More Than Mega

Downhill sporting borders on insanity

By Sean Sweeney

The Mega Avalanche. Sounds like something from Ben & Jerry’s. Actually, it is a rapidly growing event in France where mountain bikers from all over the world converge for a week to take a stab at one-upping their toboggan friends.

Basically, think Tour de France, except with a lot of Northface blanketed Lances instead of the spandex ones. And instead of going up, the riders are going down. This is definitely one of the craziest (and dumbest) bike rides in which anyone could ever compete—just some senseless people racing down a steep mountain, surrounded by 400 other lunatics, all with the same potential to meet impending doom.

Yes, I’m calling you out extreme sports lovers. I said it. Sue me.

The last time I did anything in connection with extreme and mountain biking, I almost broke my face—on a log, down a hill. It sucked. So you could pay me and I probably wouldn’t try this. Strap me into a roller coaster and I’m all for holding my hands high, but do not put me on a bike down a mountain, rubbing shoulders with other loonies.

Apparently though, the creators of this madness have attracted a huge following. They advertise the ski resort, Alpe D’Huez, as one of the benefits of making it through the qualifying stages and into the real race. The Alpe D’Huez is considered the central resort of the Grandes Rousses Massif and does offer opportunities to play as hard as the contestants ride. Hmm, drunken riders racing down an icy mountain…that has as much potential as a Verne Troyer sex tape. Wait…

It takes a special kind of person to try something like this or better yet, to even train for something like this. That definitely wouldn’t be me, but put it on TV and I’m watching.

Sean Sweeney is a regular contributor to The Greasy Pole.