I woke up to Day 2 of EWS Madeira with that strange sensation that I was Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club… On one hand I was stoked and fired up from Day 1 not being a total shambles, which would have things firmly in the Tyler Derden camp obviously. But on the other, I was meekly fretting about 3 or 4 sections littered throughout the day that had the potential to turn this whole thing into an exploding apartment bonfire.
Throw into the mix like a molotov cocktail that Day 2 just so happened to be longer than Day 1, holy fuck, like 5 stages and an extra hour, and it was indeed nicely poised to raise eyebrows with its forecast for a heavy downpour of ENDURO and persistent Gnar all day long.
But to really set the Day 2 scene, we need to talk about the The Four ENDURO Horsemen of Day 2. Four little sections, or spots if you will, which were disproportionately consuming my mindshare and creating slight clamminess around a shrivelling amateur scrotum. I suspect the irrationality around them was due to my practice fuckwittery as opposed to proving to be really challenging, but the ‘chute’ was discussed widely amongst our early starting Amateur AF group, so it wasn’t just me. Here’s what we had to look out for on Day 2:
- The CHUTE on stage 6
- The Rock garden at the top of Stage 7
- Basically the end of Stage 7
- The steep as fuuuck top of Stage 8
Whilst not quite ENDURO Ground hog day, there was a distinct copy and paste aspect to how day 2 got rolling in Madeira… Up on stage, witty commentary from Enrico which I understood 75% of, roll off stage, load up on trucks & buses, spew into helmet at having to ride on a bus, hang out under Red Bull tent and then climb same slightly grovelly climb up to the first combat engagement of the day.
I even had the chance to yell encouragement at John, which I’m sure he appreciated as he set off into the heart of darkness forest to get Stage 5 underway:
Stage 5 – Mushrooms Cabouco: 2.8km’s
Interesting stage name and it didn’t really make sense until I was halfway through and it genuinely felt like I was on mushrooms as my vision started to blur and dim thanks to the way they like to get the day started in Madeira.
Yes, the kick off to Day 2 was another pedal exam and whilst it wasn’t as obvious as Day 1 perhaps, I think it caught a lot of people out both in terms of how deep the burn was and how it seemed to go on for fucking ever… And ever…
My inner roadie was once again naked and reaching for the olive oil, but it wasn’t that straightforward, there were plenty of cunt traps lying in wait to fuck you up. Plenty of people unexpectedly hit the deck on this one, including my 30 second man Matt, who knew how to ride a bike… I have to admit to a couple of lurid pedal clipping oh-so-fucking-close-to-over-the-bars moments as well, the Romans were lying in wait eager for blood as well:
When stage 5 wasn’t ripping your legs off with a morning wake up call, it was presenting you with questionable puzzles which begged obvious questions such as “Does that root have any grip?” or “Is that dirt hero or ice status?” or “How many ways can you cunt up this corner given you look like a fat Otter trying to fuck a piece of soap?” The EWS exam is never ending:
Bringing out my Roadie Gimp meant not only another relatively clean start to the day, but also the second stage in a row where I didn’t hear “Rider!” from behind… A clean pair of Dirty heels…
Stage 5 Results
- Mark Scott – 7.01 for 5th in Open men
- Barrie Hand Massacre – 8.31 for 12th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 9.02 for 167th in Open men
- Fist-O-Meter – 3/10: On a stage like this I’ll take getting within 30 seconds of Barrie Scissor hands… Again, nothing really terrifying on Stage 5, unless you were a thigh muscle of course, in which case you got well fucked.
Stage 6 – Lareiras: 1.5km’s
So then… The first date with one of the Horsemen of Day 2. The CHUTE. Well, actually the roll over and then the steep as fuck chute after it. Miguel our shuttle driver had called it the ‘Champery of Madeira’, and whilst I’ve never been there, I’m not sure it was quite that dramatic.
That didn’t stop me from fucking up the A line in practice and standing on the B Line with little spurt of piss filling my shorts as I watched PRO’s nail it and amateurs come close to maiming themselves on it. The thing was, the B line was actually more cunted and likely to result in a crowd pleasing moment of fuckwittery… So given I’d packed a sad and not actually ridden it in practice, I resorted to the next most tried and trusted method for ENDURO racing: Walking around asking everyone else what to do.
After the 15th person had frowned at me and explained what to do, I set off with Matt’s firm instructions imprinted in my goldfish brain – Stay right, don’t send it over the roller, keep the fuuuuck right and look up. Stage 6 can therefore be neatly divided into 3 parts…
Part 1 – Fuck up the short top section because you’ve nervously built up the CHUTE to Rancor levels and assume you’re going to be devoured.
Part 2 – Arrive at the CHUTE, unpracticed, and actually repeat Matt’s instructions out loud because you’re operating in a heightened state of fight or flight… Over we go:
Part 2 continued – Realise the roll over really wasn’t a big deal at all, but then notice giant portuguese dude is eating his hands as he watches you approach the point that legitimately may cunt you:
Part 3 – Make it alive through the CHUTE and then lapse into such a state of euphoria and “I’m ALIVE” stoke that you promptly fuck up the rest of the stage and ride like Tiger on the way home from the pub. Still fun though:
Before you start measuring my tiny balls, let me say in my defence that all the riders around me, including the ones that didn’t catch me (Dirty Beggars must bank these small wins) summed up Stage 6 in pretty much the same fashion, hence we all shared some quality survivor stoke:
And yes, I spent a reasonable amount of time self loathing as to why I hadn’t just smashed that shit in practice… Madeira theme: Much better to race on than practice during a traffic jam.
Stage 6 Results
- Mark Scott – 3.37 for 8th in Open men
- Barrie Hand Massacre – 4.37 for 15th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 4.53 for 171st in Open men
- Fist-O-Meter – 7/10: Aside from the chute and the chance to cunt yourself on the road crossing transfer, it was another classic Madeira stage; fiddly, not a lot of rhythm and changing conditions, further reinforcement that you felt like you were working it the whole time. Possibly dawned on us at this point we still had a long way to go.
Dose up on false hope, as Stage 7 awaited…
Stage 7 – Quatro Estradas: 1.47km’s
As it had pointed out to us, this stage is usually used for Portuguese Downhill races, so in theory it was perfect for the DH convert boys. You can imagine it gave everyone more than a bit of pause for thought when Matt Studdard, one rad mofo, broke his pelvis during practice on this stage. F.U.C.K.
Not that I spend all my time (only 95%) during these events thinking about my mortality, even if it may sound otherwise, I had spent way too much time looking at the rock garden at the top (Horseman #2) and the North Shore looking final section at the end (Horseman #3). They were both reminders I was a fuckbag in practice and would therefore need to make amends in the heat of ENDURO carnage.
Again, I consulted with Matt, trusting his Jedi like calm and pace notes to confirm that when arriving at the multi layered rock garden arrangement, sticking to the right was the line of hero’s and speed, while going left, like I did in practice was the nest of cunts basically.
Once again my “Is he carrying enough speed for this?” approach had Madeiran locals chewing their fingers with anxiety:
Once again with Matt’s mastery imprinted in my brain like inception and enforced looking up, I slayed another Horseman and before I knew what was happening, miraculously I arrived at the next… A total contrast to the top half of the trail as well. This was a rootfest:
Honesty call here – I had spent a disproportionate amount of time grappling with the first world problem of which bike to bring to Madeira: Nomad or Hightower. Given its 2017, and much to Mr Bruni’s disdain, I brought the big wheeled rig, in spite of advice from many to take the Nomad.
Of course, this meant I spent all my time looking across the fence at people riding much greener grass on their Nomad’s… Including Matt my 30 second man in front. Every fucking time I turned around there was another cunt pinned on a Nomad. And it was sections like this that I devoted reasonable brain power to the equation of if life would be better on 165mm’s of travel and softer Alu rims instead of working out how the fuck to get down it:
I believe the PRO’s took the line to the far right here in what Coach Karim would refer to as the ENDURO line… I didn’t even see it until I took this screen shot:
Regardless of missing all the PRO lines, stage 7 ended alarmingly quickly compared to practice… Most of which being due to actually riding down it as opposed to sobbing on the inside begging for an Alien abduction.
Stage 7 Results
- Mark Scott – 3.29 for 89th in Open men
- Barrie Hand Massacre – 3.53 for 12th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 4.18 for 165th in Open men
- Fist-O-Meter – 8/10: Holy fuckballs, only 33 seconds per KM slower than mScott! I’d love to wrap it up here and say I pinned it like a fucking beast, but that’s quintessential Fake News! #sad. Mark flatted, again another victim of modern bikes out-radding the rubber side of the equation. Stink, as it cunted up his weekend and most likely a podium spot.
Far the fuck out. 3 stages down and we still had another 2 to go? Not to mention a mega commute to get there. Big ups to the Madeira crew then, they know how to put on an ENDURO lunch, smashing it so hard it even had the French feeling under the pump for Round 5. I even ran into the Welly crew, who unsurprisingly had found the coffee, because, well, Wellington:
The two hour commute from the end of 7 to the start of 8 was starting to make the day feel as big as this post. It’s moments like this when you look around at how people are rolling and realise how fucking hard EWS rounds can get.
Its usually about the same moment you also realise that on some level that most won’t understand, you’re also fucking loving it… Not in a normal “Fuck I love Gelato” type way, but something more intrinsic, like a recognition that this is the lifestyle you want, even if it fucks you as much as it thrills you. Once you and your comRADes around you get rolling, the ENDURO hurtlocker is an intoxicating place to be.
At the end of practice I was adamant I was done with EWS racing, but as I lined up for the start of Stage 8 where I was hanging out with people who have their name on their jerseys, I was already plotting how to do more…
Stage 8 – Boca do Risco: 2.82km
And so, onto the final Horseman… The top of Stage 8. And once again, another scene of irrational practice melt down where I stood on the side of the track inexplicably just taking video of PRO’s ripping down. Whilst this Go PRO shot doesn’t do it justice, it was loose, of camber and yeah, you know it: Steeper than it looks.
Aside from being the most photographed Stage of the weekend, it was also your best chance to cunt it up and fall hundreds of meters whilst breaking all your bones down into the Atlantic… Or as Ash from TP would say “Yeah’s, there’s a bit of exposure there, so don’t fall off”
Stage 8 also continued that classic theme that these stages were all better to race on than they were to practice. Getting back out here for a second pass in practice was too much of a mission, but I was regretful that I hadn’t because on second run in the race there were some fantastic sections to get stuck into, swooping, diving and again giving you little time to compose yourself.
8 was also rammed with variety, from the steep top to the loamy middle it held its gnar in reserve for the bottom when you were just starting to feel a little fingered, which I must have been showing as it was the only stage all day I got caught on by someone. It was gnar with consequence as well, a trip down the bank awaited those that put a Maxxis wrong.
My personal favourite ‘what the fuck’ section was this little number, a fading away off camber Gnar field with exposure that dropped away a whole lot more than it looked like. A fuck up along here would have been nasty to the tune of them using thermal imaging to find you. Amazingly, I did see some rad cunts take a high line to the left and blast the whole section to fuck:
Motherfucker the end of this stage was hard… Narrow, pedalling like fuck and plenty of rocky crops that wanted to eat pedals. Many people were blown to bits at the end.
Stage 8 Results
- Mark Scott – 5.59 for 23rd in Open men
- Barrie Hand Massacre – 7.22 for 13th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 8.08 for 163rd in Open men
- Fist-O-Meter – 8/10: This result looks a lot better than it should I suspect given by this stage there had been 25 DNF’s. There was ample opportunity on Stage 8 to join Matt Studdard in Fungal hospital, so the stoke to get through cleanly was delicious.
5 stages on a day 2? Hmmmm… It was starting to feel like this was the monster they said it was. One stage more than usual doesn’t sound like a lot, but each one has its own mini process or cycle to go through, so it did feel weird to have another one to get up for. The transition wasn’t exactly relaxing either just quietly:
Stage 9 – Machico: 1.76km’s
Not unlike Stage 2, Stage 9 just had that vibe it was about getting us somewhere as opposed to be a rad trail… I’m not sure if this predisposed it to being ‘Meh’ or if it was just that kind of trail. Either way, there was extensive discussion at the top about not fucking up the left hander at the top by going wide…
Blowing that corner, general disdain for the stage and a dose of “let’s get this fucker home in one piece” classic conservatism all combined to make this a bit of an average stage performance wise. Whilst it didn’t have much going for it (yes, its like trying to plough concrete from a blogging perspective), I did pull my Southstar Shuttles socks up when we finally got into some MADeira crowds and sighted the beach for the first time.
After being screamed at to not use my brakes at all, with a strong inference I was a fucking pussy, the last obstacle to navigate was the ‘Killing field’, where someone had run a lawn mower bravely through a paddock that was well stocked with sniper rocks and boulders. To distract us from this, Red Bull provided some randomly placed gantry to remind us that we were EXTREME action sports athletes, no Bull… Terrible.
Despite its nondescript top section, the bottom was fairly hectic, especially considering the monster nature of this round… As I have laboured the point on, actually the biggest EWS ever based on stats alone. With such fiddly stages, so much potential for disaster and so many tire melt downs, no surprises then that in our early amateur seeded peer group the stoke was palpable as we congregated at the end to share our survivors froth.
Stage 9 Results
Given we were almost at the end of 100km’s of massive ENDURO action, I hadn’t really thought much about results at this point, but let’s head to the boards to see how the dash back to Machico rolled:
- Mark Scott – 3.30 for 36th in Open men
- Barrie Hand Massacre – 4.12 for 15th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 4.46 for 171st in Open men
- Fist-O-Meter – 3/10: Not unlike stage 2, care factor was dipping on the low side and any fucks to be given were replaced with get me to the fucking beach and a hamburger autopilot. Secretly must have been protesting subconsciously about 5 stages on a day 2. Pussy.
Big ups to Anka Martin and the Juliana crew for lying in wait at the end of the race to ply us with shots, I assume designed to celebrate surviving the wild monster and getting the party started extremely early.
Indeed it was time to kick right the fuck back and begin the process of talking shit and reminiscing with new found friends about the CHUTE, stage 7 and all the times you almost fucked yourself/your weekend/your bike over the entire weekend. Chapeau to Andrew for making it through his first EWS, you picked a monster bro! They should all seem a shit load easier after this one:
With exit Madeira flights all a very casual 24 hours away, it was time to round up the usual suspects and some random and fucking rabid French dude to start the process of saying fuck and calling each other cunts as much as possible. Actually, I think I was the only one calling everyone cunts, but it was meant with affection. Barrie’s hand even managed to hold on to a beer, perhaps the biggest win of the weekend?
With Coral Beer on tap and seemingly flowing for free faster than I had ridden all day, it wasn’t long before I thought it was an excellent idea to go and pay my respects to the winner of the weekend, somewhere in my mind it made sense that because we were staying in the same hotel, Greg and I were BFF’s. Cool for me, mildly terrifying for Greg when I soberly reviewed this “Fuck bro, can we get a pic you sick cunt” photo:
Fucking hell this is a long race report… I’m getting the same arm pump I had on Stage 3 just writing it. Let’s wrap this fucker up then so I can get on with the video editing. Drum roll please…
- Mark Scott – 50.36 for 13th in Open men
- Barrie Hand Massacre – 1.01.22 for 11th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 1.08.49 for 163rd in Open men
- Amazingly I ended up 48 seconds per KM slower than Mark on average for the weekend… Which is 1 second slower than Rotorua and exactly the same gap as Finale 2016. If you’re going to suck, may as well be consistent about it! No melt downs this time however, so clearly things are on the up.
Given there were 200 starters and 25 DNF’s, clearly getting into the Top 200 wasn’t the usual battle… In fact I mistakenly called this a ‘Racecation’ in the Mission Briefing, but fuck off, there was no ‘cation’ element to it at all! Roughly 100km’s with 4,700m of descending, not including practice… That’s a massive weekend on the bike, almost as massive as this post.
And with that thought, its time to bail – Stay tuned for the w/rap up rant to come with some final thoughts on Madeira.