If there is ever a race to put on the bucket list, it’s the No-Fuss Macavalanche. A white-knuckle thrill ride down the open flanks of Glencoe mountain. A fusion of an enduro and DH race with a splash of mass start chaos and Scottish flair added in for good measure, it has become one of our favourite races on the calendar.
There is no other race like it in the UK, blind racing down an open mountainside with a bonkers mass start final, impossible to pigeonhole it’s an essential must-do. This a race for proper mountain bikers, those who dream of challenging terrain and natural features. Nerves are pushed to the limit as riders hit warp speed over the rocky heather covered shoulder of Glencoe, open taping means line choice is endless, old-school king-of-the-mountain style. After the high-speed thrills of the top section, riders are brought to a cruel stop by the steepening bulk of Heartbreak hill. One by one, each rider wheezes and puffs over the summit, before dropping immediately into manic rock gardens, arms like noodles and eyes on stalks. The lower section of the mountain sees the race rejoin the Glencoe red trail, a bike park track that’s as rough as it is exhausting. The gaps between the rocks are filled with more rocks, a real bike and body beater, full faces bobbing up and down like nodding dogs.
Conditions were fast and loose and most got down the epic first stage without too many issues. Of course, there were a few stragglers nursing home tyreless wheels and broken bikes – Glencoe takes no prisoners. Huge respect goes out to the Help For Heroes team who managed to assist a trike down the course, that was some effort and we are all in awe of the ninja pilot skills of Anita Bartram at the bars. The sun was blazing in the sky, and after essential repairs had been carried out, the Mountain Cafe was doing a roaring trade on ice-creams and refreshments as riders waited to be seeded for the mass start.
Due to the high snowline, the mass start went higher this year, to the very top of the mountain. After riding two chairlifts, over 300 riders shouldered their bikes and carried, pushed and dragged their bikes to the summit of Meall a’ Bhuiridh at 1108m, tiny specs of colour amid the vastness of Rannoch Moor. One by one they lined up onto the grid, fastest riders first, knuckles white at they stared down the snowfield to the tiny finish line, over half a kilometer below.
And then they were off, brakes squealing, bikes crashing, snow everywhere. The favourite Chris Hutchens went down and was unceremoniously run over. “They clearly don’t know how to play the trumpets” a young boy announced from the sidelines, laughing at the sound of 300 brakes being tortured.
A titanic battle was fought on the hillside and after an explosive hole shot from Frazer Houston, Heartbreak hill was to be the crux. Callum McCubbing, who had now taken the lead, was hunted down by Chris Hutchens. Once ahead Chris could not be caught, Callum has to settle for an impressive second, followed closely by Kyle Beattie. Ben Cathro finished in 4th but had done enough to clinch 3rd overall when the first stage times were added. In the women, Marz Roberts and Nicola Fell had no answer to Fiona Beattie’s savage speed, taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Again, Fiona Beattie is the queen of the mountain. In the Juniors, Ben Smith-Price finished in an amazing overall time of 18:41, Oliver Mckenna took the Masters win, Martin Byers took the Veterans, Ian Pyman took the Super Veterans and Clair Dashwood took the women’s veterans class. Stewart McNee stole the hardtail category, we should all light a candle in memory of Stewart’s knees.
The full results can be found here. So, another year, another great battle and the Macavalanche grows even more iconic. But can No-Fuss guarantee sunshine again next year?
Words & Photos: Trev Worsey