Insane Fabien Cousinié hits insane speeds down insane race with insane mass start. Insane.
Mountain Of Hell is the race. It’s a bit like the famous MegAvalanche but on a different mountain and not quite so done-to-death.
Mountain Of Hell starts up near the top of a mountain in the northern part of the French Alps. On the glacier of Les 2 Alpes to be exact. 2,600m of descent and 20km later the finsih line is in the alpine town of Venosc.
The motorway-speeds of the opening gambit down the snow is what grabs your attention most because it’s so alien to what we’re used to seeing mountain bikes riding down.
It’s hard to see the shape of the terrain due to the sheer blanket whiteness and although it’s football-field wide and sort of smooth, the sheer velocity that the racers are travelling at clearly make it extremely difficult to react and handle the bike without crashing.
What a lot of people don’t realise is what happens after the snowline. When the snow disappears there’s the loose gravel-based tracks that look even sketchier than the snow in a way! There are huge rock gardens and patches of vague lunar landscape.
The course is marked out but it’s really difficult to see where you’re supposed to be going. The Mountain Of Hell race actually comes after two previous days of ‘course inspection’ and seeding runs so at least the riders aren’t going into things blind.
Having said that, trying to remember the lines and layout of a course that is 20km long is quite a mental challenge in itself.
Then the grassline appears and the course resembles the sort of singletrack that we’re more used to seeing bikes riding on.
This helmetcam video is great for pseudo-experiencing what it must be like to compete in such an intense race. The rider (Fabien Cousinié) doesn’t win but he does amazingly well. We think his helmetcam is the best one we’ve seen; having riders in front and around him really adds to the hair-raising aspect of the vid.
Enduro specialist Jerome Clementz (Cannondale) took the win in case you were wondering. That’s Jerome in green appearing on Fabien’s left at 1m 30s mark in the vid by the way.