Race Report time! As EWS Spain was over two days, I felt it best to split this monster trucking report in the same fashion. That way you have time to digest the avalanche of words and picture that want to burst out of the screen and ENDURO all over you.
I found myself heading into the EWS Spain weekend with the strangest of paradox’s, which left me with no idea how it was going to go:
- Pumped to actually race these golden trails and stages
- The worst health I can recall having heading into a race
So strangely it was the inverse of how I felt when popping my EWS cherry in Rotorua. Practice was way better here, the vibe seemed more relaxed and the weather was mint. What more could I ask for? Aside from good health of course… How about a quick Urbanduro prologue through an Ancient village? Not your usual start ramp to be fair. Friday saw us taking on a quick run through the village to get everyone frothing:
The best thing about the Prologue on the Friday however was that Sven Martin was on point and managed to snap what I think is possibly one of the coolest photos I’ve ever had of me riding a bike, the vanity points are off the chart here. Better than that, it looks like I’m about to send it (didn’t) and rail that berm down there (didn’t, the sequel). A classic and unique way to kick off a weekend of racing, stay tuned for the Dirty video.
So I thought as a theme today it would be pertinent to cover the topic of Free Advice. People in general are full of it, but Mountain Bikers are able to take that Nek Level. You only need to make yourself dumber for 5 minutes by reading Pinkbike comments to realise that as a group, we have more to say on any topic than most people want to hear.
Doesn’t matter if its suspension settings, cornering technique, hub standards or what Jared Graves is doing next year – Please just fucking ask us, as we’re gagging to spam our opinions or advice directly into your grill and if you don’t agree with us, clearly you’ve got problems, man. And the only thing I personally love more than dishing out dodgy advice to others?
Ignoring the fuck out of said advice
So Gander, gather around as the Goose struts his way towards the Christmas dinner platter, ENDURO style. Off we go into EWS Round 7 from the #notPRO perspective and as I strangely start to refer to myself in the third person, a sure given sign of utter cuntery.
Dirty Nomad says: “Don’t fuck with your bike the day before the race, make sure its already sorted and then just leave it”
Instead of having a chilled out day and following the advice imparted to others, I decided to find the hottest spot in the pits to change both my tires. Simple task you may say aloud, yes, except if you can’t remember the last time you changed a tubeless tire and have thumbs made of jelly. I can’t confirm how long it took me to change them, or how much sealant I had to wipe off the Mavic air compressor, but the Mavic dudes did watch with a combination of horror and intrigue as to how someone could make such a simple task into a Broadway play. At one stage I think they took a video to send to HQ for inclusion in their next “How NOT to” training video.
But I wasn’t done there! I was on a roll… New Brake pads in the front from Shimano and then I let Jordie from Fox completely change all my front suspension settings as well, including adding a blue
pill token as “Wait, you’re NOT running that?!” was a pretty compelling sentence from the guy that sorts out the Syndicate’s suspension. As a PRO Hoe, how could I resist such alterations?
On to race day then and nothing like waking up needing an emergency brake bleed to give you a bit of a warm up before rolling off the ramp. I’ve learned the hard way this week just how tricky being a ‘Privateer’ is from a mechanical perspective, so thank fuck the pits is rammed with GC’s who actually know how my bike works. Didn’t take them long to sort my ‘Michael Jackson’ brakes (Trademark Basque MTB):
Like the rest of the week we’ve had in the ZZ, the weather was once again banger, as were the views on the way up Tranny 1 to start the first stage of the day. Have to say, I was loving a liaison that didn’t feel like a Bandit race. The view back down on Ainsa stunning as we lined up to kick things off.
A bit of a delay to proceedings at Stage 1 however, so some time to chill and go through the process of thinking about how to manage the awkward pedalling section at the top. I decided to catch up with the rest of the lads who had already set off earlier that morning in the Masters group. After I bit of bush bashing I located Dad’s Army and checked that they were ready to roll. Nige’s pirate hat confirmed that indeed they were.
By a bit of a delay, I’m talking about 50 minutes, which anywhere else would seem a bit of a mofo, but you could be stuck in worse places to chill out I guess? Ahead of me for the day here in Shane, lives in BC, Canada and rides a Nomad, and yes as you can imagine with those ingredients it meant I didn’t really see Shane all day long… Come to think of it, didn’t even really see his dust either.
Enough preamble FFS, its almost a badly constructed PowerPoint presso at this stage, so lets get on with the RACING shall we?
Dirty Nomad says: “You never want to blow out on Stage 1, as it can stick with you all weekend, so get a solid run in and don’t do anything fucked”
If the past year of being as ENDURO as I can possibly be has taught me anything, its that Stage 1 of the race or day usually tea bags me. So, with that in mind, I like to offer up sage advice about how to tackle the first test of the weekend: Take it easy, get a solid run in, don’t overthink it, set a platform, get up to racing speed blah blah x 10 minutes.
Usually somewhere in there I will also pop this nugget into the lap of the person having to listen to me: “Don’t ride lines you didn’t practice“. That’s right, hear me now as I am basically PRO. So much so I decided to ride one of the new cut lines they had clearly ridden in during practice.
That felt rad!! Until of course is deposited me here, also known as the point in the apex where its apparent I don’t have the same talent as Nico Lau, or the arms of Richie Rude to haul everything to the left. As such, faster than you can deny partaking in a spot of Swine Fellatio with the boys, I was heading down… So to speak:
Cut line would have been mint otherwise… But, turned out it was slightly less so…
So my stage 1 form was on par with Rotorua then… I was perplexed however as without a Banana on board I was sure I was legit as fuck. Much to the disappointment of the crowd when I did manage to get going again with a new funky stem angle as well. Everyone wanted a Banana smoothie.
Turns out that angled concrete slab arrangement you could see in the pic above was perfectly positioned to cunt up your shin and I was more than happy to offer my one up as a sacrifice. The Spanish medics had a mucho good time spraying it with magic spray stuff which unfortunately forces you to say ‘Fuck’ in front of little kids. At least they know how to swear in English now, my work here is done.
Not quite the start we were after then, a decent 15 seconds flushed Fo Sho. For this race reports exceedingly unreasonable results comparison chart, I thought it best to select the current World Champions to provide extra shrivel factor. Sir Grubby and T Mo, you may remember T Mo was her Trans Provence Domination. As for Grubby, finally got the whale of all ENDURO stalks on the kill list:
- DN – 6.06 for 222nd place (Holy fuck) from 262 in Open Men
- Grubby – 4.47 for 10th
- T Mo – 5.29 for 2nd in Pro Women
Hmmmm… Worth noting here there was no Amateur grade here in Spain, just one big old Open Men grade like the great unwashed of ENDURO. Get in that food chain boy and make like a snack.
Thank you Spain EWS for putting in Tranny times that allowed for my fuckwittery and the ensuing medical attention that was required. Having the right liaison times a key ingredient for a good weekend. Put it this way, had this been Rotorua, 100% I would have missed my start time with the patching up work that was needed.
On to Stage 2 then and the longest one of the weekend. Actually closer to a TP type stage and length, so of course I had plenty of wisdom to impart at the dinner table on this bad boy…
Dirty Nomad says: “Its going to be a long one boys, so don’t blow your load on the climb”
With the time delay still in effect, it was time to chill at the start of 2, refuel and tell anyone that would listen about my Stage 1 calamity. This included people who sort of looked off into the distance when I spoke to them or pretended to not speak English, even though they were from London.
The biggest shock of stage 2? The “What the Hell are you” moment once getting into the stage…
Yes, that’s about the same amount of snot I had on my face as well just quietly. But the bigger issue was how different it felt. Of course, we were the very first group to practice it on Thursday and since then, it had been PRO sessioned and then had the fuck raced out of it by the Juniors and Masters. As such, it was rougher than making sweet mouth love to Miss Piggy (that joke is too good to only use once in this post) come race run.
Stage 2 was also the first time that I got to meet Tim. As you can see here, Tim is quite fast… Yes, he did start 40 seconds behind me, but I made him work for 6 minutes before finally catching me, fucken showed him didn’t I? Tim also works at Mojo Suspension, so whilst the photo doesn’t do it justice, he was clearly quite dialled in the set up department as well. Pinned:
Stage 2 required a bit of pedalling to get the most out of it… Not the easiest after the big liaison and a fair chunk of sitting around. Still, the main thing was to make sure you kept something in the tank for the pinch at the end of climb in the middle. Also, hope that someone hadn’t melted down in front of you as you arrived on the scene.
I then proceeded to slap my own advice squarely across the face vigorously as I stamped on the pedals and went into oxygen debt for the last part of the stage.
Unfortunately I then got on Oscar’s wheel in the gnar channel that was too come. Future Dirty Videos will highlight how pathetic my out of breath attempts to call out to Oscar were. I seem to recall some advice about not wetting all your bikkies on the climb? Nice one.
Two really wanted you to sprint at the end as well, with that perfect gradient that didn’t make it flat per se, but didn’t dish you out enough gradient that you could rely on just being rad. It was pedal time fool. Venga… Venga a LOT.
An odd stage, a lot of fun, but felt like a pile of Spanish Mountain Horse shit by the bottom… A combo of T Rex arms losing the battle against the onslaught of rad Spanish corners and my body not quite ready to take on a long race run. But I shot up the results ladder… Well, in relative terms… I still don’t really get how this was my best stage of Day 1.
- DN – 10.15 for 209th
- Grubby – 7.50 for 4th
- T Mo – 8.46 for 1st in Pro Women
I had been looking forward to Stages 3 & 4 all day, whilst they weren’t the easiest twins to get to, once lined up they were golden to smash. A consistent theme in life. I wasn’t the only one ready to roll, Dirty Uncle Seb stoked to not only get into some spine action, but also because there was no chance of me running him over at the end of the stage.
The crowds were amping for Stage 3 and who can blame them? It not only had a sweet drop in, but there were plenty of spots to see the PRO’s in action. The spectators were awesome all weekend and there is something very cool about being yelled at in Spanish for a change.
I kept hearing them yell what sounded like “Animal” all weekend, which I was pretty stoked with, as far as compliments go, being called an ‘Animal’ while doing any sort of riding is right up there. Doug informed me however that they were probably saying “Go faster” or possibly “My Donkey shreds faster than that cunt“, either way the Spanish were loving it as much as we were loving the ridge running.
Sections such as this made Stage 3 absolutely mint to ride, there were some excellent lines as well and for the first time all day I actually felt pinned. Helps that the Nomad 3 loves to be pointed down this type of arrangement and let off the leash. Its a rip off this looks flat, as the only flat it can be accused of being is fucking flat OUT.
I mentioned it in the preview, but the most eye brow raising section, as in, how the fuck do I ride this while not looking like a beginner, was the series of switchbacks on some sort of alien terraced rock slab. Yes, that’s actually a real thing. Call the Dok, we got ourselves some Rock here YO.
Well, paint me 50 shades of rad! I felt golden down stage 3! No crashes, no serious fuck ups and hit some lines that I had actually practiced… Mint bro, bet that’s my best stage of the day easily! Er… This one didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me! My worst result of the day? Pass me the coaching ASAP.
- DN – 5.02 for 224th
- Grubby – 4.04 for 3rd
- T Mo – 4.25 for 1st in Pro Women
The only downside to Stage 3 was that while I made it in one piece, my Reverb dropper post did not… Its total rebuild back in the cHub lasting all of a week before it decided to grenade itself again. Throw it on the bonfire of shit going sideways on EuroEnduro II and move on. Or, move up more appropriately.
So even though there had been a bit of drama throughout the day, stage 4 rolled around almost quicker than its taken you to scroll down this far. Its not that the day was short, especially with some delays, but it felt too quick to be going back through the ritualistic pre-start process and check list already.
I was stoked to be having another go down stage 4, it was an awesome trail and one that I should have practiced twice just for the sheer fun factor. Mind you, it was a lot more fun with a functioning seatpost, as I found out early on trying to scramble my way up the little climbs looking like I was on a circus bike.
Stage 4 had so many cool little parts to it, most of which I had forgotten. That may explain why I oddly almost lost it here and ended up down a hole to the side looking like Paella based vomit. Just an excellent piece of trail, with supporters to match.
The bottom half of 4 was fuuuuucking flat out, and I was getting looser than Wilber on campus. Regulate that shit I recall thinking, before one of these Spanish sniper rocks finds you. Some time later… I was stoked that they sprayed a red dot on the rock you can see here, which my brain translated as a target to hit with my right hand.
That was the scene of an almost massive over the bars, where I would have landed on Oscar below, to be highly avoided. Did manage to write off my favourite colour matched TLD gloves however, but a small price to pay for keeping it upright. The big save did mean that I lost the wider battle to keep Tim at bay, which I had managed on 3, but on 4 he hit the 6 minute window just as we arrived into the World Cup like supporters line up near the finish.
I felt inconsistently rad down Stage 4, its fantastic to ride, even more so when lined with raving Spaniards, fucking excellent.
- DN – 5.51 for 216th
- Grubby – 4.31 for 8th
- T Mo – 5.07 for 2nd in Pro Women
Stage 4 was so cool to ride and the crowd at the bottom were going off, so the timing didn’t matter so much, besides I had an ancient castle to get back to and the band was moving in ahead of the PRO’s arriving:
On the way back to Race HQ I ran into Nige, given the day’s we had both had we decided to stand on the bridge and carry out a Man hand embrace that went on longer than anyone was comfortable with. And we didn’t speak. For 2 minutes.
Admittedly it felt good to finally get timed out and up on that podium so I could give more of my views, this time with a microphone (huge win) to an empty arena. Still, can’t complain, especially when they had John Oliver there to interview me.
Day 1 Aftermath
I spent a lot of time the week leading up to the race thinking it wasn’t going to happen, so to be able to get out at ride these trails felt like a massive win. Ok, so no matter how realistic your expectations, its still a slight kick in the balls to be scrolling down the results page until your finger cramps, but that’s simply a reminder of your status in the ENDURO food chain. It seemed that the entire Spanish Ream Team had descended on the ZZ to vanquish the invaders and they did a pretty solid job of representing on their home turf.
Besides, I had too many things to fux to think about how I could battle inside the top 200. First stop was the SRAM tent to try and do a reverb revive. Yeah, I managed to even make taking my seat off into an odyssey. SRAM dude could only marvel…
Then like a total Pit whore it was next door to the Fox tent sort out the rattle that Tom from Santa Cruz had identified as a fucked bushing on the shock. Schmitty took my shock into his German pain cave and then spent 5 minutes beating my Cane Creek with a hammer… Turns out not to fix it, he’s just allergic to Air Shocks. Fair enough.
However, Jordie correctly diagnosed that my problem of ending up in 208th for the day on GC was because I wasn’t running a Coil shock (#sofuckenhotrightnow) and therefore I clearly wasn’t ENDURO enough. A blur of allen keys ensued and my standard of living was dramatically increased. #injordiewetrust
So Day 1 was in the bag… I felt like I was in there as well, and it had been filled with cats that I had previously shaved. A calamitous day after a tricky week, so its a testament to the Spanish goodness that I was still able to come away smiling and feeling pumped for Day 2. Great trails, great people and awesome support for the racers back at HQ. The other secret to happiness? Rolling with a #GCcrew all day:
The Big question that nobody had asked for Day 2 then? Would a coil shock see me ENDURO my way into the Top 200? Lofty goals for sure, stay tuned to see how it panned out…