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Tales from the road (Post Mega Meganess)

| Blog, Mountain Biking Uk | 14/07/2011 15:49pm

Ric reflects on an emotional and physical European rollercoaster ride.

France is big. Big and dull. And largely filled with ham and cheese.

These were my razor-sharp impressions of the place. They’re pretty cynical but when you travel for ten hours on a dual carriageway and see nothing other than fields and expensive peage boothes, I challenge you to come to any other conclusions.

In fairness the road up to Alpe D’Huez itself is pretty special. It climbs 13.8km via 21 switchbacks and has been a key man-breaker in the Tour De FranceĀ  more or less every year since 1976. We ended up riding up the final four turns rather than wait for the lift back up after qualifying and can assure you that it’s bloody steep…

After our mammoth journey we got the bikes out and tackled the qualifying course straight away. Having only consumed Red Bull and biscuits for the guts of a day, we weren’t in the ideal ‘frame of mind’.

Jamer and I both had a couple of crashes getting used to the combination of big rocks and fine dust but other than that it went ok. The biggest shock to the system really was the pain coursing through our arms and hands. If you can get some time in on lengthy Alpine descents/a placement as a brick-layer before going, you’ll be fine.

We ended up eating and having the odd pitcher in Smithy’s most nights we were there. Nowhere in Alpe D’Huez seems to be that cheap but after a long day on the hill with only blackened bananas and energy bars for nourishment, we were pretty happy to swap Euros for fajitas.You can surprisingly get Kilkenny in there too.

I’ll not go too far into how we got on with the race itself (you can read all about that in MBUK 268, on sale 24th August) but it was an incredible experience. It’s a combination of Mad Max and the opening half hour of Saving Private Ryan with the iceberg from Titanic playing a cameo role. It’s brutal and beautiful all at once.

For all the times that you come off and feel beaten by it there are soaring moments when you think “This is why I ride my bike!” If you’re a racer, it’s one of the ultimate races demanding power, skill, stamina and most importantly, brains. If you’re a rider then it’s one of the most gruelling tests you’ll ever give yourself. Surviving or racing, everyone should give the Mega a go.

Here are some pics from the trip… We’ll get some video up soon too once we’ve fixed all the bikes.


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