Mega is one of the most iconic races in mountain biking. It’s been on my list for a while so I decided to make the pilgrimage to Alp d’Huez for the 20th Anniversary of the race. Alp d’Huez is a riding Mecca, drawing cyclists, from all over the world to ride it’s steep peaks, shaved legged roadies and fat tire mountain bikers alike.
Intro to Europe
I arrived in Milan, Chris picked me up in the van (thanks mate!) then we headed straight up to the North of Italy to a small town called Madesimo for the Italian Superenduro series race. I decided not to race here but instead take a few days to get up to speed and ride off the jet lag on Alpine trails. Lots of roots and rocks!
Change of plans
Next stop scheduled was the European Enduro round in Flims, Switzerland. A huge rain cloud covered almost all of inland Europe so plans changed to go somewhere sunny – it was meant to be summer! We cruised down (by cruise I mean van maxxed out @ 160km/hr) to Finale Ligure, a popular holiday destination on the Mediterranean coast. Famous for its temperate weather and rocky, dusty trails that rise up to 1500m vertical from the pebbly beaches.
Our time at Finale was spent riding epic days of 4hr rides, ascending 1000-1500m then punching down the flowy Italian trails back to the ocean. Followed by copious amounts of Gelato and many coffees!
Some footage from Tris of our times in Finale:
Off to Alpe d’Huez
Ready for alpine adventures we packed the van and high tailed up to Geneva Airport to pick up our mate Sam. The drive up to Alp d’Huez involved climbing the famous Tour de France stage of 12 steep hairpins and an average grade of 8%. The road is painted with the names of the great drug lords (Tour de France climbers) and spectators alike that have left their blood sweat and tears there. Many Ole ole ole’s where called out to the cyclists tackling the climb and even a few calls of “Get off the brakes” to lift their spirits.
Day 1 of practise started great. The mountain is big! Pic Blanc reaches 3300m’s into the clouds. The summit is ascended by a near vertical cable car. We had a chance to check out the qualification track – which is a totally different track to the race track. My goal was to qualify for the main event so learning this track was critical. After a couple of runs the clouds rolled in and the rain started. It didn’t stop till Friday.
Next post – Part 2….
Qualifying’s up next with lot’s of baguettes, crepes and flying Frenchies!