Thursday, July 27th, 2017
“Mega Train to OZ”
Photo Credit: Laurence Crossman-Emms
The Megavalanche is much more than just a mass start race with hundreds of lunatics throwing themselves down a mountain. There’s the Alp D’Huez backdrop and for someone that doesn’t live in the Alps, it gets me every time, dwarfed by the mountains, blue skies (apart from race day), radical glacial lakes and hundreds of miles of sweet trails waiting to be discovered. Then there is the fact that you’re in France; an excuse to drink wine, super strength beer, full-fat coke, eat croissants, crepes and visit Smithy’s fine dining pub for their sweet Tex-Mex menu (that was our trip anyway).
Then there are the riders making the pilgrimage from all over the world for that true iconic bucket list race. There is a huge variety of riders, racing their first and potentially only race, seasoned racers through to pro athletes, you just don’t find that at many other events. Then there’s a chance to not only meet your hero’s but race alongside them. Some true super human legends of the sport, like all of us mixing with us mortals in the village, sleeping in their vans as their race rigs aren’t here and generally enjoying a week of riding.
We put an opportunity out there for the chance to ride and hang out with some of these hero’s, most notability our lead rider and true mountain bike legend of the people; Sam Hill. Yes, you may race him in the main race, but this was a real opportunity to chat and ride alongside the athletes whilst they were relaxing and generally having fun. Alongside Sam was our Wideopen Mag team of Kelan Grant, Chris Hutchens, Chris Cummings and Rich Thomas, Vanzac’s Australian of the year Jackson, Davis and the Nukeproof staff (Ali, Michael, Rob). We also had an awesome crew to document the week; legendary filmer, Alex Rankin and Laurence Crossman-Emms capturing the pictures.
Mingling with the riders- Sam Hill
The plan was loose, social media invites to everyone; meeting at the main DMC lift, head up to DMC station one, drop down the lower half of the Megavalanche track to Oz station then back up and into Alp D’Huez, finish with a beer.
Initially, there were a few riders shuffling around at the DMC, but like most things a crowd attracts a crowd and numbers swelled to 25 riders nervously looking on thinking; Am I in the right place? Is it ok to just drop in and join you? Am I good enough for this? F*** me, that’s Sam Hill etc. Thankfully for me, (I am not an extrovert type despite my job role) our esteemed photographer and honorary red coat (1980’s Butlin’s reference) Mr. Laurence Crossman-Emms stepped up to the plate to welcome anyone, introduce stoke, herd troops, and get the party games going!
Le Mans style start- and lost/ mixed up bikes
You know it’s going right when there are 25 people dropping into a series of flat dusty corners down to the Mega road climb, giving everyone the opportunity to roost each other. Sorry, Alp D’Huez track builders. Dropping into the main climb, senior red coat Laurence introduced a little competition, a hill climb challenge; seriously Laurence, were you trying to kill us! First to the top wins t-shirts (I owe someone a tee still, drop me a comment below if you were on the ride).
After exhausting our lungs pounding up the road (faster than I did on Sunday in the race), the opportunity to relax and chill only lasted until the next party game; a Le-Mans style start dropped in down the track to the half way point (again I am sure I owe someone a tee for winning that too). Again the dust of 25 riders was ingested into lungs, as we were too busy laughing to shut our mouths to block out the dust bombs dropping into Oz.
Mega train and the dust…
Vanzac style cat, Jackson Davies repping his new Ray Berry eyewear sponsor.
The short lift back to the DMC station gave chance to draw breath, cough up dust balls and get ready for the drop back down to Alp D’Huez and the safety of the local bar.
Wideopen Duo of Hutch and Kelan Shredding
Flat corners and flat pedal = Sam Hill Master class
Just awesome fun!
Jackson Chasing down Ali
Alex Rankin shredding aboard his Mega 290 with 20kg of camera gear on his back.
Taking a fresh cut green trail down to the town turned out to be awesome with a series of flat grass corners cut under the chair lift gave the chance to see the athletes corner skills in full flow (some pushed a little too hard and ended on the deck, but unhurt!). A cold refreshment in the bar was the perfect end to the ride. Huge thanks to the mysterious Ken who took it upon himself to supply Sam and us with alcohol. Ken, you’re a legend in our eyes.
A refreshing way to wash down the dust.
Once a Vanzac…
Massive thanks to all the riders that joined us this year. It was awesome to ride with you, same time next year.
Photo Credit: Laurence Crossman-Emms