This one has been building up for a while… Its one of those races that sits on the list of BIG ONES to do one day, but you never really get around to it. Add to that I entered it like 9 months ago, so its really felt a looong way away.

Well – Its here

And what exactly does it look like? The 5 Passes stage race is pretty much what it says it is, 610km’s in 4 days over 5 major passes in the Central South Island of NZ, over some rather stunning and epic scenery. Check it:

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Pretty much looks like the Tour de France map…

Yeah, that’s right – There are some BIG days in there for sure, check out day 2! Sheeeet… But, I will be transparent and call out that not all of the sections are raced and that some portions are ‘neutralised’ (yes, I know, ‘Gran Fondo’ and ‘Fun ride’ I hear you cry), but don’t worry, in A Grade its going to be anything but a cycling holiday.

Helping us firmly into the pain cave of hideous suffering and vomit inducing efforts is of course the hills. This is how they look on their catwalk:

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Thank fuck for the last half of day 4…

So, thus far the recipe for pain and hard racing is as follows:

  • Take 4 days of BIG distance;
  • Add a hungry and angry A Grade pack with lots of miles in the legs and a good series of races behind them already so far this year
  • Sprinkle in A LOT of climbing
  • Blend with Individual Time Trials (including a 9km hill climb TT) and Team Time Trials!

Hmmmm… What else are we missing here? It tastes like pain and suffering and certainly smells like doom, but wait… We need something else. Yes, we need some icing don’t we! Well, fuck me, Mommy Nature is all over that one – Check out the weather (read: Snow) on the very roads we will be heading over. Ah, this photo was taken in the last WEEK:

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Good O then… Pack the Rapha winter range chaps

Yes, the weather could be very ‘Interesting’ and I did note my team mates were training this week in temperatures exactly 20 degrees less than what I was riding in… I am not sure which group are the suckers. In fact, its snowing right now on the race route in NZ as I type this, so that will be interesting!

Speaking of team mates, I’m a ‘ring in’ for this race. How flash do I feel, international rider turning up and donning the local team kit to ride with the boys! Like a Dutch Burglar, only half as good really. Yes, in this instance I will be rolling with the Rivet Racing boys, check them out on Fuckbook here:

https://www.facebook.com/RivetRacing

Specifically I will be the road captain (me giving out instructions? Surely not?) for one of the teams and riding in support of our GC man, Angus. Here is the last time we rode (fast) together back in December when we were smashing the Festy 500 to pieces on the Rimas:

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Why the fuck are we smiling – the Strava segment finished 10 meters away… Goons.

Angus has always been a machine, but he has transformed this year into a Weapon of Mass Suffering, now a regular in the front end of the Wellington A Grade and an instigator of trouble at Wednesday Worlds each week. Its been great to see the transformation and I know he is going to be smashing it at 5 Passes, so I’m looking forward to delivering him into a position where he can land some killer blows.

Flying out to Christchurch on Sunday night and race starts Thursday night with a 13km individual TT… Stayed tuned for the Dirty Daily Download!

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