2016 Megavalanche - Practice

Jul 7, 2016
by Ben Winder  



The Megavalanche. The Mega, is Mega. It’s got 2500m of descending, which starts off on the glacier at Pic Blanc, high above Alpe d’Huez (3330m). Nothing could’ve prepared me for how steep that glacier actually is, riders were using the third and fourth brakes (right foot and left foot) just to try and regain some control. The riders who decided to stick to the conventional two brakes either made a lucky escape or slid into the snow wall at the bottom of the first pitch. If you survive the glacier, you must then tackle the rest of the trail, which features flowy singletrack, tight switchbacks, wide open ski pistes, fire roads and anything else you could possibly think of. This is one for the bucket list.

This year marks the 22nd year of the Mega, to think the race still turns the stomachs of the competitors, imagine racing it on 22-year-old bike technology. This year we have a few greats of the sport partaking, including Matti Lehikoinen, Remy Absalon, Cedric Gracia, the list continues.

Engage brake number 3.
Engage brake number 3.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

At this altitude you can see peaks for miles it s absolutely breath-taking.
At this altitude you can see peaks for miles, it's absolutely breath-taking.

The 22nd edition of the Megavalanche.
The 22nd edition of the Megavalanche.

The glacier here is now closed for skiing in the summer to help preserve it as glaciers are now getting smaller and smaller due to global warming. Alpe d Huez are doing everything they can to protect it.
The glacier here is now closed for skiing in the summer to help preserve it, as glaciers are now getting smaller and smaller due to global warming. Alpe d'Huez are doing everything they can to protect it.

Matti Lehikoinen banging his broom on the ceiling he s out here racing but also helping out on a press camp for Nukeproof.
Matti Lehikoinen banging his broom on the ceiling, he's out here racing but also helping out on a press camp for Nukeproof.

Crammed lifts to the top of the mountain this morning.
Crammed lifts to the top of the mountain this morning.

Matti Lehikoinen getting a little sideways on his way to the start.
Matti Lehikoinen, getting a little sideways on his way to the start.

It s pretty hard to gauge the pitch of the glacier so you ll have to take my word for it. It s steep.
It's pretty hard to gauge the pitch of the glacier, so you'll have to take my word for it. It's steep.

A few different techniques to get down.
A few different techniques to get down.

You can see why Alpe d Huez want to preserve this place of natural beauty.
You can see why Alpe d'Huez want to preserve this place of natural beauty.

This guy set of on his bum and actually got down pretty quickly safely. But was left with shorts full of snow.
This guy set off on his bum and actually got down pretty quickly and safely. But was left with shorts full of snow.

Yep that s pretty much a wall of ice.
Yep, that's pretty much a wall of ice.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

As the glacier begins to flatten out it s time for everyone to re-engage bike riding skills.
As the glacier begins to flatten out, it's time for everyone to re-engage bike riding skills.

Confidence will get you a long way here not sure on the direction though...
Confidence will get you a long way here, not sure on the direction though...

POW
POW?

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

As we reach the end of the glacier the snow is much softer and big old ruts have formed.
As we reach the end of the glacier the snow is much softer and big old ruts have formed.

Now the trail drops into stunning single track this section goes from is super fun. It s predominantly fast and flowy but you must have your wits about you an awkward technical section is around every other corner.
Now the trail drops into stunning singletrack, this section is super fun. It's predominantly fast and flowy, but you must have your wits about you because an awkward, technical section is around every other corner.

One of the more playful sections.
One of the more playful sections.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

The mountains are pretty incredible here.
The mountains are pretty incredible here.

This rock drop might look simple
This rock drop might look simple...

 but with a few big holes on the landing things can turn bad quite quickly.
...but with a few big holes on the landing things can turn bad quite quickly.

A few bikepark sections are incorporated too.
A few bike park sections are incorporated too.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

Towards the second half of the track things get pretty dusty through the bikepark sections.
Towards the second half of the track things get pretty dusty through the bike park sections.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

Through some old ruins.
Through some old ruins.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

Ahh This expression sums up this race perfectly.
Ahh! This expression sums up this race perfectly.

Liam Moynihan.
Liam Moynihan.

Social media hero Ben Deakin is here and is extremely nervous about making it down the track.
Social media hero, Ben Deakin is here and is extremely nervous about making it down the track.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

Matti Lehikionen and Pauline Dieffenthaler Left and Damien Oton Right .
Matti Lehikionen and Pauline Dieffenthaler (Left) and Damien Oton (Right).

 campvibes
#campvibes

Bikes getting prepped for tomorrows qualifying runs.
Bikes getting prepped for tomorrow's qualifying runs.

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

2016 Megavalanche - Practice

See you tomorrow for Qualifying.
See you tomorrow for Qualifying.


MENTIONS: @BWinder




28 Comments

  • 37 0
 I ticked the Mega off my bucket list back in 2013, riding with Trev Worsley when he ran the Summit Down team (now at Enduro MTB magazine)

Being from Australia, it was my first alpine riding experience, despite years of skiing as a kid over in our eastern snowfields (still NOTHING like these slopes) nothing prepared me for handling a bike at speed on snow!!

I watch my helmet cam footage from time to time and remember the vibe, it is easily the coolest, craziest thing I've ever done. We stayed in Vaujany, away from the bustle of Alpe D'Huez, and I think that was the perfect place. If you ever go there, be sure to grab a trail map and spend a day exploring the trails that run down through the forests to the dam in the mountain valley, they are the best days I've ever spent on a bike.
  • 6 1
 This is still on my bucket list. I did Inca Avalanche but this seems more extreme to me. Will see where the trail takes me.
  • 1 0
 @dynamiczz: guys its on my list too! mass start "enduro" just looks so awesome.... one day!
  • 11 0
 This event begs for Red Bull live coverage. It would easily attract a very large audience - even outside mountain biking "Oh Dear come look at this. They're riding their bicycles on the snow down the Alps."
  • 5 0
 Did this race in 2013 as well. Natives said it was the most snow the mountain has seen in ten years. You're only in snow for a couple of miles. I'm confident this is the most awesome race in the world.
  • 2 0
 My approach to going down the steep snow section was to lock the rear brake and sit down on the wheel. It worked well as I could use my ass to steer the rear wheel directly. It works great when there are a few ruts to follow. But near the end of the training week there are so many ruts crossing each other that it becomes hard to anticipate what the wheels are going to do and they don't mind to take a different rut each. Snow is nice and soft though. I thought the loose rolling rocks after that were harder and more intimidating.
  • 2 0
 I love the Mega,. Ice spikes wouldn't make sense, you'd undoubtedly stab someone as the first few turns are carnage, the snow only makes up maybe 15% of the race, the rest is rocky singletrack, drops, bit if bike park. A ton of hairpins, wooded singletrack, tje odd bit of tarmac, a few cheeky climbs.
The qualifying race is also a brilliant route.

I love the Mega, did I say that already? Definitely gonna do it again next gear list
  • 2 0
 What an awesome track. Snow, slush then groomers. Only.Mega can offer these extremes.
  • 3 3
 I take it they can't run studded tires? If they were I'd probably invest in some Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro's so that I can attain more grip/traction going down that wall of ice.
  • 9 0
 To be honest, I don't know the rules, but I'm not sure you want to have studded ties on during the whole race. I'm sure there must be some downside of running studs on rocky sections or on the dirt.
  • 3 0
 The downside of studs is that they have absolutely no grip on rocks. And the snow surface looks soft, so there's not really any benefit from them.
  • 2 0
 @Steezwhip: Just been reading up on the rules and studded tires are banned
  • 2 0
 @Steezwhip: yeah, that makes sense. Studded are definitely great in snow and ice but on dry rocky terrain it would be kinda disastrous...also with so many riders it could end up destroying the trail too.
  • 1 0
 @GTruckus83: Thanks for looking that up~
  • 2 0
 @LiquidSpin: Even on snow they are totally useless. Nothing beat mud tires on snow (I race a lot on snow during winter). Studded tires are only good for ice.
  • 1 0
 @Eneite: I've only ever ridden in the snow a handful of times with my 2.5 Hans Dampfs. I was drifting and sliding a lot so I ended up getting a set of Ice Spiker Pro's (haven't used them yet) but that's good to know when I do slap them on in the winter to not go hog wild on them.

There are some parts where it gets icy on the trails so i'm sure it will help but yeah I'll keep that in mind they aren't perfect on snow.
  • 1 0
 @LiquidSpin: I have Ice Spiker Pro's and found they worked pretty well on both snow and ice. As good as you would expect anyway. But in sloppy snow I don't think they would make much of a difference. Never ran mud tires on the snow cause I only rode my xc in the winter.
  • 1 0
 looks as if we finally found a reason to ride these new 27.5plus enduro bikes...
  • 3 1
 The unknown guy sitting by Damien Oton is Rémy Absalon. He won this race a bunch of times actually.
  • 1 0
 If there was ever an event that a plus bike would be useful for....this would be it. Imagine the time you could be ahead on the start actually being able to ride the snow
  • 1 0
 Theres a lot of snow this year, it will be madness! bring on Sunday morning!!
  • 2 0
 i wanna ride this soooooooooo bad..
  • 3 2
 Snow is getting me itching to ski...
  • 2 0
 Zut Alors!
  • 2 3
 enduro...the home of hideous basecaps
  • 2 1
 It's not enduro. But it's just as good!
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