At last, all the prep, build up, travel, faffing and sniffing around town is over! Day one on EuroEnduro – This Is The Sequel (still not sure if that works as an acronym?) was upon me like a golden
shower dawn, waking up to start the process of getting my dirty teeth into the best that Thona Thero has to offer.
First things first however – meeting the gang that shall be featuring this week on the Spanish shredfest, which consists of 4 British Bulldogs, 3 Finnish shredders (one of whom I swear is Mika Hakkinen) and the Spanish uplift crew. We all introduced ourselves in the usual vain attempt that we would remember each others names, and then got about the standard day 1 pleasantries before the inevitable and comfortable downward spiral over the next few days to where we arrive at referring to each other as ‘cunts’ in some form or another, and not to mention happily farting as much as possible in each others company.
As day 1 started the sequence of unveiling itself, two things were pretty clear to me already as the frothing started to bubble up inside me:
- I wouldn’t have known to come here without the awesomeness of the EWS – Which I think is one of its greatest gifts to mountain biking. Not only does it find places you’ve never heard of to ride in, but it also makes it feel instantly accessible to travel to and be part of
- I would have struggled to hook up such an awesome set up here without Basque MTB nailing it, more on that later, as when we set out for day 1 I still had no idea just how critical this would be.
Did I mention that this place has around 300 days of sunshine per annum? I didn’t even know that was scientifically possible, but turns out it is:
Air you can breath – Check. Mint weather conditions – Check. Mad trails waiting to give you a shredgasim – Check. It was time to get busy and set off to savour the Spanish gnar. I love the feeling of putting on Knee pads for the first time on a Mission… Its one of the stand out items in my OCD preparation process that hard wires into my brain that we’re back in the zone we crave so badly.
The other thing I love about day 1 on tour is the Faffing! Holy fuck yes! If you come away on these trips then you need to embrace the faff… Don’t fight that shit, not only can’t you win, but its part of the whole experience, so indulge in fucking about and the goodness that comes with it. Having said that, Doug and the Spanish assassins are a pretty slick crew, so before I had time to reconsider my ENDURO outfit again we were off up into the ZZ goodness. #upliftlyfe:
For EuroEnduro II T.I.T.S, I am going to do my best not to put 47 screenshots from the Go PRO into each post, mainly as its not only mega tiring, but makes watching any Dirty Videos down track seem somewhat redundant. Having said that (smell the contradiction), this is the view that awaited us as we made our way to the warm up trail for the day, an excellent scene setter for what was cuming:
First runs are significantly tenser than first dates… Trying too hard… Gripping too much… Wanting to force it, perhaps asking questions you shouldn’t so early on… Worried about how to might look and wanting to make a good impression. Throw in some sweet slab rock left, right and fucking centre and it didn’t take long to work out how it rolls in the ZZ:
Whilst on the theme of loving it, add to the list the love of being back in the Mon-Tons, in insane weather and with views that challenge you to absorb their vastness into your brain. Taking photos here is almost a waste of time as I can’t seem to do the vista’s any justice. Unreasonable Mon-Ton love was in effect:
If you’ve following along with the ramblings of a few DN Missions you’ll know by now that the guide is always pinned and in this case Doug from Basque MTB is no exception. A Scot in Spain, (the rarest of species), Doug differentiates himself by not only being fluent as, but also shredding the Spanish gnar into submission.
In the usual fashion, the game is to try and keep the guiding hare in sight to hit the mint lines and generally ride in a fashion that makes you shit yourself and scream “fuck yes” all at the same time… He also asks the obvious questions…
As a certified Gnar Hunter, Doug had an excellent Day 1 mapped out for us, three big uplifts and sweet descents, which originally didn’t sound like a lot, but gives you a hint into how vast this area is. This first run was apparently the ‘warm up’, signifying its relaxed nature. Of course, a quick scan of the terrain gave a taste of what was coming up later in the day if this was the relaxed portion.
After getting down this section I jokingly made the comment to someone around me that “If my Enve’s get through the week here I will be fucking impressed…” Hmmmm, what is this prophecy sorcery you practice Dirty Mofo? Curse of the commentator? Insightful? Who knows… But as we kept winding our way down, it was clear the Gnar volume was only going to be turned up more and more:
It became pretty obviously quite quickly that this place is a massive zone… And to continue on that theme, if I had rocked up here solo (original plan), I would have been absolutely fucked, as in, not only would I have not found the sweet trails, but even if I could read a map, getting to them without one of these would have been mission impossible:
Do yourself a favour if you want to come here – Get a Doug, relax and focus on the sweet shredding action. It will also allow significantly more time for posing like a show pony:
Next on the menu was another rad run into an area that felt a lot more remote than the start of the day, a good thing indeed as lets face it, you want to get as Radmote as possible when you come to a place like this. Yes, just totally invented a word, which feels as good as standing in the middle of this sort of awesome valley after you’ve had the privilege of riding balls out down some sweet narrow singletrack significantly faster than you promised yourself you would on Day 1:
Speaking of which, here’s a case study in the goodness that Doug dug up for run two, one of those scintillating and scything runs that sidles down the Mon-Ton, giving you shit loads of grip but just enough exposure to also give you shit load of opportunity to get out of shape and make a fuckbag of yourself if you’re letting it rip. Takes about 30 seconds of this stuff to remind you exactly why you’re here and why you love this shit:
Holy fuck these trails are mint!! I knew I had to try and keep the froth under control, but straight off the bat this shit was excellent, no wonder EWS made the call to come here. The only part I couldn’t figure out is why this set up didn’t have a higher profile?!
Love… Love… LOVE, add to that list loving the variety that was popping out of a bowl of Paella at us, one minute its loam ranger goodness and then next thing you know, rock face action out of nowhere. Its an excellent test of your gnar ninja skills and every time I made it down something that made me go ‘Holy fuck’ internally, I was rather stoked that I was on a Nomad…
It wouldn’t be EuroEnduro II without of course the standard practice of getting to Europe and it seeming completely normal to abandon any form of dietary discipline, which absolutely means giant hamburgers for lunch and enough coke to melt an XTR chain. Pretty much 34% of why I want to keep coming back here forever.
We were also treated at lunch to Antonio being attacked by a Spanish cougar, posing as a journalist while he explained he was basically a PRO ENDURO racer, looking to dominate this weekend. The body language here says that won’t be the only thing he’s dominating.
We couldn’t spend the whole arvo being cougar candy however, we hadn’t even brushed the tip of the Zero Zona epicness, so once more into the shuttle breach for a long trek back out to the next scene of radness. And holy shit, do I mean remote! There is no way you could have ridden all these three trails in a day, unless you like 14 hour days on bikes that would snap in half going down these trails.
Whilst some uptight people don’t dig on uplift as they’re too busy working out if they need a Gravel bike or CX bike, there is no denying it allows you to access some of the best riding in the world, not to mention its all you can eat style to make sure you maximise on what’s on offer.
Run #3 was going to be the biggest and most bad ass of the day, so with the sweet taste of lightly undercooked Spanish hamburger reflux in my mouth (I now know how you feel Contador), it was back into the mega rocky action. Given it was day 1, I was more pumped than usual, probably because for once I was actually stoked with how I was riding. It appears that a lot of the TP goodness that is infused into you from those 6 massive days has been retained, thus providing a sweet base to build on whilst back for round 2.
With the first flat tire of the day in the group, I did what I do best and found someone famous to have a photo with instead of helping with repairs, which just quietly is actually the best assistance I can offer if you want to fix things quickly. Luckily for me Ed Oxley just happened to be sifting around in our group, he clearly has fucking excellent taste in riding glasses, not to mention his beard is as ENDURO as fuck…
Take a good look at that photo, as its the last known evidence of Proof of Life of my rear Enve… yes, this final trail was an absolute banger on so many levels, the scenery being just one of them. We were about to find out just how much of a banger it really was.
We had hit so many sections that day where the small part inside me that loves Enve rims winced or held its breath. So much so that jokes had been made of it. For the most part though, a lot of this had been head on hits, at what I assumed was manageable speed. That was about to change.
So, if I don’t say so myself, we were relatively pinned and I was following Mika Hakkinen at what felt like full gas when I felt a relatively decent hit and a sound that I can still remember from June… Its a special noise that once heard, is never forgotten. I tried to block it out and stay on the gas, but the bag end started to slide and wiggle and instantly I felt a flaccidness that no one ever wants to experience.
As I drew to a stop I knew this wasn’t just a flat tire… And sure enough, waving out to me from the land of cuntery was this fatal trademark Enve melt down, yes, we have heard this music before:
I mean seriously what the ACTUAL fuck? Again?! First order of business was to yell ‘Cunt’ at the rim until it was clear that doing so added no value to the predicament, followed by making the rest of the gang take photos of the epic fail to share as widely as possible, let’s face it, people will always queue up for an Enve bonfire, its a basic part of human instinct to rub the hands together when an expensive piece of kit fails in spectacular fashion (again).
I can’t exactly remember what happened, but I suspect that it was through a high speed section and it loaded up in the rear, possibly on a corner that had a rock waiting to fist some carbon. Speed + Load + Rock clearly equals nowhere for the force to go but straight through that American carbon. Before you ask/assume, here is the usual check list again:
- 28 PSI in a new tire
- I was standing up at the time (again)
- Still around 80kg with gear on (Haven’t had a teacake for ages FML)
- This was the wheels second ride, if you can count the shake down as a ride
- Also worth noting that this was a ’15xxx’ number range rim, as apparently the ’14xxx’ number range were cunts and kept exploding. This rim was heavier and thicker than the one it replaced, so in theory all good. In reality? Not so useful.
I do have another theory about why this premium product has imploded again, but I don’t want to get in the way of you toasting your marshmallows on this witch burning session. I shall investigate and advise in due course if my idea is solid or if I’m full of shit.
Fuck the rim, I was actually more gutted that I had to again miss out on one of the best trails of the day, which I managed to take some shit photos of in-between rolling down Aaron Gwin style… Except not as rad… Or as fast… And without the massive jumps:
As I pottered down the hill I winced at the thought of my trusty Mavic Crossmax XL at home laughing at me… Followed quickly by the burn that whilst I had a replacement rim at the hotel, I really wish I had also bothered to get the spokes for it too… #wellcunted. Along the way I had plenty of Finale flashbacks on missing out on hitting the good stuff…
So at this point, I am probably going to give the glaringly obvious advice to not bring carbon wheels to European Gnar destinations. A somewhat obvious Dirty Tip and one that somehow I didn’t heed after June. Unless you’re PRO and are followed by a mechanic, don’t believe the hype and keep it Alu. That is of course unless you like pushing your bike out of the Mon-Tons like its 1834…
Day one in the bag then… I’m not sure I have the comedic bandwidth to say it was a cracking day (poor), but thanks to Doug and the whole gang it was an awesome introduction into what was on offer here in the ZZ. As I contemplated having to give free hand jobs in exchange for a replacement wheel, I was already pumped for Day 2…
All I had to do was ignore that sore throat that was becoming more and more obvious as I trudged out of the final trail. It never rains on a DN Mission, and we certainly never get sick… Right?