What’s the one thing hotter in the cycling world right now than riding your carbon road bike on gravel and getting stones jammed in the fork to scratch the fuck out of it? Simple – Multi day adventure racing!

In the never ending search to make sure things get MORE and MORE EPIC to help fuel anti-social media activity, a healthy collection of ‘must do’ events have popped out of a bowl of destroyed tires vying for our travel budgets, to name just a few big ENDURO ones:

Trans Provence, Trans NZ, Trans Savoie, Trans BC, Andes Pacifico, Trans Cascadia, NZ Enduro

They’re all obviously as ENDURO as absolute fuck, but what happens if you’ve got more of a Bandit bent to you? You may instead like the tight hug of race fit lycra as opposed to the soft gentle flapping of an ENDURO jersey and shorts… Well, there is also a 29er sized number of options there as well, Cape Epic, Crocodile Trophy and BC Bike race spring to mind, but now there is a newcomer on the scene to challenge them all for epicness and scenery.

This past week the Pioneer MTB Stage race has been punishing those that took it on in its inaugural year all across the southern alps. Its absolutely about time NZ had a race like this, putting my Tourism NZ cap on for a moment, using our mega rad southern alps for something more than just a Lord of the Rings convention. So, what’s up with the Pioneer then? The speel:

Starting in Christchurch and finishing in Queenstown, The Pioneer is a 569 kilometre point to point course with over 15,000 metres elevation, taking in some of the most spectacular highlights of the Southern Alps including the Port Hills of Christchurch, Aoraki/Mt Cook (NZ’s highest mountain), Lake Pukaki, the Ohau range, Pisa range and Snow Farm.

So to put that slick marketing low down into context, check out Day 5, the Queen Stage, 112km’s and, fart noise, 3,578m of climbing? On an MTB… Yeah, that’s a fucking BIG day on a road bike let alone off road:

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The kind of profile that actually makes staying in a tent the more attractive option

You’ve probably just looked at those percentage splits there, not to mention the amount of climbing and wondering why the fuck I would even type a single word about such an event (I know some of you have even already muttered WTF), its positively Un-ENDURO… Well, aside from the fact that I’m currently a road drone cyborg mindlessly plugging away at Round The Island loops like a cycling goldfish, the explanation is rather simple: Good Cunts.

To be precise, Team mate GC’s. Yes, two Rivet Racers are currently at the Pioneer race giving it absolute ass holes in true Rivet fashion. The two hard bastards in question? Well, there’s GV, some may recall him from the Italian Arthurs Pass Massacre from 5 Passes and Mr Road Porn, some may recall him from the whole ‘take 4 bottles, bridge back on like I give zero fucks and then attack like a rabid chimp that mistook a bowl of viagra for M&M’s‘ scenario at the NI Series Race last year.

Not only have they been in or around the top 10 (mad respect), which includes PRO’s FYI, but they’ve been sending through this kind of material to remind me that I’m a total cunt for not being in NZ in summer on my Mountain Bike:

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“Dear DN, you are a fuckbag, this was the shit view from today, Regards, Rivets”

Its a two person team scenario here, so just like any good S&M session, its important to get a partner that matches the amount of pain you think you can endure to make it worthwhile. That all adds up to a lot of Bandit weaponry being thrown about:

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Got 99 bikes, but not one dropper post…

However, to give the scenery justice, it needs more than just some iPhone pics that have been degraded by WhatsApp, so check out the Stage 4 video here. Yes, it will make people who own knee pads vomit into their mouth, but if you like standing up on the pedals on your 100mm 29er and embarrassing people on race courses (possibly smells Welsh) then this may just end up on your 2017 planning agenda. And yes, that’s Anton Cooper, U23 World XC Champ you’ll see in there…

Even though its in its first year as an event, clearly the organisers have got it well nailed, I’ve heard nothing but positive ravings from the boys about the whole set-up: Venues, food, route, support, massages and of course the most important thing: The chill out room, a key component of any stage race given the most critical part of the day is charging your smart phone so you can Gram the fuck out of your day, not to mention watch TV.

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Getting into the bean bag when fingered – Golden… Getting out, not so much

The other thing they’ve reported is that its been fucking HARD… Any day over 100km’s on an MTB with 2,000m or more of climbing at pace, not to mention the 30 deg+ heat, means that there are going to be a lot of smashed units back at camp. 7 massive days of adventure racing in a row? Not for everyone.

Unfortunately, unlike a Tour of Bintan massage, there is no happy ending here I’m afraid. GV being forced into a DNF outcome on Day 6, so tantalisingly close to the finish in Queenstown. A shoulder injury picked up on a day 2 crash making it impossible to continue after another OTB moment onto the same injury. I’m massively impressed he managed to get this far into the race, including the queens stage with a torn rotator cuff, fuck that would have been crazy painful to ride with over those distances! Respect GV.

I know he will already be planning his payback in 2017, so if 7 days in the pain cave on 100mm of travel and 30 deg heat is your thing, getting planning now… Views are waiting:

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New Zealand – Fuck yeah

Team #RoadPorn/Webber is still in the mix with the final day into Queenstown tomorrow to cap the whole massive week off. Great place to finish as well just quietly, not only do you get to say goodbye to the tents, but you can queue for 45 minutes for a Fergburger and then head to the bike park to snap your 29er in half down the World Cup trail. Good times.

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Ahhhh, the whole 9 hours a day on the bike and come back to a tent scenario…

Just another example of the awesomeness of cycling, offering something for everyone and taking you places that are simply mega. Clearly at a pace and in a lycra style that’s not for everyone, but if you want to get amongst smashing your riding buddy through this awesome landscape, get planning for 2017, I suspect based on how the debut event has gone its gonna be rammed for next year!

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