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Alpe d'Huez and Bourg d'Oisans from Pic blanc, the start of the Mega Avalanche
|Date||Alps - 10/11/12 July 2009|
|Region||French Alps, Peru and Reunion Island|
|Most recent||Remy Absalon
Megavalanche is a mountainbike downhill marathon style event that mixes gravity-assisted excitement with enduro levels of fitness, guaranteed to test both nerve and physique. The most famous round is run from the French Alps town of Alpe D'Huez, starting on the glaciated summit of the Pic Blanc (3,300m) and descending to the lush meadows of the valley bottom at Allemont (720m), after some 2000 metres down and 30 km along.
The format of the event follows three main days:
- Practice - Lifts and courses are open and free to anyone with a race plate. Rookie riders are encouraged to ride as much of the courses as possible
- Qualifying - Riders wake early to take the Oz cablecar to the start where six heats of about 250 riders race the qualifying course. It is said to be a true 'qualifier' as it encapsulates all the elements of the main course in a shorter and more intense run. The resulting qualifier times are broken down into 'Lines' designated by a letter. 'A' being the front.
- Megavalanche - The top 25 riders (in 2014) from each Qualifier start the 'Mega' on freshly piste bashed snow. The following 25 from each qualifier then race in a similarly mass started event on the Saturday, called the 'Mega Challenger'. Any riders outside these two categories are grouped into the 'Mega Amateur', and the two 'Affinity' groups 1 and 2 where they can start at any time after the first two mass start races, their times being recorded automatically by transponder chip. This can be seen as an advantage as there is less traffic at the start, however the snow conditions are far worse as those riding the mega/challenger have churned numerous ruts into it, and the less experienced riders qualifying for the affinity often bunch up and stop at any and all technical sections, slowing down anybody who may be faster.
Around 2,700 participants will depart the summit of the Pic Blanc with top competitors making the 2000m descent in less than an hour (00:38:28 in 2013).
Many of the competitors are from mainland Europe, however an increasing contingent of British riders are making the pilgrimage, spurred on by ever increasing press about the event.
Other rounds of the event take place in Peru and Reunion Island.
While this is a downhill race at the start, the event can cover up to 30 km in blistering heat of the summer. A downhill bike (often with upward of 8 inches(203 mm) of suspension travel at each end) is not recommended to be competitive, though many competitors choose to ride them. A dual-chainring equipped 'freeride' is the bike choice, having 5-7 inches (130-178 mm) of travel and single crown forks. The 2006 winner Nicolas Vouilloz rode a 150 mm travel bike with a Dura Ace chainset and semi slick rear tyre. Whilst 'Freeride' and 'all mountain' bikes are the best choice for competing and for the long uphill climb on the 'mega' course, downhill bikes provide a much more forgiving and comfortable ride over the rocky and often rutted terrain of the qualifier course.
Competitors need physical strength for the top section, cardio for the road climbs and endurance to string it all together and keep going.
Training should include forearm work to limit arm pump, caused by hanging on to the bars and riding the rough sections. Bike set-up can also help to reduce this.
2007 Mega Avalanche Top 10 Results
|Sam Blenkinsop||New Zealand||Gravity Group||00.50.25|
|Yoann Paccard||France||Scott Les 2 Alpes||00.51.32|
|Silvio Bundi||Switzerland||Giant Swiss Team||00.51.40|
- http://www.megavalanche.com/ - Official site
- Megavalanche 2010 photos on downhill911
- Bike Oisans
- Mega Avalanche tips
- Army Cycling Union Mega Avalanche information
- Mega Avalanche results 2007
- Other Mountain bike routes in the area
- Youtube footage of the 2007 Mega Avalanche start