After yesterday’s mega post from Finale, its only fair that I start out today with a Dirty disclaimer – The answer is YES to all of the following:
- Will I rave on endlessly today to the point of becoming irrelevant?
- Will I put in too many poor quality Go PRO shots to over illustrate a point that I probably made yesterday?
- Will my stoke factor on Finale be so embarrassingly high you’d think I’ve never been on an MTB anywhere else in the world before?
With the ground rules established, lock the kids in the laundry, tell the boss you have a yeast infection (that’s gender neutral too, just so it creates maximum awkwardness when you deploy it), grab a coffee and a box of tissues (perhaps not gender neutral) and get ready to dive head first into hating my face and loving Finale.
Reason #1 to love Finale? Well, after Tuesdays confusing aberration, normal order was restored on the second day of shredding, with this the sweet set up to wake up to. BOOOOM:
Reason #2 to love Finale – It was SHUTTLE day! WHOOP, ok, so I know there was a bit of shuttle on day 1, but today it was exclusive. Bust out the full face helmet, armour up and get ready to sit in a van smelling like an Asian sports shoe rack accidentally shut in a cupboard for a few days. Basically heaven. Yip, I’m also THAT guy that fucks off to take photos instead of unloading his bike from the trailer, solid way to make friends:
Back into it with the Just Ride Finale crew and the UK contingent, everyone was pumped to hit some more of the radness we had been exposed to the day before. Like some sort of lethal contagion of awesomeness, there was no time wasted as the Swedish Shred Machine took us into a new zone to get the day rolling. Forget about a warm up, it was ON from the start, certainly one way to get the brain and arms working:
The obvious upside about day 2 in Finale was the drying trails, which meant they had the right about of grip to make them fucking fast, which to be fair they didn’t need a lot of help with any way. The ‘Blind faith in Lou’s Lines‘ approach had worked well for me the day before, so decided to employ it again on more brand new trails as she began to lay it down on trails she must have ridden thousands of times, this one literally out her front door, which I suspect is reason #3 to love Finale:
Yeah, so it didn’t take too long for the stoke factor to be set to ‘Abnormally high’ on day 2 and not just because the opening trail was rad, no, it also seemed that the golden form was still intact. Moving around on the bike, confident, riding properly and actually working out how to go as fast as possible. This called for the fistings to be dished out willy nilly:
Most of Finale’s trails started out life Au Naturale, but in some cases locals realised that with a little bit of augmentation, they could take shit Nek Level… Thank you locals and thank you augmentation, taking something already awesome and make it more awesomer (yes, we had to create a new word just for this – Reason #4 to love Finale)
There is something exhilarating about being in good form and then following someone down a trail you have never seen before at pretty much not far off race pace. Any concerns about ‘What’s coming next’ are brutally overpowered by the adrenaline of how fast or how well you’re going. Confidence, adrenaline and trust all ganging up to mean you’ll fly down anything that comes along – Fuck you common sense:
Again, NOT a bike park, but that didn’t stop Lou airing it out… Much to the enjoyment of all, the drops and jumps here can be absolutely slayed, even if you don’t fancy that stuff so much – DING, reason #5 to love Finale. It ain’t Whistler obviously, but that’s not really the point of a place like this.
All this radness had a price and when the flat tires started to creep into the British Bronson Boys day (the first of many), I reverted to my usual role of taking obscure group photos with a slight stalker tinge to them while we waited…
Reason #6 to love Finale is that its always beautiful… Without any make up or effort either. The kind of beauty when it wakes up and its just perfect, that’s pretty much Finale. Even going up is sort of beautiful… Granted going up was in short supply today (training can fuck off, plenty of UP to come in a week), but when its like this no one really cares:
The first descent of the day had a split half way down, with options for left line and right line. We were hitting the right first and whilst I thought what we had already done was an excellent entree, the main course to come was even more extravagant. Cue references to the speeder scene in Return of the Jedi, this was a freak show of high speed weaving in and out of the trees that demanded you kept on your game and on the gas, it was swooping drop in to natural banking to blind crest… Dropping in at warp speed…
And blasting out the other side like you’d just cut some dudes arm off in a particularly rough bar:
And now its time for a motherfucking Montage
For those that like to scroll and take in rapid fire information, here’s me doing my best to articulate how golden the variety of this trail was, I shall try and do it some justice, but probably won’t. Did I mention variety is reason #7 to love Finale?
DING DING DING
I respect at this point I’m running the risk of turning the site into an over-inflated Instagram account, but its hard to convey how awesome this terrain is without spamming out a shit load of pictures.
For instance, I could describe the second trail as having high speed entrances, flicking you into a natural channel that forced you to get your head up to sight the next series of turns that were coming at you thick and fast in a high speed orgy of shredding goodness. And fuck, I have run out of superlatives, so here’s that exact situation in pictures – What do you expect, its not dirtyDraper.com is it:
Get the head up, the onslaught keeps coming in a way that makes a zombie apocalypse seem relaxing…
Bewilderment is reason #8 to love Finale – Bewilderment at how there can be so much excellent trail. I am pretty sure this was feeding my addiction to new levels and fuelling the riding form I have been searching for endlessly.
Where was this form in March?! Its never good to look back on history (not to sound like a German there), but in March it felt like I had to put considerable effort in whereas this week its felt completely effortless. I’m not arguing, something has clicked and the machine seems to be working. I was drunk on this Finale brilliance and just wanted more and more, luckily for me it was plentiful – They don’t close the bar here, it just ramps up:
Lou had called out there was something to look out for ahead, which of course did little to slow us charging into it irrationally, got a hint there may have been a bit of a compression when I saw Lou’s front wheel disappearing…
I found the same compression and as you can see from this angle, came the closest all day to eating shit, mainly thanks to that big rock you can see right there… Normally I would have looked at it and guided myself straight in there, but in the new world of ‘look where you want to go’, such tragedy was avoided, fucking just:
And indeed it did, one of the Welsh lads painfully spreading himself all over that rock on what was quite a nasty impact. With much regrouping done as everyone collected themselves, it was time to push on and in doing do, turn the intensity level up a few notches. In line with previously mentioned variety frothing, things got steeper, rockier and drier than the top, which allowed me to marvel a bit more about how good the riding was.
After one of the Bronson boys blew a Specialized Butcher tire off the rim attempting a particularly nasty hairpin, super shit tires apparently, it definitely had that time for a break feel about it. Luckily, this just happened to coincide with reason #8 to passionately love Finale – Dropping out into another sweet sun soaked little village where people just seem to be chilling, driving late model European cars and saying ‘Ciao’ a lot…
It was time to hit lunch, which incidentally is reason #9 for the day on why to hold on tight until you’re clammy and love Finale. The JRF crew had hooked up a super Bellissimo lunch spot which we set upon with the same vigour as Romans enjoying people going over the handlebars on a switchback turn. I’m not going to insult you the reader with outlining the food in Italy is sensational, that’s pretty obvious really, but as far as random lunch spots go, this was a banger. Load up kids, as there was more hot and heavy work to be done in the afternoon.
Back to the NATO base and back to more of its awesomeness… But, hold the presumptions, a whole new series of trails that we didn’t even get a perv at the day before. Never in the history of man has a Ford Transit van been so directly responsible for so much radness.
Decided to change up the Go PRO angle in the arvo, which will help make the Dirty Video’s a little more interesting, well, yes and no given the hammer was down on the next set of golden trails a bit of clear air had been created, a slight dent in the chase cam concept, but embrace the trail beauty instead perhaps:
One of the key requirements when joining a group is patience… 8 riders means that the faffing does increase. This is especially true of mechanicals… With punctures flowing thick and fast there was a bit of down time to contend with. Worth noting the worst part about the down time is the restartitis, the type of disease where you ride like a gimp until your radness software reboots. The break in flow and concentration always leads to an annoying start up process to contend with. The upside, you get to take trail photos to forever savour the sweet action:
In fact the trails are so beautiful here that you want to get to the end and pay homage to them in any way you can possibly manage, one of the Bronson boys taking it Nek Level with a full Pope style embrace of Finale Terra Firma, see, the love is infectious:
The other thing about riding in a group is the all important pecking order… Which once established is usually not messed with that much. As you can see from most of the pics, this was pretty clearly set up… Until at one stage, obviously riding a wave of confidence, the new French dude, who we shall code name ‘Ronnie’ cut in on a restart and proceeded to re-enact being a mobile chicane. With Putin like ruthlessness, such rebellion had to be snuffed out immediately, it wasn’t really a trail for overtaking, but life found a way:
However, after crushing this surprising rebellion, I got the reminder that as a tyrant you can never rest in your palace while people paint your portrait… I was napping at the next re-start and French Ronnie took that as invite to cut the order again, I can see why they used to have so many problems in the old days. I decided to help out F-Ron by riding as closely as possible to him like a good cunt, pressure makes diamonds after all…
And then were on to a fairly innocuous trail to link down to the shuttle again… Yes, it was fast, very fast, but nothing as burly or dangerous as some of the other stuff ridden earlier in the day, or the day before. I was feeling mildly fingered at this stage, so had even backed off a little at the top:
But the bottom section was fast, nothing new there… Fast had been the theme of the day so far. And then, there was a BANG. Not a flat tire bang… Not a pedal strike bang… Not a bottom out bang either. No, instantly my brain flashed the thought into my head: That was quite a hit on the rear Enve. As I learned, when hammered these extremely expensive wheels make quite a noise, its very distinctive. As I hit the road I could tell I had lost some air from the rear tire, so assumed I had burped it…
Before I could utter the words “Anyone got a track pump“, my eye caught something that didn’t look right. My central nervous system wanted to dismiss the information that was being sent to my brain, after all, the decals on these wheels do look shit pretty quickly… But, as that sinking feeling began to snowball it became pretty clear this wasn’t cosmetic. No, this was instead a total cunt:
This is commonly referred to as the Sum of All Fears. Sure, that’s a book and movie about nuclear armageddon, but this situation was far more serious. You didn’t need a PhD in carbon structural integrity to know this thing was utterly fucked. Apparently the Enve M70 isn’t supposed to do this… In fact, there is a three minute video on their website just for these wheels and contained within the opening marketing load shooting is this absolutely GEM of a quote:
“You’re not worried about denting it as its not an option”
Oh really cunts? Seems to me like it’s an option… Unless of course this is a famous “Early batch” scenario (industry code to cover an exposed ass), lets have another look at that collapsed sidewall shall we?
Ironically, I wasn’t going as big as the PRO’s in the video either…
Ok, so before I bag the fuck out of them, lets see how the Enve warranty service and response is. To be fair, these wheels are awesome to ride on, right up to the point they suffer from catastrophic failure and leave you stranded in the van driving down the hill, missing glorious trail and fingered the week before the biggest race you’ve ever been in.
I’ve watched the Go PRO footage repeatedly and can’t pinpoint the exact moment or place it happened, but I suspect it was somewhere in here, as you can see, fast, but not exactly deadly terrain, or so I thought:
Lou did enlighten me on the way back that the same exact piece of trail has also claimed an Ibis Carbon rim and another Enve rim before, so there must be ONE motherfucker of a rock down there that has a serious hatred of Carbon rims. Its busy right now carving another Enve shaped notch into its belly. Oh and just in case anyone reading this wants to ask the obvious questions about this incident:
- I was standing up, so back wheel unweighted
- 28 PSI in the 2.3 rear tire
- Not using DT Swiss spokes which Enve had issues with
- NOT a pre-production set of rims obviously
- Wheel was true
Watch this space on how the warranty process goes! Which of course isn’t a whole lot of use when on tour is it really? Right, time to sum it up then!
- Croissant count – Static on 3, poor form I know, but the breakfast scene was a bit weird near the accom, so had to revert to cereal. Forgive me.
- Cunt of the day (COTD) – Need I even type it? ENVE! A clear winner obviously. Whilst I had in the back of my mind it was risky to have these wheels on tour, its what they’re designed and sold for and they came through March totally sweet, so I have to say its still a surprise
- Gear of the day award – Not Enve. Today the new Met Parachute full face helmet got a solid work out, it has some quirks, but overall this is an excellent piece of kit to have on a trip like this. Fully dubious ‘review’ to come in the future
- DN Tech Tip – Don’t bring carbon rims to Finale
- Trail of the day – Two different zones, two different kinds of awesome… Seriously, its just not right to award trail of the day in this place as they’re all that sensational in their own right. The morning session was probably marginally ahead as I didn’t destroy any key equipment there. Either way, its impossible to go wrong here.
A massive Dirty thanks to Just Ride Finale (Reason #10 to love the place) and the British expeditionary force for the legendary day out, excellent group to roll with and a shit load of fun. Savour and stoke factor was clearly off the charts.
Sadly, this was the last day riding in Finale… Possibly an error in planning, but I had no concept that it was going to be THIS good. Leaving after two days has only provided me with the fire to return with a crew and hit the numerous trails I missed in this short trip. In the words of the greatest governor in the history of California: I’ll be back. Just not with Enve wheels.