The dawn of day 4 on Trans Provence was courtesy of Valberg, a cool little ski town kicking things off at 1600m of elevation, meaning that a reasonable chunk of the heavy lifting had already been done before we would get to the first stages for the day. Reasonably handy after a restless sleep following the now legendary Day 3.

Its moments like this where you’re reminded how stoked you are to be A) Mountain Biking and B) in France in June:

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Viva le FRANCE!

By now, we were well into the TP Routine, which I called the race outside the race. If there is one thing that TP instils into you, its a sense of routine either side of the race day, and fuck me if you didn’t need to be Navy SEAL level drilled to make sure you kept up with shit. Its pretty much a non-stop exercise to keep up with the schedule, and that’s even considering that I’d entered a very therapeutic and self-imposed digital black out.

A what? Whatca talking bout willis? The man who’s smartphone is essentially an extension of his person in a trial run for what the singularity is going to be like? How then did I manage to scale back so much? Aside from being rammed for time every day, there was a far more compelling reason to go off the grid.

Bring on the corny rant – I was so into the TP moment and world that I didn’t want to interact with the on-line realm. I stopped checking twitter, stopped reading websites, stopped messaging, didn’t check e-mails. Yes, I made people hate me via Instagram, but that was pretty much it for most of the week. It wasn’t about being all “look I’m on TP so I’m too cool for muthafucken school“, it was more that I wanted to be completely present and immersed with where I was at that point in time. It was part of the savouring process to just enjoy where I was and the people I was with. This was a unique moment and to respect it, tuning out the digital worm hole that wanted to eat my time and attention span felt like a necessity.

So how did it end up rolling each day? Oddly it quickly fell into this pattern for me at least:

Evening

  • Arrive at camp fingered to fuck and make like a zombie stumbling around trying to find your bag and tent, whilst constantly getting interrupted to talk shit with rad cunts about your day and how it rolled. Say “Fuck yeah” and “Rad” a lot, possibly 85% of your conversations revolve around these words alone
  • Eventually find your tent and drag overpacked bag to it, gypsy style
  • Rummage around endlessly in a semi dazed state before finally realising you need to eat all the shit packed with protein that you super didn’t want to consume. Faff a bit or upload to Instagram only
  • Oddly, unpack all the gear you need for tomorrow before you even take your knee pads off and place it down the right hand side of the tent in an OCD type fashion
  • Finally start to take off gear that would have smelt really bad if you still had your sense of smell, but by now you’re too tired to retain that functionality
  • Take at least 15 minutes to then work out what you needed to have a shower… Sounds simple, but actually surprisingly hard as your teeth hurt eating above mentioned protein bar
  • Finally put down that Turdzilla that you had carted around for at least 1000m of climbing and even more downhill. Let out an audible sigh and/or shed a tear of relief and rejoice
  • Shower – Quite possibly cold, but your anatomy is numb any way, so made little to no difference. Some days you literally felt born again after hitting the shower block, especially those ones where it was 10 hours plus camp to camp
  • Think about doing some washing but realise it was too hard, too late or your arms lacked the strength to wring out wet kit. Suddenly reuse wasn’t as bad as it sounded pre-race. Blatantly ignore the fact your gear was now feral
  • Look at the bike and sort of flick some dirt off here and there… A couple of days it got the full clean, but oil on the chain and a loving pat quickly became a bad habit. Luckily for me (and about 20 others), the Santa Cruz Nomad is pretty much the best machine you can have for this mission
  • Dinner – Oh thank FUCK that the TP staff were so awesome that every night they melted your expectations like they were the local cheese platter. The food was golden every night, as proven by the stampede for seconds
  • Spend at least an hour farting in front of anyone who would listen. On day 1 people kept it discrete, on day 2 you could hear the occasional blast around the camp, but by day 3 and 4 it was common place for people to let rip even mid convo one on one. I needed no encouragement and given my whole food processing function had melted down with all the bars, gels, hard days and coke, I had transformed into a lethal weapon
  • Collapse into your tent and do a quick scan of everything you need for tomorrow – Once ticked off, get into slightly too small sleeping bag and instead of tapping out like you expected to, roll around feeling more restless than you should be… Like you’ve forgotten something? Something gnawing at you…
  • Finally go to sleep with your towel and laundry you’ve been trying to dry for 2 days on top of your cunting tent in a camp that’s 1600m up in the Mon-Tons… Who ordered the Mountain Dew?
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#tentlife cracking into day 4

Morning

  • Wake up at 5.30am instead of 6.15am like you really really wanted to… Almost piss your pants as you jam all the zips trying to get out of your tent, and when you stop to realise your towel is frozen on top of your tent… Yay
  • Spend the rest of the time either arguing with yourself if you should go to breakfast in riding gear or not… Or spend that time reading that days stage notes and starting to freak yourself out at what was to come. Either were productive uses of time that should have been devoted to sleep
  • Lapse into total inefficiency as you do things in the oddest order. Put shoes on, realise Knee pads aren’t on. Put gloves on, realise sunscreen hasn’t been applied. Pack away bag, realise you needed 5 things out of it
  • Thank fuck for breakfast – Start with the coffee and then dowse that porridge in honey
  • Stage 2 of faff-packing, every day it was like the worlds weirdest jigsaw puzzle where item by item slowly everything got either loaded into the Evoc pack, put on or packed
  • Finally get the race turd evicted… Essential to get in early as fuuuuuuuck did it get nasty the longer the morning went on and that’s without considering the fact that 95% of French camp ground toilets didn’t have toilet seats (WTF), there was a serious resource war when it came to toilet paper at times and of course, a limited number of seats for a very regular crowd of racers
  • And then finally, after you had absolutely secured your timing chip to your person, the only thing you did NOT want to forget, it was time to listen to another one of Ash’s awesomely succinct briefings before blast off:
TP2015 - Day four

“Yeah… Exposure… Blah blah… Yeah, its gonna be awesome… Yeah, you’re gonna love it… Don’t fuck around with the shuttles”

Before I actually get on with the day 4 report and talk about riding a bike, to answer the question that no one asked yet of “How did you charge all your shit dude?“, check out the set up we had in camp every day! In the chill out tent no less… And oh yes, the modern ENDURO rider has a massive hard on for electronics, so, like the shitters it paid to get in early:

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So stoked to be getting into the back country and away from Technology and shit

And so, how was Day 4 sizing up? After the girth of day 3, there were more than a few raw asses, so no one was complaining when 4 looked to be a little bit ‘easier’, which yes, is a bit of an oxymoron around these parts:

  • Route: Valberg – Valdeblore
  • The numbers: 33.24km with 867m of UP and 2,902m of radness
  • Eventual elapsed time (camp to camp): Around 9 hours
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Don’t tempt it… Don’t say it…

So then, the ‘Shortest‘ day… The ‘easiest‘ day… We started to share views on how good it would be to get back to camp early… Oh yes, back to camp by 2pm! Or earlier?! Relaxing in the sun… Do some washing. Chill… talk story… Recover. We were almost giddy with the prospect of an early shower and some time to bask in the chill-out tent sunning our broken chassis’s. But, this is TP and as you know…

Nothing is ever as it seems

Of course, we didn’t consider how things might pan out when we rolled out of Camp Valberg and on our way to Mars. I was lucky enough to be rolling with Rad Ryan again and Davis the Canadian PRO, who was a regular visitor inside the top 15 and just another good cunt to be hanging out with. Cue climb time on D4:

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Just grinding out the daily commute… Same old scenery…

And I mean, look… So far from a weather and views perspective its all looking the same innit? Just another day of getting up and heading into the best the French Mon-Ton’s have to offer on your bike in mint conditions with cool mofos… Its basically corrupting and not to mention, highly addictive:

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“Think the come down will be bad after this trip guys?”

As you can imagine by Day 4 we were all getting used to heading out into more of the best that France has to offer in search of trail madness. I hate to use this cunty term coined in corporates and no doubt seen in a 78 page PowerPoint preso somewhere, but it was quickly becoming the New Normal. As was going up of course, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it was an ‘easy’ day it wouldn’t require some matches to be burnt, the ENDURO Ant colony seen here migrating to the scene of new blind radness:

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Yup… That blue sky is fo REAL

Even once we had got up to the ridgeline for the start of Stage 13 we still didn’t know what to expect… Yes, we were allegedly heading into the most remote valley of the week, double fart noise as it felt like we had already been in some fuuuuucking remote locale’s and as Ash had said to us “Keep the bigger picture in mind when racing here“. I had assumed the big picture was a reference to staying alive, but other than that this was ALL new to everyone lining up. 80 Blind mice about to get a bit of a surprise…

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First guinea pig away… Doesn’t look that bad bro

Stage 13

Are you about to head into another stage report with far too many Go PRO screen grabs drizzled all through it? YES. But, its the only one today as it was a full gPro melt down day again unfortunately (or fortunately for those of you faking to be working and reading this at your desk), so we’re going hard as fuck on Stage 13 before it will become a dribble further down, but as it turns out, if you wanted your Go PRO to work for any stage on Day 4, then 13 was it.

It didn’t really occur to me that 13 may be unlucky, and whilst the opening section felt a lot slower than it should be when you race your bike, I didn’t worry too much and thought I would just wait for it to get into the forest…

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Nothing unusual about this then…

You’d be forgiven for thinking at this point that that it was just another alpine/forest/maybe some rocky stuff trail like the last few days. But today had VERY different orders:

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Do it, Do it NOW!

Around the corner and HOLY SHIT… It was quickly very apparent that it was time to ditch any preconceptions or ideas as to what was coming. I distinctly remember looking out at the next few scenes and bleeding a bit of speed off as I tried to work out not only what the actual fuck this was, but also, which way was I going?!

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Someone’s messing with my playlist…

Aim for the dude with the camera turned out to be the best and worst option… Best as he was standing where I needed to go and also the worst as he was no dumb ass, he was there to capture lemmings fuck up that particular section of track, which was all based on trying to navigate a rock arrangement that wanted to gorge a large hole in your leg or frame ideally. I obliged him of course by fucking it right up and stalling out massively. Not sure how my antics didn’t make the final vid below? Probably because he caught Nico Lau running through here?

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Fuck… A Roman with a video camera…

If I may borrow another Arnold quote, I was wondering “What the hell are you” as I made my way into what initially I thought may be grey earth?

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Keep sort of calm and red earth on

Only to find that it was actually Mars… And the further down we went, the redder and more bad ass it was becoming. Seriously, can you believe this shit? Were we even still in France? Or had we gone through some rad worm hole to the wild west/Red Bull Rampage? I was nervously excited and hesitant all at the same time to find out what the fuck this was all about:

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Fully getting my ass to Mars now… #redasfuck

The further down we got, the redder shit was… Grey earth yesterday, red today… How Ash finds this shit is anyone’s guess, but its maestro action. It would be significantly easier to keep rocking the same trails and areas, but this crazy new action was being thrown in this year and it had the desired effect of fucking with our minds by negotiating something totally different…

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It feels like the terrain doesn’t want me here

I was eventually caught and passed by what turned out to be the overall winner of Amateur men, he pinned it past me just as we passed the Media Mafia. Sven, the master of trackside advice, yelled at me (again) to “follow that man! Watch his lines!“. Sage advice, even though I didn’t really know why, but I had a sense it was something to do with what was coming up… So I turned off my Regulating computer and let it rip in pursuit…

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“Follow him” not as straightforward as it sounds when its a flying Finn

The only problem with de-regulation and trying to follow someone who was regularly getting into the top 10? You can run out of talent pretty fucken fast… I hadn’t hit the deck so far in the race, but that virginity was ripped from me when I straightlined it in the above shot, came to the end of the section and found the right hand turn was essentially rock with a light coating of loose stones and gravel on it. Finnish dude with form roosted it, Dirty dude with fundamental cornering technique flaws, not so much:

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The whole wash out scenario

Done with a bit of rock sampling for the Doktor to analyse, it was time to scramble back into the game and go fast but calm down all at the same time. Helping with the second part, I had now arrived at the part of the trail where the race notes had suggested that “Navigation could be challenging…” or words to that effect. Yeah, ok, so not an exaggeration, but perhaps it was understating it. Recurring thought? Aside from “I have to jump this“, it was mainly along the lines of “Where the fuuuuck am I going?

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Just send it BRO… But to where being the only question

Like a Greek Finance minister, I didn’t have a fucking clue where I was going or what to look for… It was part gut feel, part looking for a tire track and hoping it wasn’t someone who had cunted it up and then occasionally, picking up the scent of a TP arrow or marker in this desert of navigation and gnar that by the way, was actually fucking fast if you weren’t too busy being confused…

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Spot the pink arrow of salvation…

Fuck me with an inflatable Martian doll, this thing was WILD… As in, the wild west… It was a strange sensation as you wanted to pin it given how fast the terrain felt, but doing so could have easily had you pinning it a long way in the wrong direction. There was also the small issue of arriving somewhere fast and then quickly having to assess where to next. Example, do you go left, right or straight here?

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Blinder than a fucking Bat with sunglasses on

Am I overindulging on Stage 13 here? You bet… But, in my defence, it was quickly becoming folklore, so worthy of this much focus. If you actually knew where you were going on this stuff, it would have been incredibly fast. It was now riding on pure rock face, I haven’t been to Moab, but suspect this is the French version. With navigation still basically guess work, the tactic was to aim for any small rock pile that sort of resembled a trail marker…

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Fucken ROCK star as

But of course, you could then end up on something that clearly wasn’t where you were meant to be… Head on a muthafucken swivel…

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A crevice that is marginally wider than 27.5 inches I suspect

Or alternatively, end up on the trail when you could swear it actually wasn’t… In this example here I can’t tell you if I was on the trail or not, but it was heading downhill and Sam Needham doesn’t hang out in random places, so just head for him bro:

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Nothing cute to say here, just hold the fuck on and hope it all works

Believe it or not, but here, the trail actually turns left after the rocks and tape… But in my head it definitely went right, behind Sam and down some feral drop in…

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Sam appears perplexed by my approach…

Quicker than Sam could yell “Cunt, did you really just lick that donut?!” I had committed fully to going the wrong way. He was probably wondering why/how the fuck I was carrying so much entry speed before snagging the anchors and realising a fully dismounted back track was going to be required.

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Putting the ‘Dead’ into dead-end

Eventually the wild west plain of navigation doom and a million ways to get lost gave way to a trail that was yes, easier to navigate, but oddly managed to turn up the GNAR meter to a few clicks past extreme. Yes… This IS part of the stage, one that requested a bit of respect given the drop, entry and how about that mental rock off camber exit…

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Aptly named the ‘Nugget section’

So fuck, I thought the top section was wild… Probably the best description I can come up with, but of course there was no clue that the bottom would have an even greater penchant for grabbing us by the throat and shaking us so vigorously that its hard to remember the safe word, let alone be able to scream it out. Not to mention, this was some imposing terrain…

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The Red army continues its relentless bombardment

If you’re getting tired of the tsunami of screenshots and tales of Gnar this and rad that, then spare a fucken thought for my T Rex arms at this point, as they were burning like match sticks, similar size and combustion characteristics too mind you. Rather than give a breather, it was just continuing to ramp up the steepness…

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Holy shit… we ARE turning right… Either that or we’re about to have a Red Bull Rampage winning run/helicopter ride

And the line choices…

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What would Nico do?

And just the pure, unadulterated bad ass GNAR, this shot here perhaps one of my favourites where you just held on, stopped breathing and thanked the fuck out not only the fact you were on a bike designed by Joe Grainey #injoewetrust, but also that you let an Italian dude sort out your suspension for you so that it wasn’t trying to kill you:

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Joe G and the Nomad 3 say: Hold it straight cunt and mind the pedals

Surprises, crashing, getting lost, wild gnar, screaming body and there was still a sting in the tail before hitting that time out beep. This amazing trail, which its worth noting is 100% natural and not in any way designed or shaped for mountain biking, let alone ENDURO racing, still had some goodies to dish up. How about some giant plates of gnar that moved when you hit them and then a few big fork bottoming G outs just for good measure to see if you can hold on to your bike?

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Righto… So pretty much the only thing we hadn’t encountered so far this morning, now ticked off

Given the wild bronco nature of this stage, it was sort of a relief to see Dirty Uncle Seb waiting to catch me… Can’t say he felt the same way though, you can’t see it here but the rear end of the bike is stepping out massively and this is the closest I came all week to wiping out a Mountain Staff member. You can see Seb trying to work out if he should time me out or fend me off… Wise man:

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Seb working out if he should save me, himself or his Orange

You can tell by the number of people still milling about at the finish that the HOLY FUCK factor was high. Tales of woe at getting lost were plentiful and stoke factor was high. For a lot of us, aside from it being a rad stage, we had never ridden anything like this. I’ve been getting Dirty a long time and still can’t recall being on terrain like this, how fucken cool is that?! Worthy of dishing a 5 with the Chapinator:

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“Smoke and a pancake Brah?”

Crashing, getting lost, back tracking and first run of the day hesitancy all combined to see a slide out of the top 40, but somehow when I saw that at the end of the day, zero fucks were given. Getting to ride something as unique and as wild as this was the real result from an experience perspective.

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 6.08 for 3rd
  • Nomadic Chris – 5.58 for 1st
  • T Mo – 7.33 for 23rd
  • Dirty Nomad – 8.58 for 46th
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The wild valley of red rock rage has more in store… On to 14!

Stage 14

Poor stage 14… Like some sort of ugly middle child with nothing to say for itself, it was hard to recall all of it after a rabid and ruthless stage 13. This was basically the only screen grab that I could get off that was decent:

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Another Western about to be unleashed

Don’t get me wrong, it was a rad trail and stacked with sections that were again absolutely epic, in fact it was probably steeper than 13 in a few places and also wanted to invite disaster upon you if you weren’t on your game.

A little climb after the start blew me out a bit and I never really got my mojo flowing on this slightly shorter stage. I do recall wanting to drink from my leaky as fuck camelbak the whole way down the hill, with the temp now pushing 30 and no wind in death valley, it was like racing in a gnar filled oven.

An odd stage, some parts I felt utterly shit and terrified on, but other super steep sections I felt relatively pinned… Mr inconsistent! Overall, feeling more than just a bit tight, the top 40 eluded me again:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 4.16 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 4.20 for 4th
  • T Mo – 5.05 for 17th
  • Dirty Nomad – 5.52 for 42nd

Stage 15

I think it finally dawned on me halfway through Stage 15 what was going on here… I was hung over as fuck. Yes, I had binged on radness on Day 3 and was paying the price today. My T Rex arms were wailing, my nervous braking fingers were exercising themselves more than a Crossfit cult member and my brain didn’t seem able to get into the space it needed to be in to navigate some nasty little switchbacks on Stage 15.

I shouldn’t have self-loathed as much as I did, after the fact video evidence is below that some of the PRO’s also struggled with the same sections that I ran out of talent on. I realised towards the end of the stage when I tried to run out of a creek bed that had an unrideable climb out of it, and my whole body felt like it was powered by cement, that we may have had a problem.

Still, all was not lost, aside from the fact it was more rad riding in the Martian valley, I did manage some one on one stalking time with Nico Lau, PRO race leader who was good enough to get well into the spirit of a Dirty Photo shoot for me, Nico working the camera like, well, a PRO:

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I think that’s French for “You are hairy like a monkey”

Actually, stage 15 was a piece of piss compared to the Liaison that came after it. Fuuuuuuck… Talk about steep, rowdy and long! It was actually harder to ride down than some of the racing that morning and it wasn’t just the exposure seen below, and no, wasn’t the insane heat either, it was the super rowdy switchbacks at the end that seemed to go ON and fucking ON heading to the feed station where I thought my arms were actually going to detach from my body… By the time I got to the feed zone I felt like I had been gang banged by angry Martian Marmots, an alarming proposition:

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Dangerous Liaisons the sequel… Well, actually more like Part 5

Its no surprise that I ate donkey balls on this stage results wise… The Hangover IV was playing throughout all aspects of my game and I seemed unable to mount a crack at the top 40 today.

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 3.09 for 4th
  • Nomadic Chris – 3.08 for 3rd
  • T Mo – 3.54 for 26th
  • Dirty Nomad – 4.26 for 46th

Well, the day was going fast! Just coming up to lunch time and BANG BANG BANG, three rapid-fire stages in the bag. Dreams of sunning our balls back at camp and getting massages were well and truly filling the mind at this point and there was only one stage to roll. There was even time to catch up with some of the Beautiful people on TP before the shuttle uplift. T Shirt of the week award goes to?

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#legend #canyouevengrowabeardnomad

Sweet fucking shuttle salvation! Does it get any better than a midday shuttle to ferry you back up to the BIG show when you’re feeling fingered? I vote no, there isn’t, so it was with gratitude seeping out of my pores that we loaded up in the FIRST shuttle to get up that Mon-Ton. This was the first time all week that I had been absolutely in the first few riders of the race. Ultimately it doesn’t make a massive amount of difference, but the prospect of getting back to camp super early was now turning from a Dirty Fantasy to a rock hard reality. Hammer down French shuttle dude!

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As single lane as fuck

Something for the Roadies, this was yet another hidden gem of a climb if you want to explore this part of the world, quiet, scenic and some insane switchback arrangements. Get your skin tight action on and hit the D428 heading up to Pierlas.

How Ash manages to get 80 riders, the media mafia and support staff all spread out over a large area of French Mon-Ton’s all up in these shuttle runs to continue to the race is an impressive example of how fucking golden the organisation of this event is. Keep watch for a future rant on that topic, but for now I was too busy indulging in being first on the route and doing so with some golden dudes:

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Just chilling and having lunch with Ludo May, Nico Lau and Jamie Nicoll… Normal day on tour ya know…

The liaison to Stage 16 was long… To start with, it was the usual long and harder than you expected it to be traversing and single track that you wondered if it was actually the trail at times. But after chilling at lunch with the PRO’s and swapping notes on how close everyone was to shitting themselves (gel issues, not the terrain terror), it started to head down. And then it started to head down REALLY fast… Which quickly turned into REALLY fucking epic, in terms of I started to think “Shouldn’t this be the race stage?

Turns out I wasn’t the only one with this thought…

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“Hands up if you want to Le Fuck off to the pub?”

Yes, the sinking feeling had also hit the PRO’s that perhaps we had done the ONE thing you don’t want to do on TP week, miss the stage start timing beeping thingy (its technical name). Imagine getting down a 700m descent to realise you’d missed the stage. Technically we weren’t lost, but the start of the stage appeared to be.

The best part about watching rider after rider come down was the innocent, but piss-taking once said aloud question being yelled at them from the ever increasing group camped out on the trail: “Are you racing?!

Thank fuck the answer was NO from rider after rider who arrived at our rally point of debate. A PRO summit was therefore called to discuss the state of affairs:

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“Fucked if I’m climbing back up cunts”

As the time ticked on, it started to occur to those of us that had erupted with premature excitement at an early return to camp that an arvo of chill time was rapidly turning into an hour to do everything and then some. Sure, we were getting our time in the sun, so it was hard to complain.

A mutiny was discussed at one point, surely it was safety in numbers if the whole field rolled down to the expected finish area? But Ash was not about to miss the chance to set more crazy French terrain on our now chilled asses and he dispatched a Mountain Staff Terminator to our location to rain down more timed terror on us. Once again, anticipation (and gas for me) began to grow at our newly improvised stage start area…

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Like a motorbike gang… Without motorbikes

Stage 16

With Rich to the rescue, it was time to get proceedings reignited. I’m not sure how long us early adopters had sat around up there, but suspect it was close to two hours. If you want to shut down the turbo completely then that’s one way to do it. I felt more in nap mode than race mode, but the PRO’s weren’t about to hang about and stuff their faces with lollies like some of us were guilty of…. Chris from the Nomads getting down to business in pursuit of Nico:

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Show time

Again, no Go PRO footage (thank fuck some cry), but who needs robocam when you have the Legend that is Gary Perkin trailside to capture the gold. I have to admit, I’m not sure I even saw Gary here, judging by my eyes I was far too busy trying to keep it upright here, upright and to the left please:

TP2015 - Day four

Pic by Gary Perkin – And this was a moment of relative calm

The story of Stage 16 is VERY simple: I’ve never had a race run in my life that had so many saves, near misses and pure out of control moments… Ever. Was I pushing hard? Getting feral and turning into a loose cunt?

I wish… No, this was more a combo of feeling utterly fucked and then having to face up to the hardest trail of the day in my view, after two hours of rolling around like a Dirty Heidi in the grass. 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. No surprises here then:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 10.42 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 11.11 for 3rd
  • T Mo – 12.25 for 17th
  • Dirty Nomad – 14.42 for 45th

A day solidly outside the top 40 then… Not that I knew that of course until getting out of the final stage and besides, does it really matter when France keeps delivering up the goodness?

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SO wanted to get in that river, but my arms were too fingered for me to ever survive that current

It was time for another TP Tour flashback, as we arrived down in Mairie, a little village that we had finished in 2 years ago, but also oddly, the place that sits at the base of the climb up to Roubion! Yes, it was a weird EuroEnduro flashback to a few weeks prior when I had been through this area to get a French ENDURO can of Whupass opened up all over my face. Thank fuuuuck we were getting a shuttle up to camp, as by this stage it was close to 8.5 or 9 hours since we had left the last one.

And what else is there to do when you’re waiting for the shuttle up to camp? Yup, empty the bar out – And I mean literally buy every single stock item of beer that they had going. The PRO’s leading the charge on all fronts today it seemed:

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PRO as fuck

Kicked out of the Top 40 quicker than a Mariah Carey christmas song, not really a surprise given my horrendously hung-over state, my breath wreaking of the previous days epicness and adventure. But oddly, up a place on GC? BANK it!

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 24.15 for 1st (GC 1.45.55 @ 1st)
  • Nomadic Chris – 24.36 for 2nd (GC 1.48.34 @ 3rd)
  • T Mo – 28.57 for 19th (GC 2.02.38 @ 17th)
  • Dirty Nomad – 33.58 for 43rd (GC 2.16.26 @ 41st)

As you’ll see from the TP Day 4 video, this was one insane little Valley that Ash had managed to dig out of his suitcase of face melting gnar – Bravo man! #legendasfuck

Shortest day on the race should have been a shorter post, but its another gushing load shoot… I can’t promise anything less I’m afraid, but lets wrap this fucker up shall we? Day 5 awaits my worn out two typing fingers.

1. Dirty Nomad Vs Camping

As I alluded to, having your towel the same colour as your tent probably not that useful… Neither is then leaving it on top for it to turn into a cotton popsicle. Wait, there’s no overnight laundry service?! What sort of savagery is this?! For once I was lucky I had over packed.

2. Stage of the day 

Definitely Stage 13 – It was wild, it had some evil to it and it was definitely crazy… Aside for that being the perfect ingredients for a stripper, it was a stage that you’ll always remember with crystal clarity due to its extremely unique terrain and nature (and not just the thousands of screen grabs). Getting lost and eating shit also marked it out as part of the adventure. Normally those two events = Childish tantrum, but on day 4 I was so stoked still it didn’t even register. Its like an alien has replaced me.

3. Dude of the day

Again a whole swag of GC’s that deserve a mention, but it’s probably best to focus on the chat that Rad Ryan and I had with Matti Lehikoinen waiting for the shuttle to head up to camp at the end of the day. Matti won a few World Cup DH rounds in the mid 2000’s, so some serious pedigree, but sitting there chatting with him you wouldn’t know for a moment he was killing it in the top 3 on TP overall. Even more humbling he spoke to us about what it was like to come back from a genuinely life threatening injury a few years prior. I’m sure he had told the story more times than he wanted to, but it was once of those stories that gave you some serious perspective as you listened to it. One seriously cool dude to be able to sit and chat with about bikes and life – He was more than well versed in both! Respect.

With dreams of the mid-afternoon camp chillfest given a massive golden shower now it was around 6.30pm, I tried to ram through my evening routine which now had the added ‘complication’ of a 40 minute massage buried within it, yes, TP organises professional sports massages in remote locations, BANG.

I wondered how Day 5 would treat me… After all, it was the BIGGEST day on paper and I had some previous memories how huge it could be, so the unknown question was this:

Would I fold like an origami Nomad? Or would I rise up like Donkey Darko and kick the fuck out of Day 5?

As I looked up at the never-ending ridgeline where we were heading tomorrow, I honestly had no idea… All I knew is that it was going to be pretty epic finding out…

x

There’s something out there… And it ain’t no man… We all gonna shred…

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