All around Scotland this morning people will be sitting back at their desks, and over morning coffee someone is sure to ask “so what did you get up to over the weekend?.. 184 people will lean back on their chairs, take a contented breath and mutter “Well, I took my bike and chucked it down a snow covered mountain side with a huge bunch of other crazies!”. The 2016 No-Fuss Macavalanche was off the hook and if you missed it, you missed something epic!
There are certain things that are unique to Scotland, Haggis for sure, Single Malt Whisky certainly and now the No-Fuss Macavalanche, an insane big mountain race that brings good times racing to the flanks of Glencoe Mountain Resort. The format is tried and tested, 2 long open mountain stages down the mighty flanks of Glencoe, then a bonkers mass start race in the snow, all the way to the base of the mountain!
The Macavalanche is one of the most unique races on the circuit, a real one off. Featuring blind racing and open taping, it’s a true test of a mountain biker. Riding on instinct, blind faith and a certain amount of luck, as you careen headlong down the unknown mountainside. Full face helmets were mandatory and looking at the snow, it looked like they would be getting a proper testing. The course was laid out French style, with flags marking out a suggested route and gates to keep the riders on the same track.
The Glencoe Mountain Resort was still heavy with snow, and as riders dropped into Stage One they were straight into the white stuff. To run or ride became the question of the hour, and those who had ridden in snow before showed their skills by keeping it upright, while those new to deep snow entertained the spectators with some impressive front flips, nose manuals and many other ‘over the bars’ tricks that have yet to be given a name.
Down the mountain side riders had to tread a fine line between looking where they were immediately going, and keeping an eye on where you were supposed to be going. After the many snow fields, the track then joined the Red Route, a mighty collection of rocks of every size and shape, there were some good lines, but many more bad ones! After 5 minutes of hard pedalling, any thoughts of line choice played second fiddle to simply hanging on!
Everyone was buzzing at the bottom, shaking out the lactic acid and telling tales of the many crashes, more than one rider wore the evidence of using their helmet peak as a spade. Many were thankful for a short rest, It was always going to be tough to keep things going with the slow lifts, but the pace of the day was relaxed and the No-Fuss team kept everything running smoothly and on-time.
The easy pace allowed everyone to take on fuel and patch up bikes. 35psi became the new 25psi before heading up the lifts again to Stage Two. This stage was faster and rougher, riding off the back and desperately trying to keep the front wheel up out of the hidden holes and ditches. Then came ‘Heartbreak Hill’ a Macavalanche classic, a beast of a climb that saw racers first sprinting-then spinning-then limping over the brow of the hill. Again the red run finished the stage. More riders suffered punctures and mechanicals here, and it became clear that this race was all about consistency.
After another food break riders once again lined up to head back up the hill for the mass start, this time, higher up on the mountain plateau. The start lines were filled according to stage times, fastest at the front. The atmosphere was electric, excitement fizzed through the air. And-then-they-were-off,184 people all charging down to the same corner, lines were out of the window and it was down to luck as riders ploughed at high speed down the snow. After the snowfield, it was a crazy dash over the mountainside and back over Heartbreak Hill, before a riotously fun charge down the Red Route.
As riders arrived one by one it was clear that all were stoked, more like the finish of the mega or an epic alpine stage, we had never seen such excitement, fist bumps and high fives were everywhere! In a year where enduro has raised its game, the No Fuss team have brought us something uniquely Scottish, and long may it continue.
2016 Macavalanche results:
Full race results can be found here. In the men’s race, it was Ae Bike Shops Callum McCubbing who was victorious, closely followed by Ronan Dugan and Matthew Fretwell. The ladies battle was even closer with Roz Newman and Gill Davies taking a stage each before a tough battle to the finish. In the end, Roz took the win, she is on fire at the moment! Congratulations to all the category winners too, Hannah Saville, Julia Ferguson, Gregor Nixon, Donald MacPhie, Robert Holding and Andrew Mee.
A huge thank you to all the racers, marshalls and organisers for another amazing race! For more information on future No-Fuss events, you can check out their website.
Words & Photos: Trev Worsey