Pushing your limits: Tackling the Megavalanche – choosing the bike

The Megavalanche is an event I’ve always wanted to do. And this year I’ve finally stepped up to the plate and said I’ll do it. 

It’s grown massively in popularity over the years and these days there’s nearly as many Brits as they are Europeans. Last year 1,400 people lined up 3300m above sea level with a 30km course stretching out in front of them. And this year I’ll be one of them.

Scared? Yes, just a little bit…

Mega Preparation

My preparation for the event started in earnest with a trip to the UK Bike Park last weekend. Based down in Blandford, this venue offers several graded downhill tricks of rising difficulty with a fast uplift. The website promises up to 30 uplifts. We lost count but we got pretty close.

Though extremely short in comparison to what I’ll face in the Megavalanche, the multiple runs did allow me to work on my technique and boost my confidence at carrying speed over challenging terrain. The four tracks offer a good mix, with a bit of everything thrown in; massive roots, fast open berms, plenty of differing sized jumps, braking bumps.

I was tired at the end of the day, but I felt a lot more confident by the close of play and was pinning the tracks with more speed compared to the first couple of tentative runs. A box ticked. It also allowed me to test out some kit that I’m might use in France, but more of that later.

A Mega suitable bike

Aside from actually entering, the biggest decision is over which bike to use. For many, that means the same bike they use every weekend. I didn’t have such a bike that I could use, which led to a very long period of umming and arring.  My shortlist, after some thought, wasn’t that short at all! Gradually, I whittled it down though.

Then I settled on the perfect bike, on paper at least. I checked the company’s website, it looked good. A carbon fibre frame, to keep the weight low, with a build kit that looked ready to go from the box, bar a couple of changes for personal preference.

A phone call to Hotlines (UK Laperrie importer) quickly followed, and amazingly they agreed to my mad plan, and said yes. A couple of weeks later, the bike arrived (via the Dirt office, hence i’s used patina). It’s the all-new Lapierre Spicy, a 160mm rig which ticks all the boxes; long travel, tough build kit, big forks, fat tyres.

I’m confident the bike will be up to the job. I’ve recently tested the Zesty, which is essentially a shorter travel version of the same platform, and been impressed with how good the suspension is in loads of different situations. The stiffness of the frame impressed too.

The Spicy gets a bit more travel than the Zesty. It gets the beefier Fox 36 forks too, a 12×142 bolt-thru rear axle which should stiffen up the once downside of the Zesty (a slightly flexy tail), a 2×10 drivetrain and dropper post. I’ll give you a proper first look at the bike in another article.

Mega is demanding race on equipment and isn’t the place for failures, so the bike and build needs to be bulletproof. Changes planned include some sort of chain device. I need to decide whether I’m sticking with 2×10, or going to 1×10 for Mega (any suggestions?), and some chunkier rubber.

Are you riding Mega? Let us know below if you are.

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