Roc D'Azur 2009 Race Report

Fréjus, France - Oct 11th 2009

I thought I’d drop in and let you know that McGill was represented at the worlds largest MTB race and event, the Roc D’Azur. With 16,000 race entries and 140,000 attendees, it was a pretty wild experience. I took part in the main race, a 55km hellish ride that ascends over 1700m then descends it all over again.

The terrain isn’t a far cry from the Moab, Utah style rock you’d find on Porcupine Rim trail, loose dirt, dust, and rocks. A couple sections were in the woods. Tight single track made up about 40% of the race, which made passing a nightmare.

With 4,700 people in the main race and the fact they launch 600 people every 15 minutes, this is not a race to set records on, but more a feat to accomplish given the grueling ascents. This also meant we hit a couple roadblocks (each about 15 mins wait) and the race was stopped for 45 mins while someone with an open fracture wound had to be airlifted out.

The ascents were brutal. The main one lasted four kilometers, was technical and crazy steep in many sections. The usual follow-on descents that permit recovery are deceptively short and violent. I took a nice tumble trying to overtake - I’m still sort of limping.

The descents were pretty technical and you found a lot of people walking sections - meaning more traffic. If that didn’t slow you down, the choking on the dust would. (note my dirt covered face in the photos)

Finally, it was officially 5 hours and 13 minutes later (excluding stoppages) that I crossed the finish line. My ‘wheel in motion’ time was 3hrs and 57 minutes - so you can imagine the time lost!

I think it was a stunning feat to get everyone round the circuit despite the traffic. The views were gorgeous and I loved the ride overall - great trails. If any of you are in the French Riviera in October 2010 I’ll be entering the Roc again.

Also, being a massive event, I managed to demo about 8 bikes for hour long rides each over the weekend. If you need some advice on Santa Cruz (Blur, Nomad), Specialized (Epic, Stumpy), Scott (Spark), Engine-Lab (140), Rocky Mountain (element) and Iron Horse (bootleg) I’d be happy to impart my impressions on the test rides.

Wearing my trusty helmet cam I’ll post up the link to the ride, but I attached some highlights from the pro photographers on hand.

Just to note: the crash I took busted a strap on my helmet so, yes, it is lopsided, compounded by my helmet cam weighing it down on one side.

lil bit of air for the camera…

The dust was pretty bad…

Some nice descents…

Gorgeous coastal sections…

Last big push!

that’s awesome man, looks amazing. The lopsided helmet is great.