I’m the first to acknowledge that the last 6 months++ has seen you have to wade through not only a dwindling supply of posts, but the ones that have squeezed their way out the dirty tip have been gratuitously Bandito in nature. Like me, you’ve probably been hoping that this was just a phase and that soon I would return to the normal servings of ENDURO drama with a side order of occasional random road & gravel (#Groad) action.
But fear not, in the middle of going balls-with-lycra-wrapped-around-them deep on Marathon XC, I still managed to smash in no less than 4 quality ENDURO race outings, firmly aligned with my penchant for doing completely the wrong type of build up events for the goal ahead. Why road or Marathon XC race for Pioneer when you can risk pissing away your massive build up effort with some more dangerous gravity racing?
Two weird things happened as a result – Firstly, I ended up doing things never before seen on this niche dirty internet foxhole and secondly, I was significantly too rammed to be able to get the words and images on a draft post to froth all over you about them, but as you will hopefully see, it may be partially worth the wait.
Aside from a deep narcissistic drive to publish a whole lot of photos of me me me me me, I wanted to finally be able to bring you a flavour of bite sized race reports where I don’t taste like a cunt flavoured Piñata for a change. Yes dear reader, you have suffered through much misery and tale of woe these last 5 years, so your reward for this is to finally get a taste of some Chicken Dinner and mild Master 40+ Amateur ENDURO success. Consider your 2019 suddenly complete AF.
Now that I’ve partially hidden my photographic narcissism under a thin blanket of wanting to bring you good news, let’s line up and let the speed dating race reports spray forth in a new style covering old events which you may or may not have slept walked through on the Gram already. Much like a series of one night stands (do we still call them that?), each one has it’s own distinct highlight and point to it, so prepare for nuggets.
Quick apology if you came here for the EWS Rotorua race report, it’s cuming, but this serves as an important context entree for you to devour first.
2W Enduro – Round 1
The newly revised and slimmed down 2W series happened to coincide with my own slimming down, to the point that I not only needed new baggy shorts, but there was also some relative concern as to what would happen if I connected with any of the Whaka Forest residents. Six stage non-shuttle here we fucking go…
Did you role with good cunts? Naturally! We got the usual band back together for the series and while Mike refuses to be in any of my photos because I ask too many questions about milking, the boys were frothed up like a Fonterra milkshake for the series ahead (Mike made me say this, something about cows).
Did your Bandito fitness prove to be useful? Only from the perspective that it felt like being on another planet… Given this was the first ENDURO race since, er… The last 2W, the difference felt ‘Transformational’, which is cuntspeak for when you want to claim benefit for something that happened as a byproduct for something else. I had traditionally struggled with the 6 stage non-shuttle day out, but in this instance I was pissing on it so easily that I even had time to grab some photos of the soon to be champion, #TheCreator:
Did you actually get your wheels off the ground? Momentarily, and it was both invigorating and completely not by design. 95% chance this has no relevance to the actual race and I just wanted to post this pic… And show what can be done when you actually turn up to one of these things fit and don’t spend the whole stage sitting down:
What was the sexiest thing about this round? Ah, that’s easy – First age group top 10 result at a 2W race, sliding into 9th… But I think that was a symptom of feeling fitness levels never before seen on this blog, plus being able to convert them into a mildly consistent effort on dry Rotorua trails. Holy fuck, was this the start of a Dirty Bull ENDURO market run?!
DW Memorial Enduro race – Eskdale
Here’s something never seen before – A local ENDURO race in my back yard… After a life time of away game one nighters, it was time to actually host and show what I could unleash in my own
bedroom backyard. And here we are dear long-suffering readers, the first chicken dinner you’ve ever been served here, so enjoy the poultry.
Why are you such a big deal around here? After countless hours getting finger banged across the ranges in Rotorua, there was some sweet satisfaction in finally getting to race on trails that one genuinely knows. This is how Greg Callaghan must feel every time they announce an Irish EWS round. Zero hesitation on what’s coming next and no confusion about line choice means you can sit back and unleash your local knowledge with the same glee as a cop with a new Taser.
Did you have any inkling shit was going well? Sort of yes… I’d been smashing some serious training miles in to be fair, but it did start to register I was managing to ride some of my favourite trails at a pace not usually experienced when you’re used to sifting around the forest solo.
There were a few eyebrow raising moments, but the red racing mist had taken over and in my weird Marathon XC & ENDURO hybrid mode I was doing things to that Ardent and Ikon tire combo that bordered on being a Maxxis tire version of #metoo. I was indeed getting through some sections with zero left on the table and it was invigorating to say the least:
Seriously cunt, you actually won a race?! Well, it was slightly weird as I didn’t touch the shuttles all day, being the only person who thought it was a training ride, so I really had no idea what to expect at the end of the day and when I did eventually clock out, there was a lot of nervous moments watching the results board to see if I was going to get knocked off the top of the M40 perch…
As rider after rider popped up in the list lower down, I started to become gripped by a mix of excitement at what may be unfolding, tempered by the knowledge that it would only take one returning rider handing over their timing chip to shatter my unexpected day of triumph.
But finally the entrance to the carpark at Race HQ fell silent and the dust from the trail back to it settled on the ground and the aircraft doors were closed… Not dissimilar to the stoke you feel when the two seats next to you are empty on a long haul flight, it dawned on me with a tsunami of stoke that after 695 posts I was finally going to be able to type a simple sentence on this blog for people to drink in:
I won a race!
Ok, so not the biggest race win in the world, but after dragging myself through the barren wasteland of ENDURO results, occasionally across broken glass, I wasn’t about to look this small glass of glory in the mouth by any stretch of the imagination. It was time to bask briefly in the glow of the top step and drink down the victory champagne/can of coke. My froth was so high I may have even looked at an Ice Cream and thought about eating it.
Did you really ride an ENDURO race on an XC bike?! There are two parts to this explanation… Firstly, Eskdale is definitely towards the Diet end on the Gnar spectrum, with not really any rocks to be seen all day (not to mention a few pedal sections), but it also speaks to the versatility that the Tallboy 3 represents.
I’m not sure you can accuse it of being an XC bike or a trail bike, so you may want to debate that its either down country or up-duro worthy perhaps? Either way it felt fucking fast, extremely planted and I only thought I was going to have a massive accident on it once down Grand Traverse. Once you get used to a short travel machine like this, all sorts of barely legal acts can be unleashed in the forest. Add to that, I absolutely love this machine:
Was prize giving low key as fuck? Ah, hell yes, a good reminder of both the beauty of local racing and that when they’re calling your name out for the win, this could have been Finale in September for all I cared. The stoke was real.
Holy fuck, we’re on a roll here… Some sort of ENDURO golden period was clearly in motion, but would the torture of The Pioneer fuck that up, or take it next level?
2W Enduro – Round 2
As I may have mentioned in my Pioneer wash up, you will more than likely emerge with some sort of super powers post event, assuming you’re not absolutely cunted. I decided to test that theory a week after by hitting Vegas for round 2 of the 2W series and my first time back in knee pads for what felt like an eternity. This quick turn around raised a number of speed dating questions naturally.
Did you feel utterly finger banged? Essentially yes… But in the weirdest fucking way. Whilst I felt as rough as the Rodfather’s scrotum after a Gorge weekend, plodding around the Whaka for the 6 stage pedal outing was borderline easy. I can’t recall describing a race here like that before, but it’s all about relativity right?
6 hours of getting flogged around a Marathon XC course day after day vs 6 hours of a casual ENDURO meander with Good/Great/Rad cunts are radically different propositions. I may have felt dead inside, but it turned out things were surprisingly rapid.
Was #thecreator basically famous all day? To the point it was exhausting… Stage wins, round wins, people waving from shuttles, people crying trying to get autographs and the inevitable cameras being stuck in our faces. Seriously, fuck, he’s basically the Justin Bieber of MTB… Or Taylor Swift depending on your preferences:
Did Scott with no surname embarrass you all by riding with only one pedal? Ok, so normally this is the sort of shit you keep on the down low, but it was a feat so worthy of gushiness I have to blow the load of authenticity right here. 2 stages deep and the tallest human in our crew decided to fuck off one of his pedals:
I naturally assumed he did this to DNF to get home to a secret but obvious AF new GF, but it turns out he just wanted to give the elderly people in the group a fighting chance. Somehow he risked a serious calf injury by riding the last 4 stages on a spindle. If you think that’s WTF, you ain’t seen a single gram of excrement yet.
Scott minus his surname decided to ‘chill’ and follow me into my nemesis stage of Frankenfurther vs. Riff Raff, a notion I thought was fanciful for him even just riding down it on a pedal spindle. Much to my extreme horror and embarrassment, halfway down the stage it became awkwardly obvious that I was holding him up. In a moment where you instantly want to sell your bikes and take up competitive knitting as a lifestyle choice, I had to digest the concept that Scott was faster than me with only one pedal.
Forget soul searching, this was Ego Pegging to an extreme degree. But, from chaos comes opportunity and it was a key ingredient in what came next…
What was the sexiest thing about this round? Oh, I don’t know… How about just the biggest 2W moment of my M40 life?! In line with Business As Usual (or in cuntspeak lingo ‘BAU’) vibes & expectations, #TheCreator won all the stages that day. All the stages, except ONE.
The final stage of the day called for a bit of Tokorangi, a random middle section and then Old Exit. There had been much murmuring about the climb at the end before the final plunge to the finish, but we’d still elected strategically to leave this to the final run. As we made yet another pilgrimage up Katore road, it became obvious that the heat and long day had started to take it’s toll on JC Superstar. While my nostrils didn’t quite pick up on the faint scent of weakness creeping in, clearly the damage had already be done ahead of what was a pretty physical stage.
Assuming our normal drop in routine, The Creator burst into the stage like a Gazelle on heat, quickly followed by Scott without a Surname or a pedal and then my dirty hairy caboose with the usual rear guard action. What followed was more like an out of body experience than a race run. Glued to the back wheel of the worlds tallest seeing eye dog, I instantly started to exceed all my risk tolerance levels in an attempt to keep up with Scott (yes cunts, he was going full gas on the spindle).
As we pumped every mound of pumice and blasted through every sweet sweet bermed turn, I would occasionally be aware of a puff of dust that held the scent of JC unicorn sweat, which meant our quarry was near. I was having to turn myself inside out to keep up with Scott and the stage was evaporating before the Hightower at a mind bending rate… We were relentless, we were feral and it felt like we had been sent back through time to hunt down Jeff Connor/John Carter:
And then, such is the theme of this post, something that has never happened before occurred… I caught sight of The Creator. Actually, at this point, two things happened that were new to me. Firstly, Scott moved over and waved me through. If I wasn’t out of breath I would have screamed “WTF muthafucka“, but I instantly realised I had bigger fish to fry – Or more accurately, I had the biggest fish to fry.
Yes, I could now see the Moby Dick of Masters ENDURO ahead of me, and in a scene that was basically like porn to my inner Bandito, he was on the climb. Tiredness evaporated and like the scene in the Highlander where he first works out that he is one immortally rad cunt, a new super power came over my legs. Coming as close to snapping an XT cassette as one dares, I dumped all remaining gas into the afterburner and made the bridge across to a heaving Creator, who had a moment to gasp at the strangeness of this situation.
I was so in awe of what was happening I mistook his sudden swerve off the trail for him letting me past, but ha cunt, no – Under the ‘No surrender, no dishonour’ protocol, JC was unleashing epic local knowledge to gap me again. The term “Ride it like you built it” definitely applying here. I pursued relentlessly throwing myself and the Hightower down the foreign steps of Old Exit to arrive buzzing the back wheel of The Creator in the tag out zone.
Our eyes met in a frenzied moment where it was obvious history had been made and as the dust settled around us, it was clear things would never be the same again… Fuck as if, he would just wait a few weeks to drill me like a cheap piece of formica in round 3.
But for now, another first had been banked and I added my first 2W age group stage win to my palmares.
2W Enduro – Round 3
What a fucking legendary Segway to… Round 3! And our final speed dating ENDURO outing. Don’t hate me because I pre-ride bros, but this was a fairly important outing pre-EWS, so lucky then that fuck all of what we rode was actually in the eventual EWS event. But what we did get dished up was a surprisingly big day out, perhaps bigger than many expected based on how many times I heard “Fuck, this is actually a fucken big day out!” Get the mints out, its time for the final flirt.
Why did you go back to little wheels?! Firstly, I was desperate to rekindle the Nomad 4 love. After an eternity of Blur, Tallboy 3 and Hightower action, I was hanging right the fuck out to get back on the beast that is/was scheduled to carry me to Trans Provence glory in June. I’m going to conveniently ignore any references to Megatowers here… I’m working through my emotional conflict currently:
Also, to be noted, in an unexpected turn of events, the Nomad 4 was faster across some pretty key sections of the forest than the Hightower, which I hadn’t really expected – Testament to how fucking excellent this new linkage lay out is for pedalling.
Why the fuck did you think you could go back to Gogs with an open face? If you think this is one of those questions that people ask at a big work meeting just to try and show off but then they don’t really ask a question and just make themselves look like an obvious cunt, then you’d be right. I just wanted to put these banger pics in:
My tactic of following #TheCreator as much as possible on race stages, such is the glory of the 2W format, paying huge dividends with some simply mind blowing and fun blasts through Tumeke and Hatu Patu to name a few. In the realm of ENDURO racing, it doesn’t get much better than blasting stages in a train with your crew.
What was the sexiest thing about this round? Fuck, where do I start? The rad stages, the banger weather and trail conditions? two second place stage finishes? Actually feeling like I was racing? How fucking rad the Nomad 4 felt again? All valid contenders for being sexy as all fuck… But no, this time is goes to these Magnificent Cunts (MG’s?), which is what I hope you are referred to when you go beyond good.
As a footnote to round out the results progression – After finishing 9th overall in the M40 grade in the first two rounds, I found out the day after round 3 that I had ended up 4th for the day. But not just 4th… 4th by a mere 4 seconds.
The best part about living in our pampered and palatial modern world is that we can take really good stuff and destroy it with our privileged outrage, which is pretty much how I reacted to this scenario. Having never knocked on the door of the podium I spent an inordinate amount of time remembering exactly where I left those 4 seconds out on the race course. A lazy tag out here, a missed pedal stroke there, a cunted line choice on that stage…
My stoke at the best 2W result ever peppered heavily with the self flagellation of missing the chance to stand on the podium and spray L&P on myself and The Creator. The funniest part of it all was I was pretty sure I had gone like shit all day into another 9th place, which goes to show with MTB racing you never really know, so best to ignore yourself as much as you can.
But, at the end of this exhausting speed dating escapade I can safely stand back and declare it an absolutely awesome Spring and summer ENDURO campaign, with a series of fucking golden experiences and firsts shared with an excellent crew of rad muthafuckas.
A massive Dirty thanks to the gang, to all the race organisers who put on these banger events, to Santa Cruz for producing the three different weapons you can see getting Masters thrashed here and for The Hub Cycle centre for keeping them all running in PRO level condition.
Must be time for some EWS then?