After wiping off Rotorua’s finest loam from the Megatower’s VPP congregation point, it occurred to me that I haven’t really done any form of race report for close to 18 months, a peculiar drought given how much of my cycling life appears to be based around races in the calendar.
So, how about a whole series of them to start to fill that yawning void in your content day? Yes, that empty feeling gnawing at you is a severe lack of Masters Enduro racing frothing, laced with insider jokes which confound our German readership and with just the right level of casual toxic masculinity which allows us not to get cancelled, while still making us feel like we’re humorous.
It’s time to bathe in pumice dirt, banana milkshakes, cringeworthy innuendo and Maxxgrip tire compound as we puzzle through the 2W Enduro 2020/21 season retrospective.
Round 1, October 2020 – The rise of the machines
The biggest problem with being a Masters racer is not just your decreased processing speed, or your shithouse lower back. No, there is something far worse: Young people.
No, not a dig at you Millennials, you can continue slowly massaging beard oil into your face, I’m talking about those fucking 39 year olds who are technically by year end, now in your grade. Yes, it’s normally part of the game that fresh meat is fed into the Masters grinder each year, but this year was a whole different proposition.
Being dropped into our guppy pen were a couple of bull sharks in the form of Nathan Rankin, uh huh, the ex-Pro, and Byron Scott, who likes to incinerate Enduro fields like Thanos on the reg. They joined Lester Perry, last seasons Alpha Master, to form a podium scorched earth unit in the M40 ranks.
As I mumbled “Fucken hell” under my breath at the thought of embarrassing time gaps, I pushed The Creator forward into the colosseum as our volunteered gladiator to take on the horde of really fast people who don’t wear kneepads.
Naturally I had done that thing of doing all the wrong preparation for the opening of Enduro hostilities, finding myself deeply mired in Bandito training ahead of the Whaka 100, a week away. I was about to get a crash course of how that was about as useful as trying to do a recovery ride with a cunt who rides at 400w.
I did however manage to put that Bandito fever to good use, by unleashing a 5th place on the Hot X stage, which little did I know would turn out to be the highest of tide marks before the wheels didn’t so much fall off, but imploded entirely.
Our crew had decided to nibble at the soft outer layer of round 1, ticking off going backwards down Frontal Lobotomy (Turns out its only marginally better than going up) into Whaki, followed by the quintessential classic stage of Hot X Buns. Now it was time to bite down hard until you hit the stone.
As a great Frenchman once said to me; “Everyone is a shredder, until they get to the roots“, which on reflection could easily be adapted by swapping ‘roots’ for ‘Native’, as I was about to experience as I unfurled myself all over every off camber root Hatu Patu had to offer.
As I was promptly eviscerated off the back of the party train by The Creator and The Professor, I felt the cold hard reality of a lack of rad riding build up start to unsheathe itself for the ramming home. For regular readers, you know this music well, as we’ve been here before and I can confirm that panic did not give way to stoic mental firmness and grit.
Thankfully there were no photos as I self immolated into a raging pile of piping hot cunt, not helped by the fact that the Hatu Patu disaster was a mere warm up for my nemesis of Frankenfurter & Riff Raff. I was hardly buoyed by knowing this was the last time I’d have to race it/get fisted by it, but I was keen to give it a send off where I could say that I finally extracted some revenge.
Haha, get out cunt.
Just another cuntfisted effort down a stage which I have never got to grips with, compounded with mistake after mistake and tier 1 headfuckery as I unravelled faster than a brand new pair of Fox gloves.
At the bottom of Riff Raff I was asking the Professor for the phone number of the logging crew that was about to descend on that hillside so I could finally get a win over my ultimate nemesis. Its now gone into the history books as the ultimate vanquisher, it was always too narrow (for me) and I was always too nervous. Chapeau trail, you won the war, even if you were vaporised and ultimately ended up as kit set furniture with terrible instructions.
I’ll gloss over dropping 2 minutes and 15 seconds to the Creator alone on these two stages, because that was nothing compared to the 3 mins 30 that Byron Scott disappeared by. Thank fuck I looked faster in the photos than I did on the timing sheets.
But naturally, anything I can do camera wise my more illustrious and photogenic team mates can do better… Admittedly our matching jerseys and socks undone by a mosh pit on the helmet front. There’s always next year I guess.
Some slight mojo was restored on the final stage down Taniwha, I could happily race down there every single round, but there was no cover up story available that could pass off this caper than anything other than a horrific bandito massacre.
I had paid the price for too much shaving and not enough knee pad. Meanwhile, Byron, Nathan, Lester and their friends were enjoying the forest:
And this is where the season wake up call came in like a terminator throat massage. They asserted their will to own/dominate the podium, and naturally I was agar – The Creator not on the podium?! Legitimate end of days material.
After closing on the previous season with an 11th place, rolling home in 20th wasn’t quite what I had in mind… But that stinging dose of mediocrity paled in extreme comparison to the experience of comparing times with not only the pumice Terminators, but my riding crew, luckily for me a moment captured for digital eternity by the 2W video team. Yay:
Post race Banana Milkshake musings – In a new tradition for the season, we sit around drinking milkshakes like children while I puzzle what parts I need to change to be a better rider mingled in with hopefully awkward Gram story interviews.
5 and a half minutes behind the winner? 3 minutes behind The Creator? Was I even doing the same sport?
We all (Except for the Professor, who had won his grade naturally) sat there letting the banana milkiness wash gently over the smouldering ruins of our riding egos as we pondered not so much what went wrong, but more what had to go right for next time.
It felt like that was a long list, but all I wrote down was “Ride your fucking Enduro bike”
Round 2, December 2020 – The Endurogasim
There was only one solution to address the shambles of Round 1 and restore the barest level of racing respectability. Buy a new handlebar and grips of course, ideally grips which matched your suspension decals:
I also embarked upon a total immersion in all things shred – I shuttled, I rode in the wet, I even rode fucking eBikes FFS such were the difficulty of the times. Weekend after weekend bikes were thrown on tail gates, shit was talked, puzzling was indulged and shred was the main menu item. I not only had to perform a bandito exorcism on myself, but I had to embrace the shred and get back to some form of Enduro-Bro respectability.
I had struck on the notion that it was time to specialise, time to make the big bike smashing an automatic experience as opposed to an anomaly. The road bike legitimately grew cobwebs and ended up with flat tires as, fuelled by the pain of being nuded up in round 1, we set out on the trail to redemption.
Round 2 had some interesting little challenges thrown in to put the weeks of homework to the test. Genesis DH with a side of Dodzy skill park thrown in, The Old Exit manic sprint stage, Corridor & Eastern Spice, Box of Birds, K2, Te Ruru and my absolute favourite of the race; Tumeke!
One distinct advantage heading into the weekend is that in the run up to round 2 I cashed in the small remainder of my soul and rode the Whaka Watt in the hope that there may be some cross pollination from those stages to the next 2W, that small investment in selling out was now paying dividends as I got a second bite at the pumice pie.
Given this was the 5th or so weekend in a row that we had been out indulging in the shred as a crew, it didn’t really feel like a race per se, it just felt like another session of trying to light each other up in amongst copious amounts of shit talking.
We had achieved what I feel it somewhat the holy grail from a racing perspective – It had become automatic. I wasn’t racing a stage as much as I was simply chasing the Professor down a trail doing my best to emulate his rad lines. I wasn’t thinking about racing or trying to pull extra time here or there, I was just in a groove that over the last month had become the norm. Not forced, not rushed, just reaching a delicious crescendo after a period of dirt indulgence. All undone by the only pic of the day being blurry of course:
This was so fucking rad… Perfect weather, awesome trail conditions, frothing crew, great form and sweet stages. It felt like we were reaching a 2W high tide mark for the season for sure. I didn’t even manage to find anything to self loathe about either, such was the nature of the stages I managed to put down.
Jumping sections on Te Ruru which normally claim my front wheel and self confidence, riding lines on K2 which made me feel like a large hairy version of Mark Scott, finally jumping the gap jumps on Eastern Spice without a second thought… I had to ask a couple of times if it was really me, or if Aliens from the worst cycling marketing campaign in recent memory had abducted me and replaced me with someone who knew how to bend their elbows.
Even the assembled cycling media were agar at what was going down and went straight to the source of know all pumice knowledge to try and understand it:
But it was on Tumeke that it became pretty clear we were in the grip of a screaming Endurogasim… I can’t recall riding it faster, with more froth or keeping The Professor in sight. Railing sections I had previously fucked up, riding a wave of pumice stoke and capping off a mega day on the Megatower. The Enduro honey hole was violently fizzing.
I genuinely felt like I was racing again and not just getting walloped about like an Enduro sex doll usually stored in the back of a white VW van (Long wheelbase naturally). It wasn’t just me though, this day of involuntary frothing was infecting the whole crew, with shapes being thrown that had never been thrown before:
Post race Banana Milkshake musings – I was frothier than the banana milkshakes for this sit down to be honest, basking in the euphoria of not only riding a bike what appeared to be properly on the way to 7th place, but just the general stoke of a day where everyone was pumped on the vibe of great conditions and rad riding.
Admittedly 7th doesn’t sound that flash, but slashing my time debt considerably was perhaps the bigger result. 1.06 off Lester in first and a mere 40 seconds from the local landlord of the Creator in second was a self high-fiving moment, but fuck the times TBH, this was about how gooooood it felt getting there.
Still, some of us wanted more… Because, well, when you’re a hammer, everything is a nail:
Main musing/motto was naturally that in this age of specialisation, if you want to go well at the thing you want to go well at, you need to do that thing incessantly until it becomes automatic. The devotion to the art of Enduro in the month prior not only paid dividends on the timing sheets, but actually made the whole experience significantly radder.
2W of the year? Undoubtably… Best one ever? I suspect so… Or at least a finalist in the local enduro cage of death. All I had to do now was Megatower all through January and then repeat or improve in Feb!
Round 3, April 2021 – The mind fuck
Originally the 2W season was to reach its crescendo in the dry tinderbox of February, but thanks to a change in Cuntovirus alert levels, the climax was painfully delayed until a very autumnal mid-April.
Of course, we still went out and rode the course on that original Feb date, and naturally our Faux-W was provided with glorious weather, dry trails and supreme grip. April did not have any fucks to give for such parameters and instead anointed us with the most variable and moist conditions of the now very elongated series.
But the real treat of Round 3 was yet another ‘Out of retirement’ guest appearance from the golden adonis of eMTB, none other than the Rodfather, who in spite of more pinched nerves than a Summerset complex (yes, a multi storied one), couldn’t resist hitting the scene to add another mEdal to his collection.
You know, they say that the recent gun buy back program was a success in NZ, but then explain to me how they didn’t account for these two weapons?
I suddenly realised that my penchant for only mountain biking in the dry was about to become an extremely poor life decision when asked to race on moist trails which would better appreciate ‘real’ mountain bikers.
Speaking of, the final round saw an absence of the Pumice Terminators in Byron, Nathan and Lester, so the Podium was once again vacant for those of us that inhabit the lower rungs of the M40 Enduro food chain. JC, Aka The Creator, Aka Monsieur Lapin, was rubbing his paws together at the prospect of a return to the top step.
With the Creator operating on another level in these conditions, my game plan was to try and hold onto the Rodfather in the train and ride his eye brow raising Rotorua win streak to a solid result. However, I’d overlooked one detail however that was ultimately turned out to be a mental trap door in my plan.
Yes, I was trying to hold on to the king of moistness… It was irrelevant that the last time we had shredded in dry conditions I had the measure of the King of the Aka’s jungle, this was a man who likes to thrash around in the wetness at every chance he’s given. He also rides his bike a lot in the mud.
The problem was, in overlooking this, I didn’t consider so much how fast Rodfather would be on track, but I translated it as me being very slow. As sections and stages ticked on, and I was mercilessly blown out the back door like a bad chicken salad turd, the racing mind cancer that is ‘doubt’ started to take hold.
Luckily my crew had lots of words of encouragement for me. Ha. Fuck, as if:
Let’s speed date this shit for a change, here is the elevator pitch for how each stage went down, in the order we hit them:
- Tuteata – Currently one of my favourite trails in the forest, managed to not shoot my load in the top section to leave something in the tank for the sprint after the road crossing. Love the next section, but shit got quite wild in the hair pin chicane section when the bike was going sideways as fuck and I came across the Rodfather spread all over the track like MILF melted peanut butter. Nothing compared to the surprise of someone taking the MOTHER of all cut lines and bypassing that section entirely to pass me at warp speed and scaring the shit out of me. A solid 6th place on the stage
- Taniwha – For some reason, against better judgement, I fucking love the Taniwha stages and their variety thanks to the lottery taping system. This version was an absolute banger, and while the anchor was thrown and I trusty tripoded a few bits, the bottom section was a wide open scream. More of this please. Somehow my equal best stage of the day in 5th
- Te Mounga – Loooove the middle and bottom section of TM, but never that thrilled with the top to be honest. As such, it was a surprise when it was all going quite well to start with, so much so I was slightly suspicious. My suss vibe was duly rewarded with one of the most vicious pedal strikes I’ve ever experienced. To call it a ‘strike’ is sort of underselling it to be honest, it was more going from race pace to a dead stop in half a second, my momentum carrying me forward to slam me into the back of the stem, only narrowly avoiding a Bobbitt type outcome. The utter shock aside, by the time I worked out what had happened, including admiring a new root I had unearthed and finding my GPS head unit, I had flushed mucho time down the drain. A couple of sketchy near misses lower down, and I could feel that familiar mojo draining sensation once again… Down to 8th, probably should have re-run it, but didn’t have the juice
- Te Ruru – Probably a dumb cunt move heading from a shithouse TM run to Te Ruru, which in slick conditions was definitely going to present the most challenges of the day. Yes, those fucking diagonal logs, if you know, you know. Manageable in the dry with confidence, somewhat less so without those two elements in play. Got into the top section, felt tired, which was weird, got dropped by my crew and then sailed deep into melt down territory. Came out of the stage, forgot all about being grateful we could even race an Enduro given much of the world was still in lock down and may have said ‘cunt’ in front of small children. Winning. Got punished with another 8th and a tonne of time handed over to The Creator like a little hairy surrender monkey
- Minerals – Feels like an underrated poor cousin to some of its more illustrious siblings on this side of the hill, but what a banger stage to race. Highlight of the event listed below… Managed to sort of get things back on track here a little bit, even with a comedic interlude* Ended up 8th, which is super fucking weird as it felt faster than that. Shoulders are shrugged.
- Te Rua – The top is a lot easier than it used to be, thank you worn in puss lines, and the bottom is a wild ever changing piece of work that feels both oddly easier and harder all at the same time. Either way, managed to scrape together a modicum of performance to bank a PR time down there and one of my best stage results of the day. Indeed, turned out to be a 5th place here.
*Undoubtably the highlight of the round came just after the top section of Minerals. The Rodfather had already dropped me, but not by quite enough for me to enjoy a scene of carnage the likes of which sound implausibly unlikely.
Approaching the road crossing at warp speed, Captain Haddock came across an eBike father and acoustic son combo making their way through the race course between the barriers… A cry from the cruise missile impersonating Rodfather triggered the deepest of fight or flight responses from the father & son bonding expedition.
The dad cried “Keep going!“, but the son, obviously warned about strange bearded men in white vans, recoiled and tried to go back… Which ordinarily wouldn’t have been an issue at all, except for one thing:
The muthafucken tow rope
Real talk… Yes, with dad plowing through and son retreating, it pulled that bad boy tight and proceeded to garrotte the Fresh Prince of Kapiti while he screamed an escalating volume of obscenities. I mean, usually you have to pay for a premium subscription to Pornhub for that sort of material, but here it was on display for us all to bask in. #winning #safeword.
I’ll be honest, I felt rinsed at the end of this one, which was a bit of a surprise… But what wasn’t a surprise was sitting around with a couple of bad mofos comparing print outs and preparing myself for their Podium Champagne cologne to sting my eyes once again.
Post race Banana Milkshake musings – Yes, a return to the top step of the podium for The Creator (pronouns; Podium, Podiumed), which felt like a long death march back from relative obscurity (Some may recall the days of ‘Total stage domination’), and the Rodfather banking his 4th ‘return from retirement’ and win in a row in the forest, but would we expect anything less? They also happened to wipe the floor pretty much in terms of stage wins just quietly…
As for me, well, funny story… I was the cunt who finished with a slight cats bum mouth (potentially forgetting to be grateful we even get to race Enduros at the moment), convinced I had an absolute shitter of a day speed and results wise. But, usual fucking story wasn’t it… In spite of being 3.46 behind the Creator, yes, a full 3 mins slower than in round 2, I actually picked up 5th in M40 for the day, which would make it… hummidahummida… my best result in… Hmmmm, years? Fuck.
Yes, unleash life lesson now about not being a stink racing cunt and/or comparing yourself to others etc, I get it… Naturally I didn’t find this out until some time later, hence my Endurogasim was delayed by a few days. Super weird to round out the season with your best result in some time, even when you were convinced this wasn’t the case. Felt a bit like calling your boss a cunthead at work and then finding out they’d signed off on your biggest bonus ever the day before (Please comment below if you have lived that scenario)
Another 2W season in the bag, still wish it was more like 5 or 6 rounds, but suspect the organisers would be exhausted just reading that concept. Which brings me to the Oscar’s part of the season wrap up… A massive thanks to the Rotorua Mountain Bike club and their organising crew for putting on such a rad series. If you ride there regularly, don’t be a cunt and not join the club. Yes, people are watching.
Huge thanks to the legends that are the Hub Cycle Centre for keeping Megatron singing all season long. I’m notoriously fucked at being able to look after my bikes, so I can confirm I would have likely missed a round or two if I hadn’t had their PRO AF services deployed onto the machine. Tech side note, yes, the Megatower was fucking sweet all series and remains my absolute favourite machine to clip into, thanks to a rolling thunder of continuous improvement.
And lastly, but by no means least, thanks to the DN Global Collective Vegas crew for another banger season. The Creator, Professor, Rodfather and Kev have to put up with a lot of puzzling over shit that doesn’t matter, hugely flakey performances, me always taking a fucking hour to get ready and the occasional Hangry melt down, a collection of fuckbaggery they handle with diplomacy and just the right amount of abuse.
Next season can’t come soon enough, but it’s rightly time that we spread our Enduro wings a bit and get out of town more often, so stay tuned for what will hopefully be an expanded local calendar of Endurogasmic proportions.