Week 4 - Alpe d'Huez
Arriving in Alpe D'Huez late Monday evening, we set up camp just as the sun went down. The next day I did some exploring and headed off for a day of pedalling taking in the lower section of the Mega course down to Oz. I bumped into old friends of mine, who id met through racing and they mentioned that there was an Enduro happening the next day! ''An Enduro race you say''? I was on it! I emailed the race organisers and by 8pm that evening, I was down at registration getting myself signed on. This wasn't in my 'Mega' race week plan but I didn't care, this looked like it was going to be great craic, and after the disapointment of Millau, I needed some fun!
Wednesday morning, and I was up at the crack of dawn and at the gondola which was to take me down to Oz for the Enduro. It was a 3 stage race, completely blind and completely wild!!! We had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into!
We headed up on the gondola from Oz back to Alpe d'Huez for Stage 1. This photo below is where it started, as you can see, there was little to no tape to mark the course so it was pretty much a free for all and the blind leading the blind!
The format was that riders would race in pairs against each other. Because I was so late to register for this, I was thrown in with the Men! It also turned out that my 'partner' never showed up, so I had no-one to race against which had its pro's and cons. It meant that I, like 90% of the group, got completely lost on this stage which started on the top of this mountain. Once I found the taped single track, I was decending at top speeds for almost 20 minutes. Apart from the very confusing top section, this was an awesome stage, so I was pretty gutted when the race organisers cancelled the results from it due to the confusion.
Stage 2 was the old downhill track which you can see from the gondola as you take it up from Oz. As you can see from the photo above, it had plenty of steep, gnarly rock slabs with the odd crash mat thrown in...just in case : )
We had time for a bit of a track walk, so I picked my lines at the sections that I managed to look at. It looked steep but not difficult. It was dry so there was plenty of grip, I was really pumped for this one.
I had a great start and hit all my lines I had checked out which worked out sending me fast and smoothly down the rocks. I continued to ride well through this stage, but mid-stage, there were sections that were literally unridable and you had to dismount and carry the bike through giant boulders, rivers and ditches. It was great craic and so different to any race id ridden before!
Finally onto Stage 3, another super techy and physically demanding stage that brought us back into the race village at Oz where I was greeted by race organiser and a microphone, asking me how I got on. When asked if it was as tough as the Mega, I told her it was on a parr! We had just raced three downhill tracks blind, with long fast and rough pedally sections, carried our bikes through rivers and over boulders and through fresh cut off-camber grass sections....yes it had been tough and intense and I had absolutely loved every second of it!
We all sat down to a super spread, live music, fantastic bbq and beer on tap!
Irish Female Enduro Racer Flow MTB Team Rider