Yes, I know its a bit cocky and cliche to be doing ‘awards’, it assumes that I will have an annual awards ceremony this time next year and also means that I am back into lemming mode with everyone else that gets to the end of the year and gets all gooey and nostalgic, not to mention graced with a touch of amnesia if they have had a cock of a year.
But, lets not be deterred by any of that and lets live in the NOW dude, so here are a few slightly unorthodox awards for 2013 from the DN perspective, in Road part 1 we will be focused on Road Riding and Racing awards, with gear awards to come in part deux. Roll on:
The “Cut open my Tauntaun and put me inside as I may actually die out here” Road Race award
There wasn’t a lot of racing in 2013, but we had a few candidates for this award due to the situations I found myself in a few times, where I actually either wanted to die, or thought that it may actually be a plausible outcome – The finalists please:
- Tour of Friendship – Trying not to actually shit myself for 150kms in stage one of ToF in 40 Deg heat… and no it wasn’t the highway of death causing that feeling
- The Charly Gaul Gran Fondo death march – 142km race with 4000m of climbing when I had been riding my DH bike in Whistler for training, was never going to end well
- 5 Passes day 3 – Once the heroic/stupid solo break had been exterminated, I had a very lonely few days dying all the way back to CHCH
- Bintan stage 1 – Just utterly hideous, enough said
And the winner goes to…. The Charly Gaul Gran Fondo! Yes, I think I was out there for 7 hours in the end and the last 5km’s up Monte Bondone was so painful its since been adopted by the CIA as a form of torture now everyone fav of water boarding has been outlawed. Re-live the pain here if you missed it:
The “I’m really sick of climbing with Mofo’s that are 10kg lighter than me FFS” Hill climb award
There has been a lot of climbing this year… over 130,000m to be exact, which inevitably leads to working out which was the best climb of the year?! Some very diverse and excellent finalists:
- Nimi Onsen, Niseko – Makes the final list due to its insane beauty, excellent surface and sweet gradient. I think I saw the Hawk on it at some stage a few KM’s up the road
- The climb to Formigal – Awesome gradient, great form, closed road as I was only a few hours ahead of the Vuelta peloton and perfect weather… Ah… legendary
- The Mortirolo, Italy – I was slaughtered on the Stelvio, but the Mortirolo actually seemed ok… By ‘ok’, I mean like getting beaten up by a hungry bear with an addiction to M&M’s. And you’ve just eaten a packet. And he watched you eat them. You get the picture.
- The Angliru, Spain – It doesn’t get more epic than this one, a double header of ‘riding’ it in perfect weather and then watching the PRO’s slaughter it in shit conditions a memorable experience and a stark reminder the the cycling food chain has some mammoth gaps in it
And the winner goes to… Its a close one given how superb Nimi Onsen was (or all the climbs in Niseko), but at the end of the day its impossible to go past the Angliru for its sheer epicness and legend status, a must do for the roadies out there. The view from the top says it all:
The “Has he been sitting around in the team bus/caravan/tent/learjet/station wagon juicing up because where the fuck did that come from” Road racing effort award
There have been a lot of heroic efforts in road races this year in the world of ‘amateur but I think I am PRO’ cycle racing and its been awesome to be party to some of them as I’ve travelled around and pretended to race. The finalists to mention a few:
- Power Pete – I would cite the stage one break away at 5 Passes, but then again there was basically a break away or attempt from Pete in every stage, ever see someone turn up to a tour and just have a great run, well, this was Pete at 5P
- The Hawk – Hanazono hill climb race, talk about riding from the front like a BOSS, it would have been a sight to behold, except he was right the fuck out of sight, so I never got to see it all happen, but an awesome ride from the hawk that day
- GV at the Athurs Pass TT stage in 5 Passes – When I got to the top after everyone had packed up and gone home and was told GV was second, I was like “Fuck off, they’ve fucked up the timing”, apologies GV, they hadn’t fucked up the timing at all… in fact it was you who fucked up everyone else!
- Clarso qualifying for worlds at the Charly Gaul GF – Pretty much the hardest way on the planet to qualify, but our man from Norway turned up, did the business, smashed a royale with cheese and then took to the stelvio with a pair of pliers and a blow torch a few days later. Class(o)
- Dr Garfield and Ango at Round Taupo – Stepping up to racing against PRO’s, like Russian conscripts in 1941, whilst one was gunned down, the other picked up his rifle and carried on, a massive effort for the lads.
And the winner is… GV at 5 Passes. Lets face it, I had watched him struggle at times and it was the last stage on the penultimate day and then all of a sudden out of nowhere the Italian blood reaches boiling point and he unleashes an effort that no one really saw coming, in the processes defeating all the GC contenders bar one. It was an ambush, it reeked of panache and it deserves much respect:
The “I want to puke all over myself and my Evo because this is so fucking hard” road riding award
Yes, moments where I actually either did vomit in my mouth or wanted to all over the bike… Distinct sections or times this year where I wondered what on earth was going on and why I was doing this? Some worthy finalists:
- Wednesday worlds, Wellington – A final hit out before Singapore Nationals… Attack, attack and attack some more. By the time I got to Lyall bay I was close to hurling. I lost part of my nervous system then trying to hold Backy’s wheel up the cruelly named ‘Happy Valley’ to the finish
- Lap 12, Singapore National Road race champs – The break was still away, so Lee Rogers decided to do a 5km turn at 50kph… thus making it single file and taking a minute out of the break. I can only recall chewing the handlebar as I realised the end was nigh
- Hatta hell hot ride, UAE – After this ride I refuse to now buy rotisserie chicken at the thing people call a supermarket, as I now know what its like for them. The final big climb was so hard and hot and I am pretty sure I started to see the droids we were looking for as a hallucination
- Hanazono Hillclimb race, Japan – The ‘go out easy and finish strong’ plan was thrown out in the first 30 seconds of the race, which in a hill climb race can be a fatal move… Turns out it was and I did actually vomit in the end
- In the break/s at Tour OF Bintan – I didn’t have the form for this BS either day, but there was a job to be done, so like a Bothan spy, off I went to be sacrificed.
And the winner is…. Definitely the Saturday break at ToB… I can’t ever recall being so fucked up on the bike, it was excruciatingly hard and I spent 40km’s wanting to give up. If you go in a the main break with subpar form you will always be punished and Ben A made sure that was the case…
The “Kim Jong Un glorious contribution to the state of cycling” award
Lets face it… There have been quite a few glorious moments on the road this year and whilst its impossible to label any one of them the BEST ride of the year, there are moments that stand out in my mind and hopefully they inspire some of you to go and ride in these places to have your own moments of glory… Some of the Finalists:
- Spain day 1 and the ride to Formigal – This was a freak show day… The scenery, the form, the roads, the PRO’s… Hard to describe its awesomeness
- The epic Como & Bellagio loop – The final day in Italy and I had to go big, 6 hours and a massive loop through Como and Bellagio did the trick, hitting 40 deg heat on the road back to Varsese. Gold
- The lake Toya loop, Niseko – So, I spent most of it behind the Hawk, but this is a stunning ride and if you live in Asia you’re a bit weird if you don’t get there to ride it in summer. Also has the best coke in the world. No Nigella, not THAT kind.
- Riding out of Varese – This was a landmark ride, my first ride solo in another country… sure, it took 24 hours of planning and a lot of anxiety, but I didn’t get lost, in spite of a 14km excursion through Switzerland.
- 5 Passes solo break away – Technically should be part of a previous category, but I was too fatigued to puke, plus, given the scenery and glorious nature of the break away, this one was a stand out for me. Wasn’t part of the plan that day and oh fuck me silly did I pay for it later, but a great story to have from the year
Very tough to call this one and I am SURE that I am missing some other big moments here, but we do need to call a winner, so it goes to…. Spain and the ride to Formigal. I won’t go on about why, but if you missed it then scope it out here:
Or, if you are fucking over reading all this stuff, just watch the video, YAY:
The “I am pretty sure I look like a model sitting here with my matching cap on” best post ride coffee award
There has been copious amount of coffee consumed this year… In fact, its a key deliverable in my new job description and I am pleased to say that I am delivering 100% on this part of my role. Its a tricky one to pick out, but a few venues come to mind as the best place to park up, drink coffee, scope MILF’s (not me, but all the guys I ride with do that shit) and talk shit:
- Baker & Cook, Singapore – Yes, a regular and a great spot until some mofo nerd stole all their outdoor furniture due to some rule that suspiciously doesn’t apply to other places nearby, meritocracy? Standing around drinking take away coffee doesn’t have the same fun factor
- The German cafe in Niseko – Uh huh, well, it looks German, but a damn cool place to kick back, have a coffee and watch a tiny hawk try and eat cake, no shit, he had actually forgotten how to do it
- Cappuccino at Porto Valtravagila – When in Italy, stop regularly for awesome coffee… I was happy to oblige
- Pravda in Wellington – Welly is rammed with good coffee spots, I felt like some sort of Rapha super model stretched out in Pravda sipping an oversized Mocha in the full winter range… I’m kind of a big deal around here.
And the winner is? Well, best cakes goes to the German joint in Niseko, but from a coffee perspective I think that Italy takes this one out, only need to hit this to see why:
For the gear heads out there, next awards will be kit focused… And, the DIRT awards are still to come (Did someone just accuse me of having nothing to blog about and using awards to hide that fact?! How DARE you!!!).