OH and TWO
2 rides and two fails. Not the kind of start we had envisaged when designing the PMT… And with only one day left to salvage things, could a resurrection be triggered? Was it possible to wash the Roo shit off the lemons and make some $8 artisanal Lemonade? Or would I have to lose my shit taking my pedals off (BAU process) with the knowledge that I was cloaked in epic riding failure?
So many questions and a LOT hinged on Saturday, so with this in mind, there was only one thing to do. Call in the experts:
You know it – when in this type of situation, call in not only the shredders, but also science and a tour guide that would put Bear Grills to utter shame. Then, pretty much reverse all the fuck ups I made on Day 2 (having breakfast for starters) and finally to make sure that it was going to be a glorious dirty resurrection: Add in a completely new area of trails to hit.
You know it, Part II – New zone, riding with the boys and lots of fever can only mean one thing, doooooosh, its a:
We haven’t had one for a while, so sit back, relax and allow me to simultaneously assault your eyes, senses and the Hawk’s hosting cloud with more images than you can shake a Wolf-popsicle wrapped in a cashmere scarf at. Your mission here is to attempt to count how many fistings are dished out (don’t fucking google that at work), which is a bit of a give away about the fact that we are about to sail into some golden RADness, so get your froth ready, plus maybe a towel/tissues for, er, clean up.
Heading out in my flogged Northern Territories licence plated Rental (WTF) on another mission across Perth to find today’s ride meet point, it occurred to me that literally the signs were ominous… For those that have ever spent a torrid weekend away in Thailand/Malaysia/Indonesia/any other dodgy shit hole I have forgotten, then you can probably relate to this:
Alarming… Foreboding even? But seriously now, where the fuck was I heading? The slightly stuck up English sounding tones of the Google maps chick was guiding me to none other than the most hallowed grounds of Sam Hill’s back yard… Yes, that Sam Hill… The multiple World Champion and winner of 13 World Cups who provided an excellent contrast on how to really ride a mountain bike in Meribel, as you may recall:
So, here we were in the House of Gnar, within the sacred grounds of one of the greatest shredders to ever turn a flat pedal. If ever there was a zone to create a furnace of radness powerful enough to allow for the whole Nomad-Slash-Phoenix scenario to rise up from the ashes of defeat, this was it. And these were just the rad mofo’s to make sure it was so:
Our tour guide for the day was Drift Master Aaron, a bonus given A) you don’t need GPS when you have DMA and B) He’s a shredder and as we know, the best way to go faster, is to ride with people faster than you. To kick things off though, we decided to pay respect to the walking trail sign. Plus, this is #sofuckingendurorightnow, not to mention a lot steeper than it looks…
With pre-requisite ENDURO pushing out of the way and anticipation levels built up to ball tightening levels, it was time to hit some radness. There is something intriguing about hitting new trails blind, with no idea about what’s to come, its pure mountain biking and the best test of your skills and experience. Drift Master Aaron pointed us towards the start of the first run and thus outlined a key theme of the day – You would never find these trails without your own DMA, as each time he said “Here we are“, I frowned and had to say “In there?“, but within 10 to 20 meters the trails unrobed themselves and revealed all their hotness for us to feast on.
First up we were into Crack Shack, great naming conventions in Mr Hills backyard and another theme of this outing. Straight away it was obvious that we had struck gold, or Crack in this case, up in them there hills… Natural trails that had only had minor building done to them, elevation and that awesome feeling of newness about them. Pass me the crack YO:
It took approximately one run for the frowns of Day 1 and 2 to be replaced by a goofy grin and more than a few “Fuck Yeah” moments, coupled with the dawning knowledge that we had arrived in some real terrain and on some rad trails. Add in having GC’s to shred with and I got a sense that a full revival was in progress.
Next up was the also aptly named Devin Heaven… Fucking angels sing alright, basically MTB heaven, an awesome mix of a little bit of rocky tech and, as you may be able to tell from this onboard PRO shot, some high speed action through the trees in pursuit of DMA. He had jabbed the ‘Go Fast’ button:
If our initial suspicions told us that radness was in the air, then Devin Heaven slapped into us that it was indeed an Endurotastic scenario unfolding. This was the kind of riding I had wet dreamed about and which the Nomad loved (referring to the machinery there). The terrain and DIRT was absolutely spot on. Dok had a scientific explanation for this, but I lost him after “You see…” In layman terms, the dirt was just heaps better here eh:
With minimal faffing we pushed on, as there was more awesome sauce to be splashed all over this mouth watering outing. In DMA we trusted and he kept bringing us the goods. Roo Chute was next on the list, which is easy to confuse with Roo Shoot, but obviously quite a different scenario. A slightly different run to the previous two, but it still gave me wood:
By this stage I was more excited than a slutty cheerleader at a Superbowl afterparty, so clearly time to get some fist pumps going, as you do in both scenarios…
If I was already frothing like a stalker at the Emmy awards, then it was almost peaking fever when DMA outlined casually that we “Still hadn’t gotten to the good stuff…” Well, fucking frame the day already, it had easily outstripped the past two days and taken the crown of the best MTB ride for 2015 thus far and there was still more to come? Endurogasmic shit.
And oh yes, DMA hadn’t be exaggerating either, because next up it was some Loose Goose on the menu. Probably important to point out that at -21% in average gradient, it was World Cup steep… And, absolutely fucking GOLDEN. To be noted that the Nomad and its #injoewetrust geometry ate this shit up, burped and asked for more… The seat in this photo a bit of a pointer that it was steeper than a run down house in Sydney, not to mention a reinforcement of why Sam Hill does ok in World Cups if this his usual afternoon loop.
But WAIT, fuck there was more! Why have steep when you can also throw in some GNAR to the mix as well, and not just a rock here or there, we’re talking a North Korean mine field style approach, the kind of set up whereby if you don’t carry speed, like slightly more than you want to carry, then you’re guaranteed to either stall out or go over the bars, I tried to do both, but managed to survive.
There is something thrilling and invigorating about surviving mega steep sections, to then arriving at speed into epic gnar thinking and saying “Holy fuck” and out of sheer instinct managing to plow a way through to victory and high fives. Dok’s face says it all as he rides the easy section (all of 20m) between mad steepness and the rock gardens of doom:
It was just one of those days where the more hardcore it got, the more comfortable and radder I felt… For the first time in a long time I felt like I was carrying the speed I wanted to be hitting, cutting the lines I wanted and generally riding properly… On new trails mind you, so totally blind, but that’s kind of the point really and the best test of ability. Lets face reality, in TP it will be 6 days of racing on trails I will see once and never again, so now is the time for testing the blind riding skills.
Before you rush into concluding this is a fucking awesome way to spend a morning, or your life for that matter, perhaps also important to factor in the weather and views as well? They were combining with the trails to deliver a menage a trois of radness. Its SO ENDURO to stop and look at trees along the way as well.
You know you’re on a real MTB ride when there is a bit of transitional action involved. Yes, some of the best rides are because you cover a lot of ground and feel like you’ve mixed it up, as opposed to being squeezed into a small space (Goat Farm) or a bit of the same old same old park scenario (Kalamunda). Besides, how else would we get the chance to have a Dok and DMA science conversation which are now legendary any time a dirt road appears…
With the transitional activity over, it was back to tuning our frequency to shredding again, this time on Ranger Danger (no idea how it got that name…), which involved me eating more of DMA’s dust as I tried to keep up with his master blaster pace. Tell you what, it’s the only time I have managed to keep my eyes up, so quite a neat trick if you want to learn that skill, just have someone super fast ride in front of you.
One of the cool things about Mountain Biking is progression… And I mean this in two ways. Firstly, you can feel how your progress and advance as a rider, especially over a number of days, and in a more tangible sense than on a Road Bike. Secondly, the terrain you can ride or handle can continue to progress as much as you can manage.
There is always a feature, trail
colleague or jump that will ask you the question: Can you nail me? I got asked that question halfway down Ranger Danger and the answer was a resounding NO. I worked out that I wasn’t carrying enough speed and given I had already fixed my gaze on the lip on the other side, you didn’t need to have a PhD to work out how it would end up. Having said that, Dok does have a PhD and he worked it out even faster than I did:
Fuck me like a Christmas Ferret if this day didn’t have it all. It even managed to pull out my old favourite: Dry as fuck grass and rolling hills. Sure, it looked like it wanted to instantly bust out into a raging forest fire, but check that blue sky contrast and then add this as another reason on the never ending list of why we go Mountain Biking.
Exhausted yet? Hang in there, as there’s MORE! Talk about gorging on the buffet of radness… But DMA wasn’t done with us yet, he wanted to throw in a tight little number and who were we to say no? It was one of those days where you just nod and keep on fucking going. The penultimate trail was therefore Brown Powder, which provided me with a reminder how much work I have to do on my tramping/scrambling/ hiking skills before Trans Provence in June. Yes, to get into this ones goodies, we had to put in some serious spadework before the good times. Fair to say it was a little steep?
How steep? Here we can see Science attempting to calculate it, using soil samples to measure the dirts temperature and composition, as well as something called ‘Physics cunt’ to confirm what we suspected trying to climb up it:
As in, an average of -20%, which by this stage was sweet music to my ears. How did it get the name Brown Powder one may muse aloud? Was it due to people shitting their baggy shorts at its steepness, which would be fully plausible… Or perhaps it was as a result of its awesome dirt, which left you with the distinct impression you were on the slopes as you snaked down its goodness. This of course led right to the point the Dok had surveyed, steep enough that I felt compelled to rest my chest mounted Go PRO on the back of my seat, if you get the picture. If not, here IS the picture:
Feeling relieved that I had made it down the feature we had all stood around and looked at, I was so excited I felt compelled to ride into the one thing we all pointed out we needed to avoid. As they say, look where you want to go, so clearly I wanted to get all vegetarian on it here, an abstract line choice to say the least?
To give some perspective… It takes Mr Hill 1 minute and 3 seconds to get down this little run… Whereas it took me 1.25… Suspect he was taking it easy that day then, he smashed me a lot more than that in Meribel. Lets not all get Strava nerd on it though, instead embrace the fisting and rock on:
Hitting the bottom of Brown Pow and it was obvious that it was time to start rolling back… Did anyone want to leave? Hell no… Was it getting hotter than a Mrs Hill selfie? Absolutely. So, like a kid that doesn’t want to leave one of those hideous mall playgrounds, we were dragged away from the radness on the return route that would provide one last rad blast back to the Dirty rental.
I’ll give a bit of a random review some time soon, but fair to say my new Seven IDP Control knee pads were eating my knees for brunch, which is pretty annoying given how awesome I wanted them to be, clearly a bit of a let down. And then, like one of those concerts that you just don’t want to end, we were onto the last hit.
White Rocks would be the send off on an awesome day, also providing one of the best views of the day:
You’re probably wondering why I have referred to our Guide as Drift Master Aaron? Well, like a Sam Hill cousin, he has mastered the drifting action perfectly and spent the day hanging it out with Lasik surgery like precision. Case in point – Give the man a little bit of off-camber and he’ll hang that shit out to dry in the dust:
Enthusiasm that’s starting to border on fever is a dangerous thing though, as I will display here, after almost going over the bars heading into this section, I decided to stay on the gas and subsequently had another couple of bites at the fuckmyselfup pie for good measure… Attempt 1:
Why stop there when you can load it up for another massive moment, and by load it up, I mean put enough pressure through your left arm to almost snap the rather expensive wires in your elbow, look away Dr Tow, this was nasty shit on attempt 2:
However, you know you’re on a good day when you manage to save it twice in 10 seconds and ride out that scenario, so thank you Yoga and gym sessions, normally I think I would have folded like an origami turd here, but suspect the save was aided by both conditioning and a positive mindset. Hitting the rest of the run with the same vigour as a labrador humpy a teddy bear, the stoke factor was high when we regrouped at the end… BOOOOOOM!
Never one to pass up a good fisting, even Dok was getting in on the action with his patented ‘no look’ style, respect it.
Fizzing, buzzing, stoked, feral, feverish, rabid, pumped, ecstatic… Take any of those and toss in any number of superlatives that I have overlooked and you’re about half way towards summing up the feeling upon arriving back at the car. I didn’t even care that my ultra expensive and hard to source Seven IDP pads had eaten my knees alive, this was the end of a fucking exceptionally awesome ride. Finally a massive win on the board and total vindication for the PMT!
For those that like charts and shit, here’s how it looked for the day at our unmentioned location:
Thanks to Drift Master Aaron for showing us the ways, literally it would have been impossible/total rubbish to ride here without the insider knowledge, and thanks to Herr Doktor for bringing science to the party pal. Once again living proof its about the people you roll with that make all the difference.
Adding to the win chart, how do you spend the rest of the day in Perth after such an awesome morning of shredding? Streeeewth mate, there’s only one option – Almost get run over by a Holden and head to the beach of course! Sharks love it.
Keep an eye out for the video (of the rad riding, not the sharks), coming soon to a post near you… And I promise it will be about as half as long as this crazy, raving and feral post!