BOOOM! After a full two days of ENDURO fever led by Herr Doktor, we had nicely built up for the final stroke and the massive eClimax that awaited us, the raison d’être for the mission (its important in the world of ENDURO to occasionally drop in some French, as they pretty much not only invented it, but also how to cheat at it). Yes, we were in town to pop our ENDURO cherry and earn those wings… And as I mentioned in the mission briefing, what better way to do it than dropping into the knife fight in a telephone box that is the FINAL round of the WA Gravity Enduro series! For real, check it out here on this giant map:
Add to the above picture the appearance of Mr Sam Hill, in his backyard of course, yes, the Sam Hill that vaporised the DH course in Meribel and provided me with plenty of tips on how its done over there. To be noted he was the only Celeb I failed to capture a pic with, he has now become my Holy Grail of stalks, but like the Rock Drop on A-Line, I suspect I don’t have the balls to pull it off.
I thought that maybe dressing well would help me out. Its important to start the day by lining your kit up with Rainman OCD styles, taking important care to get as many #theyresohotrightnow brand names in the shot as possible, I managed to nail about 9 here, so I still have some work to do before I match Wolf’s levels. Its also to be noted that this is the last time my gear was seen alive in this state:
My experience thus far of Perth had been nothing but absolute dryness… Indeed in December last year it was so dry it was sketchier than visiting the Midland Mall without a tattoo that says “Australia, Fuck YEAH” on your neck. Friday and Saturday’s rides only reinforced the notion that the place felt like it lives in permanent droughtville… However, on Sunday morning I was awoken to not only the alarming tone of Wolf snoring, but that distinct sound of rain introducing a new level of cuntishness to the challenge of losing our ENDURO virginity (well, not Dok, he already had a notch on the belt). Turns out it was centred on the race venue:
Don’t let those goofy grins confuse you, right as we were in the middle of the “Gonna take a jacket cunts?” debate, it really started to ream down… Taking refuge in Truckosaurus and it quickly became clear what we were in the middle of. Yes, that’s right, Endurogeddon was upon us:
I’ve used this cliche before, but it seems apt at this point: Its not called ‘cleannomad.com’ is it? Hell no, so it was time to put on a rubbish bag (some more Dok DIY), man up and go and get these motherfucking Nomad’s proper DIRTY:
Race village was somewhat under water, but it was still nice to be arriving at an MTB race that wasn’t rammed with lycra clad XC bandits (thanks Ratboy for that fabulous quote), it was pretty relaxed and you can even see people really getting into the spirit of ENDURO on the right running practice laps of stage 4, definitely French:
Wolf had bigger issues to worry about than the rain or the NRL Grand Final, and absolutely had his game face on as he reflected deeply on his approach for the day, his nostrils surveying the landscape before him:
Unbeknown to Wolf and I, the Paparazzi had already located us and started to snap away… Hard to avoid the limelight when people mistake you for Cedric Gracia’s special needs younger twin brothers. There is NOTHING more ENDURO than a couple of bearded guys from Singapore standing around with matching Nomad’s looking pristine taking photos:
Whilst we stood around not listening to the race briefing and absolutely ignoring the Blonde CRC Models, it really started to piss down again… Right on queue for the first trek (shit bikes) up the hill. All the stages pretty much started from the same spot, so it was time to move out. Yes, that’s a river running down the hill to the right…
Wolf was super pumped to see Sam Hill arrive in the queue behind us for Stage 1. Notice the smirk of quiet confidence on his face, but perhaps ultimately dressing in the Canterbury Bulldogs colours wasn’t the best omen for the day ahead:
This was perhaps my first indication of the coolness of the format… Rock up with your mates, work out where you want to start and pick a spot in the queue where you think A) I won’t catch the person ahead of me and B) I won’t get shredded to fuck like bad coleslaw by the fucker behind me. And then, away you go… Tag in, tag out! None of this lung and leg fingering XC sprint start business (well, maybe a little of that) and also none of this “Oh fuck, can I actually make that first gap jump?” shit your pants business of a DH race.
Stage 1 – The warm up?
Allegedly Stage 1 was the hardest of the day… We had ridden this stage on Friday and to be honest, it didn’t seem too bad. It was dry, fast, fun, with some good rock sections and we had the A lines dialled. There was a passing comment about what a cuntox it would be in the wet, but fuck man, don’t worry about that, this is Perth! It’ll be sweet right?
Instinctively we knew that it would be cunty in the off camber grass sections, so we thought it best to send a large scientific probe ahead to map out the levels of sketchiness, Dok leading the way with the correct ENDURO tag off form, even when its a loooong way to bend down to tap that little white box, to be fair it wasn’t his first time…
So, here I was… About to hit my very first ENDURO stage in what I hope is a long and fruitful not really PRO career of racing such a format. I felt good… Fit… Been riding well for two days… Loving the bike, super relaxed and ready to roll. Tag and OFF we go!! BOOM! How did I feel?! Well, after about 45 seconds I felt and looked just like this:
Fuuuuuuck… where was the guy that had been feeling loose and relaxed on Medivac and screaming out in shredding ecstasy down Judders the day before? I had tightened up massively and was taking horrendous lines I didn’t even know existed, how was it possible to ride this badly and become Scottish overnight? Here are three words you don’t want in a sentence:
- Off camber
- Grass (actually, it wasn’t really grass by the time we arrived on the scene)
Turns out all the stuff we smashed on Friday was a trap that was slipperier than Admiral Ackbar’s eyeball. I looked more like a retarded stock car race on the mid section than a Mountain Bike from the future carving sweet terrain. One of the problems that became readily apparent was the vision aspect, this view from the Go PRO pretty much mirroring what I saw through my goggles:
I was in disbelief at not only how slowly I was going on stuff that I had felt we murdered on Friday, but I was sounding like a water buffalo giving birth to an elephant, totally blowing out… So much for following the immortal words of Nicolas Vouilloz:
“Always go as fast as you can, even if it means going slowly”
I think the conditions of the day demanded such an approach. I was happy to just survive stage 1 in one piece, a sentiment echoed by the whole crew. We waited for the wolf to arrive… It was slightly alarming to say the least when Sam Hill arrived on the scene and shredded not only the finish, but also as it turns out, Das Wolf. Yes, in a moment of ‘Man Down’, Wolf got to witness a masterclass in bike handling first hand as Hill ripped past him like it was a warm down run, the full frontal assault of his maaaad skills right up in Wolf’s snout. #notnormal.
Recovering somewhat, here Wolf shows his perfect style for tapping that little white box like its 1996 at the end of stage 1:
I had arrived at the end of Stage 1 to find Dok and Aaron having a casual convo with Mr Hill, managing to maintain an aura of coolness… I tried to contain myself but ended up impersonating a pooch with a peanut butter disorder and stumbled into the middle of the conversion with a poorly timed and awkwardly executed: “I watched you win in Meribel man!“. You could see him calculate that I was in fact the person milling around near the CRC pits in France with a Go PRO on my head and now I had shown up in his backyard, alarming to say the least. The restraining order is in the mail. My iPhone shook in my twitching hand and he flashed me that “Don’t even think about it” look, so it was clearly time to stumble on to Stage 2. It was about this time that we had a moment of controversy when Wolf realised the format for the day:
Stage 2 – Who smashed the Box?
Not to be perturbed, I switched to stealth drone mode to get the celeb pic for the day, a quick spy shot of SH about to shred Stage 2 back to the stone ages, which we got to witness for about 10 seconds after he tagged in:
We all took a new approach into stage 2 after stage 1’s rude wake up call/vigorous slap in the face and that was to chill the fuck out like a bunch of fonzies. This seemed to work for me and I was mildly pleased that I felt less of a turd, sure, not as fast as I wanted to be, but not completely depressing either, but, it was inconsistent. It was about this time that I worked out how radness levels work in an ENDURO stage, it looks something like this:
What does the up part of that equation look like? Well, pinning this is a good start, a bit of a gap step up through some trees that wanted to taste your Enve bars, was pleased to nail it, to be honest, probably only did it as I couldn’t see where the fuck I was actually going… The word ‘involuntary’ springs to mind:
We all actually gave stage 2 a bit of beans, mainly as it had a dragging climb to the finish… It demanded a bit of investment and as such, there was more than a bit of consternation when we discovered that someone had smashed the BOX at the end… Basically it had got so wet it stopped working, first time I have EVER heard of that happening. Confusing. No time tag out of the stage, so onward and upward again…
Stage 3 – My EYES!!
Ah… Stage 3… Ok, so now we were blind, as in, had never seen this one before, so everything we hit was brand new and we had no idea how many lines there were or which way they went. Basically its like going on a blind-folded date and finding out its actually an Alsatian licking your ear, fun for some, but ultimately less than appealing. 100m into the stage and we actually found out that it was blind for another reason as well, this was the view through the goggles:
Less than a minute into the stage I had the stark realisation that I had two choices:
- Keep goggles on, probably die
- Rip goggles off, probably lose an eye through mud ingestion
Given I had two eyes and only one life, I opted for 2… Sure enough, within 50m I had shit flying into my eyes faster than you can say “Woah, that’s a bad case of pink eye bro“… Aside from having to keep my eyes open and not blink the whole way down, stage 3 was actually a lot of fun! The wettest so far, but when it wasn’t death off camber black mud, it actually had a lot of grip and of course, every single mm of it was brand new to us, so no one was bored. I made a bee line for the river to try and recover my eye balls and then you guessed it… Back to the top.
Stage 4 – BIG man down
There’s really only one photo from stage 4 that I can put in that looks like anything at all… This one:
That’s the look of relief based on the following aspects:
- I still had both eyes
- I had survived the stage
- I kept it pretty much upright
- I was so muddy no one could tell I basically shit myself multiple times on the final stage
Yeah, another blind one and this time we happened to wander into a
minefield Four Cross track that had bogs in all the wrong places. As this outlines, it was sloppier than warm yoghurt:
Unfortunately the evil stage 4 felled the big timber, with Herr Doktor having a big one on a double lower down in the stage. He basically survived a massive one Scot/cunt free, except life did find a way to mess him up, with the smallest of rocks finding its way under the Dok’s POC’s to shred him up (#ROCDOKPOC). However, the race was done and everyone still had massive stoke factor happening, even with the pissing rain and Endurogeddon conditions. We even had time to hang out with Ned Kelly and talk about how good the new Nomad is:
WORD to my awesome support crew for the day, its not often you can say your little sister is fully Dirty, but she represented with the appropriate kit for the job, so big ups. Hearing Mama Nomad shout out from the sidelines did give me some horrific flashbacks to 8 year old soccer matches, but thanks for coming out in the pissing rain team:
Dok went off to get Medivaced for real, which caused some initial panic when the St Johns people first thought that his feet had been amputated, but we reassured them that no, those were the original units and yes, it does give the bird to basic physics. Patch him up and ship him back out:
We got word that they had fixed the timing for stage 2, but with a man down, a wolf already drowning his face in a burger like it was a once a month special and it getting generally cold, the collective call was made to pull pin and not re-run the stage. Besides, shit had taken a beating. Its absolutely DIRTY Nomad domination loaded into the UTErus:
Given we had a plane to catch, we couldn’t piss about. The only problem now though was that with Dok injured, it was up to the Singaporean residents to do the clean up. This was the first time in a decade the wolf had been faced with such a notion, the look on his face sums it up:
Not to judge us too harshly, things were a fucking mess and added to that, Dok’s shorts were like a small tent covered in rhino diarrhoea:
So… Congrats on making it to the end of a rather gargantuan and epic post. But fuck, what else could I possibly do to sum up such a massive day. I actually LOVED the Enduro racing and format, even though it was in conditions that I usually refuse to participate in. In the dry it would have been absolutely mental and fast, but regardless it was a great day on the bike and riding with the boys. The Nomad 3 also allowed me to ride and survive things that I would have come super unglued on riding the older model, so overall a brilliant introduction to what is clearly the future of racing on an MTB. I can see straight away why everyone raves. No results yet, but watch this space.
As an aside to wrap things up, plus to prove that Mother Nature hates drive trains, bearings (unless you run Chris King) and race organisers, here is Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Perth:
A massive thanks to Herr Doktor and family for hosting Das Wolf and I, and to the Perth crew for being rad to ride with. I shall being doing some more ranting in the days ahead on Enduro and the Nomad 3, not to mention some Dirty Shredits coming direct!