Sorry about the lack of blog entries due to no time! Anyway heres a catch up for the last week:
A great day on Tuesday in 2 Alpes. The trails here are great this year – we bombed the Venosc run at silly speed – there are lots of tables pre-berm and you can jump them into the berm – a great technique as you also then jump most of the braking bumps – result!
Wednesday saw top half of Mega practice – more snow than ever this year – however, a rut riding technique on the not too steep stuff was worked out (basically stay in a rut with both feet down) – as well as a technique for the steep stuff – sit down and slide (see last years mega helmet cam footage for an example of this)
Heres me on the snow, not looking particularly happy… And here on a snowy fireroad that was rocks last year… Heres IanC… After a severe beating at the hands of the top half, we engage in fettle action. Ians forks are leaking oil, Gazs have completely seized (note: both Fox forks…..) – Glens back wheel needs all of its spokes tightening – I decided to get my Lyriks looked at by the SRAM man (they were losing travel after a hard run, I needed to twist the U-turn knob to get it all back) – after queuing for 1.5hrs, the guy strips them down and refills the oil. Claims it’s the u-turn knob moving by itself. Yeah right…. Anyhow, Gaz has no luck with anyone to look at his forks, so we go to Rocky Sports to get the Lyriks installed on his bike.
Heres Ant and me on the first drop on the Blue under the bottom lift at ADH:Top airtime Ant! Oh yeah I can now jump the fun box. I plan to do this in the race on Saturday – its good to give something back to the fans……(the box is probably around 12 feet long) :) Thursday saw bottom half of Mega practice. A great trail this, starting of with a pedally traverse, then a steep climb up some switchbacks (where I had to stop because I was nearly sick last year) – then into some awesome singletrack through woods, kind of like a welsh trail centre, but on steroids.
Mike had come down from Chatel to ride with us, he didn’t like the climbing at this point ;)
In the dry parts of this section are scary fast, real speeder bike action (but no ewoks)
Down in Allemont – we get the bus back to Oz (always carnage) and get some lunch. Now to rest, qualifying tomorrow……
We were split up into pairs in different waves : Ant and Gaz in wave 3, Jonny and I in wave 4, Glen and Ian in wave 5.
Heres Ant on the start line…. We got upto the start just in time (bad queues) – a little bit of drizzle, but otherwise dry.
The starts were mental as usual – I didn’t have the best start, but managed to get down the big switchbacks and across the 2 snow fields without incident. I was quicker than the guys in front, but I am terrible at overtaking, so bided my time a little. Managed to scalp a few on the rocky section – my next target was the fireroad climb where I made lots of places last year. No so this year, although I did pedal it all, I must have passed only 2 people – damn, now the second half of the course, steep switchbacks and narrow rooty singletrack. My arms were killing me in this section, I very nearly had to stop – again I was behind someone slower than me, and I think all the braking upset my rhythm. Down the final descent past Oz and over the 3 bustops (these caught lots of people out!) I finished in 39mins 34secs (an improvement of 1min 39secs over last year) in 79th position (9 better than last year) – enough to get me into row Z in the Megapromo (worse than last years row Y, everyone must have stepped it up this year)
Considering my preparation for this year (this was only 9 weeks after breaking my collar bone at Glentress, and only 2.5 weeks since starting riding again) – I was pretty happy with the result.
Heres everyone elses times, Ian and Glen making the first wave with a 43rd and 44th respectively – great riding all round.
IanC – 43rd in 35:25
Glen – 44th in 35:35
Gaz – 62nd in 37:01
Dasnut – 79th in 39:34
Ant – 129th in 45:30
Jonny – 141st in 56:21 (after mending his chain a few times!)
So this meant Glen and Ian in the Megavlanche itself, Gaz and I in the Megapromo, and Jonny and Ant in the Megaffinity (no mass start, just an individual time)
We went to bed early, to the sound of thunder and electrical storms…. We heard a rumour that the glacier start may be off, starting from the qualifying start again…hmmm….
I awoke to Glens subtle “its 5:30 Ian” at 5:30am. It was still raining, we were inside a cloud. Ant, Jonny, Gaz and I got up at 6:30ish. Motivation was low. Reports were coming in that the glacier was closed, so now snow start (great says I!). It rained pretty much solidly for 3 hours. We considered watching Trading Places. We drunk a beer at 8am. Gaz cheered when the lightening came. We were pretty much all commited to giving it a miss. Well I had done it before, it wasn’t a “proper” mega because the glacier start was off, we wouldn’t enjoy it because the wooded section at the end would be deadly etc. etc. the excuses just kept on coming.
I received a call from Ian saying the lifts were shut and not to bother coming out.
But then…. All of a sudden, we could see blue sky. Jonny is ready to go. Hes out the door. The rest of us (Ant, Gaz and I) are now feeling guilty, and the prospect of going back to work saying we didn’t do it because it was raining was becoming too much. We were ready and out the door 10 minutes after Jonny…..
We got up to the start just as the 2nd wave was leaving, at around 11am – It was pretty cold, I heard lots of people had given up and gone back down due to the cold and wet. I was glad to be up there in sunshine, missing out on the cold rain fest. Gaz and I decided to ride down in the affinity – just to get a time. We let the 2nd wave get a good head start, then got our timing chips scanned and set off.
I had a great down the first section, across the 2 snow fields again, Gaz caught me up and passed me. Was good to have a familiar person in front so I pressed on. I then saw Gaz go head over heels in the first rock garden. I passed him as the marshal was giving him his shoe back. The race was on! We seemed to get down to ADH pretty quick, then we saw lots of people watching on the grassy descent to the bike park. Blasting around the slippy corners, foot out, wide open, there were lots of cheers – next was the fun box jump! Last year, there were lots of people here too, anyhow I hit it, cleared it to a few muted cheers. Lots of arms were out in the track and I was high five-ing loads of kids. Its good to give something back to the kids!
Across the traverse after ADH, I was picking folks off, and Gaz passed me again. Up the push up (past Captain ADH stood by the start of the climb) and onwards. Felt like having a rest after the climb, but pushed on. Again slowed down by people I couldn’t pass – grrrrr must sort my overtaking skills out….
Into the wooded section, we were right, it was deadly. My glasses were steaming up (googles long since discarded) and the roots were slippy. .We were in a long stationary queue at one point, and I shouted Gaz, who was about 10 or 15 people in front. Ant and Jonny were 5 or 6 people behind me. It was stop start for a while in the woods up some steep pushes which were hard enough to walk never mind ride. On the tight switchbacks people were down all over (I pretty much rode them all) – at one point someone passed me in a switchback, only to hit a super muddy section and go all sideways – I passed him again lying against the banking…The super fast wooded section was significantly slower due to the slippyness. I don’t think anyone wanted to end up down that banking….
We came into Allemont and got scanned. Gaz was already there, Jonny and Ant right behind me. It was a great race – I am so glad we actually got off our arses and rode it! I reckoned times were around 1hr 30mins. Again I was happy to get down, and I thought an OK time. Heres peoples times and postions in full. Gaz and I received a 10minute penalty for not starting in the 2nd wave (boo!)
There were 294 riders in the 1st wave, and 397 in the combined 2nd wave\affinity
Glen – 250th in 1st wave in 1:17:43
IanC – 263rd in 1st wave in 1:19:41
Jonny – 219th in combined 2nd wave\affinity 1:25:21
Ant – 229th in 1:26:02
Gaz – 285th in 1:31:58 (including 10min penalty)
Dasnut – 307th in 1:35:53 (including 10min penalty)
All in all – top riding by everyone. Surprised to come last – but that’s the Mega. I had a clean run in the qualifier and race (no crashes) – just needed a bit more fitness and some killer overtaking skills.
I shall be back at the 15th Megavalanche next year to try my luck again. It is quite addictive. Bike for next time I think will be 140mm trail bike, with some decent wheels on it. That would be so much lighter for the climbs and the pushes, although the Nomad with totems on is a great ride. Maybe that for the qualy and a lighter bike for the race? If its allowed of course…..
Next stop – Mountain of Hell at 2Alpes this coming weekend. Rohan, who I rode that with last year is arriving with some friends on Tuesday – so a rest day on Monday, then hit the trails on Tuesday – bring it!!!!!