Greetings from Mt Buller! Talking about scrambling to keep pace with a rabid March that wants to get off the leash and eat its owner’s jugular, I’m fighting an update battle with me Vs. a tethering iPhone Wifuck connection and an almost never ending supply of material and its only just finished Day 2.
Everyone knows how to get on and off a plane, so not much to talk about from day one, aside from a big thanks to Dan the Man with the Plan at Berwick Cycles, getting the Nomad out of its Evoc Carbonite freezing and up to speed, intrigued by the Frankenstein drive train and also falling prey to the allure of those M70 wheels… Hard to blame him really.
With a Seletar bootcamp like precision though, there was no time to Faff, even if I did want to stop and touch everything in the shop like a 6 year old, no no, put that down and get on the ROAD. And no, ain’t talking about no road bikes either, which may have been part of why Snozza had that look on his face all afternoon. It was either that, or he was marvelling at how painful the new Fox 36 through bolt system is? It certainly had nothing to do with the dinner menu:
Fuck it was good to be back on a road trip! As if that feeling of freedom as you head to the mountains wasn’t enough, this one also had major high point to it along the way. No, not referring to the sunburnt rolling scenery that always gives me a vista stiffy – This was far more important… Yes, this place actually exists! How the fuck is it?
Let me just say this upfront – Its FUCKING good to be back in mountains. You know, like real mountains that have a road up to them that’s at least 15km’s long as a climb and where all the buildings and houses look like they’ve been designed and made for mega rich people by even richer people. I felt that sweet combo of returning status anxiety and awesome views as I woke up to day 2 on tour and the first day of Buller beauty:
That’s right, there’s a MTB Festival to attend to! And you know what that means right? Yup: A whole lot of tents rammed with products you wouldn’t buy, a millions Specialized Epics and some lycra fashion melt downs that you can’t even pay for usually. BTW Dok, they asked for their jacket back as well, they want to frame it:
I was struggling to make any inroads getting to my race start on account of constantly having to stop and take photos of everything… First day mountain fever? Embracing freedom from the matrix? Another nervous piss? Or perhaps the views just went on… and on… and right the fuck on. Buller was batting some runs for sure…
Race one on the menu was the Fox Outlaw All Mountain Trophy, interesting name and a format that I hadn’t seen before – 5 Downhill runs, total time from the best 3 counted! Well, that worked well for me given A) I was riding it blind and B) zero warm up on real trails… And best of all? Its a chairlift life for us… Its a chairlift life for us… Holy shit, look how ready to go we are here?!
So, simple then really – Cruise the first two runs, then try and give the last 3 a vigorous Dirty fingering like its 1996 again. Yeah, just cruise down man… In a race… Said no one, ever. Half way down the first run I therefore decided to test my luck, only to find there was a very sharp Buller rock waiting to brutalise my brand new rear minion, as in, tear it asunder so that it looked like Bishop had taken an alien shank to the ribs… Gaaaaaaaah, one rather high value MTB rendered into a gimp by a single rock…
Because I was so DH Gangsta on it, no time for MF spare tubes YO, not that it would have made much difference given how badly I had been gaped. I also had the slightly concerning aftermath that had to be cleaned up ASAP. The bike had been receiving a LOT of attention around the traps, but this would send the wrong message:
So instead, I got to watch everyone else complete their early laps… And I got to practice the loooong walk back to the village, which ironically involved chair lifting back up to the top of the mountain and then walking all the way down, just to smear a bit of cunt sauce on my face for added measure…
Tick fucking tock… All runs had to be complete by 2pm, so some time a lot fucking later I returned to the scene of the crime armed with a new High Roller 2 rear tire… Turns out its 100g heavier for a fucking good reason: It can survive. Having spent more on an MTB tire than a car tire (have to pay for those fancy mountain facilities somehow) and with the Dok’s words ringing in my ear: “Don’t bring lightweight rubber to a rock fight cunt“, I started to get into my work… And into the Buller bush maaaaate:
The top section required a bit of work… Probably not so bad if you spent your weekend sessioning it like most people here, yay. The middle section was RAD and probably my favourite part to be honest, some of that nasty, slightly steeper tech shit that I seem more suited to:
And especially for the Dok, there was plenty of Rock… no shortages there clearly, the sound of them pinging of my carbon frame, wheels and THAT tire making me wince like those people the other day at work that got in the lift after I farted. Bravo:
The final section was a series of massive fuck off hairpins which I seemed to fuck up each time (Outside elbow UP FFS!!!), topped off with a loose rock strewn highway, complete with three jumps. For the sake of authenticity I shall confess I only hit the first one, which I presume was named ‘baby bear’… Yeah…
The results?! Well, I’m still trying to work that out to be honest… My three fastest times were:
So… I have been credited with a time of 36.14, which would indicate they included chairlift time and time before your next run, which they said they wouldn’t do. I sat around Whatsapping the word ‘Fuck’ and Instgramming the mountain down in-between my runs, so that may explain things. Not that I’m about to run to the race organiser to protest, the winner’s fastest three were: 3,51, 3.52, 3.53. Also got a consistency award… Whilst I got smoked like a salmon.
What today DID teach me (aside from checking before the race that your forks have 140PSI and not 100) was the old cliche and adage that racing your bike is a whole shitload different from riding your bike. It also reinforced that I need a lot more of this action before EWS, learning to ride under race conditions and not tighten up like a virgin at their first woodshed party. Yup, not overly concerned that I was off the pace, more concerned I rode like a cardboard cut out accidentally pushed down the mountain on an expensive plastic bike. Fuck, chill out man, its only day 1!!!
Day done then? NEIN! Snozza had full Bootcamp Buller in mind to get me in shape for EWS, which included an afternoon hitting the Epic trail! So, a quick change from DH kit to ENDURO kit and off we go. Only mistake I made was not getting my XC kit on… Said mistake occurred to me about 50 minutes into a 1 hour and 40 minute climb…
What the fuck? When have I recently done a climb like this… On a road bike even, let along an ENDURO hell machine. No point in building mystery into this one… I blew to absolute pieces as I crawled out of the other side of that V there, which looks suspiciously like? Hmmmm… V…
Luckily for me, Snozza and Stu had the patience of several Saints, you can see it here on Snozza’s face as I call a faux photo stop moment… Again… There goes the early night!
To be fair, when the sweat wasn’t running down my face and stinging my eyes, the view was something else… I didn’t really care I was feeling pains I hadn’t felt before, that didn’t matter… This back country action was amazing. I would say breath taking, but my breath had fucked off halfway up the climb, so lets just say it was really really good:
So then – Probably the only thing you want to all know in amongst all this rambling: How was the EPIC Trail? And yes, its called the Epic Trail by name, as in, certified by the IMBA even and a key sales point by Mt Buller, as its the only one in Strayla. Luckily for me, the boys had decided we would just do the ‘good bit’, as in the last 20km’s or so, as opposed to the whole thing, which runs about 50km’s. All that involved was the previously mentioned giant climb, which is an eye opener if that’s ‘easier’.
So, how was the final DH on the Epic Trail? Is it uncreative and poor form to call it epic? Hmmm… I suspect so, which means I am going to have to reach into my dirty bag and pull out the wallet with bad motherfucker on it. Yes, its VERY fast… Yes, its got insane flow and Yes, its a wonderful creation by the trail builders, so huge respect. Snozza wanted to get after it, I wanted good video footage, so off we went… Danger zone!
No complaints spending the arvo chasing an Ex-PRO down an amazing trail you’ve never ridden, at fucking warp speed and putting total blind faith into everything they did. It had shades of Rotorua riding in it to be honest, rather similar in a lot of places. I remember thinking halfway down, in between trying to accelerate out of another little dip, one very simple thought:
Fuck… I… Love… Mountain… Biking…
If you’re in Melbourne and have an MTB, you have to come and ride this trail at some point. Its not often you see trails this well designed and finished. The final DH has enough of everything for most people… its not super gnar or tech, but you’re going so fast and soaking up so much mental flow you won’t really give a fuck about that:
Pile on the cliches please: We were honking… Hauling the mail, which had heavy parcels… Hooking… Smashing it… Flying… It was the moons of fucking Endor speeder chase for fucks sake! Knowing that Snozza wanted that KOM, I decided it was about the right time with 1 minute before the end to become the second cunt that day to ruin the Segment Bears party, and in a fashion not seen since that day in Craigieburn.
Seems I have a nasty habit of letting my crank placement get lazy when I am fucked after 4 hours of hard riding… Which you really CAN’T do on a bike with a low BB like the Nomad 3, especially when there’s a stump you didn’t see because you were too close. How close, so close I thought I could reach out and touch Snozza:
Yeah… Same same: No warning, couldn’t do anything about it, one minute I was pinning it, next I was cunted on the side of the track… And so on and so forth. MTB confidence is like money: You have to work a bit to amass it… And then in one senseless act you can blow it all. And give yourself a really awesome dead leg, which lasts for hours/the rest of the day:
It all felt rather hard after that… And slow… And in fact, like one of those moments where you unravel completely making your way back to the car. I can’t recall the last time I completely imploded on a ride, but I managed just that in the end today. My thanks to Snozza and Stu for not only the waiting, but also the tour guide action. And for unbolting my front wheel when I was too fingered to do it. Thanks Fox… We’ll have that old design back please. If you want to take the ‘short cut’ to hit the final DH on the Epic Trail, then the file is here. Note, must like climbing:
So… A rather BIG day to kick things off… Probably need to remind myself there are still 3 weeks to go and not 3 days, as at this rate I’m going to end up an EWS spectator as opposed to participant! Tomorrow is the 4.5 hour Brake Burner ENDURO, which finishes with a 13km DH. Yummy shit… Ice pack please.
Finally today – A massive Dirty Good Luck to Jonsey, one of the DN Global Collective, who is taking on Three Peaks again tomorrow, use of the word ‘epic’ for that is fully authorised. Also to be noted, he is using the DN Road Kit correctly: Riding somewhere epic and zero fucks given:
We hope Frankenbike makes it around again bro! Right then, I’m off to mainline Voltarin like Lance used to snort EPO off Kate Hudsons… whatever.