There were so many reasons to look forward to Day 3 on Trans NZ… First up, Coronet Peak is SO hot right now. Head to any fashionista main stream mountain bike website and you’ll be hard pressed or just straight up lazy not to find a video of a PRO shredding the fuck out of it in pre-season training antics. Its gradually been carving out legend status for itself over the last few years and deserves its “Must ride” status if you’re in the South Island.
Added to that, I knew 4 of the 5 stages that we would be racing on day 3. Fuck, not just knew them, but I had even raced on them! Sure, it was the ENDURO race from hell in the end, but that doesn’t detract from first hand knowledge being available. Yes, this was about to be my 5th trip up the Peak for the full buffet of radness.
Given I’ve had some seriously awesome days up on the Peak; here, here and here (fuck you’ve got a LOT of time on your hands if you’ve clicked on all those links), I was quietly confident that I would also be able to get myself back up the results sheet a bit. For the moment lets ignore the fact that this was totally the wrong focus given I was just back on the MTB, I was sure knowing the trails was going to help me push back the foreign invaders. Hold on a second… Here it comes:
Not so fast motherfucka… There was a slight flaw in my logic here. Over the first two days it had become quite obvious that the volume of bad ass shredders attending TNZ had increased exponentially over the first year. Makes sense right? Word has got out, people know an event in year two has had some refinement, they’ve seen the videos and now it was time for them to come out of the shredding woodwork and drop massive hammers on middle aged ENDURO wannabes. Or as it was summed up by one rider I spoke to:
“Fuck yeah, heaps more rad cunts here this year man, I was killing it last year and I’m riding better now but I’ve been pumped out the ass”
Good summary. I’m talking about people who only own mountain bikes. To these riders “Road miles” mean how far it takes to drive to the rad trails and back again. They only time they see a road bike is each quarter when they’re walking into their local bike shop to buy yet another drive train as they’ve worn one out again. Yes, REAL mountain bikers.
Without a doubt this was the Queen day of the Trans NZ… The greatest distance and if I remember correctly, the most climbing and therefore; Rad downhill. Day 3 had ‘Epic shit’ tattooed all over its face like a Mexican cartel gang member.
Added to that, I got to keep my perfect score of mint bluebird weather days up CP fully intact, check this shit out:
No Go PRO footage today, I had considered not shooting any vid given I have about 2TB of CP riding footage already, but the Bell Super 2R helmet’s break away mount turned out to be more effective at breaking away than I had expected. Yes, it fucked itself without the required crash. Still, plenty of gold to be shot:
It was the kind of day where you abandoned any sort of self respect and just unleashed the cheesy scenery stoke pics, and yes, that is a VERY heavy frost behind me there:
See what I mean? With a day like this even introverts became photogenic…
So, world class scenery, awesome trails and a whole day to indulge in both. Its time to plunge balls deep into the day 3 action.
The thing to remember with racing on CP is that the stages are quite long to start with… I had learned this first hand during DM2 where I blew my load trying to ride up the steep cunty climb at the beginning of Stage 1 that day. This year I was determined to keep my fever under control and avoid having to spend the rest of the stage panting like that fat person you had to follow down the stairs during the last fire drill.
Once I got done asking another Canadian person where in the U.S they were from (a super way to make new friends) it was time to drop in and get this shit rolling. Stage 1 is an all time DN favourite, an absolute blast on a trail bike and based on previous experience, an even more awesome trail when you follow someone down it at high speed… If only…
For once I managed to keep a promise to myself and after blundering my way down the first DH section, I hit the climb, got bogged down and calmly started to walk/run up it. Run is actually overstating it… Looked a bit more like a sea lion having a wank. But then I heard a noise from behind. Holy fuck, it was Chooie. Ok, the spelling wasn’t bang on, but who gives a fuck?
That’s a fucking good question and the answer is of course more obvious than letting a wookie win: A Nomad 3.
As my soon to be Aussie new BFF ran past me like a juiced Russian high jumper, I momentarily considered trying to beat him into the single track that was rushing towards us. But then, I had a moment of clarity where I realised there was a better plan to fire me up for the stage. It was time to Truck & Trailer:
As the Nomad pain train thread its way down the hill like a pair of blue cruise missiles, I found myself back in my element like I was following a guide on a regular Dirty Mission. Having a duplicate Hare to chase was absolutely golden for me in this stage, mainly as it made me look up and pedal like fuck. The joy of pinning it while chasing someone who’s just slightly quicker than you is one of the true joys of mountain biking.
While Chooie pulled away on the Gnar, like a roadie cunt I managed to close him back down on the pedal sections… As we got closer to the end, Chooie’s upper slopes efforts started to tell, a feeling I knew only too well from 12 months earlier.
I was now backed up on Chooie’s wheel, with the end of the stage looming I had momentary concern about this truck and trailer scenario jack knifing into a timing out disaster… Moments later the Choo hit the gap jump at the end and I didn’t, problem solved! Timing out a second apart, high fives were exchanged and general stoke factor flooded out all over the side of the mountain. The mutual fever and froth was set to extremely high, what a fucking rad stage!
Aside from the fact that following someone at high speed on a mountain bike down a trail that is straight out of a dirty wet dream is just plain awesome, I was also extra stoked as I felt like I was actually racing for a change. I kept my eyes up, moved my hips like Shakira close to climaxing and wasn’t a total fluffy puss on the brakes – So surely I was faster than ever before?
The point of interest here is that as the start and finish points were in exactly the same spots for all the race stages as the ENDURO from hell that I raced here a year earlier, it allows for a direct apples to apples comparison of timings. Sort of… I guess this was 3 days into a race as opposed to being semi fresh, but its still worth a geez:
- 2015 CP Enduro time – 9.28 with a decent crash
- 2016 Trans NZ time – 9.50 even though I thought I was flying
Fuck… Let’s just focus on the fact it was a blast and move on shall we?
Next up on the BIG Day 3 menu? Rude Rock vs Skippers! Yes, this mega stage was the longest of the week and according to history I was looking at about 15 minutes of getting as ENDURO as fuck on it.
I won’t fully rehash the intricacies of riding/racing the wide open and cliche braaaaaap upper half of Rude Rock before getting into the narrow confines of
beggars Skippers canyon. Straight up: Its a must do… And if you can trade sexual favours for shuttle runs then its a must do again and again and again.
The main point of note on this foray down the ENDURO Mega stage? The sound of horror when I crossed the river near the bottom just before that awful cunty little climb up to the fence, only to hear a following splash a moment later… That turned out to be the French as ENDURO weapon leading the women’s division. Before I could think “Fuck, I’m about to be French chicked, again“, I was having to move aside as she ran past me and leapt over the fence like a French gazelle.
I got to then witness first hand that she had indeed already taken my advice and clearly shuttled the fuck out of this trail. My attempts to chase her down the final sections of trail almost ending my entire week as I got crossed up in a ditch and only just managed to save myself from being spread all over the trail like fat peanut butter. To distract us all from this whole scenario, holy fuck look at that mental scenery!
Back to the future, how did 2016 me do vs my Dirty 2015 version racing the exact same stage?
- 2015 CP Enduro time – 14.41
- 2016 Trans NZ time – 15.02
Ironically, if I had been able to recreate my 2015 performance, it would have only moved me up 1 place on stage results, from 43rd to 42nd… Yeah… Perspective. There were some fast motherfuckers here for sure. Winning stage time for the 6km stage? 11.55 by Carl ‘I’m just on a Trance‘ Jones.
Stage 3 is really simple and quite fast to get out of the way. You spend a shit load of time pushing up to the top and then about 2 minutes sliding your way down it through its loamy radness. Job done.
This is me in a contest to work out who’s more fucked: Me or my fucking Reverb seat post. Yes, it was starting to exhibit the tell tale signs that it was close to grenading itself… Nothing like having a dropper post that sinks a few inches when you really need it to be fully extended. Right ladies?
Yeah… Stage 3, loamy, slidey, loose. Its also over very fast and leaves you wishing you could have another go to get all those corners right that you fucked up first time around. Its a rad little trail, assuming you feel like the trek up there. Oh, and not to mention the 45 minute grind out of Skippers.
Ah ZOOT… Thanks to the power of shuttles I have done my fair share of Zoot runs and fuck, why not? Its an absolute blast of a trail. Short, fast as fuck and with more lines to choose from than an ANZ Markets team christmas party.
Scientists have confirmed that its impossible to ride Zoot and not come out feeling totally stoked or to yell “Fuck yeah man” or something equally cave man like when you blast out on to the road. A seriously fucking fun little piece of trail, which apparently has been around for a million years or so.
I thought I was slow and shit, but Strava begged to differ, outlining that it was a PR for my efforts… Still, I wasn’t convinced, but the timing systems would tell me the truth. Snap:
- 2015 CP Enduro time – 2.22
- 2016 Trans NZ time – 2.22
After a day keeping up with my fast and super fit riding crew, I was more than pleased to finally see a shuttle – Which, by the way, was the only time all week that we got a mid race shuttle in the entire TNZ week, yes, you need to turn up ready to climb. On the right you can see the Female French ENDURO weapon asking the obvious question;
Well… Almost all the way back up… We still had to grind it out through some more of that shit scenery to our date with destiny on Stage 5:
And then finally we were at the final stage for the day… The only one I hadn’t done, but a trail that I have heard a LOT about; Corotown. And as it turned out, for good reason. Before I start frothing about it, check these numbers out for a moment:
It drops 517m in 1.7km’s…. Yes, that’s an average of -30%
So then, in summary: Its quite steep. As far as understatements go, that’s a bit like saying Mr Trump is a “Bit of a dick“. I’m hating my own face for not having Go PRO footage of stage 5, but in a way I’m not sure that would even do it justice given the penchant of the GP to flatten out bad ass terrain.
I got a hint that this thing was fuuuuuuucken steep when whilst queuing for the start, a rider ahead of me in the queue went around the corner, stopped, got off and started to fucking walk down the first section. Ah… Shit has to be pretty bad in an ENDURO race to walk down a section (you get a free pass on Day 6 of Trans Provence mind you).
That moment was then contrasted with watching Carl drop in like he was literally on fire and absolutely slay the start to pieces… I had genuine concerns he was going to snap that Giant in half the way he attacked it and quickly disappeared from sight as the trail dropped off the cliff.
I had a nervous and slightly excited curiosity about this stage, mainly as it was new and also, because I strangely like VERY steep trail, as long as I don’t have to huck anything, put me on steep tech all day – The Nomad 3 just loves to eat that shit up. I dropped into the stage and immediately all the stories I had heard started to make sense: This fucker was steeper than apartment rents in the cHub.
After the initial sections, my thinking was that it wouldn’t continue to be this steep, as for that to remain constant would somehow defy the laws of geography and physics… But I’m sure if Dok was there he would have reminded me that I’m scientifically retarded:
And he would be right… If you believe Garmin and Strava, there was a section with -51% waiting for me, what the actual fuck? To put that in context and translate it into the real world – My ass was being regularly tapped by my rear tire (I acknowledge that sentence can be interpreted multiple ways) and my brakes were now making a sound I had never heard before, probably because I was melting the discs. Thank fuck for the Nomad’s 65 deg head angle is a good summary.
I have to say, Corotown is a fucking awesome trail… Having said that, not even the promise of a Scarlett Johansen Motorboating session would get me to ride down here in the wet, but in the dry its fucking awesome. The big slalom feature halfway down is one of those sections that when you approach it, it seems initially impossible, but once you’ve cleaned it the stoke factor is off the charts, much like its steepness, which wants to melt your brain.
You do need to be on your game to get down here cleanly and enjoy it though, its not often you get to race something as steep as this for as long either… Especially at the end of what is a pretty big day. I only managed to get this one pic of the end of the stage, which is not only lame, but also goes some way to undoing my earlier literary frothing about the steepness.
My thanks to Carl who was strategically located near the end, reminding me that the leading French woman was closing in on me and that I was in acute danger of being chicked (again), suggesting I needed to let it fucking rip. By that point in the stage I was just pleased to be still upright and holding onto my Enve bars.
Just a dirty tip here – We sat at the bottom of the stage saying “Fucken hell” a lot, before jumping back on to finish the ride out to Arrowtown. Given I had turned my brake fluid black, I got more than a bit caught out piling into the next DH section, grabbing the levers and finding that I had zero brakes…. Not something I have ever experienced with Shimano Saints before. A massive holy fuck moment for sure. Pays to pump them if you’ve sat around at the end of the steep section.
The ride out to Arrowtown is pretty cool as well, assuming you like river crossings and its a tad longer than I had anticipated, so plan for that. All in all, a seriously legendary and awesome way to finish a magic day on Coronet with the GC Crew:
And so then, to the quickest way to take the shine of an awesome day of Mountain Biking in an insane location: Apply unrealistic expectations to results, which in the context of everything really didn’t matter. Until you see you’re 10 or so places lower than your incorrectly focused ego thought you’d be. Turns out that everyone had the same plan as me:
- Stage 1 – 42nd
- Stage 2 – 43rd (Rude Rock/Skippers)
- Stage 3 – 45th
- Stage 4 – 44th (Zoot)
- Stage 5 – 47th (Corotown)
- Overall Day 3 – 37.03 in 42nd place
And to the usual ‘Dirty unrealistic comparison’ to race winner and ENDURO power couple of the Carl & Katie show to provide some perspective on daily stage results:
- Carl’s overall day 3 time – 1st in 28.40
- Katie’s overall day 3 time – 35.47
Fuck, its been a giant read, so if you are a bit over it, then grab a cookie and your balls and instead enjoy the video from the TNZ team of the day in question:
Looking back on it, I think lamenting over the results from the CP day was when I started to let unrealistic expectations get to me. I was back riding my bike on awesome trails in insane weather and not stuck in an office somewhere, so I technically had no right to feel a bit ‘meh’ about results really did I? Oh, especially given the whole broken neck scenario 4 months earlier.
It was one of those situations where its just dumb being a human, but more on that later as not only do we not want to let musings get in the way of that rad scenery, but Day 4 was waiting with some NEW insane goodness in store and of all the days on Trans NZ, it was the one I was most excited about… Stay tuned!