So, day 3 (Monday) on the Buller Bootcamp phase of Dirty Mega March and setting aside that I woke up feeling like I had been dragged behind a truck while being gang banged by a herd of rhino’s, pretty much the only thing that wasn’t sore was the weather, with an awesome deja vu three from three in the mountains. So good I need to double up from the header and spam it at you again:
So, after Day 1 with the Mini DH race and Day 2 with its Faux-ENDURO never ending hell mission, Day 3 held the real prize that I was keen to experience: A bonafide, real deal, no BS, actual live ENDURO race. I respect I used the E word a lot yesterday, as well as melted smartphones and the Hawk server with too many pics, so I shall try and keep things a little more balanced today.
Snozza was tired of waiting on the bike all day, so chose to wait back at Buller HQ on the couch, plus I paid him 500 peso’s to do something he called ‘cleaning up’. Not sure what he meant, but it didn’t sound in the least bit connected to #endurolife, so off I went to promptly miss my start time by 2 minutes.
YUP… But hey, its cool, this is the Big E baby…. E for easy motherfucker. No drama, just meant a solo spin up the road to stage 1. This is where you get to see the much practiced art of the ‘start sniff’. Like a pack of dogs that have just arrived at the park and are eager to play, we all stand around looking at each other, with the same thoughts pinging around everyone’s heads, which is either:
“If I go now, is that cunt going to catch me?”
“If that cunt goes, am I going to catch him up and will he fuck my stage?”
This eventually goes on until someone blinks, or a natural order is established… Or the marshals tell you to just get the fuck on with it:
So with that in mind… Jump on, off we go mounted to my furry chest for 5 timed stages on our second ever ‘real’ ENDURO race…
Lets cut to the authentic chase here… No skills warm up, a bad habit I need to break, and straight into a trail that I had only ridden half of before. No surprise then when I came unglued in the middle section, to get shredded by someone who clearly knew not only the way to go, but also how to smash the shit out of it:
I did however know the bottom section of the trail, from yesterday’s hell march thigh burner. However, even though it was my favourite section of trail, when I got in there, I felt absolutely empty. My attempts to pump the bike through the berms and rises was met with a “are you for real cunt?” from my body and, coupled with my ‘dad braking’, meant that it was a head shaking finish to the first stage.
I started the long climb up to stage 2 with numerous thoughts swirling through my brain such as “Why can’t I ride like I did on the Saturday in Perth?” and “How can I feel so fingered after 3 days?” or “Why the fuck did I wear this Leatt base layer of armour?”
They often say the hardest part of any sport, particularly cycling, is the mental battle you wage against yourself… And it doesn’t take long for self loathing to set up base camp and starting making the coffee. I needed to chillax (apparently) and buck the fuck up at the same time, right other Barry?
So, armed with newly entrenched positivity I arrived at stage 2 ready to have a crack at the only stage I knew from top to bottom all day. Can’t say I was a big fan, but I knew that I would be able to go after it on its down/pedal/down format, trying not to blow my load before the end:
Yes, knew this one well after having it drubbed into me during the ball burner. I actually stood up and peddled hard this time, which made quite a difference… It actually made me feel like I was in a race! Not to mention my heart wanting to bust out of my chest alien style to fuck off back to bed or for a coffee or 3. Speaking of 3, after the little blast of stage 2, it was time to sift along eStyle to the next timed stage…
As Snozza said about riding at Buller: “You’re either going up, or fucking down“. Not wrong there, its definitely a place where its ether/or and not a lot in between… Don’t come here looking for long traversing terrain or anything flat, its a work out zone and if you’re not going up, its screaming down. Stage 3 had both these bases covered, much to my horror. Having done the ritual of catching my breath, securing all loose items, sniffing around to see who may shred me/get in my way, it was deep breath and off we go… Straight down at warp speed and then, straight up this total fucker:
So, with thighs burning after an unexpected and decidedly #notenduro pitch, it was time for the ball sack measurement exam when the cunty climb gave way to the freeway speed rock garden down the other side. Its moments like these that I thank fuck I have this bike… And that I backed the compression off just a touch this morning, as this was fast and rougher than masterbating with sandpaper…
Stage 3 was a contrast, halfway down it then did this mega sketch hard left into loamy hero dirt in the forest, which couldn’t have been any more of a change to the previous half of ‘hold on and hope like fuck you don’t hit the wrong rock’ terrain… It also marked my first encounter with Marshmallow Smurf. Not sure if he was a survivor of the XC race that had preceded the ENDURO, or if he had got lost, but he right in the gunsights now:
When eRacing, its always important to be polite and courteous to the person in front as you’re passing them, except for when they push you into a tree… Yup:
With my corner technique regressing as fatigue took over, there was a LOT of sprinting out of corners as the rest of stage 3 twisted down this sweet section of forest. If I didn’t feel drilled enough at the bottom of stage 3, then the climb up to stage 4 would do the trick… A 30 minute walk/ride, but I didn’t mind at all… Not only is this classy Trans Provence prep, but its also just damn beautiful alpine action. Blue sky, check. Freaky spooky trees, check. Not being rammed with humidity/cunts, check. Bravo Buller:
Stage 4 was another complete surprise to me, no idea what was to come, other than the freaky tree scenario that confronted us near the stage entry. Without Dok here to explain why all the trees were fucked up, I just got busy enduroing around, which is to say one takes photos, walks around saying “How’s it mate” to others and getting your goggles ready for action. A tip on goggles, try them out on your new helmet before you race a stage in them, may be possible they cut into your nose and feel insanely uncomfortable to the point of being off-putting…
Right, riding a wave of stoke factor, stage 4 should be a ripper right? Someone told me that it was fast, with lots of switchbacks. Yes, fast, if you had the energy to pedal like fuck…
I didn’t unfortunately and the roller coaster continued for me as I started to blow turns, feel super slow and displayed even less rhythm than the English cricket team. Once I started swearing at myself out loud, I wondered if it would get any worse?
And there he was again… Big Blue… Somehow haunting me. I suspect that in all my Enduroing around (faffing like fuck), he had slipped past XC style and got into munting up another descent. I found him halfway down, wanting to have another crack at me as I came past…
I shall absolutely refrain from being uncharitable, especially as I know that in under three weeks now, endurokarma may come around and I could end up on some PRO’s footage being called a cunt if I’m not careful.
So, the frown was back on after stage 4 to be honest… A bit of a head scratcher. Still, I wasn’t about to complain loudly, as I worked out that in exactly three weeks I would be exchanging this view for a matrix office pod:
One stage left… Wondered how it would roll… More of the same? Or could we put a cherry on the top somehow?
Right, it was time to implement the ZFG Policy here… Zero… Fucks… Given. After the relative goodness of stage 2 and 3, stage 4 had washed my mouth out with turd and I was back to looking at myself with disdain. Trying too hard? Overcooking it? Who knows… Either way, something had to be done differently. It was time to give no fucks. Which is to say I was too tired to try.
Speaking of time, I was about an hour behind schedule by now, so I got busy with taking more highly choreographed Nomad/Scenery photos:
A couple of locals kicking it in the start area advised me that this was “the fuckin the best trail of the day mate, fair dinkum“, which was pleasing to hear… And luckily for me, they weren’t wrong, good flow, nice berms, a bit rocky and the right gradient, it didn’t take long to start really enjoying this one, not to mention those golden cut lines again:
And again… I felt like I was getting into my work properly on stage 5, actually racing!
A high 5 for stage 5 – unsurprisingly the locals were right, the best trail of the day and an excellent way to finish off the race. To be able to feel like I raced it another bonus, departing the scene with that ‘yeah, going alright there cunt’ feeling as opposed to what was going through the brain after stage 4. Mojo still needs some rebuilding, but we’ll worry about that after a rest!
With the final walk/ride back up to the village, I was utterly stoked to see this set up… SHAM and Spanish Avanti signs not withstanding, it was 3 hours since I had rolled out of here after all. And I was feeling fingered after another big day.
SO…. The big(ish) question… How did the results shake out? Well, 14th in the open category and 19th overall, both results a bit of a surprise to be honest. I hadn’t expected to sneak into the top twenty, especially with empty legs/soul and riding 3.5 of the stages blind. Given how fingered I was, I will bank that result! As they say, its a sport of ‘What ifs’ (what if I had ridden the stages? What if I had rested?), but these three days weren’t really about results, they were about re-bootcamp. And just to state the obvious: ENDURO racing was totally the best format of the weekend.
With that in mind, a massive Dirty thanks to Snozza for giving up his long weekend, for redefining the art of waiting, for cooking the best burgers in Buller, for being a GC when I fucked up his Strava crack at the Epic descent and for the abuse that ultimately made me ride my Nomad a massively long way on Sunday. This trip would have been an absolute mission without the tour guiding, so appreciated.
I’ll chalk up some thoughts on riding at Buller at some stage, right now its all about R&R before the next phase of Dirty Mega March rolls on… NZ, here we come!