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.

  1. Dominic Meacher

    Dominic Meacher doing the mega from Dorset, I bought a canyon nerve AM for the job. Bought some Maxxis minions UST to keep me shiny side up. The bike has a slightly steep head angle and the shock blows through the travel (reducer can should fix that), other than that it’s a peach.
    We’ve booked flights, only problem now is the transfer. Anyone got any pointers?

  2. Ryan Bevis

    Nice rig! I’ll be there, can’t wait! Taking the camper over, come say hi! (I’ll be in an old Talbot campervan).

  3. paulhaysom

    @dominic do say if the reducer helps! Were you able to test it before you ordered it? Still haven’t finalised the tyre choice – just definitely something with some strong sidewalls! Maybe there could be a bikemagic meet up down there?

  4. Brigand

    so far as tyres go try Butcher Sx or HR II / Minion with Exo sidewalls….. don’t know if the Hans Dampfs are available with new enduro casing overthere, that’s what i would go to

  5. Pawsy Bear

    Can I ask why you didnt go for Canyon Strive? Would have IMHO a more AM head angle. Nerve is a little steep. Spent a day on a 916 and it was outstanding. Light and easy to handle.

  6. Steve Cockerham

    Yep I’ll be there. Mega virgin but looking forward to it. Keep debating whether to use my Orange 5 or Alpine but I’m pretty sure it’ll be the Alpine. Probably use folding Minions.

  7. minidanhill

    I think one trip to UK bike park isn’t quite enough prep for the mega. You’ll need to have ridden the alps at least once before going. The altitude and heat with all your body armour is the hardest thing. The carbon bike will help but its not the be all and end all.

    1. David Arthur

      Fair point minidanhill. I’ve been doing plenty of riding other than just the uplift however, to prepare for the Mega

      I’ve also been to the Alps (among over high altitude destinations) several times before so have a good idea of what to expect.

  8. James Russell

    I’m going this year for the second time with friends from both Itay and the Uk. Will be camping in the field next to the lift. I’m riding a 2011 Specalized Enduro expert. 1×10 with an XO/Mrp chain device. Swapped the bars to Azonic double walls. Sdg Belair sadle an SS Nano peddles. Using Super star/ Mavic721 wheels ( can’t beat the value!) with Maxis High Roller 2′s Dh casing.
    Had an absolute blast a few years ago, you won’t regret deciding to go! Aside from the race, the place and riding are epic. All the best.

  9. James Russell

    Oh yeah, @paul I’ve got a mid sized volume reducer in the can (Fox rp23). Totally fixed the travel, so much better.I’m 90 Kg.

  10. Dave Harrison

    A couple of years ago my two sons did it two years running. One on a Cannondale CAD 5 – complete with headshock and the other on his Orange Gringo with 100mm forks. Both qualified and had a mega time doing it.

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