful service crew at E'Talon Bar looked after us really well, big thanks to bar owner Marina, her fella Nath and Sophie for keeping us in beers and burgers......
Sophie sporting a great t-shirt ready to feed thirsty bikers.......If you're in the resort, call in for a beer and a feed!!
The big question is:- would I do it again? Hell yeah, I'll just practice my snow skills more, and get even fitter!!! And what would I change for next time...... nothing, the bike was amazing and watching people without dropper posts, I feel sorry for you guys, the RockShox Reverb was a god send!!
Cheers for reading (If you got this far!)
If you want any info on the build spec of the two bikes or want a demo ride, give us a shout at the shop!
Here is the official Mega video..... enjoy..... Mega2011
Matt - Twelve50 Bikes
Twelve50 Bikes Riders:- Matt Steadman, Ross Adams, Russ Cosh
IMB Riders:- Rou Chater, Alex Chater, George and Nige
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