Woah… Day 11! Therefore making it essentially the halfway point in Dirty Mega March. So far the box has been ticked on racing, junk food, new places, crashing, radness, too much climbing and navigating our way out of mega excess baggage charges (went 3-0 getting to qTown, ohhhhh yeah…). What had been missing so far?
Yes, I guess it could be mass debated that the 6 hour race sort of counted, but on the other side of the argument, it was a set course, had climbs and you had to make like a racing zombie for 6 hours. None of those are really park rules.
First up, a massive Dirty thanks to Bobby & Lou, the local qTown affiliates for their awesome hospitality and support with the 6 hour, absolutely legendary and has made getting into Queenstown an absolute dream, CHUR team.
Todays original plan was to hit Coronet Peak for a little bit of ENDURO
cheating recon, but all my weather skiting over the last few days finally caught up with me and with a nasty southerly chilling things right the fuck out, not to mention obscuring CP in white stuff (which defeats the purpose of going up there: To take photos), it was time to change it up, relocate into town and hit that park YO:
Here’s a good stat for symmetry purposes: This was my third visit to the Skyline Bike Park, on my third different bike! Nomad 2, Carbon Demo and now it was time for the raddest of them all to spend an arvo roosting it all over the dirty show. I’ve always said “Bike Parks are a great place to test and set up your suspension” and then proceeded to ignore the fuck out of that advice and ride around with a compromised set up. With a sharp rock in my shoe type scenario, I therefore swore an oath that today was to be about one main thing:
Sounds a bit boring, but it is THE path to self improvement. You can follow my lead and spend a LOT of time trying to change your style to ride around set up issues, which modern bikes can demand you get on top of. Or, you can just sit back, relax and message this motherfucker here:
Unfortunately Herr Doktor was too busy telling rock samples they’re cunts to attend DM2, so we had to bring him into the loop remotely to diagnose the issues being faced with the Fox 36 fork. It took him 30 seconds to work out I had no compression damping at all basically, then about 5 minutes for him to outline what a set up gimp I was, including the now Trademarked phrase: “Cunts like you deserve CTD“, a reference to a very unwelcome suspension set up by Fox designed for
me people who are shit at setting up their suspension.
So then, just how does this work? Non-cyclists can commence scratching their anatomy now in a semi bored manner. Well, you need somewhere that you can run laps, tick, patience, semi tick and someone who knows what they’re talking about, mega tick:
With Science in the batting line up and the park running fast, rocky and as loose as the qTown hospitality crowd, it was time to get into some work on this fork… Didn’t take long to work out that having it fully closed wasn’t going to be so useful…
Like any patient I always follow the Doktor’s orders… So it was time to rinse and repeat with the methodical tweaking of dials, click click and off we roll again. The awesome thing about the Park is that you can hit the same stuff and instantly get a feel for the differences. One thing I could tell straight away – I was going FASTER:
So fast in fact, the front brake finally decided that it had had enough of plane rides, being shipped upside down and generally used too much, supplying me with more than a few terrifying moments when it decided to go from rock solid to coming into the handlebar intermittently… Shit my armoured shorts, that something that needs to be sorted ASAP, luckily qTown it ready to cure your ills in short notice:
Bike Park… Running laps… Bike getting even more sorted… How can you make the day better without involving lubricant? How about some PRO stalking?! Its been a while since hitting my old form in Meribel, which was pretty epic just quietly… But today proved to be a decent form finder as I ran into the Lapierre World Cup boys, Loic Bruni and Finn Iles. The Red Bull Sponsorship coming in handy given the pad they have in qTown, nice dudes and more than just a bit fast:
In fact, the place was rammed with PRO’s… Andrew Neethling, Brendog and a whole load of other ‘on the cusp of being famous’ units kicking around like it was some sort of PRO daycare centre. Worthy of a mention, Ed Masters in the park doing his 35th lap (no BS) chainless… Yes, coasting it… But going faster than anyone with a chain on just quietly. Whilst I wanted to get some more PRO frothing going, I had bigger trail to fry and rip braking bumps into. In particular it was time to hit Ants Track.
Astute followers may remember the last two times I have tried to tame this beast, in Feb and April last year respectively. First attempt was on the Green beast Nomad 2… The attempt at Revenge/redemption on the Weapon AKA – The Demo Carbon. Same gunfight, same outcome…
My brain registered as we set off that it was drier and more blown out than previous attempts, so in theory it was harder… But no one told the Nomad 3, third time lucky and all… As this shot illustrates, it hasn’t lost any of its steepness, or its penchant for wanting to eat my hips…
However, unlike previous years, when I got to the moment of truth, something miraculous happened… I didn’t panic/freeze, I didn’t look at the tree and autopilot into it like a kid… I let the Nomad do its thing and cleaned that motherfucker like a
cheerleader shower scene artisanal custom granite kitchen bench.
However, there is a linkage here – At the absolute moment that would decide if I would eat shit or come through the other side to victory and small time bragging rights, I could feel the fork load up and then it did something amazing: It didn’t dive like a football player. I could actually feel it hold up, resist the dive and keep me from launching forward into doom.
Now, call me a fucking bike nerd, but this was a GREAT moment that I can recall with utter clarity. Previously the fork would have folded, followed very quickly by me doing the same with varying degrees of disastrous consequence. Not this time… Thanks to the Dok abuse/tuning tips, the bike was now dialled and I was reaping the benefits. Do I have a photo of the moment of victory? Er… No, on a previous steep section, the Go PRO hit the stop button, so I have been robbed.
That one moment on Ants encapsulates just one example of why I love cycling and in particular Mountain Biking. Its a truly great feeling to be able to finally master something with a bit of grace that has stumped you. As it is when you work with your bike to form a hit team on terrain to do things that you both previously struggled with. With confidence riding high, it was time to ride another track that I have never had the balls to ride – World Cup:
Yeah… Nah… Fuck that. I love my steep tech stuff, but this was something else. I had remembered Mad Markus shaking his head, which says a lot… I counted at least 3 or 4 hits I would have to navigate and although my photos can’t do it justice, even my raging park hard on started to deflate when I scoped out the opening section. I can neither confirm nor deny if there was some scrambling back up the hill:
After looking around to make sure no one had seen my shrinking retreat, it was time to get back to some radness. Grundy’s, Rock Garden, Jeremy, KY, Singletrack Sandwich, Thingamajig, Vertigo… All hit with newfound speed and confidence, the Nomad 3 really humming with more than a few ‘Fuck yeah’s being splashed about. And of course, Thundergoat on the menu, with THAT berm being snapped for the 2 billionth time:
Just loving that tGoat, the bottom section running like a fucking legend with some cool little changes and additions from last year, so a massive high 5 to the bike park for keeping this legend cracking.
I was having too much fun… Cleaning tracks I had never been able to ride before… Not braking like a muppet into berms and starting to feel the onset of the sweet spot – You know, how you always envisage how you ride in your head, but never manage to bring to life on the trail? Well, that gap was now down to being millilitres apart… 9 laps and running hotter than a wolf wheel deal. So hot I even managed a PR time down Vertigo/Thingame, yeah, faster than on the DH bike seen in that video… Must have been time to kill another rear tire then?
Destroying another tire that costs the same as a car tire was a sign it was time to call it quits for the afternoon of testing and radness. Park love was frothing all over the show, as was the fact that at last the sweet spot of riding is in sight… Must stay on that holy grail trail. Some good learning’s from today:
- Always listen to your Doktor
- Take the time to set up your bike… 9 months is probably too long to wait
- Conquer your nemesis, but know your limits
- Find that sweet spot… Put on the sweet spot face…
Final footnote for today – The Ballburner results are finally corrected and it turns out that I didn’t come 90th after all… 35th out of 177 overall and 25th out of 95 in age group not exactly PRO contract material, but I will bank it given I basically had to be dragged around like a hungry ADHD kid with a penchant for shoplifting in a supermarket all day.