12/03/2014 | 5 comments
The 10th annual Saas Fee glacier race was absolute carnage as usual. 260 participants this year (140 last year) made their way up from 1800metres to the start line at a whopping 3700metres with bikes in tow. The perfect blue bird morning meant great race conditions. Personally having not been on a bike in the last year due to work commitments, I was shaking like a shitting dog with nerves as I knew what high speed colossal lay ahead. Already the ‘bat bike’ that featured in dirt only made it as far as Friday afternoon practice but lucky to walk away unscathed after reading about his antics. This was my main objective ‘to walk away from the race’ as I have to continue slaying powder on my snowboard for 2 more months. However this was not to be.
After a rip roaring start, I got too excited, hit a few snow ruts, wobbled then washed out my back wheel. As i proceeded to get back on the track some Swiss cheese eating twat decided to hit me at full gas snapping my E13 chain guide and putting an enormous impact on to my calfs and achilles (the doctor later on told me i was lucky not to have snapped my achilles. 5 days off work though. Stoked). From here on in i was a bit shaken but not stirred and limped home with a bent front mech and no gears for 104th.
Worthy of a mention is Scotlands own Adam Orr (the boy frae Moffat) who romped home for 37th place with a clean run and no crashes. A big shout out to Adam for driving across Scotland to fetch my bike and bringing it out to Switzerland. What a Guy!
Thanks for watching
And if you didn’t catch the whole ‘bat bike/darth vader’ thing that we featured on our facebook page then here’s a full catchup…
Basically we first spotted this little video that Rob Johnson had made to show off how he’d customised his bike for the race…
And this is how he described it on facebook:
“Thought I would share my Ghetto Aero set-up for the Glacierbike race next weekend in Saas Fee, 56 tooth chainring upfront and I tried to reduce drag by covering all the sharp bits with tape, the fairing on the front is mainly to try and reduce the drag from the numberplate – so far all bodges have survived the car park test, looking forward to seeing what 80mph + feels like on an MTB!!”
A little bit later we discovered that he wasn’t just going to be tweaking his bike for maximum speed as he’d also gone and got himself a crazy aero helmet…
As if that wasn’t enough he’d also managed to get his hands on one of the old Mojo skin/gimp suits. Rob was clearly looking to try and hit some serious speed…which judging by the following update which he posted on facebook following the race he certainly found…
“many people have asked how I got on at Glacierbike and I know some gopro footage was expected. The short answer is – not great, I did not make it to the actual race today following a crash in guided practice on Friday at around 4pm.
I was warned by race officials to not wear the MOJO speedsuit, apparently the material is banned in ski competition because of the friction coefficient – basically, if you crash in the suit you dont stop, you just slide to the bottom of the hill, this has been the cause of death in several speedski contests. I was stupidly dismissive of the officials comments, guided practice was en masse with all 200 riders leaving the start at once similar to how the race itself would be.
During guided practice we were led by an official on ski`s, the idea being that all 200 riders would set off and then stop to view various features before once again setting off. It quickly became clear that the suit and modified bike were totally ridiculous – it felt as if I had brought a motorbike to a cycle race – all 200 riders quickly disappeared behind as myself and the ski guide led, we were shocked at the difference and when the rest caught up several minutes later there were many WTF!? type looks going around, it felt amazing.
Then we progressed on to the area that passes the restaurant, I knew this was the steepest and most dangerous part of the course so I did not try and stay with the ski guide, then two riders came flying past me and crashed, sliding into the catch netting at the bottom of the left hand turn – on seeing this I panic braked and due to the steepness of the slope I lost the back wheel and went into a slide – I remembered the guides comment “do not let go of your bike” – I couldn’t hold my grip and I let go, the next moments were the most terrifying of my life.
Without the bike and wearing the suit there was no grip between my body and the snow – my hands and feet were useless as I acceleration faster than I every have before in any vehicle, I tried to force the edge of the helmet into the slope to slow my descent but the chin strap just ripped off and I saw it disappear.
I knew I was now sliding towards the cliff edge, I believe I accelerated to around 50 mph on my belly, I had no helmet and I just waited for the first impact to go unconscious, I was 100% sure I was experiencing my last moments and I cursed myself for choosing the worlds fastest downhill race as the place to test myself with a bike and suit capable of 130 mph +.
Thankfully I hit the catch netting and I missed the area where there was no catch netting by a few feet, 2 meter’s to the right and I would’ve hit a cliff and trees at 60mph – the official said I should be dead.
I am writing this so that I do not have to answer any further questions on this incident, I do not wish to discuss it AT ALL please as I find it very upsetting, I just want to say a big apology to all my loved ones for my stupidity and I have no intention of doing anything like this again. I have changed. I am looking forward to getting married and being a dad asap and forgetting about this sort of stuff. Gopro camera was ripped off in the crash, hopefully it will be recovered and I can post footage. Thanks.”
Don’t know about you, but my arse hole puckered just reading that! But there’s a lesson to you all kids, make sure you listen to people who know stuff, and also make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before going for it full bore! Bonkers story from a bonkers race.