Given the glacial pace at which I am punching out these TP19 race reports, I’m starting to feel more like a historian documenting a momentous historical event than a blogger. But that feels completely appropriate given the nature of the endeavour that was unfolding before us. TP is not in the business of providing fleeting and instant gratification, even if it has many moments where it provides just that.

This wasn’t flash in the pan material, indeed no candy floss vaporising on the tongue here. As we opened our mouths wide to be force fed more awesomeness by the Donkey, it was definitely starting to dawn on us that while we would be halfway through at the end of the day, it was going to be halfway through a rather massive edition. So much so that the Dark Cloud crew were considering rebranding to ‘Back after Dark crew’ given the hour they were gracing camp at the end of each day.

We were now also firmly in the zone of shit sleeps, with the previous night being no exception. While a rumour starting circulating that you never sleep well at altitude, I was groggily still trying to work out if my tent neighbour Seb had spent the night either trying to sleep with broken ribs, or if he had been furiously and consistently wanking after the magnificent Day 2, such were the noises emanating from his wet chrysalis. He remained steadfastly non-committal when questioned, but managed an excellent laughing/crying combo.

If there is a theme for Day 3 then it is one of variety. Like a well stocked Italian breakfast buffet rammed with creme filled pastries next to cured meats, Day 3 had just about everything you could hope to run into on a day on the bike. Indeed, as we raced and transitioned our way through the day, it actually felt like 4 distinctly separate days instead of one.

Captured within Day 3 is also a cautionary tale about the highs and lows of our fabulous sport, masterfully captured by my semi-famous inconsistency. But before we get to that, we need to start at the start. No, not wet tents and fizzing gashes, it’s the traditional start to the day where Ash vaguely refers to us riding our bikes up and down hills whilst confirming that he is indeed a Gnar Dominatrix that fundamentally doesn’t believe in safe words.

We gather and stretch while listening to the murmured words of the Donkey’s main disciple

It’s also worth considering that historically Day 3’s are usually pretty rad days on these events or on riding trips in general. AKA the Goldilocks day, you’re just starting to come into some real form and you tend to be right in the zone and the onset of falling off the fatigue cliff has not yet kicked in.

Let’s not forget that I once outrageously claimed in 2013 that Day 3 was the best day I had ever had on an MTB. And on that outrageously overfrothed allegation, let’s see what this Day 3 had to say for itself.

Day 3 – Valberg to Valdeblore: 48.95km’s, 1,077 up, 3,827m down

When I initially saw this chart, I was really hoping that those two things around stage 10 were giant fucking cakes where Rob Roskopp would burst out of them to give me a new Hightower 2 and/or a blood transfusion made from an insane cocktail of all the Syndicates powers mixed in together. Then I realised that sleeping/not at altitude was as good for me as reading Twitter right before lights out:

We ain’t never seen a chart like this

It was also the first day that we got to roll out as a full squad given this was not a shuttle start to kick things off. As such, the 4 HorseDonkeymen set off and into the valley of variety to commence some next level shit talking and gnar binging. Aside from Shane’s quick photo bomb here, we had a solid GC quad squad ready to roll all day. 

The range of shit talking amongst these ComRADes was the first taste of epic variety for the day

Blue French skies, casual roll out from camp to spin the legs and lathering in Great Cunts, this is how Day Three’s are supposed to be, remembering of course that as we approach the halfway point this is usually the sweet spot in terms of skills being honed, morale still in one piece and fatigue hasn’t started to hack at your limbs like a drunk samurai. There were also ridge lines to be carved:

Here… We… Fucking… GO

Stage 9 – 2.45kms: 5m up, 376m down

To kick off this Dégustation of gnar variety, it was time to blindly plunge head first into… Wet grass? But of course, wet grass of the high speed variety, sending us off into fuck knows what to cum:

Spending the whole time obsessing about not putting the Mega into the long chain stay config

With a false sense of security firmly embedded by a relatively straightforward intro, even with some rear wheel fish tails thrown in, it was naturally time for the stage to heap some gnar on us for the real wake up call for the morning.

But of course, the wet grass needed to remain a key ingredient for the remainder of the stage, because it just pairs so well with sniper rocks. Especially big fuck off ones that have spawned evil cunt offspring who want to commit aggravated assault on your brand new XTR cranks:

I’m especially pleased they’re not only still moist with dew, but also randomly off camber

Speaking of snipers, how was Gary P lurking in the long grass like some sort of African snake waiting to strike with the ultimate shot as you pass by on gnar safari? He not only succeeding in scaring the shit out of me, but based on the way he cheered me on, he actually sounded like The Creator, so I thought JC had ended up over the bars off the side of the track.

Totally worth getting ambushed for. Photo by Gary Perkin

Speaking of squids on Safari, little did I know I would also encounter the rare Screaming Silverback not long after…

Yes, In theory I should have another riding pic from the stage, from none other than Sven ‘The cheque is in the mail bru‘ Martin, but as he is gallivanting around Europe/North America fucking our faces with his Gram feed he’s not yet passed it on. Instead then, here is a sequence of me getting sketchy as fuck as like an Enduro sheep I complied, against my own wishes, with his screamed command of “Send it”

Sven suddenly learns that ‘Send it’ here has a different meaning than in Andorra

I overruled my own risk management parameters when faced with the dual onslaught of a chest pounding Sven and my inner narcissist who desperately wanted a shot of me semi-airborne. I was later informed that no, 6 inches isn’t enough to achieve such a climax.

Here is the smile of a man who likes to hear a high pitched “Cunt” screamed by racers combined with the joy of full compliance from the subject in question:

“Hehe, he did it and almost maimed himself… I love my job”

Leaving the führer of Enduro behind, my heart rate was now fully jacked just in time for the surprisingly difficult end of the stage. Longer grass, an army of smooth sniper rocks and a series of crazy switchbacks which felt way too early in the morning for me meant I reached the safe haven of the tag out feeling more awkward than when you are outlining what a cunt one of your colleagues is on a teleconference without realising they’ve dialled in… “Ahh, yeah, it’s chad here, I’ve actually been on mute guys

Results:

  • Stage winning time – 4.27 from Romain
  • The Creator –5.33 for 41st=
  • Dirty Nomad – 5.45 for 48th
  • Fist-o-meter – Actually going to give this a 7/10 to be honest, which may seem like a lot, but it was a particularly awkward way to start the day and felt firmly like a single-use plastic bag filled with cunt by the end of it. Even The Creator struggled by his usual standards, so I feel that adds weight to my rating. Good then that Peaty just thought it was a slightly slippery liaison stage… Solid gags:

Peaty commends The Creator for getting through TP so far on an over forked trail bike

Where else can you shoot the shit about World Cups with a legend of the sport whilst sweating profusely and it not coming across too weird? Speaking of weird, we were on our way to not only a… Bike Park? But slap me about the face with a half worn Minion, we were getting on chairlifts?! Was day 3 going flaccid on us, or were we being lured into some sort of trap?

Being an absolute uplift connoisseur, finally letting a chairlift caress his Ion clad butt cheeks for the first time on our EuroEnduro mission was just all too much for JC. In an awkward moment that would make Meg Ryan want to go back to acting school, he suffered an involuntary upliftgasim, which let me tell you, is 95% terrifying and 5% intriguing when you have no where to escape from it. It’s one of the few times I regretted putting the bar down, while The Creator was fully bar up…

“Ugghhhh it’s a Doppelmayr… Gaaaaaaaaa”

Stage 10 – 2.77kms: 8m up, 359m down

Bike Park!! Yes, next up on the sushi train of gnar variety was an extremely unlikely dish… The Valberg Bike Park. I know TP has previously delved into such terrain on other editions, but for me this was a first.

I naturally assumed that the Donkey wanted to trick us into some relaxed state so we tasted better post slaughter, but I wasn’t about to look that gift Ass in the snout at what I assumed would be possibly the most straightforward stage we’d see all week. Again, this was variety of the sort I hadn’t really anticipated, but was grateful for.

Not really that much steeper than it looks

I was mostly right, but my sneaking suspicion that this wasn’t going to be totally straightforward bike park was richly rewarded. I’m not sure if it was totally fresh cut, but a few times we were sent off the main highways into stuff that looked either new, or highly unused.

There’s only one pic here because, well, it’s a bike park innit? Which, not to sound gnarcist here, but it all looked the same. A sweet little blast through a vaguely groomed park which ultimately belied what was to come…

Results:

  • Stage winning time – 4.22 for Randy Osborne, back on top
  • The Creator –5.00 for 34th
  • Dirty Nomad – 5.04 for 40th
  • Fist-o-meter – A 1/10 here, obviously it wasn’t the usual bike park lollipop, but it was a rare reprieve from being tazered relentless by jank for a change. I’ve never considered myself a park rat, but here’s an interesting piece of data to ponder that was passed to me by people who know science & computers: On this stage I was only 16% slower than the stage winner, so whilst this wasn’t my best stage result for the week, it was my fastest when compared to the winner for the stage. Only 4 seconds off The Creator as well? A bigger surprise given his penchant for berms and open turns.

In a rare act of benevolence that had us all extremely suspicious about the intentions, Ash allowed us back on the chairlift?! Fucking hell, this was luxury bordering on inappropriate and not only that, it was all too much for The Creator, who at least had the experience this time to leave his goggles on before reaching an inevitable double uplift climax.

“Oh god… Look at the vert we’re gaining so quickly… gaaaaa… it’s better than an E… daaaaaaaaa”

A couple of hours in and we’d done 2 stages? It almost felt perverse to be halfway through the racing so early in the day, especially compared to the first two days on course. Combined with the Club Med chairlifts and we even had time to fuck about taking ridiculous and obvious tourist flavoured shots. This one in particular being so fucking predictable I’m bemused we even succumbed to it.

“Nah, stand it up eh, like some sort of penis joke eh”

I know I said the theme of Day 3 was variety, but so far it hasn’t been as stark in this raving post as it felt out on course. But with a very short pedal leaving Valberg behind us, suddenly all that changed. Almost like we’d passed through a portal to another world, the lushness of the bike park and the grassy sniper rocks of our morning wake-up call were vaporised and replaced with, well, West World:

YeeeeeHaaaaw! We got ourselves a wild zone

Yes, it was Red Earth time. I used up all my “Get your ass to Mars!” quotes last time we happened across this terrain (no fuck, seriously I did, including memes and everything), so this time I’ll have to rely on jokes about having sex with Robots (No, not a reference to a weekend at the Rodfathers, but more a reflection of the vibe of the terrain). This whole place was, well, not to mince words, fucking incredible:

Either Rampage time or mild exposure, all in the eye of the beholder

And in fact, this whole valley and it’s set-up is so breathtaking and insane that I’m really going to labour the point here and drag out the liaison to the point you’ll wonder if I was still in a race. First of all, this terrain is straight up fucking cool. I suspect that’s mostly down to how rare it is, assuming you don’t live in any number of places in the US which appear to have the same shit…

Would it be fair to say… Cliche alert… that this was fairly Mega?

Secondly, it was just a fuck load of fun to ride. Ash clearly knew this, which is why he whacked in an excellent freeride liaison to just let us fuck about carving some lines randomly down the red redness, interrupted only by us all stopping to take 12,769 iPhone photos of it all in various poses. This whole scenario created a lot of happiness, even for people who are annoyingly always happy:

Default Lapin setting

Lastly in this overly gushy segway to actual racing, this was one of those moments where you really took the time to let your eyes and senses drink in the vastness and general radness of what lay before you.

I don’t want to completely give you a French facial here, but I did spend some time reflecting on the awesomeness of getting to be in France, in this terrain, with this weather, with these excellent cunts and riding bikes. Our nostrils were free of the stench of fuckwittery and our phones were unable to give us the latest updates on the creeping dystopia that is the demise of Western style democracy, so we were free to indulge in this unique vista & vibe.

And they concluded it was extremely ‘Trays be en”

Bonus round – It was also fully endorsed by #epicryan, which we had now finally got trending on line, absolutely with his endorsement (Possible fake news). This is the look of a man about to unleash a top 15 stage time, on his way to beating Steve Peat for the day by 1 second… HOLY FUCK. Even more impressive than that was how effortlessly he threw a Tier 1 pair of horns:

“Make sure it’s a capital ‘E’ too cunts…”

Stage 11 – 3.86kms: 5m up, 645m down

Navigation time! Seeing the red gnar could ultimately only mean one thing: A replay of the pseudo orienteering scenario we found ourselves in back in 2015. Yes, the horror of getting lost and ending up in what appeared to be a red rock dungeon 4 years was slapping me in the face like it was yesterday and I was keen to prevent a repeat.

Of greater concern was the spawn of the Loch Ness Monster was lining up behind me, and when I tried my usual “You go through bro“, Smaildog lathered on his best Begbie response with something along the lines of “Fook oof coont, em gonna hunt ye down” I didn’t need to be fluent in Glaswegian to understand the implications and my genitals shrunk slightly as a result.

“Show us where the bad man shredded you on the stage”

Given the whole herd arrived here at once, we’d now had some solid time getting baked in the West World sun waiting for PRO’s and very fast people to fuck off ahead of us. Most disappeared into the distance either yelling out some sort of obscenity or absolutely maiming the shrubbery. How bad was this navigation scenario going to be? Would it be full knee high socks orienteering action? Or did Ash just want us to inhale mild levels of cuntery? It was time to bash some 80’s style bush and find out.

Yeah… Fuck… Solid bush

We’ll glaze over the fact that this was a rare time that being slower can be an advantage, I would like to think I adopted the classic Nico Vouilloz advice of “Always go as fast as you can, even if it means going slow“, but I suspect there is something in the fact that I was slower at the top and didn’t really get overly lost that paid dividends in the final outcome here.

Even when back on what I suspected was the track however, it was still vague as absolute fuck at times. This was not helped of course by muthafuckas getting the red earth fever and heading off in every which direction like the cast of Scooby Doo on acid. More track marks than the US Postal team bus:

Multi choice test

My tactic here was to button it right off, look as far ahead as possible and just keep heading to the next marker I could see, which seemed to be working quite well and and no point did I feel the slap of donkey testicles on my chin, much to the disappointment of the Donkey no doubt.

In fact, and it’s not often I would say this and keep a straight face, but at what I assumed to be the halfway point I had already concluded that I was on a fucking tear here, well, in relative terms at least. It was one of those rare and glorious moments where I was not only racing, but I could legitimately table a case that I was pinned and fuck me it felt GOOD. Yes, having successfully got through the opening vagueness, the tap was open and the gas was flowing into the afterburner in a rare display of consistent shredding.

The Megatower was also in it’s element in this zone, probably a key ingredient into why I felt so fucking on it. With some solid elevation drop, fast & rough straights and high speed traversing, the big beast was like a freshly escaped T Rex devouring Jurassic Park consumers at a prodigious rate. As per usual when I’m in the middle of a gnargasim, Gary was on the scene to capture the moment perfectly.

Powering the beautiful beast out of an equally beautiful section of trail. Photo by Gary Perkin

I suspect the enforced need to look up also played a part here, instead of reverting to my worst habit of eyes a few cm’s from my front Assegai. It was one of those moments we live for as mountain bikers, when everything is going perfectly and you feel invincible.

Add to that mix this appeared to be a trail smashed right into my honey hole: Down the spine of a ridge, so not narrow, no major exposure and not rammed with a million hairpins that only spoke French. This was indeed dream trail material and I was inhaling it with all the gusto of a CEO drunk on embezzlement spurred on by sycophant enablers.

Speaking of egnarblers, check out the collective stoke at the end as I come in and start to scream at people in such a high pitched tone they all suddenly think they’re at a T Swift concert.

Chris indulges me in the hope the high pitch screaming will abate

As the overly frothy finish line antics continue, people feel compelled to get involved out of sheer novelty

And the question you want to close out… Did the Glasgow Express catch me and mow me down like a wet beaver on the tracks waiting to be plowed? Somehow I managed to avoid being turned into a Scottish cock warmer, so worth taking as a win. Smaildog and the Oligarch of Enduro outline here that navigation wasn’t the only prickly aspect to Stage 11 either:

Bringing new meaning to the term “I’ll fucken cut you up bro”

Results:

  • Stage winning time – 7.07 for Chris Johnston
  • The Creator –8.31 for 33rd
  • Dirty Nomad – 8.22 for 31st
  • Fist-o-meter – LOOK AT THE TIME!!!!! A rare, but legit, stage win in the Bromance Battle from down under. The Creator making a navigational mistake, the Hare hopping into the undergrowth and going mildly MIA for a portion of the stage playing straight into the Tortoise oven for a well earned rabbit pie. Alarmingly however <<Spoiler alert>> this turned out to be my penultimate stage win of the week in our ‘2W on Tour’ show. From a fisting perspective it wasn’t really that bad, call it a 3/10 that at times bumped up to a 5 due to navigational issues. Clearly I fucking loved it, mainly as it not only had all the things that make you feel good on a trail, but some comforting flashbacks to the parts of Andes Pacifico where I got it right.

My rabbiting on (Fuck yes pun intended) was too much for The Creator, who went to his safe space of the post lunch shuttle coma to try and erase stage 11 from his Enduro history. Here’s me absolutely following through on my promise not to photograph nap time while he impersonates a tower in Pisa.

The Creator taking on the “Not removing my helmet for 6 days” challenge with real gusto

I suspect The Creator had wished he’d been able to do the last liaison asleep as well given A) It was legitimately hot as absolute fuck now and B) I was back in my “I’ve been here before” mode where I added no value to our transition by talking about the last time I walked up the same hill.

“If I just look out at this epic valley maybe he will stop with the history lessons…”

Can you hear the variety alarm sounding again? Probably because we now found ourselves in a completely different zone yet again, one that bore no resemblance to anything we’d encountered so far on Day 3. It was enough to make you not only want to eat all the Haribo lollies you’d procured from the feed station, but also invest in some highly staged photography moments.

On the way to the Abattoir

So, we’d had grassy sniper rocks for breakfast… Bike park for morning tea… West World red earth for lunch and what was for dinner? How about getting cream pied by an Alpine monster?

If things had finished now, it would have been an incredible day as it was. However, we were about to learn a valuable lesson, which ultimately isn’t one I felt I needed to be reminded of:

If the Donkey giveth, then the Donkey can more than taketh away…

Stage 12 – 5.74kms: 52m up, 820m down

Stagezilla Alert – I think the inception for what took place here ultimately started the night before when we got the briefing notes. It went to lengths to remind us that this stage was a fucking beast and that we were legit in the middle of nowhere. I naturally translated that through into 50 shades of how one could get cunted up down here and as a result became fixated on not crashing.

As anyone who races anything will tell you, such a fixation is not only toxic for the mind, but also counter productive in terms of what you’re hoping to achieve. It’s especially fucked when you’re about to roll into arguably one of the biggest beasts of the week as well.

What made this all the more perplexing was in a week with 22.5 new stages, this was the one that I had actually ridden before… Well, sort of. You may recall the famous stage start controversy in 2015 that saw us sunning ourselves for a few hours, making gorilla sounds at Sven while we waited for things to get unfucked. The beauty of that day was we cut a relative chunk off the top of the stage and started much lower down by accident…

Today, the Donkey would have his engorged revenge.

Not even the Stage 11 piping hot mojo and froth was able to save me rolling into 12 with the words from the Gram stage details playing in my head about what a monster this thing was. Those educated in the art of racing bicycles will be rubbing their chins and rightly concluding that “Yeah, he was already fucked before he heard the timing beep“, but as oddly intimidated as I was, I was sure that I could bullshit my way through this 4th helping of variety. Somewhere behind me a Donkey closed a gate…

It made sense that the opening section resembled a hellscape of burnt out trees and scorched hopes & dreams. Basically no mans land littered with gnar cluster bombs:

Landscape that says: Fuck off now, ignore at your own peril

Of course, riding into this more uptight than your heavily religious, vauxhall driving in-laws was going to kick off a negatively reinforcing cycle that like a well made prison shank, sunk in deeper and deeper the more I tried to fight it.

If I wasn’t clipping pedals and almost going out the front gate, I was stalling, generally going slow and then just to add an eye gouge to riding ego injury, I naturally got lost. Luckily I was not alone, with Das Wolfie picking the wrong cunt to follow:

“Achtung! You have ruined us!”

I’m not going to try and sugarcoat this… This is a mad cunt of a trail, which is probably why it was strongly recommended that we didn’t race it. To be fair, I’m not sure there would be any difference in me racing it versus riding it. I have wanked on as a theme about the variety between the 4 stages, but this final test of Day 3 had it’s own variety vibe waiting for us as well.

If it was consistent in two things though, it was being high on Gnar and narrowness:

Margin for error trending to zero

Oh, and steep… Like proper fucking steep… Like DHR2 29er rim job steep… I said ‘fuck’ involuntarily and out loud many times and in writing this up I even go angry at my Go Pro and called it a cunt for making none of this look as terrifyingly steep as my tired body and brain encountered that day. Fun fact, Donkey’s don’t know how to make catch berms. Fuckwits.

I’m sure it didn’t feel this beastly four years earlier

And then it was really steep with lots of loose gravel and/or chunder gnar on it… Which was perfect as I hadn’t cried on the inside for a while and was well overdue. The seeds of doubt I had lovingly and painstakingly sowed pre-stage were now blooming into a fully fledged and highly patented Dirty Melt down, readily assisted by sections like this:

I mumble something about variety while unleashing a case study in death gripping

But don’t worry, while I was preoccupied with wrecking a new set of ICE Tech rotors, the beast wasn’t about to let my fear of exposure go uncatered for, waiting until one felt vigorously finger banged before unleashing some sections that really tested your discipline around ‘looking where you want to go’ and whether or not you’d fully cave in to your fear.

I found my mind wandering to which approach a French rescue helicopter pilot might take to get up the valley if I fucked this up. Like, seriously?

Rocky crop, narrow AF and starfish tightening exposure – Decent gang bang that

Given that this was the only stage consistent between 19 and 15, let’s Back to the Future that shit and reflect on what I said back then for this Punisher of a stage… Bearing in mind it was at the end of Day 4 then and not day 3:

This thing was evil… Rad as ever, but man it wanted to punish. Exceedingly narrow in places with plenty of high consequence sections, it was also extremely loose just to add in some complications. I’m talking big chundery rock piles that wanted to go with you as you hit their sections, making it feel like you were about to trigger a gnar slide at any moment.

Time and again I just managed to just get a foot out and save me, or miss hitting a wall, or just stop myself from going over the bars. Some moments were so dodgy I could almost feel the rescue chopper spooling up with my GPS tracker coordinates being punched in. Butchering switchback after switchback with sheer fatigue. Even when I was trying to go as slow as I could, I felt out of control – this was brutal.

I was almost caught by another rider towards the end of the stage, only for me to see him go over the bars in a scream pile of melt down as he hit the deck in the switch back above my head after he overcooked it… Carnage. I could barely hold on to the Nomad as I finally got to the last tag out of the day shaking

So then, nothing had changed really, even down to my duplicate reference to a rescue helicopter. And the chunder gnar? Yup, the squids knew exactly where to position themselves:

“Didn’t even need to use my high speed shutter!”

I’ve never been so relieved and horrified to see the 50m to go sign, almost 820m of elevation drop had been smashed through our bodies like human piñata’s at a Donkey birthday party.

I’d already commenced my usual post melt down self-loathing process by this point, shell shocked that I’d gone from such Mountain Biking climactic heights on stage 11 only to essentially suffer the Enduro form of erectile dysfunction the very next stage.

The trail surface indicating this might be the longest 50m ever

I do wonder what this trail would be like to ride totally fresh, at the start of a day when you were 100% on your game. No doubt still a mission, but right here and now, the Beast was feasting on my mental unraveling with gusto.

The Creator had been waiting so long he’d already had time to code his GST for the month, do some interviews, catch up on some Gram soft porn and have a post stage nap. He tried to lie to me about it, but he has little to no control over that rabbit grin which says in an unassuming way: You got peeled bru

“Did you have 2 punctures?”

As I ignored the text messages from Nick Anderson asking for his bike back after such a showing, it made total sense that we would get caught in an epic thunderstorm and have to ride down a road pretending to be a river to the end. At least it washed away any salt from getting in my ego wounds.

Results:

  • Stage winning time – 12.30 from Randy O #fuckyeahmurica
  • The Creator –15.46 for 31st
  • Dirty Nomad – 18.19 for 57th
  • Fist-o-meter – Ummm… A full 10/10 to be blunt. Look at the time, but for a different reason obviously. From my best stage result of the week, straight into my worst. I knew a quarter of the way down that I was bleeding time, but I was too muthafucked to do anything about it. Where was my marathon XC fitness now huh cunt? Fail. Let’s not beat around my ass bush here, the Dirty Data Geeks have provided me with the analysis that lays bare this melt down. On SP11 I was 17.6% slower than the stage winner, Kiwi Canadian Gnar Porn star Chris Johnston. However, backing up on SP12 and I managed to blow that out to being 46.5% slower than the stage winner. You fucking gimp.

Final Day 3 results:

  • Day winning time – 28.35 for Marco R Osborne
  • The Creator – 34.50 for 32nd
  • Dirty Nomad – 37.30 for 47th
  • Fist-o-meter – A full 10 spots back on Day 2 overall, and 31% slower than the fastest time of the day, compared to 23% the day before. But the numbers don’t tell the full story at all. While it was bookended by struggle, the variety encountered alone meant this was a fucking legend of a day out on the bike and one that I can’t see being recreated for some time in terms of the range of riding we experienced and the vista variety we encountered. Stunning. Even though I wasn’t surprised by the timesheet, honestly on a day like this you forget pretty quickly what the numbers said when the experience had so much more to say for itself.
  • Favourite moment –Basically the whole of Stage 11, every single moment of feeling like I was absolutely racing and not surviving and the sheer brilliance of that trail. Also had the side benefit of not being turned into Smaildog’s gimp… Until the next stage that was.

The Aftermath

Slight confession here, the camp at Valdeblore isn’t exactly a personal favourite of mine… And it didn’t endear itself any more when it was damp. Given how late we got in towards the end of the day, I already knew what was coming next as well.

As I stood there, cold, already wet and with my wet towel in hand listening to people describe the cold showers as “Arctic river cold“, I realised the Donkey now had a hoof firmly on my throat. It struck me that I’d forgotten it wasn’t just the portage or insane race stages that would present challenges, it’s the whole week in totality that you need to be ready for. In this moment I wasn’t ready for the cold shower & wet towel combo for a second straight day.

While I stood around in wet, rancid kit trying to muster some courage to bust through my first world gimp-cunt softness, my camp homeboy Seb (star of the below video) emerged with that slight Gollum like look he gets on his face when he’s been out in the bush for 36 hours. As a reference point, Seb likes to ride TP with broken ribs and prefers holidays where there’s a binary choice between pissing in bottles or dying if you go outside your tent.

As such, he looked at me with a look of confused disbelief when I mumbled that I didn’t know if I could do it as I clutched at my wet towel and watched people shivering as they emerged from the cubicles of cold hell.

Ya what?” exclaimed Seb, with that slightly screwed up look on his face that’s actually saying “What sort of cunt are you really?“As I suddenly realised I could probably never go on an ice climbing holiday with him and refused to make eye contact he laid it out for me “You just have a fucken shower and then put some clean clothes on!” Like someone voting against their interests I meekly complied, with what ultimately became the slowest showering, drying and clothing process ever seen at an MTB race.

Yes, this was starting to get very hard, but as I inched damp legs into slightly less damp pants I reflected on the fact it was still infinitely better than sitting in a meeting room with the blandest breed of cunts you could ever find watching them talk around in circles until you could feel your will to live dribble involuntarily out of any number of orifices.

And with that philosophical punch in the throat, roll video! Wait for my inability to sum up Stage 12 at the end:

 

The donkey was now behind me, eyeing me up and mouthing “I’m going to fuck you”, which at the halfway point begs the question, would I rise up and get back on track? Or would I succumb to my role as a Donkey sex toy? We have 3 more days to find out…

3 Responses

  1. Seb Ramsay

    Gold again JP. But, just to be clear, I was steadfastly steadfast that it was wanking you heard coming from my tent. Wanking over Nigel Farage in fact. Which is niche and time consuming.

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Holy fuck, no wonder it took all night… I assume you had to save that material of him saying he’s a “Man of the people” for right at the end?

      Reply
  2. Daniel

    You legend! These rude words are such an unexpected bonus to relive the crazy TP experience! Stage 12 was a poes (a handy afrikaans word should you ever tire of ‘cunt’ ). My bike has still not forgiven me for taking it down there (ie I still havent fixed it, 2 months after the event). Blown shock, dented fork arch and smashed front brake hose. What. A. Trail.

    Reply

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