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I arrived at Alpe d’Huez around lunch time where my sponsors, Will and Alex from Hammoon cycles, had given me lift. We spent a couple days riding the Megavalanche track and the Qualifying track; as well as riding many of the awesome downhill tracks Alpe d’Huez had to offer.


Practice run from the top.

Friday was qualifying, which was basically 25 mins sprint and which quickly turned into carnage. The dance music banging at the start line and totally pumped everyone up. With all the ladies lined up, the atmosphere was electric.


The queue for the qualifying run...

My qualifying run was going well with only one slight off at the snow patches, until I got cocky and tried to overtake someone and take the hard rock drop. My already tired body couldn’t take and crashed. Then, my GoPro came off and dangled on my helmet by a string. It took me ages to remove and loads of women passed me. I finally got back on my bike trying to overtake as many as I could.


Almost half way down the qualifying run.

I was finally gaining some ground when we hit the last stretch of road before the sports centre. My tired mind didn’t see that the tape veered off to the pavement and I went down the wrong road. It wasn’t till a French lady started yelling at me that I realised that I was going the wrong way. Frustrated, I had to ride back up and saw the women who I’ve overtaken cross the finishing line as I pedal back up the track. I crossed the line at 24th, knackered but proud to finish as well as managing to qualify in the first row. 

I had to wake up at 5:00 am on Saturday to get on the lift for 6:00 am. Despite how early it was, there was a nervous tension in the riders. Waiting to be called at the top of the mountain, the view was spectacular. You could see the recently piste-bashed slope snaking its way down the mountain.


The start had the most amazing atmosphere!!!

Soon enough we were lined up and I could hear that same French dance music, I began to feel the stoke. When the tape lifted, we set off. Surprisingly, the snow was grippy enough that is was not that bad to ride on. But soon girls started crashing in front of me, then down I went; just managing to keep a hold of my bike. After a crash and sliding down the glacier, I had to adjust my brake lever as it was bent upwards; this allowed many riders to overtake me.


Holding onto my bike at the top of the glacier.


Back on the bike now and ready to charge.

So, all the way around the mountain to the main tracks of Alpe d’Huez, there was a series of gruelling up hills trying to overtake as many riders as I could. Finally, I was at the climb, where spectators could cheer you on. Climbing with a grin on my face, I saw this woman in my sights, I knew I could take her.


On the way onto the hill climb.


My cheering squad, Andy, Sarah, Pickles, Alex and Beth (mum was taking the picture).

I waited till after the climb so that I could overtake her on the downhill. We descended and me on her tail, I was yelling at her for at least half of the bottom section, she refused to let me pass. And when a really fast male rider, from the Challenger race, caught me and her up she still would not let anyone pass; only after vigorous yelling from her and the dude, he did finally pass her after she walked down a steep section. Pissed off, I decided to let her go and cruise the last section, after all it was a great track and stoked that I managed this far. So when I crossed the finishing line with 1:13:35, I was so glad I had got down and buzzed for the whole day. I managed to beat 2 of my team mates (Rhos and Will) and finished in 2nd position in the Juniors Women and 20th in the overall women.   

This was honestly the best race I had ever done. The intensity, fun and the banters with all my Hammoon Cycles team mates and supporters of Mega has made me want to do it again. So 2017 Megavalanche here I come!!

Thank you, Team Hammoon; and thank you for reading.

Maya Atkinson 

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