If you’ve hit the wall on race reports recently, then welcome to the fucken club YO! Aside from the beat down that it puts on my chassis, my literary sacs are almost completely empty when it comes time to sit down and attempt to bring another event to life in a way that doesn’t bore the fuck out of you or I… You may also be all over the fact that I’m now several months behind turning Dirty experiences into Forum type material, which means I’m about as relevant as ethical clarity on the Team Sky bus.
Exacerbating the issue of producing compelling race reports, both races in question below occupied the same few acres of forest – In the hallowed pumice wonderland of Rotorua. Granted, its one of the most amateur friendly places on earth to race an ENDURO, plus there is genuinely that much trail its possible to hold two separate events with virtually zero stage overlap, even if that does mean some rather questionable race course design in places.
So then, I’m not only going to try and speed date these two fuckers, but I shall also deviate from the usual format in an attempt to make fast food taste gourmet. Feel free to simply leave a succinct ‘Cunt’ in the comments below if this fails to be of any use to you (Whilst noting you clearly had fuck all to do other than avoiding people by pretending you were reading something important and not just grazing in the Dirty echo chamber).
Crankworx Toa Enduro
What do you get when EWS makes vigorous love to a 2W round? Well, as it turns out, it’s offspring is the Goldielocks of ENDURO races; the Toa Enduro! In a slightly odd way, this was actually my 3rd time at this race, however it was the first time I had been to the slightly de-tuned version given it wasn’t an EWS round this year.
Coming relatively swiftly off the back of a rad Chilean adventure, in theory this should have been a ripping race and I would have been remiss if I didn’t have some semblance of confidence on board pre-race. As it turned out, I was 50% correct… Its not often that I head into a race with a semblance of confidence, but I could be forgiven for rating myself here #rateyourselfcunt, as not only was the course design relatively mellow, it was also my first NZ event as a Masters rider… Hold your fucking horses on the Birthday rim job, it’s in July, but given the vagaries of how this shit works I was more than happy to line up with these Dirty old cunts, until I remembered that the relief of rolling with so-called ‘old people’ was #fakenews:
Back to that Goldielocks accusation – The Toa Enduro is definitely the mild butter chicken of events compared to the alternate years the EWS is in town, but on the flip side it has a formality and structure to it that reminds you this ain’t a laid back 2W event. Start lists, structured liaison times and starting order, some dude on a stage with a constant stiffy because he has a microphone and a shit load of advertising in the forest a distinct reminder you were in some weird middle ground… The distinct lack of PRO’s also making you realise this was a de-tuned vibe from what usually goes down.
But who the fuck needs PRO’s when you’re rolling with #Thecreator, AKA JC Superstar, AKA Placid Rabbit Face, who took advantage of the chilled out liaison times (Take note ALL other ENDURO races) to pump in a little Yoga sesh before we smashed into Box of Birds:
And it was at this point that my race day started to radically divide itself into two very distinct halves. Oddly, that mimicked the layout of the race course, which itself was nicely cut into two zones, Boxes of Birds, K2 and then the weird Hot X and Tumeke combo was a definitive phase 1 of the day.
If Box of Birds was the least manic, most chilled start to an ENDURO race ever, then K2 was a clear sign that this was going to be a banger of a day. It would be disingenuous of me to claim my maniacal run through K2 was all my own doing… Indeed it had very little to do with me and a whole lot to do with the lap I had done the day before with Professor A-Bad.
Local knowledge line cheating side, by the time I came out of K2, I was convinced that I was the Dirty Jedi Master to end Karim Amour’s EWS Masters reign of terror… Consumed by my own narcissism to such levels that I was almost offered a Cabinet post in the Fat Donnie administration, I was fatally sure that I was attaining an elusive and lofty life goal:
I was cracking Mountain Biking
To put this in some more realistic terms, I at least felt like I was on track to get through the day feeling like I was dominating instead of being dominated… Yes, the dominatrix boot was coming off my throat and for once I was being held in a loving pumice embrace. A full 20 seconds faster (yes, fucking twenty) down K2 than the last time I raced it had me feeling like my sport was massaging me instead of a routine pegging.
Not even some bizarre moments on a very long stage 3 could dent my enthusiasm… It was dry, trails were banger, rolling with an exceedingly good cunt crew and the Nomad 4 was purring like a Rodfather collecting free merchandise at Crankworx. Halle-fucking-lujah, I was even licking my lips at being able to write a race report where I wasn’t a total fuckbag – Finally my tortured readers would be able to get through a rant without that usual sting of defeat pissing in their eyeballs…
And then it all turned to shit
It would be easy to groan ‘predictably’, but hear me out for a moment as I genuinely protest like an 8 year old on a sugar crash that I had no idea this was going to happen. The final 3 stages were not only ones that I knew reasonably well, but aside from the last one, had ridden with relative grace and regularity over summer – Which meant it made even less sense when I unravelled faster than a Michael Cohen legal defence:
- Stage 4 – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve ridden Tihi into Billy T, so I had nothing but horror on my face when I managed to run out of power, ride into every hole I could see and then find myself drained of gas on Billy T, left to face the crushing embarrassment of being mowed down by Juniors who looked like they should be on the world cup circuit. Click and drag ego into the trash, then empty
- Stage 5 – Burning heart was my new favourite in Vegas, until I had to race it… Or more to the point, until I had to sort of race it and proceeded to butcher it so badly that not only did I lose fucking minutes to my esteemed GC posse, but I somehow managed to crash, unzip my shorts and then had to ride the entire last section sitting down to avoid my pants ending up getting tangled in my coil shock. Yes, its as idiotic as it sounds… I managed to ride like a dick while also trying to get my dick out
- Stage 6 – And just to cap off a totally fucked second half of the day, why not throw what remained of my chalk outline down the whole Fuckbagfurter/Riff Raff/Rocky Horror scenario, a trail I was 0 & 3 on, to utterly reverse my morning assertion that I was an MTB Pimp. I was quickly carjacked out of my Escalade, stripped naked of my Mink track suit, had my gold teeth removed with pliers and then left nude on the side of the road to think about just how brutal this game is… Mo Travel, Mo problems.
Not even The Creators incredible Peanut Butter and Jam sammies could save me, as I went from solid 8th place stage finishes to being in the teens… From a handful of seconds behind Mike the Milk Machine and JC to fucking minutes out the dirty asshole. It was a capitulation that would have even bewildered the French Army.
As you can see here, The Creator puts on his Happy Rabbit face whilst concluding that I have the mental resiliency of a marshmallow that’s in close proximity to a bonfire…
While most of the day was spent wondering #whereisrodfather, the 3 hour silent solo drive home was spent pondering how I had managed to steal fuckbaggery from the jaws of excellence… I had all the ingredients I could have asked for to ram home a balls deep awesome and polished performance, only to burn down the house as I was trying to glue on the tiles. If that analogy makes no sense, then neither did the whole day.
Kudos to the race organisers however, that was one slick event, great liaison times, banger route and general Crankworx buzz. I booked into the self loathing/flagellation cave to work out where to from here.
Final 2W round for 2017/18 season
As some may recall, my debut at a 2W race ending in a screaming bitchslapping disaster of near ankle snapping proportions after I succumbed to my arch-nemesis of Frankenfurter/Riff Raff/Rocky Horror and went home early like a shaved bambi. As such, I had some redemption in order this time around. However, that didn’t feel all that straightforward given my total capitulation detailed above on my last Vegas ENDURO outing.
With a double helping of redemption on the menu, there was therefore much to ponder during the usual pre-race milling about, some of which was exceedingly perplexing, even if it initially appeared minor in detail:
In a complete opposite mindset from Crankworx, I sat in Zippy’s that morning expecting this day to be an absolute piece of shit… To the point that I was mildly jealous of the people I knew who had decided to pull the pin upon waking up to see another rain struck 2W on the cards. Yes, it was pissing down and for the loyal readers out there, you know this was my cue to turn into a giant duffle bag of cunt, spending 6 hours wallowing about in the mud and then my own self-pity.
Adding fuel to the fire, I turned up to find my ENTIRE #GCcrew had entered in the shuttled category – Which was not only a first, but I was the gimp who didn’t get the memo. So, it was going to be a long solo slog day, in the wet and on trails that had many bottom lips curled down in the carpark in what pretty much constitutes mountain biker tantrums about race stage suitability.
Just about everything was different over the Crankworx outing – No structure for liaison or stages, Stormy moistness levels, rolling solo and in a very eyebrow raising change up, back to a weapon that had just quietly been gathering a bit of dust over summer:
I’d decided to give the Hightower a bit of a roll, with its lightweight set up and larger hoops to see if that would make any difference in the hallowed pumice lands. I’m not sure which of the above factors was coming into play, but against my better judgement and fighting my own highly developed prejudice’s, the race was actually starting to pan out quite well…
In a stroke of local tactical genius, I followed Scott #nosurname and The Creator to a stage so weird and out of the way that people were perplexed it was included, to ride it first. It was obviously instantly that it was going to turn to absolute shit later in the day, which it eventually did and probably explains why I was 7th in my age group on that particular stage – Repeat after me kids: Local Knowledge is the only knowledge.
After that, I was left to my own devices… And oddly found myself in a ghost forest. Almost all my liaisons were ridden without seeing a single other rider and weirdly this actually added to the occasion. With solitude and a light drizzle drifting down, the forest took on, dare I say it, even a spiritual type vibe, which is a big call coming from someone who has accused of being the antichrist in meetings from time to time (to be fair, those people deserved the corporate tea bagging they were receiving at the time). With total freedom, a sense of serenity and oddly deserted race stages, I was starting to embrace the contradiction that I was somehow thriving on a day that I was supposed to meekly succumb to.
As I kept changing up my route strategy and ticked off stage after stage, everything was feeling strangely gooooood. The Crankworx ghost was scratching its head, especially given the wetness and randomness of the stages, but I was actually having, wait, no, surely not… Having FUN?
Goddammit, was this all going well because of the big fucking wheels?! They certainly weren’t doing anything for my riding position:
As I continued to grind through the 1,300m of climbing and 6 hour time window for my 6 stages, Disaster & Disappointment continued to stay firmly seated on the bench, looking on longingly, waiting for their nod from my marshmallow goo mental state to get on the field and pillage a good day…
But as I picked pumice mud from my eyes and realised I had ruined another pair of Squad gogs, I got to stand as tall as my sore lower back would allow, point to Disaster & Disappointment and say “Not today cunts“, as I rose like a soggy phoenix/dodo from the ash heap of Crankworx to post my first top 10 ever in a race at Rotorua, ok, so it was 10th, but if I delete out those lazy muthafuckas (not looking at you JC… Much) who shuttled that day, it was more like 6th. But more important than that, I felt like I had ridden better than at any point in the year so far, which is what I think ignited my stoke so vigourously.
So what does the tale of these two race reports in the same forest tell us? I suspect that it’s something about managing ones expectations, or not surrendering to ones own biases or preconceptions? For the conspiracy theorists there’s probably something in this story about wheel size, or perhaps a lesson about the more chilled you are, the better it goes. Throw in a lesson about not comparing yourself to others and that probably completes the philosophical picture… Almost!
I will say this – The quest to understand and master Mountain Biking is an endless journey, and in every moment I think that I understand its intricacies, soul or complexities, I slide down a semi slick minion back to square one. The concept of a surfer searching for the ultimate wave has always intrigued me, even though I’ve never stood on a board, probably because the search for dirt supremacy has many parallels and I’m not just thinking about race results here – I’m talking about how it feels while you’re 4 hours deep into a big day, searching for that sweet harmony & symphony of speed, body movement, momentum and ‘oneness’ with the bike that all combine to make our beloved sport that intoxicating and amazing entity it is.
I still don’t understand it, I still can’t master it and I still feel compelled to chase it endlessly, which is perhaps the whole point… I left Rotorua feeling like it was a bit of a draw heading into the off season, and excited about the next dual as the quest continues.