Team QECP do the Megavalanche!
Well that was an experience! Cursed from the off, but still had a great time!
It started Monday 7th early morning to catch the first train to Calais, to give us a whole day travelling to our campsite. You might be aware that this train made national news, breaking down in the middle of the tunnel and us being evacuated! 11 hours later and we were on our way again. We had to stop overnight in a hotel before arriving at our campsite the following day, missing a mornings riding.
We were greeted by rain, lots of it! We rode the afternoon and got thoroughly covered in mud! Cleaning bikes, changing and trying to dry clothes, plus then cook our evening meal is hardwork in a tent! This continued throughout the week but we started to get the hang of it.
On Wednesday we rode the whole mega track. Christ it was cold at the top – glad I bought winter gloves, but still my fingers froze. Its really hard to ride on the extremely steep glacier! Just point the bike down and hang off the back, about 10% in control I fell a lot! Scott, Jesse and Ewan faired better. Then its lots of rocks, which I like (the techier the better). All the fast, flowy fun sections after that were actually slippy and muddy and tough work. The lower 1/2 of the course was a muddy hell!
Qualifications on Friday gave mixed results. I was knocked off my bike and damaged my forks, bent my rotor and broke my helmet. Scott started at back of grid and therefore had to try and pass 100 riders! Jesse suffered a puncture, but Ewan came down in 12th position! So, I was in Challengers race (Sat), Ewan in Mega and Scott and Jesse in the Amateurs (all Sunday).
Due to the adverse conditions, Saturdays races were to start from the top of the Qualifier mountain (2800m) and not Pic Blanc on the glacier. Finishing in Allemont by our campsite. Sundays Mega race would start from glacier and finish in Allemont as normal, but the Amateurs would finish in Alpe D’Huez.
Damn it was cold and wet (yet again!) on Sat. No one I met on the bus up from Allemont knew which start it was (Dome Rousse or top of DMC) lifts hadnt opened, lots of hanging around. I got to Dome Rousse cablecar early, and although I had a good grid position, I thought screw that, I’m not hanging around at the start for hrs in the pissing snow. I was wet and cold. So I waited at the lift station under cover until the last of the queue. We arrived at the top at start time! I was last man just about on the grid. I didnt care! Race started and there was a lot of pushing of bikes. However 1/2way through the rock section on quali track, on the “ladder drop”, I managed to get a clean run on my bike. This allowed me to cycle uninterrupted until the mud, just after 1/2way. Lots of queuing here and then I managed to get on the bike again to ride the slippy switchbacks and off camber stuff. Single pivot bikes and sitting off the back really helped here. I managed to pass loads and loads of people. Riding most of the mud! Some slippy bits later on and lots of wet mud, saw me roll into the finish after overtaking 70 or so riders on a bike with limited front travel What a day! I loved it.
Things werent so good back at our tent. Scott, Ewan and Jesse had eaten a burger at a restaurant after qualification. All the burgers were under cooked and gave each of them stomach problems. Scott faired worse and was layed up in bed for the whole of Saturday and Sunday, missing his race such a shame after all the travel, costs and hassle of getting there. However, even though he missed the race, he got to do quali’s and rode the whole mega track. He will be back!
Ewan raced on Sunday morning with Jesse starting a few hours later. Ewan unfortunately crashed on the glacier, trying to avoid a rider. He then lost his bike and slipped down the slope. Scrambling back up the slope and remounting the bike cost him all his positions. Still he made a very respectable time to the bottom and remained intact – which I think is the main goal!
Jesse came in mid to front of his race, although his shoulder took a huge whack after loosing the front on the fireroad – AFTER the glacier! Doh!
An odd “holiday”. The photos I had seen showed glorious sunshine! Still, we managed to all ride the Megavalanche track and brush up on our mud riding skills! The terrain is fantastic and even more so if you like rocks! Descents that last over 1hr dont come about too often!