If it wasn’t for laziness and general apathy, I suspect I would have got a lot more eHate off the back of my last post as I’ve slowly slid from the lofty heights of the M40 mid pack ENDURO echo chamber into a world inhabited by bandana clad Bandito’s.
In doing so I’ve not only committed the MTB fashion crime of wearing an Evoc pack with lycra, which let’s face it is technically worse than glasses with a full face, but I’ve also dared to ride grade 3 trails without knee pads and imply that its fun. Before you can maim me in a head on collision with an eBike, allow me to start finally getting to the point of one of Twenty Eighteen’s big monuments and the thigh terrorism that lies ahead.
It’s time to confront the awkwardness of this Bandito phase, #badhombre, and while we can’t really call it a mid-life crisis given I already got that out of the way with a quarter life crisis some time ago, it’s definitely been a considerable departure from the Dirty baseline of the last 5 years. Enough licking around the edges, let’s get to the oyster.
Here it is: The Pioneer 6 day Marathon XC stage race in the South Island, NZ. 430km’s with 15,500m of climbing. FUCK. Unlike the last time I did a 6 day MTB race, there will be no baguettes, Cool buses, chilling with the trail crew or poorly spoken French. In it’s place? UP some big mountains and racing from start to finish each day in an environment where I’m about as welcome as impartiality on a Fox News show. If you’re into numbers, then what lies ahead is somewhat bib-short shitting once you digest it line by line:
Ok, so forgetting the distance for a moment, instead focus on the climbing column there and then, particularly if you’re reading this at work, gently mouth with me as you raise an eyebrow “Fuuuuuuck cunt, what is wrong with you?” But, most importantly, as you’re focusing on how insane this rap sheet is, mainly zero in on the last two days, stage 4 and 5. Yes, the two biggest days racing up hills are back ended, no pun intended there either.
If you delete the cute ‘prologue’ at the start, which just so happens to be down Rude Rock and Skippers (AKA – Bandito graveyard), then each main race day averages out to 80km’s and 2,795m of climbing… Stop for a moment and have a think about the last time you went for a Mountain Bike ride like that and then X that shit by 5. Naturally at this point you’re asking about…
The Why (the fuck)
What a muthafucking segway that was, but if you’re currently musing as to “Why the fuck are you doing this?“, there are really two main reasons. To start with, signage aside, this is number 1:
Introducing the T Bone: Pie Connoisseur, Rivet Racer and DN Global Collective member who shot a flare high into the Dirty sky when his original Pioneer partner bailed some time ago. Like an ill-fated Somalian military mission, I take this “Leave no man/Bone behind” shit seriously and answered his mayday call by locking in as his marathon XC whipping bitch for the big event. He didn’t even have to guilt trip me into it, weird.
The best thing about this is that if it all goes to absolute shit, then it’s 100% his fault, given this wasn’t my idea in the slightest, and as he courted me to be his team mate, I detailed a feast of excuses why I was a sub-optimal option. Yes, this is very much a team affair, so much so that if you get separated by more than 2 minutes during the stages, it’s DQ time – So being a muthafucka and riding off if team harmony is vaporised is not an available option.
The worst thing about this is that The Bone has a keenly developed penchant for suffering and starfish quivering high power output. Whilst I wouldn’t go quite as far as calling him a ‘suffering fuckpig’, it’s worth noting that his history is heavily stained with tales of him dishing out some severe Team Time Trial punishment on sealed roads, and a statistically proven 74.89% of the time spent on the front. For those of you wondering, yes, much like an Austrian sex dungeon party/the back of Rodfather’s panel van, we have a safe word – Something I will elaborate on in the race reports.
The second reason? I think it’s a weird recipe of morbid curiosity, ticking off another major event and above all: Variety. It’s fair to say that I’ve ENDURO-binged the last 3 years or so to the point I may even make Chris Ball feel uncomfortable. Whilst I haven’t lost that loving feeling, a slight hiatus has thrown in some much needed variability and not to mention, transformed the form to levels I can’t recall seeing since folklore days of, gasp, road racing vintage. To add to that horror, it’s meant a return to lycra on an MTB, which forces one to ride as fast as possible as given only World Cup PRO’s tend to roll like this now, if you want to rock this look you have two options: Fast, or just a cuntbag:
Not to sound like a broken record, but there are two parts to this as well, and while they both sound simple, in reality they’ve been as cunty as they have been transformational (That’s cuntspeak for ‘changing stuff’, usually in an unsustainable manner to get your bonus and pad out your CV).
To start with, this whole endeavour has seen me shed 10kg’s, which aside from people asking how my Ebola treatment was, has had some fairly significant upsides to my climbing form which haven’t been seen so far this century. But turning into a skinny and mildly agitated part-time bandito has had some unintended consequences. To start with it’s fucked all my coil shocks, which no longer want to move, but more alarmingly it’s the reaction from Mrs Dirty which has caused the most consternation.
Given she essentially wrote the book on unconditional love and as a cycling partner has infinite patience for the faffing and time on the bike that goes with that sentence, I was absolutely ambushed by her furrowed brow reaction as I transformed from Masters mid-pack ENDURO sloth into a hungry, anxious, agitated and exhausted Masters mid-pack Bandit.
This is the only time she’s not busting out the pom poms on the Dirty train, with my two favourite quotes so far being: “Look at your face, it’s hideous” and “I didn’t marry a teenage boy“, not even my Kevin Spacey defence of “I’m just an actor playing a role” seems to have excused my protruding collarbones. I can tell that come 2 December she has detailed plans to fatten me back up like a blissfully ignorant turkey who doesn’t understand how many days there are to Christmas. But what can be expected when you’re having days out like this:
When I initially started loosely training for this thing, it took a while for it to dawn on me that it was essentially going to be the hardest race I’ve ever encountered. Difficulty can be measured in many different ways, but when you look at the numbers alone, there is no escaping that this has ‘double fisting’ tattooed on its forehead. In fact, I would say that this will probably end up being my version of doing an Ironman, except with sleeves.
Slowly I’ve accepted that I needed to go out for rides that measured elevation gained, sans shuttle, rather than radness, time or distance. We even went out and did a super weird 115km Road & Gravel (Groad?) race on… Our Mountain bikes, against people on Gravel bikes, which yes, is actually weirder in reality than it sounds reading it on this web page. Thank fuck then that I’ve had this delicious gloss weapon to make this whole caper more fun than I’d expected:
Fear however has been the primary motivator in the quest to machine miles and climbing meters. Not so much fear of getting dropped or a mediocre result, no this fear is all about ensuring one actually makes it through the week without some sort of physical and mental melt down which may or may not involve tears or torn ligaments.
Add in the “Fuck, what is my team mate doing this week” paranoia, and it’s been an arms race of a build up, because let’s face it, no one wants to be that cunt who turns up and fucks the entire week through feebleness, especially when you see the price list for this muthafucka. I’m pleased to report then that the Bone and I are suitably matched and haven’t referred to each other as cunts with a tone that isn’t plutonic in the build up:
The big show all kicks off this weekend, Sunday 25th November, just in time for a solid 4 days of rain, or more, to kick in down around Queenstown if you believe long range forecasts… I hope to absolute fuck that this is fake news given my penchant for water triggered capitulations:
We’ll be live tracked, so keep an eye out for the Dirty Rivets team on the Pioneer website, just in case you needed something excruciating to help distract from any office fuckbags who are talking at your face about their weekend which you can’t even muster the energy to give less of a fuck about.
In all honesty? I have no idea how this is going to roll… I can’t really say I’ve done anything like this before, even if I try and morph Road stage races into 6 day ENDURO MTB stage races and throw on a Whaka 100. This is absolutely unchartered territory, so sit back, relax and prepare for total body annihilation as the T Bone and I chamois lube up to double team this shit. There is nothing more satisfying that bitching about the grind of an event you’ve paid thousands of dollars to participate in, so I shall make sure I don’t disappoint you dear readers… Stay tuned for suffering race reports in due course.