There are many dirt racing competitions that cyclists partake in. But two of these races that stand out include the mountain of hell bike race and megavalanche. This article will discuss the difference between these two races under the following headings;
Part 1: Overview
Mountain of Hell is a 2-day mountain bike downhill race where cyclists with huge experience in dirt racing convey to vie for the first position.
The race starts or takes place at the Les 2 Alpes in France, and involves a 2500m descent coupled with a 25km distance that covers ice, rocks, shingles, and snow. The route for the mountain of rain changes every year and this year’s edition will feature 700 riders hurtle down the 2500m altitude difference to get the first position.
Megavalanche on the other hand is not very different from the mountain of hell bike race. It started in 1995 and has always taken place in the French Alps of Alpe d’Huez. The race is also popular among downhill enthusiasts and occurs over the space of three days. The first day is for Practice, the second day for the Qualifiers, and the last day for the Finals/Race Day.
Part 2: Terrain
The terrain for both races is almost the same; a snowy slopy ski terrain that cyclists have to manoeuvre at a speed that is meant for Formula One drivers, rather than cyclists. The average speed on these terrains is about 50mph but riders coming to these competitions for the first time find it a bit difficult to manage this speed. Therefore, you will find them descending quite slowly, less than the 50mph average speed, or they simply slide to a part of the terrain that is more suited for mountain bikes.
The terrain in both races features a mixture of snow, rocks, downhill sectors, paved roads, mud, sharp rocks, and single tracks. With the Mountain of Hell race, there was a time when the race terrain included a ride through the beautiful Les Deux Alpes and a pub inside the resort. This was regarded as a nice touch, but in the recent edition, the drive-through is removed and the bikers just ride through the streets.
The main difference between the terrain of Mountain of Hell and that of Megavalanche is the start. Mountain of Hell has a snowy slope which is because the race starts from a glacier. The Megavalanche start is different because it starts from a rocky place, which makes its start more difficult and dangerous.
Part 3: Tracks
The total track distance for Megavalanche is 28 kilometres. And the best riders that have completed the race over years have done so in between 35-40 minutes. The whole descent on this race is measured at 2580m from Pic Blanc, towering at 3330m. another important part of the Megavalanche track is the snowy part. This part of the track includes the start and the first turn, and it is so steep that sitting down and sliding may cause serious injuries to riders.
After the first turn, the track continues into an almost 90-degree turn with a snow barrier that bikers crash into. As if that is not enough, the part of the track that comes after this is a series of sharp and unforgiving rocks. Many riders in the competition crash and finish the race there and then. However, after the rocks, the rest of the track is fairly balanced as it features steep downhill sectors, drops, single-track features, climbs, and wide sectors where actual racing occurs.
On the other hand, the Mountain of Hell race has a 20km long track. It starts from the 3400m high glacier at the top of the Les Deux Alpes. The snowy part of the track is a bit steep with very few turns. However, the speed is higher at this point. And, as a result, there are lots of crashes and injuries at this point.
After the snowy part, the track is fairly straight as the first section leads to an almost single-track feature. This means there is hardly a place where you can overtake a person without going outside the trail. The downhill section of the Mountain of Hell track is a bit more technical than that of Megavalanche. And this is the reason why many people prefer this track.
Part 4: Competition
For the Megavalanche competition, 2000 bikers are allowed to register for the competition out of which only 350 will make it to the main event. The sight of 350 bikers dashing off the slope and trying everything humanly possible not to create an actual avalanche of people after a crash is inspiring. The number of crashes in this competition is high, although organizers claim that the crashes are usually moderate.
With the Mountain of Hell race, the accepted entry is 1000. However, 700 of these bikers go into the final race. This means every rider is racing about 700 people to the finish line at a speed of 50 mph. This doesn’t sound very safe. But it remains full and very exciting that bikers and dirt race cyclists look forward to this competition every year.
Part 5: Which is Better
There are no better races. It all depends on your preference as a dirt bike racer. Do you like the technical downhill section with high-speed turns and blood-chilling manoeuvres or not? The Mountain of Hell race is your best bet. If you want to compete in the race, ensure that you emerge in the top 20 after the qualifiers.
Megavalanche is the ideal race for people who prefer the enduro track experience. The track and downhill sections of the race are challenging. But they are not as technical as that of Mountain of Hell. In the end, the race you choose depends on the experience you are looking for.