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Megavalanche 2011..What I learned from it...

kathgkathg Posts: 142
edited February 2012 in Women
Well, where to start really??!! It was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I've ever done but also the craziest and bizarrely, the most fun too! I met some lovely people, found the girls really supportive of eachother, totally needed and appreciated the support from spectators and marshalls alike... Yes, you really do need 'bon courage'!

The riding is bloody hard... don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The best preparation is to ride as much steep, rubbly downhill track as possible. Scree slopes on our UK mountains would be good practice too. Get REALLY confident on very tight, steep, rooty switchbacks (there's hundreds of em!) Oh yes, then there's the snow and bare, glacier ice bit... only attempt to ride ice where there's loads of grit embedded in it.

Snow is quicker sliding on your feet/bum hanging on to bike unless you have mastered the 'dark art' of riding it flat out and not employing brakes at all and sort of gliding over it (see Anne-Caro Chausson for lessons- Utterly amazing!!)

Get as fit as possible and ride with a plastic bag over your head with only a small breathing hole to simulate the effects of altitude!! Really work on getting your upper body hands and arms strong. Hire a pneumatic drill and practise using it for 1 hour stints!

Expect to break something on your bike. The terrain is so punishing on both bike and body. In a weeks riding and racing My Orange 5 suffered; 1 snapped gear cable, 1 bent and broken rear mech, 1 burst front brake seal (in the main Mega race unfortunately... :cry: ) and 1 broken bashguard.

Despite all the above, it really is a hell of an experience,particularly unforgettable at the start - all lined up at 3300m on a freezing mountain top with techno booming out of speakers at 9 a.m ! I had to just keep laughing at the bizarreness of it all..
It'll make you think about every aspect of your riding in a new light and the sheer beauty and genius of the trails, situations and scenery are really unbeatable.

Any takers for next year then???!!

Kathg

Posts

  • Im in! :D
  • smallredsmallred Posts: 73
    I signed up 2 weeks before the event, having previously said there was no way I'd do it this year. Damn glad I did, that was the best fun I've had on a bike. Definitely going back next year, only this time some bit prepared!!

    Stuff I learnt:

    Tip 1: not being on the bike for 9 months is not good preparation. Riding road miles is not enough to get your body (or brain) ready for the Mega!

    Tip 2: Compeed blister plasters are wonderful things. Made my bleeding thumb blisters bearable to ride with after the first few days of practice (read tip 1 - need thumb callouses - or maybe better suspension set-up or something!)

    Tip 3: carry a shock pump!! My forks decided to lose air somewhere along the qualifier track on a practice run. Cue superwoman over the bars after a big step-down...

    Tip 4: go there fit & fast enough to not be overtaken by the Challengers group on singletrack - standing aside for ages to let hundreds of blokes past one at a time on each others tails is very frustrating!! Not standing aside is just plain suicidal though - nearly came off the bike once having been aggressively elbowed aside at one point only to see the same bloke cartwheeling down the mountain after he hit a rock 50m ahead. Karma...

    Tip 5: be prepared to ride/push up to the start of the qualifier - everyone seemed to keep that bit a secret beforehand!!

    Tip 6: bring more than one set of spare brake pads! The shops were charging 25 Euros for my Elixer sintered jobbies, when I paid £16 for them back home :(

    Tip 7: Alpe d'Huez is expensive - if you're self-catering stock up on the way there in one of the supermarkets before you hit the mountains.

    I was a bit worried my AM bike wouldn't be suitable (Trek Fuel EX8) but it was great - just swapped the outer chainring for a bash ring, sawed a couple of inches off the seat post and ran double-walled DH Minions and DH tubes. I think a full-on DH rig would have been good for the qualifier but there's a lot of pedalling on the Mega race route so an AM was better for that.
    Trek Fuel EX8
    Kona Lisa HT
    Specialized Tricross Triple
  • DanielleTDanielleT Posts: 259
    Wow! Congrats and a massive well done to you both for doing it :D

    I'd really love to give a go one year, think I need to get to get more DH riding under my belt before I go and have a try as i'm one huge wuss at the moment!

    Your tips sound good and definately to bare in mind :) thanks ladies!
    delightfully dangerous!
  • smallredsmallred Posts: 73
    I hadn't done much DH before going, and that was my first time on a mountain not on skis/snowboard! I'd only done 4 days at Fort William last year preceded by a couple of days at Aston Hill here & there (and I hadn't been out on an mtb since August, talk about unprepared!!). More experience (and fitness) would have meant being able to take better lines/carry more speed and qualify/finish better, but I was still able to ride most of it, apart from a couple of lines I missed from lack of familiarity with the course, and one short head-wrecking boardwalk section on the side of the mountain that looks worse than it is (chickened out of riding it during the quali!). The qualifier run was graded as a black and I thought it was indeed more accessible than the orange at FW - some parts of that were just too big for me to ride last year! Your skill/confidence will increase massively within a few days of going there, judging from my experience and what other people have said too.

    The best practice to get beforehand I reckon is rocky DH, loose scree and steep berms (there are LOTS of those!) - preferably all on nice long trails! My worst pain was from blistered thumbs by the end of the 2nd day playing on the blue & red DH runs, but I don't know if that was just from not riding for ages then jumping in the deep end (and having the Death Grip!), or bad suspension set-up making the bike too chattery on the rough stuff or what...

    Another horrendous peril to watch out for is the dreaded Zebra Legs - if your leg armour has straps on the back you end up with a nice stripy tan... :)
    Trek Fuel EX8
    Kona Lisa HT
    Specialized Tricross Triple
  • smallredsmallred Posts: 73
    Kath any idea what that awful siren song is that they play at the start? Was watching some vids last night and was feeling the fear in the back of my throat when the siren bit started, argh!!! :D
    Trek Fuel EX8
    Kona Lisa HT
    Specialized Tricross Triple
  • kathgkathg Posts: 142
    Yup.. I found it... its a track called Alarma by 666 kinda mid 90's techno stuff. Oh my god whenever I play it now I feel sick with nerves again and am transported back to that start line in the snow and rubble, giggling slightly hysterically and muttering 'what the censored am I doing here!!!! :D:D
  • smallredsmallred Posts: 73
    How did you see inside my head?!! That's exactly what my brain was saying too!! argh!!

    Same again next year then?! :)

    Thanks - I'm off to see if I can download it now and torture myself... think it'll make a good track for the old ipod in the gym... motivation!!
    Trek Fuel EX8
    Kona Lisa HT
    Specialized Tricross Triple
  • smallredsmallred Posts: 73
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M24IcXMM3I8

    heehee... invoked a fit of the nervous giggles...
    Trek Fuel EX8
    Kona Lisa HT
    Specialized Tricross Triple
  • miss notaxmiss notax Posts: 2,823
    Well done ladies :D:D

    I am well impressed! Might be picking your brains later as we are planning on doing this next year, and I am certainly no downhill goddess :?
    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away....

    Riding a gorgeous ano orange Turner Burner!

    Sponsor the CC2CC at http://www.justgiving.com/cc2cc
  • kathgkathg Posts: 142
    Don't worry, you've got a year to build your confidence on the steeper stuff! It was my first ever mtb race of any sort!! What a blast it was too... still buzzing now :D
  • smallredsmallred Posts: 73
    kathg wrote:
    Don't worry, you've got a year to build your confidence on the steeper stuff! It was my first ever mtb race of any sort!! What a blast it was too... still buzzing now :D

    Kath took the words right out of my mouth (or fingers?!). First timer here too, now want to do more :)
    Trek Fuel EX8
    Kona Lisa HT
    Specialized Tricross Triple
  • GingieGingie Posts: 98
    If you're thinking about doing the Mega, check out these tips- thanks to Kath for the great insight!!

    http://www.girlmtnbiker.com/how-survive-megavalanche-tips/


    Looks like an awesome/terrifying/crazy/fun race all in one!

    We wanna go!
  • miss notaxmiss notax Posts: 2,823
    Just booked for 2012 :shock: :shock:

    Ladies, I have less than a year to turn myself into a somethng vaguely capable of getting through this!!

    Help :shock:
    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away....

    Riding a gorgeous ano orange Turner Burner!

    Sponsor the CC2CC at http://www.justgiving.com/cc2cc
  • SJSJ Posts: 2,871
    I'm on for 2012.
    Went out last year, trained, fit and raring to go.
    Spent a day riding the quali track with the boys (faster than some of them too!), got some brilliant fast lines in but pushed to far too fast and had myself a big crash 2 days into practise.
    Tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder and ended up watching the racing from the sidelines. (3 months for full recovery)
    Not impressed, due to work commitments it had taken me 4 years to get out there and then I smash myself up!
    Still, booked on again this year and my biggest tip for myself will be to exercise a little more caution, not get over excited about being in the mountains again and actually, do the race!
    a dirtbag of the most delightful variety
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