And so it begins for 2017, a shade over 5 months since I last had to zip tie a number plate to my handlebars and go through the process of 50% loving it and 50% mildly freaking out. Welcome to a new season!
But emotions aside, there I was in stunning Whites Bay, going through the usual ritual of wishing I could ride without a pack so I looked more PRO, but ultimately caving in due to my penchant for needing too much water or carrying half a workshop of shit, 90% of which I wouldn’t be able to actually use in a real mechanical emergency.
That being said, the location between the last race of 2016 and the first timed cherry popper of TwentySeventeen couldn’t have been more different, even if they did both finish on a beach. Welcome to Whites Bay, Marlborough, for Day 1 of the NZ Enduro – The Dirty perspective:
As I mentioned in the mission briefing, this wasn’t any ordinary NZ ENDURO race, fuck no… This was effectively EWS Round 0.1, hiding in camouflage as a ‘Racecation’… But with an EWS Champ, a multiple EWS round winner, a World Cup DH champ and most of the top 20 PRO’s sifting around the Whites Bay camping ground it was pretty clear that the first race of the year was kind of a big deal and its balls smelled of radness. Speaking of rad cunts, I had my priorities with those I had to seek out and stalk:
Continuing with the theme that this wasn’t your normal kiwi ENDURO race, its definitely not usual protocol to see Damien Oton and Remy Absalon chilling and having a French rap battle on the side of the road.
Pro tip – When you say “Bonjour” trying to be down with the Frenchies, brace yourself for awkwardness when they machine gun you back with a full French sentence which results in you going “Heh, yeah” whilst smiling like a stalking goon. Good times.
The PRO thing to do it seemed was to get a lap in of the first stage of the day, confirmation that the #freeridenotpreride vibe from October last year has been consigned to the millennial trash can faster than you can say “Holy fuck Marco Osborne sends it like a sick cunt“, which isn’t half as fast as trying to catch him with any form of lensed device:
Whilst I didn’t manage a warm up lap, opting to stand around on the side of the track kicking the dirt watching others ride it (in the hope I would learn it my osmosis), I had already seen 4 PRO’s before I’d even had a chance for my first nervous piss.
Better than that, it was dry, to which we all paid much homage. Based on the terrain composition, this isn’t a place you’d be queuing up to race down in the wet if you could help it. The forecast of doom did cast a long shadow over us, but it was time to “live in the now brah” and embrace some prime NZ awesomeness which was assaulting our senses:
With this magnificence came some quality Kiwi late summer bead action, the hike up to double eagle getting everyone wet with anticipation… Jono displays the correct level of saturation here pre stage:
After we were done looking down on people and feeling sorry for them because they were on tiny little 275 wheels (Welcome to the big wheel cult), it was time to crack into the first hot one of the year.
Stage 1 – Double Eagle
I have a well documented penchant for fucking up Stage 1’s with an absolute reckless abandon, to the point that anyone who watches me will readily agree I need to be prescribed a strong cocktail of Ritalin and horse tranquilliser. As such, the first stage of the year was rubbing its trees together at the prospect of shit going massively sideways and it dishing out a solid pegging… But I’m pleased to say that amazingly, I wasn’t one of the people who made the crash reel on this corner:
Perhaps I’m turning over a new leaf in 17, but halfway through stage 1 I realised I wasn’t fingerbanging it to the point of numbness, which was encouraging… So much so I threw in a few tree bar clipping moments for good measure right when I was busy being quietly impressed with myself. Almost had myself a squid salad at this point as well:
Double Eagle is a rad little trail, at only 1.2km’s long with an average gradient of -24%, its a perfect blend of speed, excellent corners and steep dropping sections through the bush. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was also not only the easiest stage of the race, but also the only man made one as well. NZ Enduro = Native as fuck. If you’re around White’s Bay, make sure you emotionally black mail someone into shuttling you to do a few runs, preferably in a 4WD as its a hike to the top off the gravel road.
For today’s Dirty Patented ‘unrealistic & self loathing results comparison exercise’, I have selected Santa Cruz PRO rider Mark Scott (5th in EWS Finale) and the Rodfather, who is basically an Ambassador of Santa Cruz Kwan to make it an all Hightower affair (yeah, fuck yeah etc) as I refer to myself in the third person when describing results #cunt:
- Mark Scott – 3.10 for 15th in PRO men #notallhightowersarecreatedequal
- Rodfather – 3.35 for 7th in Masters
- Dirty Nomad – 3.55 for 36th in Open men (Spoiler alert – As it turned out, my best stage result all race…)
More importantly, Jono opened the Dirty Mega March fisting account with a very precise, focused and analytical style, you can see here as he calculates the trajectory and computes the most effective impact outcome at the end of the stage:
Contrast that style with the Rodfather, who as we can see here takes the Donald Trump approach and builds on it: Full body commitment, leans into it, maximum extension, head down and solid follow through. Just like fucking a 90’s full suspension bike…
So aside from all the PRO’s drizzled on this event like chocolate sauce on a Sundae made by a 400 pound hacker, it was also the who’s fucking who of NZ Mountain Biking royalty. People I used to try and race against in the 90’s, dudes who regularly dominate the podium on the local scene and MoFuck shredders who aren’t aware its possible that tires are made with less than 2.3 width tread. Here is the cream, literally at the top of stage 2:
Another stage, another blind experience… I did feel like one of the only people dumb enough to come here and try to ride full speed blind down here, but the only intel I got from people was about the 2 climbs at the end. Everyone who I quizzed with the non value add question of “Whaz this one like bro?” seemed to just refer back to the two cunty climbs somewhere in the middle and/or end depending on who you spoke to. Before I could get to that though, I first paid homage to the fact that sticking with 760mm bars was about to pay dividends:
The top was as rowdy as a van/bus full of Santa Cruz Millennials, steep, off camber and either rocky or with more roots than a Contiki bus tour. I was quite relieved in my head that it was going to be this way most/all of the way down given my mega Hightower hoops were crushing this shit and laughing. Yes, all I had to contend with were those 2 pinch climbs at the end, a good thing as I was feeling a bit pinched myself… Wait… What, fuck: FAKE NEWS!
Turned out that it wasn’t just the two little cunts at the end that were waiting to make you pant like a pug on a treadmill turned up to top speed. No, there was plenty of life sucking and awkward little climbs littered throughout stage 2 that had me instantly looking like a sea lion trying to fuck an ENDURO bike. Did I mention it was quite warm?
Finally after all the Faux Hill business, I arrived at the legit hills I had heard so much about. I’d been told that 90% of people would have to get off and run/crawl/trip/hurl up the first one. Welcome to the view from the 90% clubhouse:
If you do happen to make over the first face slapping encounter, there is its longer and more depressing cousin waiting to kick you in the genitalia, reducing most of us to a dribbling crawling wreck unable to get out of the saddle and sprint like we think we should. You know that moment when you see Richie Rude in your head out of the seat smashing it and that how you think you ride? Yeah, this is definitely not one of those moments.
No time to waste in despair though, the end of this 3.5km stage is rippingly fast, replete with keenly placed trees and even equipped with small children who are keen to imitate skittles.
Given the theme of the day was a sweet mixture of PRO’s, Yeoooow’s (I still fuck up the pronunciation) and fistings, let’s check out the Big Dawg’s style, Sven putting down the camera to take up race director duties, but still finding the time to dish out the most nonchalant pounding you’re ever likely to see… Clearly he’s a connoisseur of high quality fisting:
And here’s The “I’m starting 3 riders behind you, I won’t even get close to you” Rodfather coming in having devoured 1 min 15 seconds of the gap. So easy he even did it with his eyes closed, impressive shit:
It was indeed a stage where the mettle was tested and those with suspect form found out… Cue the inevitable slide into the pool of realisation that I need to do a lot more MOUNTAIN biking for fuuuuucks sake.
- Mark Scott – 8.47 for 4th in PRO men
- Rodfather – 10.47 for 5th in Masters (I’m so unfit blah fucking blah blah)
- Dirty Nomad – 12.03 for 41st in Open Men
What a fucking excellent day! As far as first race days go, that was pretty fuuuuucking rad. Excellent crew, banger dry trails and everything was pretty chilled. Not the longest day ever, but given I ran out of water in the 25 deg heat at the top of stage 2 meant I was feeling more fingered than the profile suggested I should.
Any now, cue on line forums losing their minds over this random PRO bike spy shot:
Now that I’ve spammed you with words, insecurities and general ranting, if you made it this far and just want to watch a video, sit back and relax as you take in the very polished day 1 run down from the rather more legitimate NZ Enduro Media crew:
So the weather ended up smiling on us for Day 1… But that’s probably because it was saving up its abuse for Day 2… Everyone knew it was coming, with potentially something biblical on the cards for a day that maybe even kept me awake that night, more so as the rain started to massage the roof. Stay tuned for day 2 action and the BIG WET as we tackled my Nydia nemesis. Fart noise.