One morning you’re starting the second half of the race, the next you’re kicking off the penultimate day… That was the slight mindfuck waiting for those (me) that woke up early on Day 5. Today was always going to be a slightly strange one to start with, mainly as it marked the start of the run for home.

Yes, today we would see the Med for the first time and with that first glimpse of the sea, realise that holy fuck, this adventure to trump all adventures may actually come to an end?! Its an extremely strange feeling that you want it to come to an end slightly from a physical beat down perspective, but even more than that you want it to continue indefinitely… Just how many fucked up issues was I going to come out of this trip with?

Day 5 camp was again way up in the Mon-Ton’s, with fully audible fart action going down in tent city now, I was relieved to find that I wasn’t the only one who was gassing the fucken tent down, an orchestra of bodily releases humming up and down the rows as racers started to stir for the HOLY FUCK ITS SO INSANELY BIG day 5:

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Check out the early morning camp stalker – The pods about to hatch with rad cunts

So let’s get straight to the theme of the day: GIRTH. Massiveness, craziness, dayzilla, too big to fail, too legit to quit, say what you will, but day 5 was a serious bad ass and we all knew it.

Day 5 was looming HUGE for so many reasons. Seriously, Take a look at these numbers… I mean, that much descending is usually a respectable day at Whistler, let alone your 5th (well, technically 6th for those of now regretting slightly the day zero ride) day on the bike. Buckle the fuck up ENDURO fans, as today was going to give everyone a serious fix:

  • Route: Valdeblore – Sospel
  • The numbers: 62.94km with 1,381m of UP and 4,031m of radness
  • Eventual elapsed time (camp to camp): A shade over 11 hours
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Bang Bang – Double uplift!

So, mentally and perhaps emotionally I didn’t want it to be the penultimate day, but my body was starting to indicate that perhaps the volume of radness and in particular, Portage, was starting to take its toll. The pic on the right in particular a good Dirty Tip on why you DON’T want to rock up to TP with new shoes… Or really old ones either, as I saw lots of examples of shoes imploding (well, even brand new ones) or people with new shoes suffering massively from blisters. My Shimano ENDURO shoes were awesome and had some decent mileage on them, but even so, I was starting to feel the burn:

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Something for those with a foot fetish

After being savaged by the hung over Day 4 a little bit and more than slightly worried about the insane size and number of 5, I had one tactic that I was determined to stick to today and it was pretty simple:

Keep it neat and tidy

That’s it… Straightforward. It was going to be a long and brutal day, so I was betting on the side of conservatism to see me through. Hadn’t I been doing that already? Well, sort of, but today I was going to be even more aggressive about being relaxed, so to speak. How would that work out? Call me Coco the pussy now, its time to get on the 4WD track and find out then isn’t it?

I assured Rad Ryan that I knew exactly where we were going to start the day. Like a total expert I outlined how we would climb from camp up the road and then be straight into quite a hard Portage where we had gone up two years prior.

It therefore took about 4 minutes for me to be painted a distinct tinge of Cunt as we veered right and straight into a shallow, but beautiful (now there’s a combo!) climb up into a stunning forest.

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Golden start to the day

I’m sure rRyan would have taken the piss out of me, except he was too busy gritting his teeth. Yes, here’s another major scene setter for Day 5 as we get underway, Ryan was ticking off one of the items that you don’t want to have happen at any stage on TP. This list consists of:

  • Crashing that causes an on-going injury
  • Breaking a major part at a bad time
  • Getting a flat tire that seems to keep repeating (a common theme)
  • Running out of water a long way from resupply
  • Starting a stage in front of Nico Lau
  • Getting a gastro bug

Yup, Ryan had picked up the last one and not only spent the night before remodelling the portaloo’s, but started the day weaker than a Lance Armstrong legal defence. Watching him attempt to eat breakfast and not pulling it off was like some sort of twisted horror show. There’s no day off here… No time outs… You either do or do NOT. As such, he was about to spend 11 hours redefining the term ‘Aussie Battler’. The fact he rolled out of camp with a roll of toilet paper rammed into his Evoc pack an ominous sign.

As we spent over an hour spinning up one of the nicest forest 4WD tracks you could hope to encounter on Day 5 of an insane outdoor adventure, he apologised profusely at how slow we were going, ironically we were pretty much going the speed I could go, so I wasn’t about to start complaining – Especially when it meant he was going to end up a slave for some Dirty Zoolander Mon-Ton photo shoots:

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Are you a fucken Train driver? What is UP with that cap?!

In my defence, when you have a 4 hour ride/push/carry, you start to seriously prioritise practically over fashion (slap my face now). This would explain why rocking what is technically a ‘road cap’ was given a temporary pass. If it catches on in ENDURO for liaisons (dubious chances of success), you saw that shit here first.

It took some time, but we eventually made our way onto the Ridge that I was expecting to be on… Which meant I knew there was still a fuuucken long way to go before Stageageddon commenced.

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Zen like focus going into the butt clenching there

The good thing about extended pushing/portage, the chance to rap with Rad dudes. It may have been day 5, but I was still getting to meet new people. Everyone, meet Sandy, one cool mofo and a repeat TP junkie back for his second year in a row:

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Sandy rocking THAT famous custom painted Nomad

Turned out Sandy was so into MTB and Santa Cruz he owned a bike shop… Did I spend several hours foaming at the mouth about Santa Cruz and mountain biking in general talking to Sandy? Fuck yes! Did he foam back? Absolutely! If you’re slow at getting to know people then TP is a golden place to come, its rammed with legends and extremely low on cunts.

And then finally, there it was… For the first time all week we could see the end goal – The Med. Lean in and squint a bit and you can see the Mediterranean starting to peak out on the horizon, rammed with Russians and awaiting our ENDURO short clad asses which were anticipating the first dive in tomorrow.

TP2015 - Day five

I want to be in you

The liaison to the first stage of the day is an utterly amazing place to be. It really doesn’t matter what bike you had, as you were pretty much pushing it, but even XC Bandits could come up here and enjoy its vastness. I’ve documented coming up here before, so won’t labour the point here. Of course, even though it had only been two years, it felt a lot longer than I remember… And even more stunning…

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Hidden somewhere to the left is Ryan, making like a Marmot and digging another shit pit

What was it about being here two years later? Why did I appreciate it more? Why was I savouring it more? Was it the fact that I had unplugged from the Matrix second time round? It was hard to know and I need to stop filling this paragraph with open ended questions… I suspect it was a combination of factors, including the sense of occasion, but there was a part of me again that almost didn’t want this monolithic Liaisonsaurs Rex to come to and end. The bigger the mission the more I felt indulged. OCD as fuck:

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The last day of lushness

So, over 4 hours in and we were finally at the start of stage 17. Yes, 4 hours plus of elapsed time since leaving camp to arrive at the first stage of the day. If that wasn’t adventure foreplay for what was to come, I’m not sure what would qualify. We were wet with anticipation to finally get into the rough stuff.

Stage 17

The biggest stage of the week… And I mean that in two ways:

  1. Clearly it took the longest to get to at the start of a day
  2. It was the longest stage timing wise and probably length

And here’s the little double edged sword that turned out to be like a sequel from the ‘Crying Game’ – I had ridden this very trail before, top to bottom. Yes, I think it was the first time this week that I was racing on a stage that I had shredded before!!

Or so I thought

File under: Everything is not as it seems, but as I headed into the stage, I didn’t have a clue how challenging it was going to be. I knew it was longer than watching the ‘Notebook’ in order to get laid at the end, but I hadn’t expected it to be as rough as it was….

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When someone takes your favourite seduction song and turns it FULL House

Yes, it was unanimously agreed that this bad motherfucker had roughed up considerably in the last few years. I’m pretty sure its not through overuse, respect to anyone that wants to mission up here for a weekend shred, it just appeared that a lot of the topsoil that used to live here had moved the fuck on and left more gnar in its place. And of course, plenty of switchback to keep things interesting.

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The human pivot

This is a serious downhill… Well, they all are during this race, but this one was over 6km long with a 955m drop in elevation, which give this Legit thing a seat at the Gnar Mafia head table. One fuck up down here and there was no running it out, results wise you’d be fingered. Likewise it wasn’t a place you wanted to hit the deck either… Something that I had direct experience with down here and as I worked my way neat and tidily down, I knew the scene of infamy wasn’t too far away.

Some of you may recall this corner from an old school vid compilation where I didn’t quite manage to keep it rubber side down, followed by a tantrum and some rotor burn for Dok… Ah, good times. And before I knew it, I was coming up on the Nomad switchback. I can neither confirm nor deny if a foot was dropped out around here:

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The show down with my old nemesis

Fuck this is an awesome trail… Its a VERY serious test of all sorts of abilities, and it was becoming apparent that it had stepped up it radness factor over previous years. Rough, long and narrow enough so that it meant over the 18 minutes plus you were racing down it, there wasn’t a moment you could let your concentration wander. The last time I concentrated for 18 minutes was somewhere around 2010, so quite an effort on all fronts.

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Would love to say that I’m manualing the fuck out of this… Just imagine I am

When you get hold of a beast like this you’re almost certainly in for some variety, my brain had stored away that we would eventually end up at some slightly calmer forest dirt switchbacks and I couldn’t wait for them to make their appearance. A welcomed reprieve from the jack hammer action in the top section.

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A rare moment of dirt

About 10 minutes in I was finally caught by my 30 second man, English James on a Bronson. He was smashing it and I was more than happy to let him continue on his way, sticking to my policy of getting man and machine down the hill in one piece. Best if we call James ‘The Hare’:

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Run Rabbito, RUN

The climb in the middle of this thing generated DEEP burn. I had remembered it from two years ago, but we of course had sat around waiting for a non-smiling Belgian and then had lunch halfway through it, so not really much of an experience base for racing up it. I was already at threshold when I arrived at the base of it, so went SUPER conservative and as a result, kept eJames in sight heading into the next mega section of arm smashing terror:

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Scampering

Well, not for long… Clearly he was throwing it down big time:

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Still wouldn’t want to be on a Bronson down here…

And then there it was… The moment the Dirty Tortoise started to move on up. Yes, we came across our first case study in the upsides of riding with margin, or, depending on your perspective, the case study in why Schwalbe Magic Mary tires were a total cunt on this race. I think this may have been James’ 4th or 5th puncture on them? Utter spewfest.

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Hare despair

James was here riding TP with his mate and mad masters Shredder, Jamie. Some may recall him from that disaster on Stage 10, Day 3. This time Jamie had elected to save what was left of his feet and fix his second puncture on a major stage.

This scene literally 50m from where James had pulled up with his – Horrendously unlucky and confirmation that there is nothing Magic about those Mary’s, in fact I think the reference used at this point was “total whore”, German rubber getting voted down for when things get hard and vigorous…

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Couldn’t make this shit up

The problem with riding down here in the Tour two years earlier was the fact that it took us around an hour or more to get down from memory. WTF? Yes, it was a drawn out experience, which included the following:

  • My crash
  • Two or maybe three flat tires – One of them the best test of a guides patience in the history of Mountain biking
  • A broken chain
  • A mini lunch stop and an emergency SHAM Brake bleed on the side of the track

Yup, add that all in with the actual riding and it made it feel like you’d been here all day. Sooo…. Racing it as fast as you could manage meant that by the time you got to here, you felt more than just a bit fingered:

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You should hear the panting going down in the video… Stage porn

At a touch under 19 minutes by the end, this monster kept punishing you the whole way down. When you’re in a bike park or riding with your crew, its pretty rare to go flat out for such an extended period of time on terrain like this. You always stop and check on the group, faff, regroup or just generally cut it up. Here, you’re on the clock and have to stay as pinned as possible, even with the N&T strategy in play… Hit that rock action:

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The non-stop Gnarathon rolls on

Unfortunately my Go PRO couldn’t handle the insaneness of this trail and it shut down before the end, which means there is no footage of me getting caught in the last couple of empty riverbed/rock graveyards that claimed more than a few victims, including me getting hooked up and losing my shit in a fuck-cunt-fuck yelling rage. So relaxed. But as it turned out, the Dirty Tortoise didn’t go so bad on this one, more out of not busting anything than outright speed:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 13.22 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 14.00 for 2nd
  • T Mo – 16.25 for 19th
  • Dirty Nomad – 18.55 for 37th

Spare a thought for Matti L who had to ride a good portion of the end of the stage on his rear rim after a puncture and then run it out about 4 or 5km’s down to the Mavic boys to get sorted (one of the benefits of being sponsored by Mavic) and that’s after he helped me to my feet after I ate shit on one of the switchbacks on the insane liaison (possibly the most embarrassing thing you can do in an ENDURO).

I was a raving lunatic in the feed station, as you’ll hear in the below video where I finally make an appearance in a voice over where it turns out that when I’m flogged, my full kiwi accent comes out and rages against pronouncing vowels.

Thank fuck then that it was sweet uplift time and yes, post lunch and it was time to go and find the second stage of the day. File under ‘eye watering girth’.

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RR works out how to load his bike on the trailer without actually shitting

Best drop off point of the week award goes to Day 5. We didn’t need any encouragement to head into this establishment and Ryan needed even less to set up a temporary HQ in its bathroom. To say he looked broken at this point would be a bit like saying that things don’t look too bad in the Greece economy right now. How he was continuing on was beyond me. Time to park up with Ali from Wellington and smash a coke.

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There may have been a discussion about staying here…

And for me – this was one of the greatest moments of the whole week. In my new routine I had run into the issue of carrying around a rather angry turd from around 2pm until finish time each day. At times it took considerable effort to manage this ENDURO turd and there was little to no chance to alleviate myself from its burden, until today.

I can’t ever remember feeling more liberated, I was essentially heading into the next liaison freer than Nelson Mandela the day he punched out of Prison. Unfortunately, not all of us were able to beat the bowel incarceration, the Aussie Ass battler still in the swing of things:

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He of cursed ass is banished to yet another session of horror

Holy fuck – This whole post is turning to shit, literally… Let’s move on from the constant bowel references then shall we? Another long liaison awaited us, the last time I did this one it was raining, which given the heat we now faced seemed like it would have been a better option. It was also one of those liaisons that still went on a lot longer than I expected it to. Everyone was getting slower and slower and given it was the dreaded/celebrated bi-polar penultimate day, no one was missing the chance to stop for photos. I got the Hare’s to line up for me:

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The Hares still smiling inspite of Mary’s attempt to ruin them

Mixed in with the PRO’s, we continued to cruise along… This liaison then got quite rad, with some ripping downhill sections that could have almost staked a claim in their own right to be Race Stages. In any normal race they probably would have been, but not here in Pinnacle HQ. That didn’t stop Mad Max from pinning it though, here he is moments after tearing past Ryan and I and then boosting it off nothing all the way down the hill, class.

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Max the mailman, sending it non-stop

Stage 18

Given Ryan had stopped talking to focus on his holy grail of suffering, I helped out by filling his ears with never ending gibber… Among my verbal diarrhoea that matched his current condition, was my assertion that I had ridden stage 18 and knew that it was going to be rad. I had shredded this one before right?

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Business as usual on TP

Yes, it was all new again… Never a well known or dull moment here, and so it was time to line up for another blind smashfest. I may be slightly inaccurate, but it was now around 6.5 hours into the day and we had only just arrived at the second stage of the day. It was pretty clear this day was writing its own business case to be passed into folklore and give Day 3 a bit of a fingering on its way past and into the Dirty Hall of Fame.

Speaking of which, how about being tagged into the stage by a PRO? None other than Matti Lehikoinen, only on TP!

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Yes, that Red Bull helmet is fully legit

Its best to refer to Stage 18 as the ‘accidental shred’ – Some sections I hit too fast and simply seemed to accidentally shred through them. It wasn’t the hardest trail we had done all week, but some definite ambush moments where it wanted to pay us out. Indeed, this was the trail that took the Masters overall leader out of the race, promoting Welly Homeboy Ali into first place!

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Dropping into 18

The problem with the Neat & Tidy strategy is that it felt unreasonably slow. If you asked me at the end of the stage how it went, I probably would have said it was ok, but pretty fucking slow. No mistakes, no wild moments, I was just trying to be as precise as a blind man shaving his balls. It wasn’t anywhere near as full on as the first stage of the day, but as per usual still plenty to keep the mind focused…

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The forest of boulders

Having said that, some of it just got fucking blasted, perhaps it was because it was the first time all week I was having flashbacks to the beloved Finale? It was reminiscent for sure, just with some more ROCK action thrown in…

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Loving that Finale vibe… Mind the front Enve folks…

A cool stage, no question and with my accidental shred moments thrown in, it felt pretty damn good. Big ups to Ryan, who we can see here was even having to grit his teeth to dish out the customary post stage 5. You seriously don’t want to shit yourself while wearing fluro yellow ENDURO shorts either, so I respect his focus.

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“Seriously wish this bearded cunt would stop with the high 5’s… I want to shit the mountain down”

So then, the results… How did this one roll? Here’s an example of the benefits of racing turd free in the afternoon, I’m still not sure how I managed this, but I unveil my best stage result of the week! 30th?!! Whaaaaat… It oddly didn’t feel that fast, but only 9 seconds off T Mo, it was a surprising endorsement for the neat and tidy policy, even if I was completely oblivious to it at the time:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 3.44 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 3.56 for 6th
  • T Mo – 4.22 for 23rd
  • Dirty Nomad – 4.31 for 30th

Without a hint that I had just set my best stage result for the week, we had to keep pushing on. Ryan correctly made the call the best tactic for him was to keep grinding it out in a desperate attempt to get to the end and a working toilet… Hard to fault the man. There was also the not so inconsequential issue of the heat. Yes, it was soaring and shit was getting more and more Mediterranean by the moment:

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Sizing up where I’m going to set up my Olive grove and Alpaca farm

Early to mid 30’s degs and the day that was providing us with everything kept on trucking. We were now in our own weird bubble, no other racers around, no idea what was coming next and pretty sure that we still had a fucking long way to go. This was one day where you didn’t want a slow leak in your camelbak, like I had in mine, as let me reassure you, we may as well have been in a fucken desert, almost a grey earth sequel:

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Anticipation builds

Stage 19

You get to a time in the day where its almost like auto pilot. Time starts to lose relevancy and the only thing on your mind is eating, drinking and when was it time to smash the lollies in your pack. Amongst the things that I tended to put on the back burner was reading the stage notes. They weren’t long winded, that’s for sure, but they did give you a feel for what was coming. We were both keen to crack on with stage 19, no one in front of us, no one behind us, so we decided to launch in without too much faffing. As such, I had no idea what to expect… But even if I had read the notes, this still would have been a massive surprise.

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Thank fuck for shadow rear D’s

19 turned out to be another rad one… Yeah, I know that’s what you’ve read 18 times already, but then again this is one of the reasons its such an amazing week. It seemed that every trail we raced was the one you would normal hunt for on a ride at home or dream about being on, but around here it was common place. 19 definitely signalled its intentions that we were getting close to the coast, the dry, hard and rocky as fuck coast that is…

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The ROCK

I was starting to love Stage 19… Quite different from the previous two stages, it definitely had that first day on EuroEnduro tour vibe about it, mega dry, fast but anything but straightforward. You needed to keep those now tired hips moving to get the most out of this stage, shimmy right, left, right to rail this action.

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Channeling it

And then it went straight back to being flat out beastly… Chundery, evil and loose gnar lying in ambush waiting for Schwalbe tires and tired arms. I was loving the super soft set up and yes, it was destroying new XTR cranks at a rapid rate. I’d hate to think how smashed I would have been rolling the old set up when I got to stuff like this, I mean look at this shit! Thank fuck for the Nomad 3 is all you can really say:

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Surfing the chunder

This was another stage that had your mouth drier than a box of wheetbix left in the oven and that was before I got to the never ending traversing section about half way down. This was a haul, not so much a climb, but you really had to get your ass off the seat and smash the shit out of it, doing so whilst not getting distracted by the mad views, which were working hard to compete with the task at hand.

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Get out of the seat damn you

And then it was back to be insanely fast and rough, it paid handsomely to be light on the bike here and weave in a little bit of tortoise to make sure you didn’t fuck a wheel…

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Get out of the seat damn you – Part II

Or, you could throw caution to the wind…

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Rabbit pie for lunch

There were also endless options to catch you out down here. Not the steepest of the week, but it was fast, it ducked, it dived and it had a lot of surprise corners with sections that gave you just a moment of hesitation about navigation and not to mention what would happen if you got slightly off line, case study right here:

TP2015 - Day five

Diagonal gnar lines – Approach with extreme caution

One such section was this fucker right here…

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Your eyes are not deceiving you – It was actually freakier than it looks here

Bursting out of some trees, naturally you were sucked a little left here, but fuuuuuck you didn’t want to be there, it was a mad scramble up to the right to stay away from that really slippery off camber gravel and its impending trip off the cliff. Whilst I managed to get up there with just a little bit of back wheel slipping towards disaster, the same can’t be said for the unluckiest of Hare’s; Jamie. Yes, his luck massively ran out here, stalling on the cusp of getting up and then falling right over to the left at the top… Yup, over that bank and smashed. He honestly looked like he had been hit by a bus, mega nasty.

A fucking cool (actually baking hot) stage and one that you felt amazed to get through cleanly – Give me some love Dirty Uncle Seb:

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Bring it in brah

Normal order was restored on Stage 19 after my 18 heroics, I must have got lucky somehow, propping up the top half of the field more than ok given this stage was a lot longer than I was expecting it to be.

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 8.49 for 2nd
  • Nomadic Chris – 9.03 for 4th
  • T Mo – 10.00 for 16th
  • Dirty Nomad – 11.14 for 39th

By now it was starting to get pretty hard. Oddly my fitness and energy was holding up better than I could have ever fantasised it would, but this day was far from being a normal event. Spare a thought for Ryan, with the heat solidly mid late 30’s and around 9 hours or more in, it was starting to look a bit more Saving Private Ryan than a bike race at times:

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Walking wounded – We take 5 in the only shade for 5km’s and the Hare’s painfully work their way up the hill

6 litres done, thank fuck we finally got back into civilisation for a coke and a pancake and not to mention the usual TP raid on the local Eau supply. Everyone was loading up before it was back in the van to head up to the final stage of the day.

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“Who’s the cunt blocking access to the fountain with his bike?”

I lose track of time, but by now it was close to maybe 5pm or so and it felt like the day was over… In any normal world it would have been over hours ago, but as we know, ordinary doesn’t know how to find this place, even with the use of Google maps. On the shuttle ride back up the hill, it was actually hard to comprehend that we still have more liaison and then another stage to race. Quietly I was oddly revelling in the fact we had another day in progress that defied logic and all normal boundaries. You sadistic fuck…

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Private Ryan thinking how good it would be to get his ass in the Med right now

Stage 20

Hooray for those of you who are sick of photos! Go Pro dead and no other shot available, so this shall be rather brief. I can’t remember that much about 20 on account of being fingered, but I do remember thinking for a split second that it would have been a brilliant trail to ride fresh.

Alas, freshness didn’t live here any more and whilst I had overdosed like a Dr Huxtable babysitter on gels and other such stomach ruining products, it was fair to say that the body was pretty ordinary at the 10 hour mark.

Dropping 337m in less than 3km’s also meant it was fairly hectic with plenty of rad off camber sections in a lush forest – An extremely odd contrast to the previous stage. In fact, thinking back on it, it almost feels like this stage was on a different day altogether. At some point my replacement LEV dropper post started to shit itself, so I became oddly obsessed with making sure it stayed down the whole way.

The very last section indicated that I was indeed now pretty fucked, struggling to reign in the rampant Nomad 3, which always wanted to go a lot faster than I was able to. Apologies to Rich for almost running him down at the finish, a serious case of arm fade. The times for the stage reflecting what I sort of expected.

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 4.28 for 1st
  • Nomadic Chris – 4.43 for 3rd
  • T Mo – 5.20 for 17th
  • Dirty Nomad – 6.05 for 42nd

You think its all over at that stage and you’re done… For the countless time I fell into that trap and relaxed. The problem was, we weren’t going down the beautiful tarmac road the 6km’s back to Sospel to finish the day. Ash isn’t that soft and we were now in his insane backyard.

As such, he had the gnarliest and hardest liaison waiting for us to finish this monster day. I won’t go into every detail, but it was like spending the afternoon shift on a jack hammer while being raped by sealions. I went over the bars at one stage, my second liaison crash and thus necessitating a lolly stop track side as the plot was starting to get seriously lost.

The run for home was some of the hardest riding of the day oddly… The crazy steep and ragged terrain was an absolute mind fuck and every time I had a massive near miss on a rock decorated switchback I could feel Ash down in camp smiling a little bit more. And it went on… and on… and on… I almost got the giggles at one point, but I was too tired for that kind of carry on.

When we finally did roll into camp in Sospel and collapsed in front of Timing man Jono, the elapsed time was 11 hours and 3 minutes since we have left the camp that morning. 11 hours… 11 insanely huge hours that as this post has hopefully tried to portray in the slightest way, had everything you can imagine in it.

I walked around camp even more dazed and confused than usual… Smiling, looking up into the very late afternoon Sospel sky in a sort of weird disbelief that it was over and that I was back in Sospel. I know Day 3 was a massive day, and while its not a competition, Day 5 had done more than enough to slip comfortably onto the Queen’s throne. I thought the brake burner in Buller was a huge day… I thought EWS was a huge day… I thought Day 3 was insane. But five had rewritten the book for me on what you can do and how incredible riding your bike can feel. Dinner tasted pretty fucking epic as well I’m sure you can imagine…

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“enjoy the last liaison lads?”

The biggest surprise when I finally got my incredibly sore hands on the results sheet at dinner? This:

  • Nosewheelie Nico – 30.23 for 1st (GC 2.16.18 @ 1st)
  • Nomadic Chris – 31.42 for 2nd (GC 2.20.16 @ 2ns)
  • T Mo – 36.07 for 18th (GC 2.38.45 @ 16th)
  • Dirty Nomad – 40.45 for 34th (GC 2.57.11 @ 36th)

34th for the day?! By FAR my best daily result, but look at the GC action – This was the moment where the tortoise crept steadily up from 41st into 36th by doing nothing more than keeping it steady and drama free. Yes, as about as exciting as watching Cadel Evans race, but by keeping cool like three Fonzies, it was a massive leap forward results wise. Some major shredders laid to waste by crashes and mechanicals. Just goes to show, every Dirty tortoise has its day…

And Ryan? Who hauled his broken carcass over this huge brute of a day, empty and with every tree looking like a portaloo to him? 13th for the day overall. There are no words… Other than switching the conversation from “You poor bastard” to “You sandbagging cunt“. This result highlighting that when you have class and form, it doesn’t matter if you resemble a chocolate milk factory, you can still shred it to pieces.

And finally, to the day 5 video – Prepare yourself for my full vowel slaughtering kiwi accent to rage, to be fair they got me at lunch when I was slight delirious and trying to raid the Haribo lolly containers.

Is anyone left out there? Its taken 3 days to write this, and probably to read, so here we go with the wrap up.

1. Dirty Nomad Vs Camping

By now I’m too tired to wrestle my giant Fox bag inside the tent, so its time to just leave shit lying around outside. Speaking of shit, 3rd day running without being able to do laundry, so how do you think everything is smelling?

2. Stage of the day 

Maybe one of the hardest days to pick to be honest – All 4 today were stunners. The head says it was Stage 17 due to its sheer length and epic nature. Heart says stage 18 given it was my best stage result of the whole race and the curious side loved 19 due to its roller coaster gnar nature. Let’s make it a threesome. Getting agreement to that proposition always an awesome feeling.

3. Dude of the day

Private Ryan… Busy redefining an Aussie battler all day, I’m not sure I would have been able to do what he did. No sleep, no breakfast and then has to roll out of camp with a toilet roll in his pack to take on the biggest day on an MTB you could possibly design. Simply a stunning effort for a dude who was legitimately sick – Don’t even mention his result for the day, WTF. I tried my best to be Tom Hanks and yes, my hands were shaking as well for most of the day, so worked in well with the theme.

Honorable mention to Kersten, not really a dude, but she and Matti did rescue me from my bike when I ate shit in the liaison after Stage 17, nothing embarrassing at all about two PRO’s picking your bike up off you when you’ve fucked up a switchback due to outright post mega stage exhaustion, especially when one of them is a 6 foot tall blonde German.

Being in Sospel generated some strange emotions… This is where the whole adventure had started almost 3 weeks ago with that rad initiation with Davide. And its where the final day would commence as we rolled out of town for that much anticipated date with the Med and the Menton coastline. The sun was setting on Sospel and TP and that in itself was a very strange feeling…

What would happen on Day 6? Were we ready for the final day? Did we want it to arrive or for it to go on and on? Would there be another massive hang over? How good would it feel to dive into the Med? And would I survive Ze Holy Trail first thing in the morning? So many questions floating around as I collapsed into tent #55 that evening at the end of one of the most legendary days ever. Thank you Mountain Biking.

x

Don’t say its over Sospel… Don’t say it…

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