Val d’Allos Coupe du France 2015 #2

Val d'Allos, coupe du France round 2. If you've got a panoramic thingy on your camera, might as well use it.

“Moasting” Verb: Signifying the combination of moaning and boasting, often employed by celebrities. cf: “Yeah Bro, around about my 12th lap of Brevent of the day my arms really started to feel the burn. etc”

Yes, you learn a new thing every day, and on Saturday that thing was the word moasting. Mostly because we were all complaining about how we had to ride a 20 or so minute mostly DH piece of singletrack, then ride some more pretty good trail (and 1 awesome trail.). It’s a hard life and I can tell your heart bleeds.

Stage1 practice. Fair to say this was quite a long trail.

So goes Val d’Allos. Last year it was my 2nd favourite place I rode, alas this year for political reasons (the official line, general chat was the land owner had fallen out with folks) the upper chairlift wasn’t working and so most of the vertical was out of the way.

Instead, with only a few weeks notice, they came up with a pretty good new plan. Parc Ferme for the bikes at the top of the Col d’Allos on the Friday and Saturday nights (2250m, they were probably chilly, one Nomad owner put a blanket over his, presumably to stop the carbon getting a cold) then aforementioned looooooong trail, a liaison, another trail but this time only loooong to Allos, lift back up to the race village, food, another lift, 10mins liaison then down, before repeating the lift/food/lift/liaison for the final stage of the day back to the finish. And food.

Parc Ferme. A great chance to upgrade your current bike, if you can pedal away fast enough.

This last trail had the most in common with the traces we raced last year, mostly because it was a combination of 2 of them. A huge, huge amount of fun, if you’re looking for somewhere different to go flat out on rolling singletrack, it’s hard to think of somewhere better.

Start of stage 2. Cross the field then drop into the landscape for 10 minutes.

The rest of the trails were pretty good too, lots of fun on Saturday practice where you could coast along the flat bits and push the ups, but everyone was a little concerned about how the ups and flats would feel come Sunday. Talking of practice, the rallye format is for 1 untimed lap with no stopping of each trace on the Saturday, then 1 lap racing of each on the Sunday, except they sneakily timed us on the Saturday and put the numbers up. Turns out Nico Voullioz is fastest even when going slow and, for perhaps the only time ever, I was 7 seconds slower than Fabian Barel on a 20 min stage (when he hasn’t had a crash or mechanical). And 42nd overall. Be nice if they could have just used those results…..

When Barel, Nicolai & Voullioz stop to discuss lines, you eavesdrop. Stage 1.

My weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts when a series of minor mishaps on Friday were crowned by me walking straight into a glass door, splitting my lip and eyebrow and dislocating my nose. I don’t know if you can dislocate a nose, but it went squint and made a good crack when I pulled it straight again. And hurt.

Can you spot the youth heading back up the hill? A bad place to drop your helmet!

Saturday could only be better, which in good narrative fashion, it was. (Or at least it was for everyone but the poor kid who’s helmet started rolling down the hill from the start of stage 1, and didn’t stop for a long long time. You might need to zoom in to see him…..) Leaving aside the riding, come the evening as the mid-summer sun shone and the air stayed balmy a massive paella was cooking on the fire and the free beer was flowing. #enduro is serious business.

Signs you want to see. Saturday night at Val d'Allos

Sundayfunday. Have you ever seen someone practice a sport and realise you will never, ever be that good? Watching Nico Voullioz and Florian Nicolai on the opening straight of Stage 1 was one of those moments. I can’t explain just how fast they went down the hill, other than to say I wish everyone gets a chance to see their heroes do what they do best, then try and copy them.

Me heading off down stage 1 race day. 10.4% slower than Nico did. Accuracy counts when chasing E.T.

Strangely having been put so firmly in my place I went on to have a pretty good run, if you discount trying a blind shortcut and going headfirst into a rock, cutting and bruising my cheek through the full face helmet and disturbing my nose a bit. My first top 40 stage time and just 10% shy of Nico. I think I’ve moved on from moasting to plain and simple boasting here.

Nico showing how it's done, Stage 3.

The rest of the day went pretty well too. I’m here to have fun and there were some amazingly fun bits of trail. Every so often I even managed to go genuinely as quick as I think I can which one of the wee things racing can give you that riding trails just canny do. After Saturday’s worries that the first two stages would be too pedally they actually raced pretty well. Still physical, but not xc race physical.

Fabian Barel and Nico Quere. Two of the best, with 2 different lines.

As a result of being the anglophone with the lowest number board, if not fastest finishing,  (Meg Bichard turned up and gave Isa Courdurier a run for her money taking the win, whilst Kiwi Mike Cowlin nabbed 29th in mens) I even ended up being interviewed at the finish line. I look forward to my interpretation of the French language becoming a regular comedy act…

Sandy, heading for the finish.

Sandy was on his first outing with the new bike, and turns out having a fully functional bike does make a bit of a difference to your enjoyment of racing, and finishing. For other peoples results, try looking at the result page or event video, I’m not doing it, what do you think this is, Pinkbike?

Sandy, frustratingly close to top 100, but without doubt the fastest loon on the course.

A week to turn up work occasionally then racing again next weekend. It’s a hard life (see opening paragraph)