Given how many pairs of knee pads I’ve got, my whole summer should have been rammed to the bump stops with Enduro races right? Setting aside it was the shittest summer available, the season ended up being a paltry 4 races in the half shell and goggles combo, which leaves us in the embarrassing predicament of having spent more days as a Dirty Bandito instead of a self professed middle aged, mid-pack Enduro marauder.
And, as per usual, 75% of those days were anchored by the North Island stalwart of Enduro events, the 2W series. Heading back to 2017 since the Dirty repatriation, these have become the absolute bedrock of Enduro racing for those of us that are addicted to pumice dirt and time poor.
With the previous 21/22 season a 1 round debacle for me and the crew thanks to Covid and Cancellation, the 22/23 reboot series couldn’t come soon enough for both a bit of redemption and a reboot of Enduro racing which had been suspiciously absent from life.
If you’re wondering “Why the fuck are you documenting races from last year?“, this is more for prosperity than anything else – And mostly as I’m starting to have a difficult time picking the seasons and races apart. When I’m old, fucked and my brain is mush from PowerPoint/Idiots/My phone, at least I’ll be able to look back and remember which race was which when I came 11th or some such shit.
Until then, time to dive in to the middle field to speed date through the flag ship of Enduro race series in NZ (Shots fired towards the South Island).
Race 1 – October 2022
An auspicious occasion given I was fairly certain this was the Megatowers final 2W round, so I was keen to send it off with it’s proud heritage intact and unsullied. Buuuut, standing aggressively in the way of that notion was the sinking realisation that not only had there been fuck all prep put into the season opener, but it had also been an alarmingly long time since I’d heard the beep of a timing device.
And just to compound that, there were 8 fucking stages… 8!! My mind couldn’t recall the last time I’d done 8 race pace efforts, but then again after a winter of fuck all Mountain Biking, it didn’t have to think about it for very long before the horror of how slow I was sunk in. The opening efforts of Gunna Gotta followed by K2 a visceral one two punch to the face to remind me how much my skills had atrophied over winter.
I know the feeling when it’s going well – Usually because I can keep The Creator either in sight, or close enough to feast my racing line eyeballs on. Flip-side, when he releases his inner Nick Cage and is gone in 60 seconds, or 6 seconds in this case, then that usually translates into a poor outcome. Stage drop in after stage and I found myself alone, going slower and slower as I panted like The Rodfather doom scrolling second hand bike sites naked.
Indeed, the only time I saw the depleted crew was at the stage start… Must have been fucked, as this was the only photo I got of the day as we skilfully seemed to avoid all the on course photographers:
Ok, so forget the racing speed that was clearly absent – How physically fucked was I? Let me elaborate. Roughly halfway through, Rachel’s robot bike shat the bed, The Trek Rail going into an electronic death loop which meant she had to pedal its 25kg+ carcass around the rest of the course. I was secretly relieved that this would mean some respite… Until that is… I started to get fucking dropped.
With every master alarm available going, the only thing I could do was grit my teeth and wince through the pain like I was in a corporate Health & Safety session. I was so thoroughly fingered that on the bottom flat section of Down the Guts, where I would normally sprint the whole thing out of the saddle, I just remember sitting on the seat as time flooded out of my soul and all over the results sheet like a head shot to my Enduro ego.
Using 5 hours and 38 mins of the allotted 6 hours was also the longest I’d ever recalled us using, another form of reminding me in another way how much full time employment hates competition. Never before had I ever been stressed about making it through a 2W round, but here I was, wondering if they made a viagra equivalent for Enduro racing.
This was also an ignominious ending for the Megatower’s racing career, especially when you consider it once upon a time actually fucking won a 2W stage…
TLDR for results fiends – 21st out of 39 in M40, meaning there is two ways to look at this result; Optimistically given I’m usually mid-pack, not the worst outcome ever. Giving it lashings of self-loathing? Well, given I’d managed to pull off a 10th in April at the weirdly delayed 2021 season round 1 event, this would count as some severe regression by anyone’s ex semi-pro standards.
Race 2 – December 2022
After the debacle of Round 1, I was determined to rectify and redeem the whole set-up, and had realised that if I just stuck to 5 sessions per week (LOL cunt), I had a window to start rebuilding a bare minimum of self worth so that at least my friends would look me in the eye again and not talk about me like I was dead.
Naturally, I did fucking nothing with the time afforded to me, except buying a new bike, which, in cuntsville, is how you fix everything. Don’t work harder, just throw money and PowerPoint slides at it until it’s fixed or someone else buys it.
Yes, round 2 is notable given this was the Nomad 6 debut between race tape, and we’d both just come back from a South Island ‘training camp’, riding enough mental Nelson area shit (“Is that a catch berm or are you just trying to maim me?”) to scare us both into a better performance… in theory. At least the weather was set to banger for the occasion:
But it was also an odd round given there was no Creator, no Rodfather and no Mike… Leaving the Professor to be drafted in to come out and embarrass me on his XC bike, which he was more than eager to oblige with. No knee pads, no fucks…
Joining the irregular crew of JJ and 2W stalwart Erin, it was time to set off into a mixture of stages which… Hmmmm… Didn’t exactly play to my strengths or that of a race debut for a new machine. Split Enz is best done on an XC bike, Te Ahi Manawa felt like a throw back begging for a refresh and I’d managed to forget most of the good lines down Kung Fu.
Throw in an Under Billy and the top section of Te Mounga (My new Nemesis) and that awkwardness of round 1 was coming back to haunt me once again… Except, with the added WTF factor of getting dropped by the Professor on his XC bike, you can see him disappearing here after asking me how much I spent on a new Enduro bike again:
But the crew was good, the weather mint and the pure enjoyment of being out on the Nomad 6 meant that the vibes were trending good to very good, which is just as well given it was a sneaky big day at 45km’s, 1,500m of climbing and once again using almost all that allotted time at 5 hours and 40 mins.
I didn’t feel totally fisted like I had in round 1, but given the overall clunkiness of the endeavour, it would have been unauthentic to say we were out of the woods by any stretch.
TLDR for results fiends – 18th out of 26 in M40. You don’t need to be a fucking maths geek to realise that’s not mid-pack and it’s also totally shit for anyone mildly results orientated. At 1 min and 40 seconds outside the top 10, it felt like there was a mountain to climb to get back into that target zone, as people started to whisper “See, he should have got a full 29er…“
Race 3 -March 2023
Right then, well, if you can’t get your shit together in March you’ve either had a fucked summer, or you’re the only person you know who didn’t go to Queenstown, which at this point in life, feels relatively unforgivable.
Given I fell into the middle of that venn diagram, it was a concerning spot to be heading into the final shot at Middle age/pack Enduro redemption for the season, not to mention put some stability back into my Mullet business case. On my side this time, I’d actually done some riding, and also fired in the Capital Enduro as another event to try and kick start something given the gap from Round 2.
Let’s just start with this course being a total… fucking… banger! After round 2’s layout left things feeling mildly flaccid, the finale for the year was smearing its fat tongue in the honey hole of what most of us considered a solid/Rad course. To add to the finals froth, The Creator was back in the game, and we set about breaking it down like this:
- Tukonohi into Whaki
- Black House down
- Te Rua (full)
- National DH top section
- Ma Te Wa
- National DH bottom section
- Te Ruru
Great weather, great course out there in the pumice play land and most of the band back together (#whereisrodfather?), and it was time to unleash a legend day:
By the time I got into the bottom section of Te Rua I could tell this was already a fucking good day. First stage fuckbaggery aside, everything we were dropping into felt absolutely mint and while “Fully Pinned” might be a bridge too far as a description, things were feeling pretty fucking sweet and hooked up as the honeymoon period with the N6 started to translate into some outcomes speed and confidence wise:
The top section of the DH track and Ma Te Wa were an absolute fucking delight as we sailed squarely into Endurogasim territory, with more gloved knuckles meeting than a central bank firing out rate hikes in 2023.
Full gas down MTW, chasing the Creator like peak best-of-fucking-times and the Nomad feeling like an absolute weapon was firmly cementing over the horrors of the first 2 rounds, and then building a shrine to Mountain Biking on top of it. On days like this, there is no better sport or discipline of cycling that can even look in the direction of Mountain Biking.
With the delicious dirt juice now flowing in abundance, not even the slight strategy faux pas of leaving Te Ruru and Minerals until last when I did start to feel a bit gassed, could take the shine of a day which was absolutely worth the 12 hour driving round trip to be part of post Cyclone Cuntface road closures.
TLDR for results fiends – 10th out of 18 in M40. Ok, so finally fucking back in the top 10… Don’t worry, no chance of any cheese dick LinkedIn style unfurling of the “If you believe and keep trying, you will achieve your goals” wankfest here… Mostly notably as Dok is aleady thinking “But bru, that’s like the smallest field of the whole series right?“, technically yes, but fuck those correlation maths – The record will stand it’s a top 10 and I will take that shit and run with it like a politician taking the piss with their expense account.
Regular readers who actually retain any of these ramblings will recognise that the 22/23 season followed the usual pattern (Er… 20/21 season copy and paste anyone?) which is based around the time honoured tradition of a rampant lack of preparation, a baseball bat of reality to the head before the long and painful hairy death march to some form of redemption. Thank fuck we have these first world Enduro problems to keep us occupied.
Massive shout out to the Rotorua MTB Club and the whole 2W crew who are fucking legends for putting these races on, another slick series in the bag, a few timing gremlins aside and if you want additional GC points added to your cumulative total, would be prudent to join the club and/or make a donation to the trail fund to help repair the shred its subjected to by what appears to be 400 DHR2 rear tires.
Speaking of, big filthy thanks to The Hub for not only keeping everything rolling through the season, but for their tight Collab work with Hyperformance Hardware for landing the Nomad 6 in time for the final 2 rounds and a summer of falling in love.
We now enter the Enduro event badlands, reduced to watching the Enduro World Cup on FuckTube and waiting for the spring… Which gives time to plot A) proper preparation and B) how about an expanded calendar of events to generate some new content FFS? 23/24 needs to move shit outside it’s comfort zone…