Mega 2014

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  • Mega 2014
  • andrewh
    Member

    So, I’ve never done this before and have no idea what I’m doing but it does look a lot of fun.
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    I beleive that the entries open in January? Anyone know exactly when? Ia it the kind of thing we need to sit poised over our keyboards for as it sells out in 3 seconds flat or is it a little more calm than that?
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    Are the practice sessions a free for all, as many goes as we like over the bits we need to do or is it all organised, maybe even timed, runs down the course? Do the lift passes cover as much practice as you need or only a certain number?
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    I’m a reasonable endurance XC racer so pretty confident fitness wise, but probably lacking in the technical department, is worth getting Jedi-ed before I go? Heard good things about him on here, would his teaching help with this kind of thing?
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    Is body armour and a full face pretty much obligitory? Or does one tend to overheat in a full-face in a race that long?
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    I’m intending to drive over and camp in my van at the venue. Is this a good idea?
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    In a flurry of excitement I’ve gone out and bought a new (to me) bike already, 2008 Kona Stinky and Marzochi 66s. Good choice? Minions OK on snow?
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    Any other advice for a novice much appreciated.
    Thanks.

    Hob Nob
    Member

    You don’t have to enter on the day entries go live. I think there is a bit of an urban myth about the earlier you enter the further up the grid you get in your qualifying race. The first 10 or so are seeded proeprly, the next 10 or so are seeded on a free for all, then it’s pretty much pot luck where you start.

    You can practice as much as you want, both the qualifier & main race. When you enter, you buy a list pass that relates to the number of days. simples.

    It’s not the hardest riding by any means, but it is more challenging to ride at speed, with others around, with a huge disparity of standards. Never underestimate the ability of a nodder to stop in the middle of a high speed section or corner.

    You have to use a full face. Armour is a bit odd, I thin officially you only have to wear elbow pads but thats it. They never check though.

    You can camp at the bottom of the valley in Allemond, which is 2 minutes from the end of the race track, but a pain to get anywhere in the morning, or ghetto camp for free under the lift station in Alpe d’Huez.

    ndthornton
    Member

    probably lacking in the technical department

    probably not the best starting point is it then. Get Jedi-ed or stick to xc.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    So many questions.

    Ia it the kind of thing we need to sit poised over our keyboards for as it sells out in 3 seconds flat or is it a little more calm than that?

    A little more calm. But I booked on the first day and got a front row quali slot (then binned it on the first corner).

    Are the practice sessions a free for all, as many goes as we like over the bits we need to do ?

    Yes

    Do the lift passes cover as much practice as you need ?

    Yes

    I’m a reasonable endurance XC racer so pretty confident fitness wise, but probably lacking in the technical department, is worth getting Jedi-ed before I go? Heard good things about him on here, would his teaching help with this kind of thing?

    Could do, but also go and ride some big mountains like Helvellyn and do some uplifts.
    .

    Is body armour and a full face pretty much obligitory?

    Full face yes, armour a very good idea if you’re less than a riding god.
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    I’m intending to drive over and camp in my van at the venue. Is this a good idea?

    Yes, you can suss it all out when you get there.
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    In a flurry of excitement I’ve gone out and bought a new (to me) bike already, 2008 Kona Stinky and Marzochi 66s. Good choice?

    Yes and no, any bike you take you’ll be alternatively loving and hating. If you’re fit anyway then a Stinky could play well to your weaknesses.

    Minions OK on snow?

    Yes. Dual ply 2.5 with DH tubes for me, so many sharp rocks and quite a few puncture victims cursing their skimpy rubber/tubes.

    boltonjon
    Member

    After a couple of trips to the Alps under my belt, i’d recommend getting out there 3 or 4 days before the event and leaning how to ride really big trails

    It always takes me a day or two to tune in to it, whilst trying to pace myself, not go too mental and just enjoying it – without trashing myself nor the bike

    Thinking about doing the Mega myself this year and will be travelling a couple of days early to acclimatise myself

    Good luck

    jamesoz
    Member

    Look after your brakes, had to do half the coarse with virtually no brakes due to overheating and a pad disintegrating, from following slower riders and dragging the brakes. In hindsight skidding rather than feathering the brakes when behind slower guys would have been better.
    Oh and get a dropper post.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    Body armour is a good idea ad Full face definately

    I did it on a stinky with 66s last time and it was fine, bit heavy but will give you lots of confidence, a dropper post is a good idea too

    skills day is a good, as is getting practice in on steep n rocky stuff so uplifts at Antur, BPW, cwmcarn etc would be beneficial

    The lift pass is for a week so you can get in plenty of practice out there, its a punishing course though so your body and bike can take a beating over the week!

    as for bike, try and get things serviced first, make sure forks are running nice, wheels trued etc and definitely bleed your brakes and take fresh pads and if you are driving out take as many spares as possible, oh and dual ply tyres too

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    There’s a company that does a mega holiday- basically like your standard week in the alps, but based around the race. Summitdown maybe? Haven’t done it but it seemed like a good, if more expensive way to do it…

    Hob Nob
    Member

    Summit Down always used to do a package, to be fair though, you don’t need to bother really. There are only 4 things you need to manage all week. Riding your bike, registering at the sports centre, being at the qualifier at the right time & getting up early for the race on Sunday (or Saturday!)

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    I’d love to do it, been to the Alps before and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be checking the bank account in January.

    Get some of those hand strengthener things, my arm muscles were agony after a day braking hard.

    scottfitz
    Member

    Some good advice here, What to practice more? Qualifying track or race track?

    Is body armour and a full face pretty much obligitory? Or does one tend to overheat in a full-face in a race that long?

    You’ve seen the videos right?

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    What to practice more? Qualifying track or race track?

    You’ll be able to ride both and make your mind up.

    More likely to be sections of each that you want to practice.

    Maybe practice sliding down the snow with your bike on your lap.

    Many people ride a DH bike for the quali and trail bike for the race btw.

    scottfitz
    Member

    chakaping – Member

    What to practice more? Qualifying track or race track?

    You’ll be able to ride both and make your mind up.

    More likely to be sections of each that you want to practice.

    Maybe practice sliding down the snow with your bike on your lap.
    I was thinking more along the lines of tactics to qualify high for the main race. There don’t look like many overtaking spots after the first section. Or an I thinking to much in to it, Turn Up, Race, Have fun etc….

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    I was thinking more along the lines of tactics to qualify high for the main race.

    Aha, there are far more experienced Mega racers than me, but if I was doing it again I’d ride just a bit less aggressively from the qualifier start line as I tangled bars with another rider and we both went down.

    Watched loads of people pass me and had to overtake a lot of riders to qualify for the third mass-start race. Might’ve made the second race if I’d stayed upright until the field was strung out a bit more.

    This year’s quali track didn’t have many overtaking places on the lower half of the course, true.

    Hob Nob
    Member

    Some good advice here, What to practice more? Qualifying track or race track?

    Depends what you want to achieve? Do you want to qualify for the main race, or just survive it & get through to one of the mass starts?

    I was thinking more along the lines of tactics to qualify high for the main race. There don’t look like many overtaking spots after the first section. Or an I thinking to much in to it, Turn Up, Race, Have fun etc….

    Start position is key. If you’re not on the front row, try and get as far right on the line you are in as possible. The start is on a corner & everyone piles in left, leaving the outside clear. Last year I went from a 6th row start to qualify 15th – most of the people I overtook on the first 200m.

    After that, literally pedal your nuts off, and aim for anything that’s a gap. You can make up quite a lot of places on the initial five or six corners.

    When you get to the flat bit with the snow patches, look for alternative lines. Unless you are up the front, there will be traffic, so find quicker ways.

    You then hit the nasty uphill fireroad section – again, bury yourself as hard as you can (you can let off the gas once you get to the lift station a bit).

    That first few minutes is where you will overtake/be overtaken the most. After that, you can just pick off odd people here & there mainly. The top section after the lift station is great fun flat out. It’s worth looking for alternate lines, there are loads on some bits, and none on others, but you can nab some nice, easy overtakes by cutting corners.

    Always worth shouting at people a lot too. Some people will jump out of the way if you are loud enough!

    andrewh
    Member

    Thanks very much guys, lots of good info there.
    If I was to take myself off for a few days to get used to the bigger bike and riding in armour etc where would you suggest? Helvellyn and BPW mentioned above, anywhere in Scotland give similar riding to the Mega?
    I’ve survived the Transvesubienne, in 2012, that was probably the hardest race I’ve done technically, absolutely brutal. Anyone done both, how do they compare? I was just after a finish there rather than a result. Aim for this one is to get into one of the mass starts on the Sunday, that will be good enough for me.

    scottfitz
    Member

    Depends what you want to achieve?

    To win 😯

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    andrewh – Member

    Helvellyn and BPW mentioned above, anywhere in Scotland give similar riding to the Mega?

    This is second-hand and I don’t know how much I trust it but I’ve heard a few people say the nevis red is the best mega practice you can get in the UK, partly because it’s the right sort of level of technicality, but I think mostly because it’s also a good way to brutalise yourself, doing fast uplifts and nonstop descents.

    Am unconvince tbh, the riding looks pretty different…

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    Ha Scott I know you do want to soon really !

    The key to doing well is getting ahead as early as possible inside lines on the first corners and full on till it narrows off

    The problem is that it’s so chaotic at the start you could easily be taken out by other riders or get a mechanical that it’s best not to get too serious about it all and have fun

    scottfitz
    Member

    The key to doing well is getting ahead as early as possible inside lines on the first corners and full on till it narrows off

    You can show me the line in practice mate 😉
    Will you be rocking the Kona this year mate?

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    Oh yes I’m well excited also gonna do the ukge rd at cyb too if you’re up for it

    Premier Icon Taz
    Subscriber

    Hoping to go back again this year

    Kimbers too true – 1st year taken out before first corner on quali, 2nd year snapped chain and mech by 3rd corner (after a stonking top 15ish start) – Yep best not to take it too serious

    OP I believe the last 2 years have not sold out? Fitness is very important but first up you need to be able to ride technical rocky teraiin at speed. The route is not super technical but it is challenging and for many first timers it comes as a surprise as the GoPro vids do not do the technicality justice.

    Ride as much rocky stuff as you can to prepare and yes coaching is not a bad call. The Lakes and Torridon are the two best places in the UK I have found to replicate type of terrain. I would imagine Snowdon & the Peaks would also be pretty good. Nothing will prepare your arms for the pump though

    It is awesome fun 🙂

    oldschool
    Member

    After last years race, I’d say practicing the quali track is most important. You can ride to the top of town to the main lift and get back up pretty quickly, if you go to the bottom getting back can take a while best left as the last run each day. The bottom section is not that technical either, through town then flowing berms mainly. I’d practice the main track only once to be honest the time will kill your day getting back from the bottom, but worth knowing what to expect. The black run start was a shock, very steep and the traverse was brutal. Then the run down to Allemond after crossing the bowl is longer than I expected, you come out the trees onto a fire road and it is easy to think you’ve made it and the finish must be at the end of the fire road. You go back into the trees a few times and the bottom is a long way away, making the mistake of expecting the finish to come to soon would be soul destroying in the race, definitely worth knowing how long it is.

    scottfitz
    Member

    Oh yes I’m well excited also gonna do the ukge rd at cyb too if you’re up for it

    I recon I will only do the Afan round this year.

    Hob Nob
    Member

    Just ride your bike lots so you are used to it. The terrain varies so much from top to bottom, you don’t need to just practice riding rocks.

    It’s got pretty much every surface you are likely to encounter on a bike.

    The killer is arm pump, because you never really do a full run until quali & race day. Even then it’s not too bad, until you get stuck behind people – a combination of riding stuff slower & on the brakes makes for some epic pain.

    grum
    Member

    Arm pump being the killer +1

    I would also agree that Nevis Range would be the best place to train in the UK. You can get in a lot of vertical meters and the riding is not too dissimilar (to the rocky stuff anyway) IMO.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    yeah getting stuck behind people who are braking more than you do is a real PITA and definitely increases arm pump, can get really frustrating , start shouting at them is best!

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Don’t forget to practice your woodsy, rooty switchbacky riding too.

    The bottom part of the race course is brilliant fast-as-you-dare through the trees stuff.

    Was hoping to make up a few places over the roots there, but sadly never made it that far.

    andrewh
    Member

    In answer to my first question you may like to know that entries open on January 5th.
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    Also, pedals. I’ve not ridden flats for the best part of 15yrs. It looks like the kind of thing where they may be a good idea. Should I go for it or stick to what I know?

    JonEdwards
    Member

    My take.

    Ride both routes at least once – the snow is a headf… Best done early doors to avoid it getting slushy. The Quali is the one to practice though, as you need to do pretty well to get into one of the main starts.

    You need to ride quite agressively. I’ve always got dropped like a stone on the starts of the Qualis, as I simply get brushed out of the way by other riders who simply better at argybargy than me.

    You need to stay within the tapes. If there’s no tapes, go where you like. There can be some nice cheeky shortcuts that can get you past slower riders in the singletrack – I saw a helmetcam of Kovarik missing about 4 hairpins and gaining a LOT of places by straightlining a scree slope. Perfectly legal as it wasn’t taped.

    The snow. Get both feet up, weight back, off the brakes and pray. Tripoding just leads to you crashing sooner (albeit slower). Don’t let go of the bike when you come off. It will stop. You won’t. Hiking 100m up a black ski piste at 3000m is *very* hard work.

    Armour is good. It IS a proper mountain. You’re racing on very technical, exposed ground, you’re knackered, stupid spills do happen. I once tagged a pedal on a rock in practice at about 30mph – destroyed my full face, but aside from being a bit bruised and very rattled, was able to ride out. If you mangle yourself high up, it’s no different to needing evac from the top of Ben Nevis or Helvellyn – Moutain Rescue, Helicopters etc. And you may have a long wait for it too.

    At the end of the day it’s largely a lottery who does well. I’ve done it 3 times. First year I broke my wrist. Second year I got knocked off in qualifying and ended up with a broken rear mech. (9th fastest in the Affinity though). 3rd year I had a good start in the quali, was going well, then picked up a pinch flat. Despite riding my balls of and having the best run down the rest of the track ever, I ended up 2 places short of qualifying for the Challengers mass start. Properly bummed out after that.

    Don’t forget that there’s more riding than just the Mega tracks there. The Avalanche Cup DH course is loads of fun, and there’s some absolutely brilliant single track all over the mountain. And 2Alps across the valley too!

    andrewh
    Member

    Don’t let go of the bike when you come off. It will stop. You won’t. Hiking 100m up a black ski piste at 3000m is *very* hard work.

    Anyone use a tether like you would on a surfboard? Or does this just tangled and cause other problems?

    andrewh
    Member

    Entries opened about an hour and half ago.
    I’m in (unless the site being all in French has totally confused me and I’ve entered something else… Trip to Reunion anyone?)
    [video]http://ugc4.mporatrons.com/videos/AAdj6402k4ks_640.webm[/video]

    finners
    Member

    Easy link for entries please?

    jamesoz
    Member

    Signed on again, 110 euros well spent just need to get the 20 euro insurance card to save dicking about work a doctors note.

    superfli
    Member

    I’m in. How hard is it to get a doctors note then? Or what sort of insurance do I need?

    Hob Nob
    Member

    Just go and ask them, and probably pay them £30 or so for the privilege.

    Or get a BC licence.

    mtbtomo
    Member

    Either doctor’s note or British Cycling race license.

    You’ll need decent insurance either way. Snowcard or Dogtag do specific holiday insurance for competitive DH events such as Mega.

    Premier Icon Simon
    Subscriber

    I used Snowcard for insurance and got a BC licence rather than a doctor’s note, most of the lads I was with wrote their own……..

    I’ve got a Race Gold BC license and then will go for the 20 euros to cover a heli lift off the mountain if I need it. I’m pretty sure that covers everything.

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