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Trig's ATC 09 roadtrip
by Trig on 30th July 2009
This is probably the biggest article I've ever hosted. But then again, it's the biggest road trip Trig has organised! So get ready to blow the bandwidth and read on - keep scrolling for all the details and 90 photos of this epic riding adventure!
Despite me keeping the text as brief as possible, this is gonna be a long one, so put the kekkle on and crack the ginger nuts out.
I've been the driving force behind the Team Sperm annual Alpine Train Camp now since 2001 and this is my 9th. You could say organiser, but I'd just call it promoter, cos I don't actually do that much other than make a few phone calls. Most of my actual job is simply getting together the posse, the money and most importantly the enthusiasm.
The trips are normally pretty grand and I've housed up to 42 people in chalets in a single season, but gone are the days of flights to Geneva and being stuck in the (lets face it) played Port Du Soleil. In recent years I've been doing road trips to pastures new and in 2007 I bought my own 17 seater mini-bus (The Dutchess).
Built on the strength of all this the 2009 trip was set to be epic and dwarf all previous trips by stats alone: 2 minibuses, a 6 seater van and a car; 28 people; roughly 40 bikes; 3000 miles; 9 bike parks and approximately 25 ski-lifts all crammed into 16 days.
The mini buses – that's my bit. 2 of them, 10 people in each. 20 people, each paying £250 upfront, so £5grand total budget. The vans of choice are once again Hi-top LDV's (god love 'em). £3500 for the vans leaving £1500 for the bulk of the fuel, tolls, insurance, ferry etc.
So to begin. Pack no. 1, set off and pick up all the crew. Manchester, Bedford and London, then to the ferry at Dover.
Arrive at Grenoble 21 hours later – a new record. Quick shop at Carrefour before we hit the mountains and the associated food prices.
Les Deux Alps
2 Alps is always a winner and a great way to kick things off. 5 lifts, tones of runs, a new black run, some glacia riding, a huck park, an hilarious red run in the wet and always finished with a million runs down to Venosc with a lift that stays open til 8pm!
A mere half hour drive from 2 Alps – although the LDV’s are certainly no hill climbers! Arrive late and set up camp near the main lift station. It's Megavalanche week, so the £100 platinum entry fee has bought us access all areas to the whole resort: Huez, Oz and Allemont, 6 or 7 lifts and a coach uplift.
The most varied trails in one single area you could imagine. Super steep glacia ice; world cup standard DH, XC and 4X tracks; freeride/enduro trails; endless single track, roots, rocks, snow, meadows, switchbacks, burnouts, dust, mud, easy, tech – pretty much everything.
Nico Vinc is also ghetto camping next to us and asks for some TS stickers in exchange for some ‘erb. Quality.
Also another apology to Chrispy for temporarily steal-ifying you car. Oops.
Mid mega track
Our DH race is in a couple of days (the Sprint Avalanche) in Oz, but there are also a load of Frenchies warming up for a round of their National XC series. Both courses are pretty bonkers and for every reason you can think of.
The Sprint race is a classic. It's nuts.
Next up is the Mega Qualifier. Quite different this year. Shorter in time, but probably technically and physically harder. Groups of 200, top 45 go through to the Megavalanche (aka the A final), 46 – 90 go into the MegaPromo (aka the B final) and everyone else into the Mega Afinity. 30 minutes is roughly the cut of time for the A final.
A good portion of us have made it to the A final and we get a well needed day of rest. B finalists and girls are first. It's a new format for this year and I thoroughly approve. The rest day is one thing, but it also means we can get total media coverage with comrades doing the camera work.
There's a no-snow start and straight onto bonkers scree. Our team goes nuts as John Weeks is in 2nd place behind Crawford Carrick-Anderson in the B final round the first few turns. Onto the steep snow John holds his place all the way out of view, but punctures later. It doesn't matter – he had the glory!
The A final is mental. Reminds me of stampeding cattle. The snow is mushier than yesterday, but insanely fast despite the ruts. Right down to Allemont about an hour and a quarter later. Awesome fun.
One thing that I really love about the Mega, other than the many times previously stated by others thing about it being the worst-best day of racing in your whole life, is the attitude of everyone and the atmosphere – it's just brilliant. The way I see it, it's a gentleman's agreement with unspoken rules: at the same time as the race being a case of "it's on mother-f**ker", everyone knows the gentleman's rule and you stick to it. You serve people, or you get served – usually both, but it's just the nature of the beast and all is fair. While you’re on your bike (or feet) it's do or die "get outta my goddam way!", but when you're off it's "You OK mate?" and "C’mon, get back on".
Kind of like a friendly punch up. That make sense?
I've cut these photos down as much as I can. What are left below (and there’s quite a lot) are just too good to miss out....
Nico leading out
Note the blood on the frame. This is from an open fracture someone incurred just after the start. Nasty, very nasty.
George Edwards – Megavalanche organiser chief and top bloke
No time to rest, its straight off to Grenoble again for shopping and pizza. "Prix especiale" (special price) is discovered for bulk ordering and gets used many more times. Pizza goes from $9 to $7 with any toppings and a coke as we can buy in batches of 20+. Thats still $140 that they didn’t pass up to the shop 3 doors down.
and then camping at –
St. Pierre De Chartreuse
Chilled start with coffee and flan.
Lift pass is $6, yes SIX EUROs (with Prix Especiale)! The black run here is nuts. It's mega steep and hard to even get down at first. Super technical too, but flows well. You can also weave black to red to black run if you need a break on the way down. Not my personal fave, but it was for a lot of people. Would be awesome to race and crazy in the wet.
Pack up and get uber-twatted in the van. Pass through Italian boarder tunnel.
Arrive late and utterly quadra-spazzed.
Lift pass is $20 here and the tracks are a major disappointment. So bad that most people sack riding off and go to the golf driving range. Even the sit-down races down the "black" run don’t liven things up. Rubbish!
Golf is more interesting than the track. Not a good sign.
...well, Golf, mixed with booze, ladies and golf-karts is.
Baz in drinken Spiderman mode
Arrive to a village festivalle for Bastille day. We prefer to see it as "Vars welcomes Team Sperm day".
Wet morning is a welcome dampen down of the dust. Track becomes much better for it.
Montage on a lean
This is the single most perfect section of berms I've ever seen in all of Europe. So perfect they make you feel like a better rider than you are.
Sometimes it all comes together. Good shot, good pose.
This track rules. Tuuuurbo fast, some berms, some drifts, a road gap, doubles and a huck. Reminds me of Nanerch on steroids. Very WC 1999.
Evening communal BBQ.
Sue instructs the class...
Beautiful day. Bit of morning camping police hassle. Just 1 lift, but 3 awesome runs and a huge freeride park. Dusty, fast, steep and off camber.
Team Rob flat out.
Met up with Barry: dirtmag.co.uk
Camping at Les Orres, time for some (more) 1st aid.
This. Place. Rules.
2 consecutive lifts with a total vertical gain/drop of 880m!
5, yes FIVE black runs, 2 or 3 reds, plus some blue and greens. Basically tons of tracks all as good or better than the last. 1 day here isn’t enough.
Most of us session the recently raced French National course. It is simply amazing – possibly the single greatest DH track ever conceived. Tones of lines all the way down, its wide, steep, very rooty, rocks, fast, hard, off camber – just simply unreal. Then there are the other black runs – just outstanding. The very top one is terrifying though as it's along a scree slope and cliff edge of doom!
MUST come back here. Not many photos of here cos everyone just rode all day.
Few injuries we stacked up:
A broken arm is this season’s must have for any boyband member
And that's it. Return to UK. LDVs are still rocking and will be sold in the next few days.
My thanks to:
Burgtec (for shoes, stems and peggals)
O'Neal (helmets and clothes)
Electric (goggles, apparel and especially for the sunnies)
Mtb-direct.co.uk and fli-distribution (for help with generally everything)
Leyland Daff Vehicles
A & J Motors in Todmorden (01706 816965)
Gravity-Slaves’ Phil Reed
And KJB Internet Services
Sorry this might have been a bit too long, but in my defence I'm not hosting it, so checking there are the right and not too many photos is tricky, cos I can't really preview it.
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