Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 46 total)
  • Megavalanche
  • Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    Myself and two buddies are signed up to this years Megavalanche.

    First time for me, but they have done it a couple of times.

    I’m 50% excited and 50% anxious! Although i know i will be fine with the terrain and distance, maybe its the worry of my first mass start race?!

    Anyone else doing it this year? Anyone done it previously?

    Any top tips?!

    Premier Icon zerocool
    Free Member

    I did it years ago (2007!) and we loved it. Back then the bike options were pretty much just DH/FR or XC bikes and we took DH bikes which weren’t the right tool. enduro or Trail/AM bikes are what was needed, but the closest back then was either a Patriot or Meta 5.

    My takeaway then was that I should have put a lot more time into riding uphill and improving my fitness.

    It was an awesome experience and work/life/kids stopped me from ever getting back to do it again.

    Have fun.

    Get all your mates to bing a fiver into a pot, winner takes all.

    Premier Icon DrP
    Full Member

    Ooh… tickets still available it seems….

    DrP

    Premier Icon sharkattack
    Full Member

    I also did it in 2007. I was on an Orange Patriot with a squeaky shock a knackered Bomber fork and for some insane reason, steel DJ handlebars. The arm pump was severe and pretty much ruined my week! I’d also had a long break from MTB while I dicked around on a BMX so fitness was rock bottom.

    All I really remember is pain. Exhaustion and pain. And big sharp rocks. I also crashed and got whiplash midweek and suffered with a painfully sore neck for the next month.

    It was eye opening that’s for sure. I was woefully unprepared and took a crap bike. I’d enjoy it a lot more these days but I don’t know anyone who’s up for it.

    It’s not really a race unless you’re at the front. You’ll be riding along in a queue trying to pick people off on narrow, treacherous trails. I qualified quite well but it was so busy trying to get to the top that we missed the start by a few minutes and we were stuck in traffic all the way down.

    Has it sold out yet? I wouldn’t mind another crack at it.

    Premier Icon zerocool
    Free Member

    I found that once it got into the tight, muddy wooded trails all the Brits I knew there started to pick off the Europeans easier. Probably as we were used to tight, shonky and muddy trails compared to their fast, groomed and dry alpine stuff.

    Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    Thanks to the replies thus far. I am hoping bikes have come on a little since 2007 😛

    Interesting to know @zerocool . I am hoping to make up a few places on the uphill grass sections!


    @sharkattack
    & @drp – a fair few spaces left…. https://www.engage-sports.com/megavalanche-alpe-dhuez-2022/participants/ get signed up! 😀

    Premier Icon ayjaydoubleyou
    Free Member

    It’s not really a race unless you’re at the front. You’ll be riding along in a queue trying to pick people off on narrow, treacherous trails.

    one of the many reasons that puts me off, although I have discovered the POV videos of the likes of Owlaps, Killian Bron etc. so the thought is still in the back of my mind.

    Anyone got a link to a helmet cam of the experience of the average amateur?

    Premier Icon DrP
    Full Member

    I’d love to…alas g9t the kiddies that weekend!
    One year though..

    DrP

    Premier Icon jamesoz
    Full Member

    Done 4.5.
    Dislocated my shoulder twice during qualifying in 2014. Didn’t race that year on doctor’s orders/terrible weather.
    It’s a great laugh, not overly expensive, the fitter you are, the more fun you will have.

    Once you get the hang of riding the snow, assuming it’s not too soft, it’s awesome.
    Don’t over practice the day before qually, check the lines on the bits of snow at the start of qually though.

    Big brakes essential if you’re heavy.
    Slower, lighter riders will destroy your brakes if you get caught behind them.
    Tough tyres
    Frame protection
    Comfy grips.
    Have fun

    Premier Icon Neil_Bolton
    Full Member

    Three things will end up etched in your memory:

    1. ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ
    2. ALAAAAARRRRRMAAAA! Whoop whoop wooo wooo whoooooooop! https://youtu.be/fRk7HEnvFPY
    3. That helicoptor.

    You’ll love it, yet hate it in equal measure. And if you make it to the bottom (and even if you don’t), then you’ll be wanting to go back the year after.

    I’ve done it 4 times. Finished twice, once having started in the Pro wave. It’s like nothing else. I’m jealous of you going!

    Premier Icon Neil_Bolton
    Full Member

    It will trash your bike (and you) by the way. Be under no illusion.

    Also, take an extra coat you don’t mind losing for the queue on the way up on race day.

    Premier Icon Simon
    Full Member

    I went in 2012, I broke my thumb the first day in Alp d’Huez and didn’t even get to do the qualification race!

    Premier Icon andrewh
    Free Member

    I did the horrible wet one in 2014.
    I’m a 24hr XC racer and had never done a DH race or Enduro before.
    Did it on a 2008 Stinky with Bomber 66s if that makes any difference, it was was way more capable than me.
    I qualified (just!) and was dead chuffed with that.
    I was completely out of depth the whole week but loved it.
    You’ll be fine, go for it!
    http://andrewhowett.blogspot.com/2014/10/megavalanche-whole-soggy-saga.html

    Premier Icon Hob-Nob
    Free Member

    It’s the best, worst race in the world!

    I’ve done it 3 or 4 times, but not for a few years now. I think it was 2015 the last time which was ‘the’ year. The weather was spectacularly bad & the main race was unrideable in places as it was axle deep mud. I’ve never been back.

    The qualy track was always more fun than the main race, although I know they finish it higher up the mountain now. There were (and no doubt still are) sneaky lines everywhere. You just need to look away from the main line.

    Had a few decent results, qualified 2nd & 3rd a couple of years on the trot, which was an experience being at the very front of the pack on the main race on the Sunday, literally surrounded by pro riders. I think my best result in the main race was 48th one year, which could have been better, but as others have said, once you are off the snow & it traverses across the mountain back to AdH, its almost impossible to overtake in any volume, as it is essentially singletrack, you just get stuck in a train of riders. The years I have done less well are downright tedious trying to get through that 5km of trail.

    The main race is an absolute sh*t show on the snow if you arn’t accustomed to it & mind blowing how fast the really quick guys are. There was some bits I was doing over 60kph on & I was being overtaken at significant speed still. The further back you are, the worse it is, as it ruts up really quickly & becomes almost unrideable.

    I’d do it for a bucket list bike adventure, just don’t go with any expectations. As a separate point there are some absolutely belting trails down into the valley, so make sure you got an explore when you are there.

    It would be fun to go back and do it on a considerably more capable bike though.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Full Member

    Its brilliant fun

    the qualifier is like a long DH race

    The main race is just bonkers

    just make sure, between you, you have plenty of spares (its not cheap out there)

    Brakes, Suspension, drivetrain, wheels, all serviced and running well

    DH/ DD tyres

    make sure you practice the course top to bottom (dont have to do it all in one go)

    Treat it as a fun, otherwise when you get wiped out on the snow by some random you wont be distraught your race has been ruined

    be relaxed about lift queues

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    I did it a couple of years ago, couldn’t give it my best as I was still recovering from a busted wrist and frozen shoulder so I was waaaaay unfit. My only goal was to make it into a mass start and I surprised myself a bit by ending up on the front row of the second group- though, I ended up actually in the 3rd row because there wasn’t space for everyone. It’s a hilarious mix of incredibly good riders and incredibly bad riders- the average riding standard is way lower than a scottish enduro I reckon.

    So, my tips are

    1) Be as fit as you can possibly be. I pretty much died on the glacier even in practice, in the race it was pure survival. It’s high enough up to really feel the thin air even before you’re racing. Just having a little more cardio than the next guy will help loads.

    2) Practice the quali track more. It’s harder, and it’s also better than most of the main track and no amount of being quick on the main track matters if you’ve qualified in a crap place. There’s places where there’s totally legit harder or less obvious lines that can see you overtake 10 people at a time as they queue down the main line.

    3) HOOOOONK. ALARMAAAAAAA

    4) Someone on here told me this one. SACRIFICIAL JUMPER. I still got cold because our start was delayed but it made a huge difference. In theory there’s a clothes dump and it gets taken to the bottom but mine never made it there. Thanks sacrificial jumper and double thanks forgotten STW hero.

    5) Apart from a couple of specific spots, memorising bits of track isn’t that important. It’s not especially hard so you’re really just looking for passing places more than anything else. But it’s seriously important to know when to push hard and when to deathgrip-nobrake. This basically saved me in the main race, I got my pacing pretty much right and it meant I still had enough in the tank for the horrible climby bits. The huge traverse before the tarmac climb of doom, and the singletrack straight after, are the best examples.

    6) bike reliability. Annoyingly I flatted near the end despite having a dh tyre AND a foam insert (ironically the foam stopped the tiny hole from sealing!) but it didn’t make that much difference. But MC missed the mass start because of a flat, and also had trouble with chain retention. But you want it to be as solid as you can make it, and of course have spares. Not just for the race, we made it part of a holiday and a week’s solid riding takes its toll.

    7) Holy crap, 7? This one is person specific, but, know how you want to approach it. We said “it’s a holiday with a race at the end” and that didn’t really work out. ADH isn’t the best riding location overall (though the new lift up from the valley will help that a lot), and if you want to give it a decent stab then it does eat quite a lot of time- practice, the 2 races, the admin, resting, etc etc. I wouldn’t change what we did but I would change how I thought about it and how I tried to make it work because it didn’t quite. definitely the biggest mistake I made in fact! Made me grumpy, was a pain for my mates…

    Premier Icon snaps
    Free Member

    Its not just the rain that can make it miserable.

    We went in 2011 when they’d not had rain for 3 weeks & the woods below Oz station were impossible to see or breath through after the dust had turned everything brown!

    Premier Icon sharkattack
    Full Member

    This thread reminded me of this article from 2008… https://dirtmountainbike.com/racing-events/greatest-megavalanche-race-report-ever-written

    Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    many many thanks for the detailed insight into the event!

    some interesting reading.

    Not sure if it has peaked my excitement or my anxiety now! haha. Will be a good experience none the less!

    Top tips about the sacrificial jumper/jacket. i dont think i would even had thought about that.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Anyone know minimum age requirements off the top of their head?

    Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    15 years plus.

    they do a Mega kids race for 7-14 year olds.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    I was there in 2008 – the year of that “Greatest Ever” article up there. It was probably the best riding experience of my life.

    I was a poor student at the time. I had a mountain bike (Ironically, a Commencal Meta that would have been ideal) but, not wanting to ruin my good bike, I hastily threw together a sacrificial parts build. Of course, it was a Kona Coiler 👌 . This was actually a pretty perfect choice, although it was a quirky build with a shorter-than-ideal fork and a weird mix of drivetrain and underpowered brakes. In qualifying, I would overtake some people on the downhill sections, only to get passed back on the uphill sections. My fitness was letting me down! Lower down, I had a mechanical and had to run with the bike for sections. Of course, I lost several places. I was gutted not to have made the A final – I’d missed out by one place due to a combination of poor fitness and a mechanical.

    After sulking for a bit, I realised that being at the front of the pack might be alright. Come race day, I was on the front of a grid of the B final with 400 people. It was amazing – the energy, the music, the helicopter! I remember the weather being terrible when I was queuing for lifts, but the race was sunny. At least in my rose-tinted memory! After sprinting out of the gate to a race-high of, I think, 4th, I soon rubbed up against the limit of my cardiovascular system at the time and wheezily dropped back a few places. I settled into a great race the whole way down with a couple of French riders (I remember one had a black and red striped top like Dennis the Menace). There was no queuing waiting for slower people, I just had an hour-long race against people that were very evenly-matched with me, trading places every few turns with aggressive cornering / different line choices.

    What I learnt:
    I’d have done waay better if I’d been fitter at the time.
    I was simultaneously lucky / unlucky by being at the front of the B final. I was racing the whole way down with no waiting – but this is not everyone’s experience.
    An Enduro bike would be ideal for the race itself, though a heavier build might be better for general riding around there (and probably the quali).
    Riding on snow is HARD and is a skill I simply didn’t have. Riding on groomed pistes is actually OK, but riding in 400 people’s slushy ruts is terrifying – but some people seemed to be able to do it really well.

    Premier Icon jamesoz
    Full Member

    Actually the front of the challengers was my best experience. For me it has to be the Goldilocks start, rather than back or middle of any wave.
    Looking back at all those riders is awsome with decent hard snow to actually ride, unless like me you get carried away and don’t make the corner.

    Premier Icon zerocool
    Free Member

    @v7fmp – the uphills are basically the best place to overtake people. That and going full gas down the piste at the start (the top guys at the time Nico, etc. were so fast and basically off the brakes while I was scared shirtless going much slower!!!).

    And it was bloom in’ freezing up at the start.

    Bikes have come a long way since then

    Premier Icon zerocool
    Free Member

    I just remembered that I think I got totally smoked by a guy dressed in a cow suit.

    I could have dreamed this, but I think it happened.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    Superficial
    Free Member

    (I remember one had a black and red striped top like Dennis the Menace).

    I spent the whole race swapping places with Purple Shorts. I met him afterwards, had a nice chat, learned his name, instantly forgot it, sorry Purple Shorts but it was a pleasure.

    Premier Icon dyna-ti
    Free Member

    I suspect it would be prudent to bring a good supply of straws. Drinking beer might be difficult and possibly painful otherwise.

    .

    On one of the previous vids, I see a pair did it on a tandem 😯

    A pair of lunatics 😆

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Full Member

    Rose and Jackson from NZ were on a tandem in 2018 IIRC. They were awesome, the speed that thing got up to was eye opening.

    This thread has got me thinking about signing up again…

    For me it’s the best stress busting week possible. I treat it as a weeks riding with a race at the end. Because of the race I ride more than i would on a week’s riding in the Alps, but I don’t kid myself I’m any good.

    A couple of mid pack challenger races, a blow out and the best experience was front row of the amateur race, snow was pish but being on the front row was awesome.

    Enjoy it, may see you there…

    Premier Icon snaps
    Free Member

    961!

    Premier Icon bikesandboots
    Full Member

    I’d love to ride the course non-competitively or time-trial style with proper seeding/ordering and gaps between riders.

    Premier Icon jree
    Free Member

    Always wanted to do this event. I’m 40 now so I’m thinking it’s about time I took it on.
    I’ve never done downhill but do blacks easy enough. How fit/mad do you have to be?
    How long is the route?
    Sorry to hikack!

    Premier Icon jamesoz
    Full Member

    It’s fairly easy to get a clean run on a non race day, just scream Allez a lot. Only problem is i don’t think it’s piste bashed (or whatever the term is) outside of the race weekend. As it’s not really worth getting up there more than once or twice in the week I can’t say for sure.

    Premier Icon jamesoz
    Full Member

    Always wanted to do this event. I’m 40 now so I’m thinking it’s about time I took it on.
    I’ve never done downhill but do blacks easy enough. How fit/mad do you have to be?
    How long is the route?
    Sorry to hikack

    Fitter the better, altitude hurts.
    I did my first one on my 40th, there’s no big features, can’t remember the length but it does feel over really quickly as it’s so much fun.

    Premier Icon jree
    Free Member

    OK. It sounds doable with my limited ability then! I’m a hrdtail rider, tats silly isn’t it? I’d need to sus up?

    Premier Icon jamesoz
    Full Member

    I did my first one on a crap bike, full suss but 14 years old, it cracked. I’ve not raced it on a hardtail but I’d like to.
    Biggest issue would be punctures on the rocky bits after the snow, especially qualifying which would ruin your day.
    One overwhelming memory of a qually start was the sound of tyres popping like gunfire on the rocks between the snow sections.

    Planning to return for my 50th next year, to give you an idea of how old the bike was I did my first one on was.

    Premier Icon dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    Blake Samson from GMBN raced it on a HT.
    This is worth a watch:

    Full run:

    Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    cheers for all the info guys! I’m really looking forward to it now!


    @jree
    – i just turned 41, so i dont think age is an issue for a first timer! I will be doing it on my norco optic, which is 140mm front 125mm rear… so pretty much a hardtail! 😛

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Blake Samson from GMBN raced it on a HT.
    This is worth a watch:

    Good video, with excellent footage and explanations on various bits of the course. But wish he’d shut the **** up about the hardtail aspect.
    Yes, we get it, you picked an unsuitable bike so you can drone on about it endlessly.
    Just ride the course and give us commentary on the terrain, tactics etc without mentioning your lack of suspension at every turn. 😉

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    That ‘961’ video is amazing – I could watch that on a loop.

    I just remembered that I think I got totally smoked by a guy dressed in a cow suit.

    I could have dreamed this, but I think it happened.

    Cow suit guy was a regular fixture at the Mega, at least in ~2007-2010 or something. He was really fast IIRC (top 30 ish finisher). I can’t find it now, but he used to put his PoV GoPro footage on Youtube.

    I’d love to ride the course non-competitively or time-trial style with proper seeding/ordering and gaps between riders.

    I think that’s what the Mega ‘Affinity’ race is. That’s the one you go in if you get a mechanical in qualifying. But the pack aspect is absolutely what makes it fun! Just riding the course is pretty average – it’s not the best track in the world – there’s lots of pedalling and no real techy bits (besides riding on snow which is an art unto itself).

    can’t remember the length but it does feel over really quickly as it’s so much fun.

    Yeah. The business end of the race is done in about 40-45 minutes. I’d guess that an averagely fast rider with good fitness could probably manage it in anywhere between 55mins and 1hr20, but as soon as there’s any traffic it takes a lot longer.

    Premier Icon mahalo
    Full Member

    2017 i think. wonderful hot dry weather all week. really enjoyed sessioning the quali track, and even qualifying. the main event not so much, pretty much stuck in a traffic jam all the way from the bottleneck at the bottom of the glacier to the woods where i managed to start picking people off, which was incredible fun tbf! id like to go back to AdH that week but not race, it kindda disrupted a great week of riding for me – and the queues are horrific.

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