It’s been a really long time that Olivier Cuvet and Maxime Peythieu wanted to clear Dave Watson's iconic road gap in Galibier, France. But they never talked about it to each other until one day at the end of August. Olivier was shooting « ARCADIA
» with Max Rambaud, and while they stopped by a lake for a quick break, Maxime Peythieu and Alex Rouaud came by and chilled with them. While talking about the shooting, Peythieu talks about the road gap. As everything was already planned, Olivier told him to join them mid-September as he was gonna do it for the edit!
Max Peyhtieu knows the area really well as he is an ambassador for Serre Chevalier. He’s a really talented rider on every kind of bike but has only owned a DH bike for 2 years. He has known for a long time that he needs a DH to clear the jump and wanted to take his time feeling confident on his bike before sending it.
Olivier Cuvet has wanted to jump this cliff since he saw it for the first time, many years ago. He also knows the road gap really well as he’s been riding and skiing around the area for years. He tried to shoot it once in 2015, but the project was canceled as he was nervous about the landing when he came to build the jump.
Maxime Peythieu with his Santa Cruz V10 / Olivier Cuvet with his Banshee Legend
Fast forward a few weeks and we’re up there, shoveling like maniacs for two days. The Tour de France is in the Alps at this stage, but they won’t take this route this year. So there is slightly less traffic than usual, and we’re way more free to dig. The digging process went very well as Oli and Max were assisted by Maxime Rambaud and Alex Rouaud.
Let’s talk about the jump. The landing is by the road, pretty steep and long. This is a good landing, except for the big pole at the right of it. The pole is by the road and is used to help snow plows when they have to clear the road. It’s not that dangerous but having it a bit further away would have been good too! The kicker was a tricky part, they had to build it on a narrow edge right over the road, by the cliff. The kicker was skinny, and not flat. They were really cautious when building it as they didn’t want to drop a rock on a car, about 10m under them.
The building Team
Once everything is built and packed, by noon, we went for lunch and waited for Hoshi Yoshida & Will Camus to get the perfect shot. The lunch was pretty light and quick, as both Max and Oliv wanted to get to hitting the jump. You’ll assume that going for something that big must be nerve-racking. They were almost geared up when Hoshi came and then they went straight to the jump.
After a few speed checks on the landing to make sure there was enough space to brake, the speed checking for the take-off began. Max was a bit slower than Oli and a bit less confident too. After about 5 speed checks, Oli was sure of his speed. He told at the photographers « drop in ! » and dropped straight into the gap. He couldn’t have cleared the jump in a better way. There was a massive amount of air time, it felt like a minute. The roll out was perfect, and it was celebration time for him! He quickly came back to earth though as Max was still at the top. He runs up to him and told him about his thoughts after hitting the gap. Max waited for the wind to stop, and went for it the same way Oli did!
First try went well for these 2 !
What a relief! The hardest part of the day was done! It was pure exclamation from them. Oli was so pumped that he suicide no hander the road gap on his second jump, and then did it two more times. Max jumped it three times in total before a herd of sheep positioned themselves on the landing and stopped the session! It was getting windy anyway.
Oli with a perfect suicide no hander
Almost two decades separates these pictures
Pictures : Will Camus & Hoshi Yoshida
Additional help from Alex Rouaud & Maxime Rambaud