Tradition demands it… Without a hint of benevolence even… And a few readers sort of want it, plus, it wouldn’t be a mission without the wrap up and reflective rantings now that another trip is in the books. This is different though… Its not just a week long raid somewhere with a couple of ideas and new learning’s is it?
No, this was twenty-fucking-three-days of Dirty Mega March Madness, on the front lines of Mountain Biking radness with a serious world level event thrown in for good measure (#EWSbasking). As I said at the start, it was more like 3 trips pretending to be one ultimately, and by the time I had got to Rots it certainly felt like Buller had been a totally different trip.
I’m not sure how to even start with summing up such an occasion, its highs & lows, its experiences and its full volume awesomeness. So, lets keep it shallow to start with and first talk about which Instagram pics people liked the most from the 3 weeks of Dirty Mega March!
Pass me some of that Instagramification. Lets face it, this is what you’re all mainly interested in… Yeah, I can see you twitching wanting to check your cuntmedia feed at the mere mention of it… Little beads of sweat… Lets froth it up then… And the winners are?
1st Place – Nomadness vs. Jacks Point
242 likes… What the FUCK? I can’t even count that high, so I was at a loss when the numbers kept rocking upwards on this pic. Ok, so Jacks Point and the Remarkables are both fucking awesome, but it seems if you throw in a Nomad then people lose their minds. I can neither confirm nor deny if it took me 15 minutes to set this shot up in the wind… Or if they bike blew over multiple times. Unlikely.
Jacks Point may have zero gnar, but its a truly beautiful place to chill out and soak up the goodness.
2nd Place – Dirty Nomad vs Bridge #2
59 likes… I suspect I would have got a lot more if I had eaten shit on this bridge, like Gee Atherton did, which netted 1,256 thumbs up. The thing I love about this shot is that it does sort of show how steep the bridges were… Plus you can’t see the forest floor, so it looks like you’re dropping into oblivion, just without Olga Kurylenko there to pout at you. Fucking felt like it to… No braking please sir, unless you want to lick wood. Pass.
3rd Place – Loam Rangers
50 likes… People just love onboard, but ultimately I think this got some love given Bobby and I were rocking matching shorts. Carving through a unique and rad looking forest perhaps also contributing… This was a fucking cool trail and perhaps the loamiest of all loam on tour. Yes, same place I destroyed another brand new Maxxis tire during the race.
So, with the vanity out of the way, what about a few learning’s thrown in from 3 weeks of adventure across multiple locations?
1. Probably a bit long
I could round it down and call it 3 weeks, but given the length we’re talking about, its closer to three and a half. Its always hard to determine length, but in this instance it was probably just a tad eye watering in terms of accommodating its mass.
I suspect the ideal format for an MTB trip when you’re giving it some is 4 days on, rest day, 3 days on, then punch out. Sort of did that multiplied by three in the end. When you’re on the road 100% of the time and moving around a bit, three weeks plus can feel like a long time.
Don’t get me wrong though – Getting up every day to walk the awesomeness of the Nomad 3 out the door and into more single track was a privilege and something that I never got tired of, well, physically yes, but passion wise, not a chance. To be noted though, family, friends and gimps @ work may start hating your face on a trip of this magnitude, so diplomacy may be in order at times. Or, give zero fucks and spray it far and wide as you shred the countryside to rubble.
2. Probably a bit expensive
No, not just talking about going through 3 overpriced Maxxis rear tires in 2 weeks, although that was an ambush expense. No, I’m talking about the burn of a long term, multiple location mission.
Granted, I’m not useful at all for doing low cost trips, but one obvious point is the moment you start to add multiple locations, including countries/islands and gulp, 5 flights – Shit escalates quickly. I did a terrible job of containing costs to be blunt, my penchant for renting Prado’s saw to that, but even for the cost conscious its not a cheap exercise. I suspect with slightly better planning and effort, as well as accepting of communal accom, I could have halved the bill… But fuck, that was never going to happen was it?
The final cost? Can’t even bring myself to type it… Mainly as the DN CFO would order an audit ASAP, but more because what I got in return was a life experience that was invaluable and which I wouldn’t trade away just to have a bit more cash in the bank earning pissant interest rates… As a hard man once said to me: “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten“… Word.
3. Racing, rest and new stuff?
683.4kms, 44.5 hours and 26,647m of DH shredding… Well, I wish, there was more than a reasonable amount of climbing in there as well. The trick on this trip was balancing riding, racing and exploring new stuff.
Of course, you want to ride every day and the weather was banging, so why not? Trails were rad, bike was awesome, so why not just hit it again and again like a dirty flatmate? The hard part of course was keep shit fresh. Imagine rocking up to a sumptuous oyster buffet with a full stomach every time? Not overly useful for allowing one to indulge in slippery goodness is it? Especially if you want to explore new sensations and areas… Or check out new trails.
Trying to fit in a lot of riding, 6 races and explore new areas is a bit of a challenge, so something to consider if you want to pack a lot in and you’re anxious about your racing, so as per usual: Plan out those rest days!
4. Wolfpack of 1
What was the single biggest upgrade that I could have made to the trip? VERY easy – Homeboys. Acknowledging its next to impossible to get anyone to hit a 3 week multiple location mission along with you, it still would have been more awesome to draft people into various phases of the trip.
Its a cliche to say that people are getting busier or have their lives rammed full of stuff, which while true, still doesn’t mean with some focus you can’t plan around that stuff. Going alone for chunks of the trip was ok, but doesn’t hold a knee pad to the upsides of rolling with your mates. I suspect all future trips will be based around rocking with a gang, mainly as this makes you go faster, which leads me to my next point;
5. The limit of shunt
Turns out, as a surprise to no one, that this was all in my own mind, which, when left alone to ponder it more and more, only grew stronger. Yes, determining what I could and wouldn’t ride was like a mind virus and I needed Leo and Co to come in and plant some new thoughts about what was possible. So many times I did a golden job of psyching myself out of riding stuff that I should have pissed all over without much of a thought.
Linking to the above point as well, I know that I would get faster and ride more relaxed if I was hitting it with a group of shredders. The best way to improve and progress on the MTB is to ride with people better than you, ideally a crew… If you’re lucky enough they will drag your level up and given how fun this will be, you’ll end up riding a whole bunch of stuff you usually balk at when alone. Like drops that you can probably nail…
The Mega locations
All quite different, each location on DM2 had its unique points, charms and challenges. Its almost a post in its own right for each, but I’ve covered a lot of that stuff up in various updates, so how about a paragraph to pay respect to each one?
Mt Buller – “Beautiful, brutal and rockier than a relationship with a crazy princess. Spent the whole time feeling like I was the dude from snowy river as well. Definitely come here with a group, which preferably includes someone in the know trail wise. Be ready for lots of UP and DOWN and nothing much in between”
Queenstown – “3 trips in a year and I am pretty happy to admit I’m addicted to the place… Lets face it, the town pisses excellence and is now THE summer destination for PRO’s you usually only read about or watch in Vital MTB videos. I could ride that Bike Park endlessly and cleaning trails that had previously defeated me still gives me a dirt stiffy. There’s still lots to do in qTown, so I can’t wait to return, truly a fantastic place to hit”
Rotorua – “Felt like I was coming home, only to find home rearranged with all new trail and filled with my Instagram feed brought to life in front of me. I’m already gagging to get back to its sulphury goodness and can’t wait to drag a crew back for an EWS tour. Absolutely hanging out to hit the place in the DRY as well. It already had a special place in my radness cave, but post that event, Rots has gone fully hall of fame on it”
The one thing they all had in common? Awesomeness:
The Dirty Gear Awards
The ‘How fucking awesome is this thing?‘ Award – Swear we’re not a paid infomercial or biased in any way, but I would be more insulting than the Kremlin PR department if I didn’t heap a good dose of praise onto the Santa Cruz Nomad 3… What a fucking weapon! Its hard to know if I should go on about its outright mental speed, armour piercing bulletproof reliability or the fact that every time I looked at it I just wanted to ride the fuck out of it like a new crush. Full ‘stuff that I happen to own’ review coming soon where I shall froth more, but given the number of these things I saw during Dirty Mega March, clearly I’m not alone in this thinking:
The ‘Wish I had done this ages ago‘ Award – Suspension tuning takes the win here, actually spending time turning dials and working out the differences was an enlightening experience, not to mention frustrating that I hadn’t done it before the 6 hour race… It may sound tedious, but spending some time to explore the little dials, tweaking them and feeling it can bring you and your machine much closer together. Plan some intimacy soon if you have been avoiding taking things to the next level. Now, just need to work out that rear shock…
The ‘What the fuck, again cunt?‘ Award – Again, a pretty obvious winner for this one, step on up Maxxis tires! Not sure if you’ve changed the magic formula, fired someone who actually checked the production line or got caught up in some lightweight war with another brand… Whatever, the end result was there was so much slashing going down it put Jack the Ripper to absolute fucking shame. Cutting through the top of the casing? Serious?
The ‘You have 4 sets already do you really need another?‘ award – Its a long, bitter, difficult and taxing road to finding the right set of knee pads. Recently ranked #3 on the list of most important first world problems behind “I don’t like the way my Barista grinds my bean” and “I’m overpaid and don’t feel stimulated“, finding the perfect ENDURO Knee pad is a thankless task. Luckily I have decided to hunt this MTB Moby Cock and whilst there is still some way to go, the IXS Flow knee pads have emerged as a light weight contender for a heavy weight title. Full Dirty Knee Pad review to cum:
Some dubious Dirty tips
As you can imagine, given I was traveling in the first word, aka, Home, not much to wank on about here… so thankfully I shall keep it brief. A couple of pointers mind you:
Airline baggage – So, generally a lot of check in desk staff want an excuse to not charge you excess I found, especially on Air NZ. Help them out by purchasing an extra bag or extra allowance and give them that out for not charging… I beat the excess stazi 4 times out of 5, not a bad record. Also, I ended up with 3 carry on bags which clearly weighed a shit load and wasn’t questioned once. So much for the 1 x 7kg rule there, a loop hole I maximised on. Yes, people gave me that cunt look as I took over entire locker bins and they had to stow their shit miles down the plane. #flightbuddies
Margin call – I had the 3 weeks pretty much rammed back to back, with only two situations that had some contingency built in… Guess what? Yup, used that margin up both times. Sure, I was dumb enough to plan travel the evening after two ENDURO races, but it was still good to be able to call it and evoke the contingency option. If you are planning back to back action, think about how much space you need to build in here and there so shit doesn’t go really sideways.
Re-entering the Matrix – Oh yeah… Go away for this long and then try to come back to a normal existence where people actually get angry about booking meeting rooms or the format of a table in a Word document… Just a heads up you may want to give up all hope on humanity and return screaming to the mountains, as staying and giving even a semblance of a fuck about some of the weird shit that inhabits the work place may feel challenging shall we say? Didn’t run into many lying psychopaths in an ENDURO race did I?
Most importantly – The Thank ewes
- Snozza – The patience of a 40 year old virgin living in a brothel. Had to wait a LOT over the Buller weekend and didn’t even punch me when I crashed and pissed all over a top 10 Strava time on the Epic trail DH. Chur
- The Teacher – Great to catch up, do some strategic planning and review the DN books. Thanks for the dream crash pad action as well!
- AT – Dirty Logistics manager and golden riding mate, had the Welly fly in/fly out nailed for me and as always, nothing was a problem. Chur Bro
- Bobby & Lou – Where to start? Awesome putting me up in qTown, tour guiding legends and even provided a Dirtymobile to allow for some exploring. If you ever need lessons on how to host guests, these guys have the low down. Thanks for bringing qTown and its surroundings alive gang
- T7 Queenstown – Not only sorted a bent brake lever in legendary fashion, but also provided some insights into the Maxxis debacle and got me up and running again in no time after the CP fail, great dudes and worth stopping in to see when in town
- Annika – Sorry I made us ride down Rocky Horror show and in the process created 4 hours of bike cleaning that day, only for it not to be in the EWS race! Awesome tour guiding and great to ride with, thanks for the low down! If you’re in town and need the inside word, head here
- The boys at Bike Culture – I think that I ended up spending more time kicking it on the couch at BC waiting for famous people to turn up than I did practicing stages. Awesome shop, even better service and the bike felt tighter than a yoga instructor after being given a tickle up… The only people that knows Santa Cruz bikes better than these guys are Joe, Dougie and Marshy
- My home team – Yikes, 3.5 weeks away of exceedingly self indulgent ENDURO lifestyle is a big ask, so thank you for your awesome and unwavering support and cheerleading every step of the way
- Everyone else – Thank you to all the cool people that I got to ride with, talk shit with and hang out with along the way during this massive mission. Too many to name (which is to say I’ve forgotten their names), but you all combined to reinforce why cycling is the best thing ever. Thanks also to everyone who followed along with the updates and sent eSupport along the way: CHUR!
Woah, well, with this massive Dirty wrap up now done, its predictably time to move into the Shrediting room where I shall be taking up residence for the next month I suspect… There is a LOT of video to be made, so watch this space as I start to drip feed out bringing DM2 to life from my hairy chest. Thrilling.