Preface – Of the 486 Dirty posts ever written, this is the longest. Whilst I initially attempted to keep it tight, ultimately everything in here needed to be here. I shall let it speak for itself, but a heads up you need to dig in… I hope you enjoy it like I enjoyed both the day and creating this account.

I know I have a slightly repetitive habit for gushing over days on a Dirty Nomad Mission that make them all sound like they’re the ‘best day ever’ or ‘unique’ or ‘special’. Its not always the case that a day fits into that category on reflection, even if it feels like it at the time. But, some are genuinely worthy of additional praise, fanfare and froth that is readily heaped upon them. That day in the Japanese Alps for example, or that day in Italy or that day at the top of the world day in Whistler… Just a couple of examples mind you and there are plenty more to choose from, but in the context of being on Trans Provence and waking up to Day 3, one in particular comes to mind.

Two years prior to Day 3 on Trans Provence the Race, I was waking up in a quintessential French Hotel getting ready for Day 3 on the Trans Provence tour, quite a different proposition to the race mind you, but it would have three things in common with how my day unfolded two years later:

Day three magic powers – Yes, I’ve talked about this before, third day on the MTB and suddenly magic powers start to unveil themselves like you’re the newest member of the Avengers. Or, remember that time in your life where you could cough, fart, smell bad and still fuck whomever you looked at, yes, the golden period.

Col des Champs – It may be ‘only’ 2080m at the summit, but any day you get dropped off at the top of this legend you’re pretty much guaranteed a RAD day, its more than appropriate to set expectations to high.

Grey Earth day – You haven’t lived until your tires have had the chance to grace this terrain, to call it unique would be an injustice. Whilst it takes most of your time riding on it to rewire your brain so it can understand the grip levels actually available, its always the highlight of any riding in this part of the world and yes, it was on the menu for today!

Oh… And finally, there was no question it was going to be a MASSIVE day. So, buckle up dear reader, as a massive day walks into the Blogging room, beats its oversized fists on the desk and demands without a shadow of humility a massive post… And it shall be SO.

To start with, let’s start with talking about how rad the people are on TP, which coincidentally is our theme of the day. For those keen eyed, what’s different about my Rad-mad, seen here parked in amongst the Tent city that is the Day 3 camp on TP?

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“You know, the guy on the Nomad with mismatched wheels?”

Check out the big brain on Brad… That’s right muthafucker, we’ve got a new dropper seat post on board! How did that happen? Here’s a little story on how cool your fellow competitors are on TP. Nathan (of the non-wolf variety), one of the Amateur men whom in theory was racing against me had heard of my Reverb plight and approached me at the end of Day 2:

Nathan: “Dude, I have a spare dropper post you can borrow if you need”

DN: “Dude, er… Really? Ah, probably won’t be Nomad size bro”

Nathan: “Dude, it totally is”

DN: “Woah, ok… Probably won’t be 150mm or external mount yeah?”

Nathan: “Dude, totally is 150mm and is totally easy to mount”

DN: “Let’s DO THIS!”

Case study in gold right there… I mean, how many people would have stayed silent and watched me faff the rest of the week with the clamp, as well as flounder through stages pissing time away every time I needed a bit of leg extension? Would I have been as lucky at a road race to receive such a gift? Highly unlikely. But here as we approach the middle of the golden journey we were all on, you felt compelled to help each other out.

Day 3 then… And it was about to ramp itself up even more, I initially had in my head that Day 5 was the big one to keep an eye on, but 3 was about to prove that it was able to prove itself a worthy contender for heavyweight of the week. Check out the stats and get your ENDURO specific shoes ready for THAT climb after stage 9:

  • Route: Villars-Colmars – Valberg
  • The numbers: 50.46km with 1,921m of UP and 3,209m of radness
  • Eventual elapsed time (camp to camp): Around 10 hours 30 mins
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Middle section may be tricky… And the two end climbs…

As is the tradition with a Col des Champs day, it always kicks off with the by now highly respected uplift. Driver Sean doing a solid job getting us up the hill with a running stream of entertaining commentary and calling out when the best views would be available. It wasn’t my first time up here, but it was an epic contrast… Allow me to illustrate… May 2013:

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Scene of the ‘Dok vs Snow’ science experiment

And, drum roll, June 2015:

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Ah… The difference two years and one month makes: Irrefutable evidence of rampant Global warming

There’s is something mythical about CdC that’s hard to put my finger on… Perhaps its the knowledge that any way down from here is going to be mental. Or perhaps its the fact the guides talked about it with excited and revered tones two years prior? Perhaps it was because you weren’t at work and therefore didn’t need to wade through miserable cunts to get to the free coffee?

Or maybe the fact that its just big, wide, bad ass countryside that makes you thank fuck you own a mountain bike and were fortunate enough to be driven up the Mon-Ton to start another huge day. The kind of day you’ll enjoy raving on about whilst you sit on the porch cleaning your shotgun 30 years from now. Whatever it was about the Champs, it was delivering the goods:

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Hi ho, hi ho, its off to radness we go…

Its not every day that you get to queue up to get chased by the Drone down a mountain, well, it may be business as usual for John Connor, but even he doesn’t get to do it with some PRO’s now does he? The drone pilot seen here wrestling with the wind that made the plastic devil look more like a kite, whilst he waits to give Mad Max the word to drop in and make GOOD video.

Unfortunately I didn’t make the final edit, something about wheel matching and wearing sunglasses in a full face helmet – Hard to lodge an appeal against those two acts of style offending.

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Max vs the Drone… Basically the Kyle Reese of shredding

As per usual, the liaison to stage 1 was big, longer and more full on than it looked on the map – A VERY common trait on TP, and once again a reminder to just expect a radder adventure than you think you’re going to get. I was ready for stage 1 as I was super pumped it was magic day. I wasn’t the only one getting fired up and I got to witness another lucky participant experiencing Kersten’s ‘secret warm up’.

I had the experience myself on day 1… Kersten had this unique warm up routine that was a combination of tag and ‘Simon says’, but significantly more vigorous. If you saw a normal person doing it you’d probably tell them to fuck off, but when asked to participate with a 6 foot tall, young, blonde and blue eyed German PRO woman, there was never a shortage of dudes available to get involved in a warm up that definitely, hmmmm, got the blood pumping…

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“Ja, you have to catch me!”

File under “what goes on tour, stays on tour“, but fuck, this wasn’t a tour, so to the racing direct!

Stage 9

Stage 9 quickly taught me another Dirty Tip to live by – Even if you’ve ridden in this general area before, don’t be fooled into thinking you know wasssssup, after all, Ash is the Captain Kirk of Mountain Biking and he’s boldly explored the fuck out of the raddest trails around, so always has something in reserve to stun you with. It became obvious pretty quickly that no cunt, we hadn’t ridden down here before and fuck me, it wouldn’t have made much difference if we had:

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An example of turning left making little to no sense at this point

Yup, its not often that you get terrain that looks steep on a Go PRO, with that annoying habit of it flattening everything out and forcing you to use the highly dubious “It really does look bigger from this angle” commentary. But, I think in this sequence its possible to get a feel that this was getting pretty hectic on the steepness scale. GOOD race taping too from the Mountain Crew, it made it a golden challenge to pin it down here:

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Frenchmen everywhere are in protest – Le Tape?!

Hopefully these shots go some way to doing justice to what the race notes described as “Some of the steepest riding of the week…

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Shimano Saint product manager goes onto the Dirty Christmas card list…

This was an excellent section of trail and exactly the kind of riding I love… The most impressive effort I saw down here was Sam Needham though, from the media mafia shredding it to pieces with a giant camera backpack on, mental, it can be seen below in the daily video wrap up. I was just busy relishing being able to ride a trail that would have forever remained unknown to me if I wasn’t on this event. Yes, that goes for most trails you ride during the week, and there was a better example still to come:

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Not the ideal place to clip a pedal

The stage was punctuated with steep and sharp little climbs, the kind that take you from being at threshold and shake & slap you over into oxygen debt when you try and attack them out of the saddle. Just long enough to turn you into a MF Race Car in the red. I was loving having a functional dropper post again, what a massive life saver. This punchy climb theme was at its lactate generating best when you came to the final 100m of the stage, forced to break hard right and straight into this lung burner to the tag out (possibly some nasty gear changes here):

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G…A….A….A…A…A…A…A…A….A

As today is proudly brought to you by the theme of Good Cunts, waiting for me at the finish was this #legend, Rich, who was as stoked as I was on the Champs kick-off to the day, and delivering another quality tag out as I sprinted to the finish cross-eyed aimed directly at his head. Another exhibit on the good people tour trail:

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big ups

I loved the stage, mainly as I felt like I really raced it… A lot of the time it doesn’t actually feel like there is any difference between riding down the trail and racing it, due to the epic nature of these stages. But stage 9 was golden. I was therefore perplexed when I did hear a fellow competitor come to the finish and exclaim that he “fucken hated that”. WTAF, we’re in the French Alps, pinning it on the worlds best bikes with a super cool crew… Don’t want to sound like Ned Flanders, but if you feel hate coming through then there are wider issues at play brother!

And with that little cornflakes psychology degree prognosis complete, to the results!

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 5.41 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 5.59 for 4th
  • T Mo – 6.50 for 17th
  • Dirty Nomad – 7.27 for 38th

Good to be in the top 40 again, but a reminder that when you feel pinned as fucked, so does everyone else! Speaking of which, it was time to keep moving, as we were heading… Fart… Up… THERE:

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You WISH it was all on the road…

Continuing on that very convenient theme of good units, I was lucky enough to start this monster climb with Jeff from the UK. I thought Jeff was a cool dude even before he let it slip eventually that he worked for the Red Bull Formula one team and no, not in the marketing department either. What do you think we talked about for the next hour or so?

Let the inner petrol head out and run around nude, I peppered Jeff with every question he had no doubt fielded a million times before (“How was it when Seb fucked off to Ferrari bro?”), as we covered every topic from the state of F1 through to V8 supercars and everything in between. How cool is that shit?! It was a close match between that convo and the scenery that was unfolding as we cruised our way up the never ending gravel road:

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Mon-Tons are SO hot right now

I’m not going to apologise for the rampant scenery load shooting here… Consider yourselves lucky, as for every pic rammed in here there are 20 more sitting at home missing out on getting into your eyes. I can’t really begin to explain how amazing it felt to be in amongst this scenery, its something you have to do as opposed to write or read about. I do know that we were the first TP participants to ever come up here, so all I can say is that Ash Smith is basically the Einstein of Mountain Biking, except radder.

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I don’t have the technical skill to photoshop, so this is all the real deal

We were making our way up around 950m on this climb, so fairly decent considering it was on the way to only the second stage of the day. In the usual BIG climb format, it was the ride-push-carry-holy fuck traverse sequence unfolding itself before us. Whilst it wasn’t yet Day 1 material, the map had alluded to some “severe exposure” ahead at some point. And no, this little creek crossing wasn’t even a warm up:

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Mountain Goat mode

And then eventually, because we wanted to maximise on the big alpine adventure feel, we didn’t even need a trail any more. For those that asked the question “Can you ride all the climbs?“, I hope that this goes some way to illustrating the complexities of attempting that. Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tracey Mosley had of ridden up here. I was too busy trying to not break my ankle and take the worlds most awkward iPhone photos while my bike was teetering on the back of my neck…

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Rocky VI

Ah, finally then I found the ‘severe exposure’ scenario… Oh yes, no exaggerating there either. Fucking iPhone photos won’t even touch the sides on this shit here, but lets just say that when they say ‘severe’ they actually mean ‘certain death’. This was what I referred to as one-slow-step-at-a-time territory. Still, it did feel safer than a shit house tin pot road race in the third world, so onward!

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Quite literally the Stairway to Heaven if you fucked it up

Given I’m as retarded with estimating distance and volume as I am with suspension set up, I’m not going to try and describe how big the drop was, but probably on par with the depth that the Titanic sunk to, as a rough yardstick. Lucky then it was a nice wide path to trek up… Well… Its all relative innit?

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Suddenly the mid afternoon turd started to arrive early…

Sometimes the only way to appreciate still being alive your achievements is too look back on where you’ve come from. Just so happens this also helps to illustrate how mega this liaison really was. Full respect to the TP organisers for having the fucking balls to put something as awesome as this into a race! As the rest of the world goes flaccid and is busy buying shares in cotton wool factories, this shit is fully adventure erect. I’m clearly not a thrill seeker per se, but its hard to go past how awesome it felt getting up here and being in amongst these surroundings…

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Been there… Done that… WHOOP

Eventually due to a combo of eating (fucken Day 3 baguette was on point!) and faffing, mostly to take footage for THIS very post, I found myself getting inadvertently swept up by the Mountain Staff. Rich and Julia catching up with me, Rich taking the opportunity to explore the rest of the course and Julia in her official TP capacity as sweeper. If there are two people that you want to be trekking into the unknown with, its these two legends.

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Its yet to dawn on me that they can only move forward when I do…

Yup, the same GC’s from the TP Tour 2 years earlier, it was like a super cool reunion in some of the most stunning terrain we had seen so far in the race and little did we know, it was just getting started!

What came next was not only a reason to LOVE your mountain bike like you’d actually (painfully) given birth to it, but also probably one of the best reasons to come to this event that you could hope to find. This wasn’t about racing, or equipment, or all the training and preparation – This was just about absolutely savouring what was unfolding before your eyes and trying the best you could to let it sear its way into your brain so that you’d always remember exactly how amazing it felt to be here.

As we burst slowly out of the trees and into French National Park land, it was clear that this was going to deserve the ‘special‘ tag… But it also deserves to be left alone and not punctuated with a tsunami of gushy commentary, so indulge while I stay silent and attempt to make this a post that can be read in less than 30 mins:

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Meadow porn

Fuck off words…

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Literally can’t think of a worthy caption

Words can get fucked, like seriously.

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The long and Dirty pilgrimage

Words have no place here, for eyes only

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The most annoying thing the person who is last can do: Stop and take pics

Stop typing cunt

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Chances of plugging back into the Matrix after this: All sorts of ZERO

If you had a Kevin Costner fetish, you could fully indulge in the fact that you were basically on the set of Dances with Wolves at this point. Every time we made it to the next ridgeline, it sprawled out into more insane rolling terrain. Initially you wondered when it was going to end, but then the bigger part of you didn’t want it to end.

We were somewhere completely unique, there were only two ways in here: By chopper or the mission of a way we had come. Ok, slight exaggeration given the next photo has clearly got 4WD tracks in it, but you get the point about general remoteness and how incredibly beautiful this setting was. As we sat there and ate what remained of lunch, it was compulsory to gaze out at the vista and recite sentences that would have made the Hallmark Card product managers gag, yes, its that kind of awesomeness:

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I’ve had lunch in worse spots

As much as I wanted to just set up camp in the never ending meadow land scenario, Rich and Julia were quite keen to get back to an actual camp, so onwards we pushed in search for the elusive second stage of the day. By now it had been well over 3 hours since the mission had started from the end of Stage 9, so it was rather obvious it was going to be a massive day. I had expected that Stage 10 would be up on the ridge… Er… NO.

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Down there somewhere Bru…

Wasn’t about to look gift staff in the mouth though, would have been rude not to bust out an impromptu photo shoot up on this banger of a ridgeline before we dropped down to continue the hunt for the stage. It was an odd feeling when you combined the epic nature of getting up here with the fact that once you dropped in, you would probably never be back to this amazing place. I forced my eyes to hoover in as much of the surroundings as my attention span and brain could manage:

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The good old narcissistic ridgeline shot – Never gets old

After the portage to end all portage’s, everyone was indulging in a little ridgeline modelling shoot, you know its an impressive setting when the staff start to get into the spirit of things:

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Even the most experienced campaigners were loving it

A seriously gnarly descent greeted us off the top and no, we STILL weren’t at Stage 10, but whilst it seemed that the wait would go on forever, it turned out that forever was a small exchange for what was to come…

Stage 10

Fuck… Stage 10. How do I go about describing stage 10? How about I start with this:

It wasn’t me

What the fuck does that mean? Had I lost my mind after a 3.5 hour liaison? Am I starting to lose control of my facilities as the biggest week ever begins to bite? Well, some valid factors there for sure, but the best way I could describe Stage 10 is that it was so insane that it felt like an out of body experience. It was like it wasn’t me riding the bike and I was just a spectator along for the ride. When I described it that way at dinner I was welcomed with a lot of nodding heads and general agreement.

If you watch the below daily wrap up video you will even see the PRO’s frothing about this one. Every single step we took to get here was repaid in double the moment we set off into this stage. For those that may have struggled on the hike, this was the ultimate pay back.

Let me say upfront, I think this was probably the best stage of the entire week. Unlike with kids, its actually quite hard to pick a favourite trail as every time you rode one it felt like that one was the new favourite. But 10 was a clear jewel in the TP Gnar crown. To start with, it had a shit load of awesome variety – Starting up top with this Moon of Endor like action between the trees:

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Front wheel accuracy somewhat essential

Nek minute, you were slicing through barren and super dry rocky terrain that demanded you go flat out, rewarding you with some serious fever and without anything that made you feel like you would end up in hospital:

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The only improvement? Yeah, wish I had cleaned the Go PRO lens

All that aside, the reason that stage 10 was such a mind fuck, in an awesome way, was its speed… I went through some sections and couldn’t actually comprehend how fast it was or what the bike was doing. Golden powers combined with the amazingness of the Santa Cruz Nomad and thrown on to this trail created some sort of time and space vacuum where normal physics no longer had any place to hang out. It was sections like this where it really was an out of body experience as your senses no longer processed how fast it felt. Totally get why Matty M was shitting himself in ‘Interstellar’ now:

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Well through the worm hole here

I would blast through sections on this thing and wonder how I was still upright… It wasn’t making any sense at all. The bike just kept eating it and eating it. I can’t even remember any parts of the trail that felt awkward or that I got hung up on, it was just MORE and ON and OMFG, its still going… I suspect that this is the closest I will ever come in life to taking hard drugs, it was an insane experience:

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Possibly stopped ‘regulating’ around here somewhere

And then, just when you thought 10 couldn’t make your anatomy tingle any more, the Loam Rangers arrived and you had a series of what felt like perfect turns on equally perfect loamy terrain to carve through.. Yes for fucks sake, Angels WERE singing… Hell, they were giving me a lap dance while singing:

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Are those harps I can hear over the sound of loam and trail perfection?

None of these screen grabs from the gPRO do this trail any justice and neither does the video really… Its the absolute epitome of “You had to be there“.  Every step taken up that 3.5 hour liaison was more than worth it and I would do it all over again any day of the week to get to charge this piece of perfection that mother nature had carved down the Mon-Ton:

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#fullgas

I didn’t want it to end… But at some point my arms did… Whilst I didn’t nail every corner perfectly, I did feel that awesome ‘oneness’ between Nomad and Nomad that is hard to explain. When it did have to eventually come to an end, it was awesome to see Dirty Uncle Seb was waiting for me as I screamed into the finish, like actually screaming about how amazing the trail and run was:

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Check the concentration – Legend shit

But not everyone was screaming “FUCK yeah!!!!” at the finish as I was without any regard for playing it even semi cool. I noticed that Jamie was sitting off to the side, clearly not in a good space. Jamie is not only an awesome dude, but up until this point he had been leading the Masters category and a regular inside the top 20 on stage and daily results.

In other words, he was shredding it to pieces… Right up until he had got a flat halfway down the hill and without knowing how far to go, elected to run it out. I can’t even imagine how hard and painful that would have been, let alone the epic burn of missing out on riding some of the best trail of the week. It was simply a case study in the cruelty of the Mistress that is cycling.

One minute it can be gently massaging your chassis with oil and wandering hands of pleasure, the next it can be cutting off body parts and any form of hope with merciless skill and proficiency. You’ll never tame it, you’ll never know what’s coming next, you just need to try and appease its brutality while appreciating its beauty:

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Taking the time out to wonder “What if”

Oh yes, that’s right, there were actually results… But to be honest, the experience of riding down that trail was so mind blowing that I really didn’t give a fuck about results at that point, it seemed almost irrelevant in comparison to the experience we’d all just had. But, for the record, I was right smack bang on the fence again:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 9.15 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 9.35 for 2nd
  • T Mo – 10.37 for 18th
  • Dirty Nomad – 11.38 for 40th

I think from memory it took around 7 or 8 hours to get to the feed station… Which meant that not only was it out of food, but it was now 37 degrees. This day was so wicked though that I didn’t give any percentage of fucks about either of those two aspects – I felt golden and just wanted to keep going… So ON ON with this Dirty circus.

Stage 11

GREY EARTH ALERT! Basically sirens need to be losing their shit and trumpets should sound whenever you get close to this terrain, as, and I have this on good authority from an actual Rock Doktor, this is some crazy special shit right here. Cuntingly, my Go PRO decided to shit its pants and die before the stage start, so I won’t be able to infest your eyes with 47 screen grabs, but make sure you scope out the usual daily video below for a taste of what I’m ranting about here.

Much like having a threesome, riding on this surface is something everyone needs to do at least once in life to ensure you’ve truly lived (cue awkward conversation/silent pauses with your partner if you’re both reading this… “Well, have you?”… “Well, should we?”, send me an e-mail if you want my ‘Ground Rules’ PDF).

Funnily enough I remember being shuttled up this road in the van two years ago while we all sat there laughing saying “Fuuuuck riding up here eh cunts!” Well, I sort of had the same thought at about this point, the only difference being it was around a million degrees hotter riding up it than sitting in the back of a van.

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Literally ENDURO was so fucken hot right now…

This terrain is extremely unique, I’m not a Doctor in rocks, but last time I was here I did get an explanation from a Doktor that really did know about rocks. Unfortunately my brain was too small to understand what he was saying to my face, but I smiled and nodded any way like I was ingesting the knowledge for future reuse. All I can tell you is that its Grey, rocky and even though your head tells you there won’t be any grip, its surprisingly conducive to carving and without doubt, high speed. Plus, it looks insane:

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Need to push on sorry, got a date with shredville

Oddly, I felt surprisingly good on the climb up to the stage start, just got into a solid rhythm and even though it took close to 50 minutes in 36 degree heat, I never felt close to cracking or melting down, perversely I was pumped!

The start was fully hectic, not on Grey earth as expected (an ongoing lesson here), but down what resembled a very steep and rocky channel that was as fast as fuck… I got sucked into thinking it was a full sled run, only to peel around the corner and find to my horror a small, sharp and boulder filled climb that you only really had the chance of defeating if you had carried all your speed from the last blasting section and also managed to get to the top of your cassette with lightening speed. I did neither…

Oh holy fuck…. I had to get off and run… Well, more of a stumble really and with every foot step that awkwardly jarred down into the rocks I could feel time flooding out of my run like Thai level diarrhoea. With my composure dripping down all over my frame, I had to try and get it wired for the radness to come…

And oh fuck me, did it come! This was some seriously frantic terrain and whilst the middle section was on par with what I expected, it was slightly more flat out than perhaps I thought it would be… You’ll see the grass section in the middle of the video below, but you can stick a bullet in the commentary I made prior to the race of: “I’ll never spin out a 30 x 10 gear“, how about spin it out and then have to tuck to go even faster… fuck yes that happened. I could also see Sven and the media mafia halfway down and he yelled at me “FASTER you Dirty Nomad” and I fucking let it rip, even getting air borne over the jump they were patrolling, Yeowwwwwww.

The bottom section was all new, fucking mental, rowdy, off camber, fast, loose and needed some care with navigation. Yes, I am gutted that the gPRO was dead, so no footage, but lets just say it was an incredible addition to an already legendary day. And yes, I ran out of superlatives about 15 minutes ago in this post.

My run felt insanely fast, like I was totally pinned to utter fuck… But as we have learned, a lot of people can feel the same way and I suspect a couple of navigation hesitations as well as that little dismount near the top punished me on what was a tight stage.

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 6.12 for 2nd
  • Nomadic Chris – 6.09 for 1st
  • T Mo – 7.04 for 24th
  • Dirty Nomad – 7.42 for 45th

On any normal day or even that would have been considered a huge day already… Indeed, this is a post so big I’m impressed if you’re still with me here. Well, it wasn’t done yet was it? Hell no, there was one more portage mission to come. You know when Julia says that its “Fucken horrible” that its going to be, er, a test of character, as I can’t recall her ever referring to a piece of trail like that. Turns out she was on the money:

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Yeah… Taking this shot wasn’t awkward at all…

At one stage a fellow tramper sat on the side of the track and bemoaned “Is this really necessary?!” I looked at them and simply replied “Don’t look at me dude, I’m fucken loving this shit“. And to be honest, I was. Yes, I was somewhat fingered by now and still soaked in sweat, but it had now gone beyond a point of any form of normality and into a special realm of epicness that I was revelling in to a degree that even surprised me.

I’ve been accused from time to time of being a bit all or nothing, so this was most definitely appealing to the ALL side of things. I wanted it to keep going, I wanted it to be a monster… I didn’t give a fuck about tomorrow and I simply just wanted to indulge in the hardship of right NOW. Luckily Ash had organised plenty of that:

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At least it had cooled off a bit.. only 30 degrees up here

Some time a lot longer than anyone expected, stage 12 was upon us… I sat at the top caught between that strange gravel road in your mind where you want to head down the stage, but don’t want it to be over all at the same time. An ENDURO conundrum. I marvelled at what we had done that day… About all the good cunts around me… At how I had ridden… At how awesome my bike was… At how much I loved being here… At the mind blowing scenery and at how I was still managing to keep going when the elapsed time was well over 10 hours.

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Rach demonstrates what will happen if she catches me on the stage

Stage 12

It was clear early on this was a toughie… As in, physical. Just when you wanted some elevation to take care of doing any work, it had some slight climbs, off camber traverses and plenty of tricks to try and rob you of your last vestiges of strength, assuming you had any left at that stage.

I started to have a slight sense of deja vu and then when we crossed an intersection it all clicked – I HAD ridden down here before!! Not that it helped me a whole lot… I was seriously starting to tire and my T Rex arms were imitating noodles when I arrived in a series of evil and tight switchbacks.

Whilst I didn’t have any gPRO footage of this final piece in the mammoth puzzle day, I did end up with something significantly better – A Gary Perkin pic, which is a proposition thats just above winning the lottery in terms of a good outcome. He caught me heading into negotiations with yet another loose French switchback. I’m too drilled at this point to have my outside elbow up or foot position correct, yup, starting to fray a little around the 10 hour mark!

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Thanks to Gary for the Pic: Note the whole gang of loose rocks in the apex waiting for my front tire

A big part of TP is making sure that your body and your bike get through the week without major disaster. A flat tire, broken chain or major breakage of anything can result in GC hopes evaporating or worse, missing out on a super awesome trail.

I had been relatively lucky so far, but I rode my luck just that micron too much with about 800m to go on the last stage of this massive day. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the massive rock and before I could realise it was an asteroid on the hunt for my rear D it had connected and rammed the mech into the back wheel. Whilst seconds were lost untangling that mess, it wasn’t until I got to the end of the stage that I realised that it was terminal – Chalk one up for Shimano, this sweet Japanese engineering got me to the tag out intact, respect:

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Spot of Dirty remodelling work

I got through the stage and as legend would have it, potentially collapsed at the timing station whilst rambling praise and words of amazement directed at Ash to the point I probably made everyone awkward. Whilst my arms felt like they were going to simply let go of the bike in the last half of the stage, I managed to hold it in the top 40 again, rear D drama and all:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 8.50 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 9.10 for 2nd
  • T Mo – 10.20 for 18th
  • Dirty Nomad – 11.16 for 39th

I sat in the shuttle taking us up to Valberg and camp feeling slightly giddy and for a moment, delusional that we were going to stay in a hotel… Probably a combination of being empty physically, but overloaded emotionally with as much goodness as you can cram into your soul. Woah, yes, that’s a bit D&M, but when you have a day like this, how else are you supposed to sum it up? Nothing I can write here will bring it to life quite like it felt and fuck knows I have had more than a crack at it here with this novel. This shit can only be experienced and that experience is for the individual to cherish in their own way.

And the final awesome dude of the day? Mavic guy! I handed over the spare XTR rear D and he had things sorted out and back to full service in less time that I took to finally eject that fucking cunt of a turd that had accompanied me all through stages 11 and 12. Bravo to Mavic, without them the attrition rate on this thing would be at least 30 to 40%!

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Le Legend

And to the day? Its odd to think that it was somewhere close to 11 hours camp to camp, for 38 minutes of racing for me. But that’s part of what makes this the experience it is and honestly, wouldn’t have it any other way:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 29.58 for 1st (GC 1.21.40 @ 1st)
  • Nomadic Chris – 30.53 for 2nd (GC 1.23.58 @ 2nd)
  • T Mo – 34.51 for 19th (GC 1.33.41 @ 18th)
  • Dirty Nomad – 38.03 for 38th (GC 1.42.28 @ 42nd)

When I watch this Day 3 video I honestly can’t stop smiling… If you were there on this day and were fortunate enough to be part of it, watching this means something to you that is hard to describe.

And FINALLY holy fuck, its time to wrap up this Postzilla with the usual suspects:

1. Dirty Nomad Vs Camping

Two phenomenon have now set in on Day 3, firstly all hope of controlling my internals has been lost and I had begun the process of gassing myself into a stupor in the tent of doom. As if that wasn’t awkward enough am I seriously the only cunt in the whole camp that needs to get up for a piss in the night?! The sound of my tent zip sounding like a siren as I try to creep unsuccessfully out of my gas chamber.

2. Stage of the day 

Stage of day probably doesn’t do it justice – Stage of the year? Of the decade? Of the century?! Fuck… Stage 10 was so incredible it even had the PRO’s frothing like little kids who had overdosed on coke washed down with lollies laced with acid. On a day that had Grey Earth in it as well, its a BOLD trail that is able to knock that off the top perch, but 10 nailed it. Froth froth froth froth…

3. Dude of the day

Dedicated to the dudes that kept me rolling: Nathan for the LEV replacement dropper post and the Mavic Mechanic that not only replaced my rear D in record time at the end of the day, but also gave the Nomad a once over that would make most Bike shops blush with shame based on how awesome it was. But really it was a fully shared award on Day 3, from Rich & Julia on the sweep detail to Jeff and the motorsport stories to seeing Jamie bounce back from his Stage 10 heartbreak, awesome people were just in endless supply all day.

I would say “Another day in the bag“, but this was a LOT more than that as you may be able to tell… It was one in the very small list of days that you will always remember as being extraordinary. A day where you were grateful that you first picked up a Mountain Bike and ultimately got to go through everything that led you to this moment. A day where you got to share it with some very cool people and experience the best that the French Mon-Tons had to offer. Or, to sum it up in a feeling and as Maria put it, a day that was Endurogasmic:

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“Uhhhhhhhhhhh… Fucking bring on Day 4 you Dirty cunt”

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