For those counting, yes, it has indeed been a long break between Mission Briefings, so I shall make this, er, brief. Its brevity is powered by the fact I have been spending an inordinate amount of time turning 170mm MTB cranks lately, plus I’m literally about to fly out of the new Dirty HQ to hit the first big event of Twenty18.

It’s also a mission that kills two Dirty birds (hopefully magpies) with a single stone – Its my first time to South America and it ticks off another cycling bucket list event:

Andes Pacifico

As a head line, 5 days in Chile ENDURO racing through epic mountains all the way down to the Patagonia coast is fairly fucking impressive I’m sure you’ll agree, and to be honest that’s about as far as my knowledge extends in terms of what’s coming up. At this stage I remain as blissfully ignorant as a Fat Donny voter as to what I’m getting myself in for, aside from one notable exception.

This exception happens to be pretty much the first thing that rolls off the dry lips of any former participants when you mention you’re heading to the AP:

Anti grip

And they don’t really say it like a passing data point, no no, its more one of those horrified vibes, like they’re having a flashback to being a Taliban sex toy or something equally disturbing. They look off into the distance as their chin quivers and they try to work out if they should run away from you, or hug you to try and save you from your own naivety. I’m not talking punters either, I’m referring to some legendary Muthafuckas such as Rad Ryan from TP and even the unofficial head of the EWS Media circus, Sven Martin.

As far I can glean, Anti Grip refers to the fact that the terrain hates you and wants to help you with removing skin from your hips and any other un-armoured section of chassis. Is it dust? Is it slippery loose shit over gnar? Is it gravel? What is this AG shit all about? I was bemused.

I therefore took the liberty of e-mail stalking reaching out to Seb Kemp, who not only knows a thing or two about riding a bike, but who’s writing also makes mine appear like its coming from a shaved dyslexic squirrel. I had hoped for perhaps a modicum of sugar coated and confidence inspiring lies, but in the true sign of GCness, I got hot, hard and dusty authenticity instead… Allow me to quote:

“Seriously, it’s way worse than you can imagine. It’s probably the worst conditions I’ve ever ridden on. Imagine a steep trail made of wet clay and you’re riding it on a bike with shit tires with worn tread and grabby brakes. That’s how it feels. Feels. But the head fuck is it looks totally welcoming and normal. It’s warm, dry, and you’re riding your superpowered space horse for the planet Rad. But this will all lull you into a false sense of security.
 
I found myself, on the first stage of the first day, riding down the trail thinking ‘what’s all the fuss about, I’ve ridden in dust a million times. This is easy. See, I’ll try a bit of brake…[faint turkey warble and tires scuffing] Nothing. It’s fine. I’ll take it easy-ish on this corner and see how it goes…[SCHRALP]. Oh, that was a piece of piss. Let’s have it. Let’s get a jog on, a bit at least. [WHALLOP, SMASH, BANG, SHREECH!] FUCK ME! What the fuck happened?!?!?!?”
Seb ‘bad muthafucka’ Kemp

 

Holy… Fucking… Shit! Reading that was a bit like going into a bar to pick someone up and your opening line being “Hey, how about a golden shower when we get back to your place? I’ve been smashing Berocca all day“, not exactly a seductive proposition to contend with. On the bright side, he did mention that the BBQ is pretty awesome, so I’m going to focus exclusively on that advice whilst I search on-line for adult diapers which also have a comfortable chamois built into them.

In other good news, I’ve discovered that the Pon Holdings Group global restraining order against touching it’s athlete’s doesn’t have any jurisdiction in South America, which is tremendous news given the whole Santa Cruz team will be present. Pass me the chloroform and polish up that selfie camera lens, I’ve been busy cramming as much awkwardness into my Evoc bag as I can possible manage. I may not be prepared for Anti Grip, but I’m absolutely ready to remind the boys how fucking awesome it is riding with over zealous customers:

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“Mark, technically am I still ‘Lit AF’ even though I just swerved every gap jump in the last run?”

This is my second attempt at getting to South America, the first of course ambushed and made to squeal like a pig by that pesky broken neck scenario back in the day, which vaporised my planned EWS back to back there in 2016. I’ve therefore ensured that this time around preparation has been vastly more appropriate when it comes to getting looser than that goose your Uncle Stan is worryingly fond of.

I’ve been able to maximise on being back in NZ to ram in as much radness as my T Rex arms could cope with, which saw January boast a 7 to 1 Dirt to Road ride ratio alone, but more importantly it was rammed full of rad cunts in a veritable who’s who of locally famous units who made me ride my bike in ways that felt like 50% terror and 50% endurogasim most of the time. It’s felt like the last few months have been spent frothing with rad GC’s and draining the Southstar Landy of gas at an alarming rate, something the Nomad 4 has absolutely loved, at least one of us is more than ready for a massive Chilean adventure:

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High grip pumice dirt riding likely to be a sub optimal preparation approach, but Sweet Hesus with Smith gogs on it was fun as fuck

I think racing starts on the 13th or so, fuck knows where or how, but I’m looking forward to finding out and answering all the questions I probably don’t realise that I have right now.

Will we succumb to the mythical anti-grip? Will I be able to throw the forks while drifting through a Chilean dust cloud? Will I meet a Donkey called Geppetto? Will I drink enough Pisco to unleash an uninvited pelican on a Santa Cruz Pro team member (Heads up Iago)? Will this create Trans Provence levels of multi day racing stoke? Can I get through a 5 day race without crying on the inside? Will the SwissMissile finally post something on Instagram? And will I finish race reports with this many open ended questions?

Fucked if anyone knows, but stay tuned to find out (Ed note – Likely that it will take me weeks to get race reports out, so check out the Gram where I will be spanking off daily)

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