Given its 2016, not only does no one care about facts, but you can confidently brandish about quotes with relatively impunity. So, with that in mind, apparently Einstein said this:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”
Was he talking about large corporates doing projects? No… Trusting politicians? No… Thinking that your hubs will be relevant 6 months after you brought them? Hell no. In fact, he was referring to how I roll at EWS events:
- Kind of do a whole lot of aimless road riding, 95% of which lacks the correct intensity
- Buy some new parts that you hope like fuck will make you better/faster, even though deep down you know they probably won’t
- Throw in a token gym session, meaning I’m short about 15-20 sessions #Trexarms
- Arrive with fundamental technique flaws screaming out and proceed directly to some sort of stage melt down over the weekend. Implement self loathing and wait for the chance to repeat the process at next round.
Whilst the horse had bolted on the first three points, at least it wasn’t too late to take to the last one with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. Which roughly translates to sitting around in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II drinking coffee and having a bike wank…
Semi seriously though, Day 2 on the Finals @ Finale Mission and we were about to kick off the journey of self discovery and enlightenment to shed our old skins and transform, emerging from an ENDURO chrysalis, not as middle aged amateurs with back packs, but as semi-PRO ENDURO gladiators wearing T Shirts and never needing water, or food or any form of tools. Yes, it was coaching day!
Part 1 – Put me in coach!!
However, little did we know that we were about to embark on the ENDURO equivalent of ‘Training Day’
If the Swiss Missile and I had the nervous white dude part nailed to the wall, then playing the role of Denzel Washington was none other than Karim Amour.
Yeah, that would be the Karim that used to finish in the Top 10 at World Cup DH rounds, was PRO for around 20 years, came in the top 25 in PRO EWS rounds and this year has won 4 of the 5 EWS Masters rounds he’s raced in the series, the last one by over 2 minutes 30 seconds… And of course, French as fuck:
Like sex toys, the key thing about coaching of course is finding the right fit. Its easy to end up in the “What the fuck am I doing here” camp, where you’re faced with potentially one of the following interactions from the “coach” you’ve hooked up with:
“This is a handlebar, so when you want to go right, turn it this way… Now, do you know that you’re supposed to brake before the corner? Oh cool, you’ve done some biking before? So fun isn’t it! I love trees. Hard tails are so cool”
Or, alternatively, there is this scenario:
“Rad Brah’s, try and watch me as I burn down this trail that I’ve ridden a million times that you’re seeing for the first time and I’ll send it over all the triples while I make you look like total cunts… See you at the bottom YO!! Oh yeah, make sure you turn left, right, double left, right again and then tell me all the things you did shit. Savage my bro’s… By the way, make sure you hit the creek gap jump!”
As such, I had high hopes that Coach Karim was going to be a French Coaching Goldilocks…
If I didn’t do a good enough job of setting expectations before, let me be clear that Karim is definitely in the top 1% in terms of riding a mountain bike down a hill fast… You don’t podium at a World Cup DH round without being in that club, so when he meant ‘no pedalling warm up’, that translated into Nomad speak as ‘Full gas race run’, which is where we first got introduced to Term #1 of the day (best said with a French accent): ENDURO Line!
So, with coaching credentials established, we started to get into the very serious business of analysing exactly what level of ENDURO Flog Donkey we were operating at and how much of a task Coach Karim had ahead of him to exorcise our cuntery. Perfect timing for the Swiss Missile to suffer a software malfunction and almost endo over a rock drop… Twice…
Karim quickly summed up how keen we were to maim ourselves and realised it was important to speak to us in calming tones using simple sentences, we turned out to be an attentive audience:
Like ENDURO Minions we inhaled every word and hand gesture, I even listened when he spoke in French… Hoping that if I nodded and said ‘Oui’ in reply some of the top 1% skill would magically transfer itself. As part of this process, we were introduced to one of the most anxiety inducing sentences said all day:
“I ride behind you Oui”
Initially, this was fine, as it meant the ENDURO Coaching Terminator was sucking in all the data about every failing you were subjecting your bike to. Talk about parking the ego, which is obviously essential if you want to improve. It didn’t take long for my laundry list to start to become apparent…
- Too rigid and stiff (not often that’s seen as a negative) on the bike
- Not looking down the trail enough
- Not moving my shoulders
- dropping my outside foot in the corners (and contrary to popular belief, that’s not cool)
- Waaaaay too much pedalling and not enough flow
- WTF on my line choices?
Holy shit, so its not all craft beer and croissants on this trip clearly. We were getting into some heavy work here as we set about curing ourselves of our cuntishness. Of course, as the #SwissMissile found, the other thing about having an ENDURO legend riding millimetres behind you was it potentially guided you into the nearest tree.
To eliminate the most obvious variable, we kept running the same trail over and over again initially, so we didn’t have the additional mind fuck of trying to ride blind while embarking on the most comprehensive riding self improvement programme ever seen in ENDURO. Luckily for me the end of the trail was the same one that killed my Enve M70 last year (lest we forget).
So here’s the thing… When someone starts to point out all the cunted things you’re doing, but then also shows you how to fix them, or as we say it in NZ, fux them, you will initially feel like a muppet crossed with a gimp (Mimp?) as you start to purge yourself of your cuntery. Its a bit like going cold turkey, shit will feel worse before it gets better.
I spent a few runs feeling, and I am sure looking, like a total fuckbag… Constantly reverting back to old behaviours and habits. Fuck me… Feet level, enduro line, look ahead, move the shoulders, don’t pedal, hover, don’t tense up, let the bike move and above all (Term #2): Be Dynamic!!
For someone who can’t even watch 2 minutes of TV without checking their phone, I felt like I was having a stroke a few times having to concentrate so much. Especially when Coach Karim went next level and rode behind you relaying his instructions and braking heavily as you carried 50% of the speed through sections than he normally would.
But then, suddenly at some point, it started to click… Yes, like that moment when you have more lego pieces stuck together than left on the table, it all started to make sense. What followed was an avalanche of not only improvement, but euphoria… Bit by bit my cuntery started to drop by the side of the trail like an unwanted tail and the stoke factor was busting out. I was frothing and Coach Karim was giving it the thumbs up:
Aside from running goggles with my full face, I think the biggest thing helping this improvement curve was ruthlessly cutting out the pedalling, not something you need to ask me twice to do, as well as stopping my legs from going rigid and letting the bike move a lot more than I had previously.
Ultimately its a crazy symphony of a lot of things all cuming together in a massive ENDUROgasim, but shit was getting rad and it was happening fast. Although, not as fast as Coach K:
We then did three distinct runs where, although they were all blind, I was actually having an out of body experience. Holy fuck, this wasn’t me riding the bike, this was someone else… Carrying speed, not shitting myself, carving my way through rock gardens, railing turns and basically riding a bike in a way that I can’t recall doing in a very long time. The bike was moving under me like I was giving it a lap dance and we were blasting through sections in a manner that felt simply bizarre, especially with the distinct lack of braking.
I’m not religious (obviously), but even I started to think that the BH on Coach Karim’s jersey stood for ‘Baby Hesus’. We were being taught to fish for Gnar like never before and it was straight up fucking awesome. Sure, there were indiscretions along the way here and there, but in terms of sheer fun and radness, this day couldn’t get any better! But motherfucker, I was even wrong about that…
Part 2 – The French ENDURO Mafia
So, you know, do some crazy runs in ENDURO riding heaven, have a bad ass Italian lunch and then for your arvo session the Greatest of all time rocks up in the form of Nico Vouilloz, holy fuck yes the 10 TIME World Champion… You can actually see the nervous excited virgin look in my PRO stalking eyes at this crazy moment… Stay cool, stay cool man:
But before I could even tell him I used to cut his picture out of Mountain Bike Action and stick it on the wall, and mainly thanks to Coach Karim (Basically a made man in the French ENDURO Mafia), it was time to head up and turn some laps in. Yes, #preride this motherfuckers: When you get the chance to run some trails with this crew, you don’t say no… Even when you’re not very useful in the wheelie competition:
Yeah, so that’s also Adrien Dailly rolling there, current U21 points leader and likely future World Champ… Nico and I decided we didn’t need those antics and to just cruise at the back and I talked to him inside my head…
There’s an outside chance potentially that we were heading down an EWS race stage, but with the trails not officially closed until 9pm, this little piggy wasn’t about to avoid diving head first into this sweet ENDURO shit pool. Coach Karem displaying both ENDURO Line! and being Dynamic! all in one go:
Nico and I then decided to hang out and scope some lines together… In my head I gave him my low down on which lines to hit. I’m going to say that the Go PRO struggled to capture this shot well due to the low light conditions as opposed to me shaking with excitement. I was so fucken chilled out.
ENDURO Baby Hesus actually did end up jumping the whole thing…
And then inevitably sent us ENDURO minions back up the hill to do the same thing, but with the usual Coach Karim instructions, cue French accent: Look ahead, be Dynamic, feet level, ENDURO line! With that in mind, its hard to tell here if the look on his face is due to my sheer amazing pace, or that he thinks I’m about to ride straight into him…
Funnily enough my first time down there I was dreadful, but following the instructions from CK to the letter, I not only hit it twice as fast, but oddly, it even felt easy… How dare I say that? Real talk. Bringing all the goodness together into that section and I plowed the motherfucker in a way I would never have previously. MAD Stoke.
Nico then of course had a crack at the interesting little section we had been sessioning and as you’d fairly expect, he obliterated it… So fast of course that when I reviewed the files, this was the only usable screen grab. That tells us he was fucking quick and I need a Go PRO Hero 5 clearly.
This wasn’t a one hit wonder either… Even though we were baked after an epic 7 hours out and about, when the chance to do “Just one more run” with ET pops up, you ignore your arms and hands and just get in the van. I decided to get a group shot first though, with a slightly stalker vibe to it…
Holy fuck, what a seriously rad day… Not only did I finally feel like I was riding my bike like I actually wanted to, or even faster than I wanted to at a lot of points, but I had finally picked up some intel on what I had to do to keep improving.
Add to that running some laps with one of the greats and you bet I had turned into a giant froth monster. Clearly I was the most excited, and I needed to show it in my usual Dirty special way. The French ENDURO Mafia stunned that I had the moxy to actually attempt to fist the Godfather…
Bust out the Hall of Dirty Fame – This was a confirmed EuroBanger day of mega proportions. But let me summarise with this rather obvious point, fucken quote me too:
“There is no amount of money that you can spend on your bike that will make you as fast as getting the right level of coaching to address your riding cuntery”
Yes, that’s terribly upsetting if you’re a consumer zombie and think that wider rims are going to suddenly unleash your inner PRO. All those things do provide upsides, but ultimately if you want to really step your shit up, then you need to work on yourself and not your kit.
A massive Dirty thanks to Karim for the awesome coaching, the Swiss Missile for setting it up, Nico for not filing a restraining order and our driver Christiano. Mega day out you #GCcrew.
Congrats if you made it this far on today’s mega post, its been nice to write about how rad it was for a change as opposed to getting smashed by the terrain or the riding. Now, the next mission was to build on this radness and carry it into the weekend…