Thursday, July 26, 2007

Megavalanche Practice

Gave Matt and Rob a lift to Alpe d'Huez today to practice the Mega. Also met up with Mat, Matt, Jason, Nick and Guy. Top fun!
Don't be fooled by the fact that I have my thumb up in this picture. I think the altitude must have affected my brain. The start of Megavalanche is the most horrible thing you can do on a bike. Approx. 1.5 miles of slush, with loads of riders tracks in front of you. I must have fallen off 10-15times, at various speeds (mostly slow). I think Matts reaction in this photo is more appropriate (respect to Matt for coming 149th in the Mountain of Hell on a hire bike, and for riding the Mega on his hardtail - ave it!). So after an age of ploughing through the snow (most people fared little better this is the super steep start slope - no one is riding their bike correctly)

- Then its onto gnarly rocks, lots of drop offs, super narrow singletrack traversing even steeper rocky slopes. I was riding like a girl, smacking my pedals everywhere, just not feeling in control of the bike at all. When we eventually got to Alpe d'Huez, I was ready for chucking it all in. After some lunch (kindly provided by Rob) I remembered that I had messed around with my rear shock, in fact I'd lessened the preload (I have always thought the spring was too heavy for me and I wasn't getting full travel) - explaining why the bike felt alien and I was hitting the pedals all the time. So, a few turns of preload, and a few more for luck saw us heading up the lift to try Mats' recommended black route (8) down to Oz Station. Ah! this was more like it, still a little stiff and nervous but certainly improved. A great run this, a bit of everything, fireroad, steep switchbacks, rocky slab sections with drop offs, a rooty descent through trees, I can see why Mat likes this one so much. We stopped at one point to check a (I think Dutch) riders condition after a crash, he was OK, and then came a film crew to film Mick Hannah descend the route we just took. Mixing it with the stars!

Anyhow, confidence returning, we ascended from Oz upto the start of the Mega qualifying route. I have done this a few times now, so its starting to become do-able at speed, still not got a line sorted through the 2 snow fields early on, but ripped the rocky section, passing at least 10 riders with punctures (my tubeless rear holding out, probably put a new one on for qualifying). Finished with a blast down the blue and the ladder jump again (love that now)

Everyone came through unscathed, and Jason, Nick and Guy have VERY kindly offered me a bunk in their apartment for the nights before qualifying and before the race itself, to save me the 40-50minute drive from 2Alpes. Fantastic offer guys, which I will most certainly take you up on. Not be long now.....

Also bought a new rear rotor from the Hope guys (I had bent the other) - they let me have it for 100Euros (£67) they are £80 on chain reaction (they are the V2 vented ones - and you can tell by the way I haven't mentioned my brakes that they have been working flawlessly - most other folks have had a moan or two about brake fade...)

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