52 weeks at Mega Avalanche 2010 - Part 2 of my story
With Qualifying beginning in under 12 hours time - here is part 2 of my story so far!Video and pictures inside
At the summit!
What can I say about today... hmm it's hard to sum up this amount and type of riding into such small words but I think that Amazing
pretty much cover all my bases for describing the riding from the summit of Pic Blanc and riding down into Alp d Huez.
Dropping in and riding down vertical sheets of Ice is a lot of fun, but at the same time it really is quite scary –it’s mad to think this is what awaits every single Mega rider at the beginning of the race from the summit onto the sarienne glacier that sits lurking below.
Approaching it and riding it is also quite daunting – a technique newly named - tripod-ing. The technique involves a low saddle and one foot acting as a stabilizer as you slip n slide your way down the white pistes and if you’re lucky you manage to stay on your bike.
Managing to Hang on!
After watching numerous people attempt the icy tundra drop and then experimenting with the several techniques – I discovered the Tripod technique worked well for me and off we went making our way down back to the town.
Two brits who make a hash brown on the sketchy slopes
As you come off the Snowy drops and across the glacier you then are hit by another section of beautiful flowing single track which snakes its way around the mountain crossing alpine streams, sneaking over boulders and coasting over sharp ridges that point the way down the slim track.
Riding the long stretch of singletrack!
After one run down from the summit of Pic Blanc to Alpe de huez you really begin to appreciate the scale of the task that lies ahead with racing this track. Only 1/3rd of the way down and I am already tired and exhausted from the previous trail – and laid out ahead is another 20 something Km`s which only gives you a rest with a long lung busting traverse before the long rooty, dusty descent to Allemont.
Dry and dusty!
After lunch we ran the full distance of the Mega Qualifier Race which after taking a techy start down a rocky crag into an xc traverse followed by a road ride up a lame hill – leads to a very very steep descent through a never ending forest full of massive roots and rock littered trails. The qualifier is the perfect length to make you feel like you have attacked a mountain, won and then leave for home to chill – the scary thing is that this track is nothing in length compared to the real race track on Saturday or Sunday that we have after Friday's qualifier.
This track really does deserve the name Mega Avalanche and it certainly deserves a reputation tougher than it’s presently given. After a day’s session of riding only disturbed by lunch – I took my son for a spot of Luge on a local amusement ride before retiring back down the hill to our house in the shade and an early night in prep for repeating this madness again tomorrow.Day 4
The alarm goes off at 6am signaling that it's time to get our booties out of bed and get up to the top of the mountain to hopefully hit the glacier without any melt and for an undisturbed ride back down part 1 of the Mega Race track.
The plan for today was to find some He-man courage and take on the snowy drops with aggression and hopefully some style. However at 7am the snow was covered with a thick layer of Ice and you had to really attack the snow and avoid the areas that were obviously not as compact and ready to suck your wheels in deep – bringing you to a very quick stop!
However views this panoramic and beautiful are worth getting up for – and the small gaggle of people who had also dragged their asses up out of bed at stupid o'clock - agreed completely as we all silently looked out and saw the fantastic surrounding that welcomed us ahead.
Elijah enjoying the gondola
After watching some amazing riders take on the piste at flat out mode – I took the conservative approach and made my way down in a much more controlled and speedier way than yesterday – and after finding new confidence in my new friend, the snow – I was actually really enjoying this part and loving the snowy descents more than I could have ever imagined.
Finishing our run down the crazy single track I decided that this riding was enough for today, and there was little more I could do to prepare for the races over the next 3 days, but rest. So I grabbed my things and took a brisk ride down the famous 23 hairpin road, waving and smiling at all the roadies grinding their way up as I descended back to my family for a dip in the mountain surrounded swimming pool.
With qualifying laying ahead in under 24 hours, I write this and honestly say – This race feels like it is going to kill me and I wish I had another 52 weeks left to train for it. If I can qualify well tomorrow and actually compete and finish the Mega Avalanche Race, then I think I will have done extremely well, and I will leave here knowing and thinking that!
A lot of you have emailed or messaged me asking about my bike and shoulder - The bike is a Haro Porter and is running great - however I managed to snap a lever off of my shifter today, so it's tough to change gears, but it works fine! My shoulder is ok - not great, but ok - if anything it's only affecting my head from going faster and taking more risky lines and pushing it a little bit harder - I'm running it strapped up heavily and underneath a Knox pressure suit!
Wish me luck people – I am bricking it!
P.s – I overtook Remy Absalon today – he did have a puncture, but at least I can say in my lifetime, I overtook him!