iXS Macavalanche Preview

Jon took a trip to the rather wet, cold and windy Glencoe Mountain in the Highlands to preview what could become one of the most exciting events of 2011, the iXS MacAvalanche.

Mixing it up...

Organised by the team from No Fuss Events, supported by clothing and protection specialists iXS Sports Division, the plan is to take just sixty riders all the way up to 1,105m at the Glencoe Mountain lift area and then unleash them on the snow covered northern slopes of Meall a’ Bhuiridh in a start reminiscent of the glacier bashing of the Mega Avalanche, then see who’s fastest down to the bottom restaurant at 300m. The race isn’t just going to be restricted to pros and ‘big name’ riders though – anyone can register, the 60 places being allocated by lottery.

Frazer from No Fuss has some pretty amazing plans for the start of the race, one involving a RAF Chinook taking riders to the top before a mass start from out of the loading ramp. We can only hope this vision comes together – it’d be the perfect start to what the organisers have in mind, although the method of delivery to the top of the hill as well as the exact date will be dictated by weather conditions nearer the time.

Down there...

However they’re going to be delivered to the start line, the lucky few riders will then make their way downwards through the ski slopes, which will still be covered when the event is due to happen in April. Heading through a series of S bends on the main basin before breaking out onto the Haggis track, which should be heavily drifted over at race time. It could get very ‘interesting’ around that point. The riders will then head out to what is currently the beginner’s ski area, which will be heavily pisted and very fast riding. If what we saw during the promo was anything to go by, expect some extremely high speed stacks with even the most talented of riders getting away with it by the skin of their teeth – or not.

Riders will then race down the plateau and to the top of the chairlift, still only halfway down the 700m vertical descent. If conditions are right they should start moving out of the snow as they hit the Weasel multi user trail, speeds getting higher as well as the potential to make up lost time. This section will probably see some hero-passes being made, the trail being loose and rock covered and barely wide enough for two riders. It’ll then be a sprint finish to the restaurant. The descent is estimated to take around 15 minutes – it’s a simple enough race, as Frazer puts it, “first one back wins, no fuss…”

Our preview was slightly marred by the small weather window being closed firmly by the return of high speed

And they're off. Again.

winds and snow, plus sub zero conditions. The bravest (or more foolhardy) amongst us were wearing a mere five or so layers, with seven (compression/armour suit, couple of base layers, jersey, padded Primaloft, softshell and a final softshell outer in my case) making life just about bearable. MTBCut team riders Ben Cathro and Fraser McGlone along with probably the fastest marketing man out there, Will Longden from Hotlines UK, and assorted media types were on hand along with Stu Thomson of MTBCut to make a promo video edit, which should be out soon.

Frazer 'Tank Commander' Coupland of No Fuss shows the way...

Watching them riding small sections at full chat gave some idea of how bonkers this race is going to be. The MTBCut video should have more, hopefully including Ben Cathro’s massive launch to snowdrift wipe out. Our day ended with icy crashes, bleeding journos, broken bikes, some serious cross country heather bashing and a universal sense of excitement about the event, despite losing feeling in all extremities.

Entries will be opened soon, with iXS and the No Fuss boys plan to start this event off small, gradually increasing the number of entries through successive years, so if you don’t get in this year there may still chance to take part in some proper big mountain racing mayhem.

You can find more out about the event at the iXS MacAvalanche homepage here, including how to register your interest…

Here’s some more pics to whet your appetite anyway….

Race for the gate...

Contenders, ready...

Give 'er...

Snow biking...

Fallen from a great height...

No Fuss don't monkey about...

A majestic view - no, the mountains...

The view from the Clachaig Inn. When it looks like this, it's going to be a good day.

Thanks to the guys at No Fuss Events, iXS and Hotlines UK, Glencoe Mountain and the lovely Claichaig Inn, which offers accomodation, beer and food fit for mountaineers.

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