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Matt Page ready to smash the Mega…

| Blog, Mountain Biking Uk | 07/07/2011 09:56am

Not content with being the number one solo 24h Enduro rider in the UK, Matt Page of Wiggle keeps setting his sights higher and higher- and stepping away from the XC scene is taking on the infamous Mega Avalanche for the first time…

I’ve been in France since Friday, but today was the first day on the Rocky Mountain Slayer. I spent the first few days in a different valley doing a few road rides in preparation for the Etape du Tour next Monday… Did I not mention that straight after the Mega I’m staying on to tackle the Etape as well? Anyway, yesterday I rode up to Alpe D’Huez, checked everything out then drove up with everything afterwards.

It is a great setup here and very English- which is hardly surprising considering about half the race entrants for from the UK. The organisers are very accommodating and have cut a field near the top lift where everyone is camping, including Joe Barnes who rocked up late last night and was also one of the first to wake up and get riding this morning!

I’ve not ridden the Rocky Mountain for a while and I’ll be totally honest – I was just a bit scared! I just had no idea what to expect or how I would do. It didn’t start too well either, deciding to come down the ‘beginner route’ rather than a race run to get my eye in. I hit the deck within 30 seconds- although thankfully nothing was injured except my pride.

After that I grew some balls and started riding the qualifying route, doing a section at a time and working my way to the top of the run.

By the end of the day I was feeling much more confident on the bike and even getting frustrated with others for stopping along the course. The most important thing seems to be getting your ‘alpine eye’ in, and adapting to not only the gradient, but the speed and intensity of alpine riding. Once settled on it though, your riding level seems to come on rapidly.

The last run of the day I did a full run of the qualifier- from top to bottom. It is different to previous years, although starts from the same place, which will no doubt lead some people in to a false sense of security.

The previous course at Alpe D'Huez

To summarise the route; It starts at 2800m and is 11km in length. At the top you go through a series of wide but very loose switchbacks before going through a few patches of snow and a few steep sections with multiple lines. It opens up for a short time before hitting the singletrack and it stays tight and with mostly one line for a long time. The start will be crucial if you want to do well, as you could get held up for a long time on the singletrack!

There are a couple of ladder sections which is probably causing the most problems for riders, although it is easier than it looks. From there is turns flatter and pedally going through Alpe D’Huez itself for a while and then a long section with lots of loose, dusty berms eventually finishing at the village of Huez at 1500m altitude. It is less pedally and more suited to DH orientated bikes than previous events but still fine on the Rocky Mountain Slayer I am riding and similar All-Mountain bikes.

Tomorrow I am planning on practicing on the full Mega course, so long as the Glacier is open- it wasn’t today due to the weather- and maybe do one more run of the qualifier as that is the crucial one for me.

Over and out.

Check back for Matt’s updates here on the MBUK blog. We’ll be posting updates on Facebook and Twitter- @mbukmagazine so be sure to check out for information…

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