From the Bulkhead: Schladming to the Megavalanche
Rednecks, Mega and shredding
Joe and Maurice are back with another instalment of their Euro road trip. This time they're hanging about the Alps, starting in Schladming and ending up in Tignes via Morzine and the Mega:
First and second gear got some abuse on the drive over to Schladming. Missing out toll roads forced us over every mountain pass which were littered with hairpin corners top to bottom.
Finally, on arriving in Schladming, we were bombarded with no camping signs at every car park. We opted for the nearest free camping spot... 4km away.
This, however, involved traipsing up yet another mountain pass, with awesome views but a pain in the arse to get there. Next day, we found a ski lift car park in Schladming itself, along with a few other fellow bodged van /campers. As most already know Schladming is home to a proper World Cup downhill track… no motorways here just gnarliness top to bottom - just how it should be!
We smashed in a week there, followed up by a few days in Livigno Bike Park before it was time to head off to Alpe d’Huez for the epic that is the Megavalanche. We opted for a quick stop off in Morzine before the Mega to hammer in more riding and get some much needed rest.
We set up in a free camping spot in Les Gets, but after a few scorching days were told to move down the road onto a grassy field along with the other vans. All fine and dandy and we were excited for what we thought was the local 4x4 competition set to occur in woods.
It soon hit home we had been moved into the camping field due to a massive agricultural festival! Rednecks from all over turned up. Boy could these people drink!
We were soon invited (forced) for drinks & food by our neighbours even though there was a massive language barrier which made all conversations last about five times longer than usual. Throughout the night, more rowdy farmers showed up, competing as to who had the loudest chainsaw/tractors and running and running full sound systems from generators.
Next morning, we were both hung-over to hell. The neighbours were adamant we should sack off riding and get back on the drink. We kindly refused and decided to don the road bikes and head out for a few of the local passes. I then discovered that my energy drinks in my bottles had been kindly been replaced with red wine. This was the theme for the rest of the week.
We spent a final nights of bivvying up in the mountains during thunder storms and scrounging off friends who had chalets for showers before it was time to head off to the Mega.
Mega week started with a full strip down and rebuild of the steeds so they were ready to tackle everything that was about to be thrown at them. Practice week at the Mega is always a laugh; drinking, riding, skinny dipping in the local lakes and filling your lungs up with endless amounts of dust from roosting every turn in sight. This is the best way to do it as it makes you forget you are about to launch yourself down a glacier on the weekend.
Qualis arrived and the carnage started instantly with the mass starts and the brutal amount of loose rocks. Maurice landed a tidy 17th place and I grabbed 6th in my heat meaning we were both in Sunday’s main Mega event leaving us a few nights to get chill and nervously laugh at Saturdays racing carnage, in the full knowledge we had to bite the bullet and hurl ourselves down the same mountain the following day. 6th place in Qualis meant I was on 2nd row for the main race.
This meant getting up 5.30am to get on the first few lifts. However. on arrival at the midway station, a crowd of confused riders stood about as the winds and clouds rolled in. The inevitable happened and organisers decided call off racing from the top of the hill due to the severe weather so riders were forced to ride back down to the first lift station. There was another anxious wait trying to find shelter from the weather before we finally got lined up at a new starting point.
The first few rows are always flat out carnage. Maurice’s row was filled with the likes of Sam Hill, Josh Bryceland and most the 50 to 01 crew meaning his was going to be as equally wild as mine. Racing finally got underway and the first few turns in the top section were mental with huge amounts of riders fighting for positions bottlenecking into super tight flat turns.
The first big climb separated riders a bit meaning the only places to make moves riders in front were on the lung burning fire road and road sprints that were dotted throughout the track. I had an epic battle with a few of the Welshies & Irish down the track left me exhausted but still managed to pass the southern pansies on the final sprint . 36th overall. Maurice fought with the nutters all the way down the track to bag 161st overall.
Lift passes have been our biggest expense so far on the trip, so we've enjoyed the riding here in Tignes as they run free lift for riders. Shortly we'll be heading back to Morzine for more chairlift action and meeting up with our homies heading over from dreary England.
Keep up with our Instabangers.
Joe Young - @joeyoungmtb
Maurice Raine - @mauriceraine