The Electric MEGA: New Megavalanche Race Category

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Buried in the event page for the 2017 Megavalanche is an interesting nugget: There’s a new category running this year, for ebikes! Not only will they have a mass start descent, but once they get to the bottom, they have to pedal back up Alpe d’Huez.

“Another category will enjoy a brand new racing formula : the Ebikes. All the competitors will start Saturday morning from the Pic Blanc at 3500 m to go down to Allemont, official arrival of the Megavalanche, and to highlight the possibilities of this new generation bikes, the competitors will leave again in reverse direction (uphill), in “Pursuit” mode up to Alpe d’Huez.”

If you do go out to the Mega, chances are you won’t get any of the course to yourself like this unless you’re very fast, or very slow.

Fun as the resulting footage would be, for obvious safety reasons they probably can’t have people hammering back up the course as competitors are still coming down, and since the race schedule shows other categories starting shortly after, we suspect Electric Mega competitors will be going back up via a different trail. Here’s the thing though: They’re not allowed to carry spare batteries. They have a single battery to get up the mountain, which will likely take some judicious budgeting.

The frenetic mass start happens on a perilously fast, long, steep and mostly straight section of piste, up on the glacier.

This seems quite ingenious. Riders will be travelling there from all over the world, and laws vary so much from country to country that their bikes will be limited (or not) in different ways. Chipping them to defeat any speed limiters is laughably easy too. When you’ve only got a 500 watt-hour battery though, sure, you can hack your bike to propel you uphill at 30mph, but it’s not going to do it for very long… If you’re an ebike hater, it might be worth going just to see some people run out of power and have to huff all that weight up Alpe d’Huez. Enjoy your schadenfreude if so, but everyone else will just be having loads of fun.

The course is generally packed all the way down.

The Electric MEGA is part of a six race series that started in March, ranging from XC marathons to mass start downhills. Battery budgets vary with distance, but most only allow one, challenging riders to conserve electricity for when they really need it. You can get all the info and entry links from the cyber-horse’s mouth in French here, or via Google translate here.

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