Right then, let’s take a break from the tales of calamity, self improvement and musings on the role that fate plays in our lives to dive into some Racing action. And not just any racing either, no, its that of the Rivet variety. Holy fuck, that’s right – Its a Road race report!
You may recall the Rivet Racing boys from such excellent adventures as the Five Passes Stage race, or Wednesday Worlds. However both of those previous Dirty Tales were of the 2013 Vintage. As such, I was pretty stoked to be able to get the chance to hang out with the boys and soak up some of that team spirit over the weekend at the Trust House North Island series round 4 race in the Wairarapa.
A bit of a break with normal race reporting today, this time its a multimedia frenzy as I’ve managed to punch out the Dirty Video, as well as thrown some words into the blogging wok to fry up a story that has tales of epic suffering, power to weight ratios and a good dose of pain mixed in – Garnished with team racing which makes watching the Protour on Eurosport decidedly second rate.
More importantly, thanks to the gimp brace, I got to debut as an Assistant Directeur Sportif, an illustrious position which basically means being the guy that sits in the passenger seat eating the bananas that were earmarked for the riders. Ironic given I fucking hate bananas.
So today its multi choice as eh – First up, for those with short attention spans, here is the Dirty Race Video for your visual pleasure. Has the added bonus of being relatively family friendly for once:
For those that like a bit of story/me wanking on/overused innuendo/drama, here is the low down from the plush passenger seat of the Audi support wagon, which was a massive upgrade on that time I was ditched on the Garmin team bus at the Vuelta #FML.
First test as an A.D.S, getting the team photo organised… Which turned out to be like trying to herd a pack of amped up Whippets who were starving for fat rabbit. In a sea of pre racing faffing this was about the best I could do, going for the natural photo capturing style.
It was fair to say that this round of the NI series was all about the race route. Not that this meant much to me given my lack of race experience in the Rapa, but as people listed off these climbs they either started to tremble a little, stare off into the distance with dead eyes or if they were under 65kg, lick their lips and get a slight stiffy forming:
- Admirals – Basically the Mont Ventoux of the Wairarapa
So, in other words unless you liked riding by yourself around the country roads of the Wai, you had to be either a Grimpeur or able to punch out some eye watering watts to have a good day. For those that like maps, here’s what was in store for our lycra clad super hero’s:
Hard racing, big climbs, team tactics, podium girls and points on offer… But fuck all that, I was more excited about the fact we got to have a race radio for the day! Bust out your secret Marc Madiot fantasy, I was all set to spend the day dominating the air waves and putting a dent in AT’s car door!
You can therefore imagine my disappointment when A) I learnt we only had ‘receive’ functionality, much like a newbie in prison and B) turns out the radio isn’t as glamorous as I had envisaged:
Hiding my pouting at not being able to impersonate Christian Prudhomme for the day, it was time to get on with the all important task of looking after the squad of 8 Rivets, including our man Chris/Harvey who was fourth overall on points heading into the round.
The big watch point for the day: The titanic battle that would surely ensue between the Roadworks lads and Rivet Racing. Think Telekom vs US Postal, except without the rampant, highly organised and systemic doping programmes. Or the accents. Or the Kazakh dog. Or Lance the giant cunt. And no pink.
Instead of a drawn out minute by minute 2 billion word report, here are some of the key moments from the day that stood out to me like a nipple in a Welly southerly wind.
The race was a lot more tranquilo than I would have expected in the opening stanza, even staying together over Millars, aside from a couple of sacrifices who had to switch to match burning mode to get back on. I think this calmness was a collective recognition of what was to come later in the morning. Our Rivet DS and Audi pilot, Matt Seely, assured me that the status quo would be vaporised when we arrived at Kourarau.
Given I have been as ENDURO as fuck this year, I had forgotten how utterly hard and brutal road racing is. And I’m talking in a mano a mano, ‘I’m going to look you in the eye as I stab you in the chest’ and/or ‘hear my terrifying war cry’ kind of way.
The Roadworks team showed their collective strength, getting on the front about halfway up the climb and driving the fuck out of it. When a coordinated and like minded group unleashes such an act you are faced with two options: Dig in and do whatever it takes to remain part of the game or, if body and mind aren’t able to cope, disappear.
Watching the race detonate earlier than perhaps some would have predicted not only made me want to cry on the inside at the carnage, but also reinforces the point that if you want to do well road racing, then you absolutely have to be able to climb… And suffer like fuck. Even thinking back to the last time I raced on the road with some respectability, I suspect I would have been deposited out the starfish on this climb had I been part of the field.
Now that I’ve gone OTT on drama, the summary pitch is that the whole thing was blown to pieces up here, as you may have seen on the Dirty vid. Unfortunately we lost 4 Rivets in the show down at the Kourarau Corral, including our points leader Chris:
The new normal
And then there was a Dirty Dozen left… 12 seasoned ballers remained at the head of the field…
Don’t call it a break away, this was more like the end of a TDF mountain stage where the herd had been thinned out and the race reduced to those that had the brawn and brains on the day to be able to suffer through the mayhem. Round 4 was going to punish anyone having an off day, Masters 1 showing its as ruthless as fuck.
The front of the race now had 50 seconds over 8 chasers, who knew they had a very small window to get back on. For a moment it looked like they had a chance to do it, but like that ex-GF you once had that thought she was a super model (yeah, you weren’t girl) this is a beautifully cruel sport and the gap gradually started to blow out as the Dirty Dozen bore on relentlessly through the Rapa badlands. 50 seconds became 1.15… Which became 2 minutes… Which soon became no way back…
Worse than that, no fucking mobile coverage, total ruination of my in-race Instgramming and WhatsApp reporting back to Rivet HQ and Leadership. #FML.
A PRO in amateur clothing
Let’s face it, as cyclists we all want to do things as PRO as possible. We may not want to be a certain PRO in particular, but we want to emulate the overall vibe and approach. Sometimes this can go horribly wrong, as I have mentioned in the past and very few of us are able to PRO the fuck up in a casual manner. Except this man:
When Webber came back to the team car from a lead group that was seriously starting to think about the final show down on Admirals, I initially thought it was just for himself, but before I could mutter “fuck that’s a beautiful riding style“, he took bottle after bottle after bottle… Selflessly replenishing all the Rivets in the lead group and doing so in an effortless style that made me feel we were on the road towards Toulouse instead of Carterton.
As if that wasn’t enough to form a man crush, once he got done delivering bottles, Webber promptly fucked off up the road with one of the Roadworks boys, lapping out in lactic hell to get a 1.15 lead by the Admirals turn off into the final show down… Holy FUCK. That’s proper bike riding.
Armageddon on Admirals
No matter what came before it, the day was always going to be about the beast that lay between the survivors and the finish line: Admirals.
10.4km’s at an average of 4% doesn’t really tell the full story. Yes, the numbers lie… The downhill three quarters of the way up may provide some respite, well not really as you have to smash the fuck out of it still, but with pitches of 13% plus, including the WALL, having this as the finishing obstacle is as cruel as it is genius.
Rivet me timbers, this is supposed to be ‘Masters 1’ racing… More like Masters of the Fucking Universe, it was once again ON as the lead group realised that this was the last time they would be riding as a unit today, this was going to be decisive and it was going to be merciless. Nervously from the team car we had 4 Rivets holding our hopes together:
With Webber and one of the Roadworks southerners up the road and out of sight, we nervously settled in to watch the chasing fireworks, which once again were lit by the Roadworks team looking to land some hammer blows. Pretty soon it started to make ‘Gladiator’ look like a pre-schoolers tea party, eventually leaving the group more strung out than a Whitemans valley resident.
There were so many moments up Admirals that had me frothing and animated without any movement of my head or torso:
- Watching Craig continue to defy physics and climb like an electrocuted bear
- Willing Jason on to claw his way back into contention
- Having front row seats to Ben unleashing a searing and repeated attack to clear out and pursue the leaders, declaring war on his own thighs in the process
- Witnessing the back and forth slow motion knife fight between Webber and AY once he had been caught, coming tantalisingly close to Webber taking the place within sight of the finish.
By the time we parked up at the top of the hill I had been mentally scarred from what I had seen, possibly to the point where I may not make the start of a road race ever again. Holy shit I was glad I had a massive stash of Tramadol with me, it hurt just watching. The clock agreed, Masters 1 men climbing the Giant of the Wai 1 minute faster than the Elite’s.
Roadworks cashed in on their climbing domination to lock out the top 5 spots, lead home by Webber’s break away companion for a big day on the road. Their pace making on Kourarau particularly impressive, like a hand grenade in a pig pen. 3 Rivets in the Top 10 a great reward for the team, not to mention some handy points.
Watching from the comfort of Euro luxury reminded me that if you want to front up here and not spend a day riding alone at the back, best you make good friends with the hurt locker first. Thank fuck I’m full ENDURO.
Smells like team spirit
Team Road Racing is still relatively new in Welly from an amateur ranks perspective, but its awesome to see it starting to become part of the cycling scene and culture. To get gushy on it for a moment, I was stoked and proud to see and be part of what is an awesome team set up that the Rivet guys have developed.
I often wank on about the importance of your ComRADes in cycling and how people can make it or break it. Having seen first hand in the cHub the impact weird fuckers can have on a team, it was refreshing and excellent to see the rad set up that Rivet has cultivated – Great work chaps.
A dirty shout out to John Randall from Roadworks, if there was a course that you may have thought might not suit John, then this was it. However, like a flashback to Tom Dumoulin at the Vuelta, he thrived on the big climbs and walked away with the leaders jersey cemented to his back after showing that big Diesels can climb, and then some.
Most Aggressive Rivet went to Matt Webber of course, he was like Richie McCaw, except shaved and on a road bike. The whole Domestique/Now I’m going to attack the fuck out of it scenario excellent to watch – Done without a hint of a sticky bottle given I was a gimp liability in the passenger seat. Kudos to all the Rivet racers for a great day out – Bring on Round 5!
I’m off to update my CV with my classy Assistant DS performance, I’m sure its only a matter of time before I get the call from Sagan to saddle up in a Skoda. Freaky POV head cam here we come…