Ordinarily this probably wasn’t the kind of day that you’d bother coming out for a ride in the Whaka forest. Indeed, when I canvassed locals as to whether or not they’d bother, their response was a unanimous ‘Fuck no dude‘. However, if you had bothered to come out, chances are that after 4 hours you’d probably pull the MF pin after doing Kung Fu Walrus and roll out for a well deserved hot pool soak and an epic clean up. However, as I may have already pointed out:

This was no ordinary day

In case I haven’t created a compelling enough case for that in Part 1 of the Dirty Race Report, then allow me to roll up my soaked ENDURO sleeves and get busy as fuck in part 2 to paint you a picture of how exceedingly epic this motherfucker was getting.

As we trudged out of a fantastic Stage 4 in another pissing rain shower, it was hard to ignore that we still had at least 4 hours to go. 4 hours?! Sweet Baby Hesus of ENDURO… I looked down to see every single inch of me covered in more shit than a German glass coffee table, my pockets filled with empty wrappers of bars and assorted hideous energy products that were now declaring a Jihad on my intestines and a bike that had put on more weight than a newly promoted CEO. This was the point where mental fortitude was required.

But those things weren’t the items that currently caused me concern… No, it was more the fact that we were about to have to suck on the two biggest Tranny’s of the whole day, back to back in the sort of double team that made my thighs tickle with light cramp just thinking about it. Through graphics done by an 8 year old (me), I’m talking about these two fuckheads here:

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Good news – I don’t need to worry about entering the Whaka 100 any more

I think most people do their best to avoid riding up Moerangi Road and Hill road back to back (or at all), but this isn’t the ENDURO Local Series is it? I will say this though, as we ground up Moerangi in dribs and drabs, occasionally grunting to one another as the next passing shower made an appearance, with only the sound of us actively destroying our drivetrains to keep us company, it definitely felt like the day was becoming biblical in nature. Real talk, there were some dark moments heading up here with the on-going nervous eye flicking between the clock and how far there was to go. Ok, this shit was now moving a notch above ‘Fucking hard’. And just think, I had no idea what was coming next…

Stage 5 – Frankenfurter, Riff Raff, Rocky Horror

I’m not sure if it was gel euphoria, or the fact that I’d avoided another Tranny reaming, or that Stage 4 had been such an awesome blast that it instilled a false sense of radness, but I found myself sitting up at the start of Stage 5 with an odd sense of optimism and stoke factor. Fuck yeah, I was into this shit man! Plus, I was really looking forward to stage 5, having hit this mofo multiple times in December, it was going to be a sweeeeeeet backing up from 4 to keep the good times rolling.

I should have known this muppet-esque fever was going to lead to some serious ramifications… But I was too busy getting lulled further into a false sense of security in the top section, which was riding pretty well:

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I’m REALLY looking forward to this – Real talk

Bearing in mind all the following photos are from practice where the trail was running “mint” by comparison, like a Little Red Riding hood from one of those poorly adapted porn movie versions (So I’m told), shit was about to go very bad when I entered the woods. Yes, every mountain biking nightmare you’ve ever had was ready and waiting for me and my newly inflated confidence:

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Possibly starting to look less forward to it…

To start with, it was actually a little fun, like a slightly terrifying slip and slide where there’s a fine line between having fun and tearing a testicle and ending up in the local paper. I managed to keep the Hightower in line when it kept getting wild, it was willing me on and suggested that I kept off the brakes and let it do its thing “We got this bro, big wheels, world class geo, dialled suspension, just sit back, relax and we be ON the motherfucker

But my stupid fucking index fingers just couldn’t do it… We just couldn’t help massage those perfectly sculpted Saint levers, who were more than happy to grab at their 203mm rotors like a drunk Senior Exec grabbing ass at work Friday night drinks.

It was the shock at how fucked up the trail was that did it – In my head, Stage 5 was pretty straightforward, but like a scene out of the Walking Dead, I arrived and instead of finding some sort of ENDURO Sanctuary, I found only destruction and doom. Its cool, keep the beast rolling, don’t freak out… Just remember Rodfather’s advice:

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The Rodfather getting to the point

The further on it went, the more I could feel the inevitable creeping in… Once I was unclipped and the front wheel started to resemble a Fatbike slick which then declared a Brexit style insane independence, I knew where we were going. As I started to Tripod so much that I resembled an extra from War of the Worlds, the spectators started to whisper to one another, as even they knew what time it was:

The whole Dirty Nomad Melt Down scenario

Its not like I rolled over and invited the double fisting in a flash of capitulation, but the further I limped through Stage 5 the more I ran out of talent to the point where not only was I like a parking garage for fingers, but I was doing the most insane shit like trying to bomb down sections with both feet off the pedals in what must have resembled ENDURO Kamikaze. Simple hairpin turns like this became complex algorithms which my fried & melted brain could not compute:

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About the point where there was nothing to look forward to… Ever again

I apologise to the parents of the children who got to witness me sliding down this hairpin turn on my ass potentially screaming “Cuuuuuunnnntttt” like a hairy pork meteor dragging a boutique Mountain Bike behind them while their kids snap chatted it and giggled to themselves that “The guy that looks like a low level Hungarian mobster just said CUNT!! Did you hear him?!” Not my finest work:

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“But, but, I rode it in practice!” became the most irrelevant sentence ever

I now realised we were in a Defcon 1 melt down, and I hadn’t even reached Rocky Horror yet… I was too busy being agar at how utterly fucked the trail was. I was paralysed by a combination of Nydia Bay PTSD (Vibe = Holy fuck its happening AGAIN!) and flashbacks to December where I was screaming down here in the dry feeling like Greg Minnaar’s illegitimate offspring (Vibe = This isn’t FAIR!).

I could tell it was cunted as I got caught for the first time all day by the rider behind me, who promptly hit a massive bog section and went over  the bars with a scream of “Fuuuuuuuuck“, it was utter carnage. Here’s a photo from the actual scene:

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“I hope they still have some of those muffins left at the feed zone…”

As I slithered into Rocky HORROR like an ENDURO turd you’d faint from trying to shit out due to my epic size, I knew that it was probably going to get worse… I’d missed the Katy Winton memo about staying positive and mental attitude and instead decided to bask in the horror of the unraveling – Embrace the SUCK motherfucker. How feral was this shit getting? I think this little clip from an industrious groups of Romans gives you a feel for how real, and cunty, the struggle was:

Suddenly I remembered why they cut this stage short in 2015… But my main concern as I slipped over trying to run up a section of trail after grinding to a halt in the mud and stalling out wasn’t that I was now sliding on my knees backwards in an EWS race stage, no, it was that my cover was going to be blown – Yes, if anyone saw this it would surely be reporting to Joe Graney from Santa Cruz that I owned 3 Road bikes and Rapha jerseys and my Hightower would be immediately confiscated. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have minded having my bike taken off me at that point as I still couldn’t get up that cunting bank…

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Ah, back to the practice run when you could still kind of see your front tire, sort of…

To try and put the experience in context, it felt a bit like having 8 Agavero shots in 10 minutes, then accidentally slipping over into one of those giant pub urinals, to find to your horror a dehydrated Biker gang with a penchant for asparagus relieving themselves on you in a synchronised manner… That may or may not be 90% based on a semi true story.

With no Predator emerging from the jungle to skin me alive, no fun if you don’t have a spine allegedly, I limped across the line like a big hairy rubbish bin on fire and filled with mud. I couldn’t fathom how sideways, literally, the stage had gone. I’ve had some world class melt downs, but this one was a top 3 entrant in the Hall of Fame. Marshall’s turned their heads as the stench of cunt emanating from me assaulted their nostrils… I would have folded my tail between my legs, except there was too much of stage 5 rammed up there to make it fit.

Stage 5 results

I think someone suggested to me that those fucking cats from the ‘ringing bells for food‘ video could have got down stage 5 quicker than me, to which I have little rebuttal. Think I’m being dramatic? As they say in cycling: Tour de France winners may lie, but the ENDURO clock never does:

  • Mark Scott – 7.24 for 15th in Open men
  • JC Superstar – 8.21 for 4th in Masters
  • Dirty Nomad – 13.41 for 142nd in Open men… Sweet… Holy… Fuck
  • Fist-O-Meter – 20/10, which makes this the full ‘double fisting scenario’, possibly blindfolded and definitely unlubricated. Yes, Mark Scott could have almost lapped me if he’d been given the chance. Excuse me sir, I believe this is your ENDURO Gimp costume?

Sidebar – Doing some rather imperfect maths here for a minute, but if I had held the line and not surrendered faster than a French army unit, I may have possibly held the usual ’48 seconds per km’ baseline to Mark, which would have seen me finish a little over 9 minutes for the stage. Errrrr…. The flaw with that logic is that would have put me in the top 100, which is fucking dream land. Having now seen the EWS video, its perplexing that the PRO’s seemed to have had a better/drier/less fucked stage 5 from what I could see. That wouldn’t explain JC superstar’s time though, especially given he was running a semi slick. Fucked if I know, not even science can help me on this one. Let’s say that Stage 5 sorted out the serious MF riders from the cannon fodder.

COME ON motherfucker! Ain’t got no time to wallow in self-cuntery, like literally there was NO time as the Marathon XC vibe kicked back in and the clock was ticking as the next big hairy Tranny started to stiffen up on us. Hill road? Let’s just say since they clear felled the hillside it seems to take more of your soul grinding up that bitch while you try to eat whatever you can find left in your pockets and try to figure out why you suddenly can’t ride a bike again. #Fuckyesthereweresomedarktimes

On my way to Stage 6 I ran into many PRO’s at the feed station who had just come out of Stage 3, in between stuffing my ‘1000 yard stare’ face with muffins, I helpfully raved on, actually frothing at the mouth, about how utterly cunted Stage 5 was… Which on reflection for them probably wasn’t a big deal, but I was determined to put the ‘Fucking A’ in Amateur. The carnage in the pits was real… Low on smiles, high on stress and war stories were flowing freely. Bearing manufactures were giddy with excitement:

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We may have to replace pretty much everything

It wasn’t all doom and cunted gloom however, we seemed to have made it up to the start of 6 with enough time to kick it for a bit, opening the rare window for a photo and to say hi to all the boys in Masters again. As such, here’s a photo with no real relevance to the story, other than everyone felt utterly fucked at this point in time:

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A weird combo of stoke and being shell shocked

Stage 6 – DH Mushroom line, Whaki

The question now was would my stage 5 melt down spread like Ebola in a non-gender specific Zurich nightclub or could we get the Dirty party train back on the rails? After Rocky Horror Bottom it would be hard to get any worse, plus I had a massive secret crush on Stage 6, so the froth levels were boosted to hit it and the penultimate stage of the day.

Fuelled by the euphoria that we were still going and about to drop into a sweet AF stage, it was on once more as that super cool German (no joke) timing system counted me in. The start of the DH line never gets old, mainly as its straight and I can actually ride the jumps:

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A classic that always manages to flatter

I had picked out some sweet lines in practice and had been loving running the Mushroom line, even Mr Rude had stopped to check out my shit YO:

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“Oh fuck… Its that guy that tried to fist pump me in Finale…”

Awesome then that I missed all my sweet lines and ended up going down a bank after sliding right off the course… At that point there was every opportunity for Melt down 2.0 to kick in and run its auto programme, but I’m pleased to say the radness of Stage 6 saved another complete capitulation and the Dirty train rolled on. Whaki was running super sweet too just quietly, a testament to the greatness of the local GC Crew and community:

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3rd time lucky and I managed to not hit the stump on the exit

I am pretty sure at this stage that everyone felt pretty cunted when they had to get on the pedals in stage 6, it was a matter of trying to balance survival with maximising on a stage that didn’t appear to be anywhere near as cunted as what we had to deal with on the other side of the forest. I did my best to fuck up the only tricky part in the last forest section, and failed…

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Every time Rots whips out a new section of forest I’ve never seen – Bravo

Stage 6 results

I don’t want to call stage 6 anti-climactic, but after the fuckfest of 5, this was back in normal lower half of the field parameters. Possibly would have been the clear second best result of the day if not for the off track excursion up top.

  • Mark Scott – 4.24 for 13th in Open men
  • JC Superstar – 5.02 for 4th in Masters
  • Dirty Nomad – 6.11 for 137th in Open men
  • Fist-O-Meter – 3/10, top section was a bit more fucked up than I had anticipated, something that occured to me as I was sliding off a benign piece of trail and down a bank, laughing like a useful idiot.

Oh man, only one stage to go in the biggest Marathon XC ENDURO race ever… As I headed over to Stage 7 solo the rain was back again and so was the climbing. Actually, pushing… As we migrated across to the final test of the day I found myself alone, in the rain and tramping up through another stunning grove of native bush.

I’m clearly not religious, but as the rain tumbled down through the bush and it dawned on me I was going to get through this beast of the day, I had the realisation that this day was transcending normality and becoming something bigger than just a bike race or a ride.

I now found myself in that odd paradox moment of the strange satisfaction of being involved in something extraordinary… An experience bigger than the individuals and one which we wanted to come to an end and continue with the same amount of passion. Excuse me while I wank on about this, but the shared experience everyone was having that day doesn’t come along all the time. Suddenly I felt no need to complain about how long the Transitions were, or how hard the conditions were or how smashed I felt.

It was like breaking through the darkness that had engulfed me on the way up to Stage 5, or at the bottom of stage 5, or halfway up to stage 6. As I hauled my munted chassis up this final climb, there was the oddest feeling of euphoria starting to take over. I can only liken it to the last day of Trans Provence, where the sense of achievement mixed with suffering is extremely unique. Yes, clearly I don’t get out enough.

We were all starting to hallucinate and battle with our own demons… There was almost a riot when an unsubstantiated rumour started to circulate that the PRO’s wouldn’t have to ride stage 5 due to it being so finger banged, which even though it was Fake News! #SAD, engendered an unsurprising response from the amateurs…

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“I can’t wait to fuck them up on Pinkbike comments!”

You knew it was a long day when even Ali (You may remember Ali from such adventures as winning Trans Provence Masters in 2015…) was coerced into a slight panic when someone alerted him to the fact his cassette and rear D was completely missing:

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“Holy fuck, I’ve been out here so long I’ve become a single speed hipster!”

Stage 7 – Corridor, Eastern Spice, Turkish, New Exit, DSP -Dodzy Skills Park

Ok… So it was now 3.29pm and I’d left the start stage 8 hours and 8 minutes earlier (AKA – The longest day of work for quite some time). All that stood between me and as much junk food I could get my muddy shaking hands on was stage 7…

It made some sort of sadistic sense that the last stage on this day of days would be one of the longest, in fact second longest and only missing out by 100m, but also have one of the least elevation drops all day. So yes, a bit of a pedal fuck fest to wrap up what felt like Judgement Day by this point. Not that the top Master’s riders were worried about that, it was so close it was all still to play for on the last stage for the win:

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Once more unto the breach for the Masters of the universe – Coach Karim with the BOSS warm up

Stage 7 certainly had its fair share of variety, starting out with the playschool version of A-Line to trick you into thinking it was going to fun all the way down. Practice shot of Baz giving it some:

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We almost made it through an entire post with it… Braaaaaaap

It occurred to me when I dropped in that instead of taking the “Fuck I can’t wait to get this over and done with” approach, it was far more prudent to go with the “This is my last trail in Rots for some time, so soak that shit up” mentality. Positive thinking was going well until shit got a bit feral in the middle section, these drops, seen here comparatively ‘mint’ were a chewed out minefield come Sunday arvo:

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The good old days, before this shit got fucked up

The nice thing about the Hightower is that, assuming you let it, it’ll pretty much mow down whatever fucks with you like a Hipster Charles Bronson. Whilst you may not realise you’re on a 29er at all (pretty much what everyone who rides one exclaims with amazement), that doesn’t mean you won’t get to experience the significant benefits when faced with trying to carry speed and your depleted body up sections like this mid EWS stage:

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Can ‘steeper than it looks’ be applied in reverse?

Bursting out of the forest like a broken condom, I dribbled my way up the final climb, determined to try and slow motion sprint it out… I even had some sort of Tony Robbins like thoughts such as “There is no tomorrow” or “These are the moments where you make a difference” or “Feel the burn and do it anyway” and decided to get out of the seat and hammer that shit, to which my thighs had a much more straight forward thought: “Fuck off cunt

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“A thousand thighs cried out in agony… And then were silenced”

After flopping over the top of that final evil, kick you for the last time in the genitals, push your face in the dog shit, down trail you in front of the soccer MILF’s climb, the last piece in this all day puzzle was a waltz through the Dodzy skills park and across that final sweet sweet laser beam to hear those harp like beeps. Ben Forbes shows the correct form here in practice on how to enter the skills park, note the landing zone is off camber:

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I’ve got a nagging feeling why perhaps Ben snapped his handlebar… Sender

Or… You can half commit, sort of jump off the second step, fuck up the off camber part and then get bounced back down into the rut. As an upside, that evokes a significantly more emotive response from the crowd, even if no bananas were harmed in the making of this post.

And so then, like this post that seems to never end, the biggest single day ENDURO race known to man had come to an end… Well, sort of, we all had to commute back to the lakeside within the time cut off, so let’s not pause here to fuck about.

Stage 7 results 

  • Mark Scott – 5.17 for 9th in Open men
  • JC Superstar – 6.19 for 7th in Masters
  • Dirty Nomad – 7.02 for 139th in Open men
  • Fist-O-Meter – 3/10, more a deep physical burn on this one, but given I was only 43 seconds per KM slower than Marky Mark from the Funky bunch and 40 odd seconds off JC Superstar you’d have to chalk that up as not the worst way to close out the DAY of Days. It was enough to get the useful idiot smile cranking…
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Waiting for the survivor guilt to kick in

Overall results

Main result is that I’m not buried under a fern somewhere and that Stylie Mike didn’t receive instructions to impound my beloved Hightower. That aside, the final wrap up, 62km’s and 2,000m of climbing later:

  • Mark Scott – 38.15 for 10th in Open men. Most cunted trails all day and Scotty still manages to rock the Hightower into the top 10? I’m possibly too old to say this, but I believe the correct term is: Fuck Yeah Boi, that shit is lit! Expect podiums later on this year Fo Sho.
  • JC Superstar – 41.57 for 4th in Masters… What a fucking EPIC result! Mad respect for JC, top 5 in Masters in any EWS round is kind of a big deal. Allegedly his balls smell of rich mahogany etc.
  • Dirty Nomad – 53.40 for 139th from 160 starters. Given 12 people DNFed, which I thought was a surprisingly low number, you don’t need to be a maths geek to work out I was more towards the ass of the dog than its mouth, which is possibly what I deserve for referring to myself in the third person. That’s cool, given I would usually roll up into a hair ball and tantrum my way out of the forest at the first sign of moisture, I was legitimately stoked just to get through the day and not blow any Tranny’s. Besides, a look at the top 10 is a reminder this shit ain’t worth stressing on:

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So many stories on that results sheet… Where to start? Ines Thoma getting 2nd after food poisoning and not even thinking she would start? Ravanel winning by over 3 mins?! Katy Winton first stage win and top 5? Wyn Masters with his first EWS win and I think only the second EWS round win for a kiwi? The first all Kiwi podium FFS?! Dailly making a massive impact in his first run in Open men? Ratboy top 10 in the longest bike ride he’s ever done? Mark Scott, Sam Hill and Greg Callaghan all having to contend with the worst trails of the day to produce what are amazing results? How many rhetorical questions can I fucking ask in one paragraph?!

Stand back while I beat the fuck out of the over used term ‘Epic’ here, but it was an epic day of epic stories… Some people got on with it and did amazing things, some not so. But everyone who made it through the day deserves a massive fist pump and a “Fuck yeah cunt“, as it was absolutely one of those days that will be reflected on and talked about for a long time to come. I’m not sure EWS will be back to Rotorua in the years ahead, which would be a shame given no one got to see it in its amazing bone dry prime. And yes, 2017 Rots made 2015 feel like ENDURO Kindergarten, which is saying something as that was my first EWS back in the day.

A massive chur and shout out to Chris Ball and the whole EWS team once again for another banger and to all the marshals who were slick and pro in the starting areas… Transition course marking team, well, yeah, beers are on you dudes for the rest of the season! And finally a massive Dirty Chur and shout out to the Rad GC Crew that made the 3 days such a fucking good time: Rodfather, SwissMissile, Jordi, JC Superstar, Tom, Jono, Ali, John and Barry:

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Practice Day 1, run 1: If only they knew what was coming…

Can’t really say another EWS Round in the bag, as this motherfucker was too big for a bag… I’ve used a billion or so words to try and highlight that, but in case you ran out of reading power, try this slickly made shredit from the EWS team on for size:

Stay tuned for the Dirty Mega March wrap up, but if you can’t be fucked with that, see you in Madeira! I’m off to indulge in my sulking FOMO at not being at Tasmania for Round 2… Gaaaaaaaaa x Billion.

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