Day 2 and welcome back to the sizzling hot Volcanic Epic race report business… Having said that, another kick off to the day where there was anything but sizzle on the temperature front:
Lakeside in Kinloch on the back up course for Day 2, and a tip of the hat to Tim Farmer and the whole VE crew for scrambling around after cunty Gabrielle wiped out Craters MTB park to find a viable alternative for race day. Not an easy task, but speaks to the set up they have to be able to keep the show rolling after a snag which would have cancelled or shortened most events.
The flip side however was a course that intel reports confirmed would be as Nomad Unfriendly as they come – Grade 2/3 slightly wide single track with a couple of big climbs, which translates into nowhere to hide. Unlike Vegas on Day 1, where I could fake my way through based on Faux Local knowledge and midpack Enduro skills, Day 2 had the strong potential for utter fucking nudity. Here’s what was in store:
With Wave 1 out of the gate, it was time to line up with the new Wave 2 crew for the day, I decided to start with the tactical Gilet (which means ‘vest’ while touching yourself) given how fucking cold it was and I wanted to avoid being an extra in Frozen 3 like yesterday.
From the gun I was quickly reminded that the best 5 mins in an XC race are the last 5 mins… And the worst, are absolutely the first 5. Pinging chains, rubbing tires, fever and near misses as the new pecking order is established is all part of the game, but particularly spicy when it’s straight into the singletrack and not just any style of singletrack either, no the Taupo style.
And how best to describe this course? Well… It’s like a shit boss; it will take all the effort you have, give you little reward and no rest at all. For those of you that demanded more Rodfather Cyberbullying, you could also say it’s like most of his Ex’s – Beautiful, Brutal and a bit all the same.
“But why moaning Nomad, whatever do you mean?“
Well, allow me to elaborate on both this and what I’m talking about when I refer to the ‘Taupo styles’. The first ingredient are a relentless number of corners and undulations, especially when going up. In particular, ideally these corners will turn back on themselves in a manner out of towners won’t predict.
But the real magic ingredient in Taupo is that every single one of these 8,569 corners are dead… fucking… flat. To understand these unusually flat corners, we need to quickly digress into a short history lesson.
Once upon a time in Taupo a man built a small berm, because he liked the way it made his tummy feel when the bike hooked up into it and spat him out the other side with giggles and ensuing high fives. This frivolity angered the Flat Corners Society, and so, after tightly tying their Bandanas to their peeling heads, the Taupo MTB mafia not only made him dig up that offending berm, but also make the corner in question a negative camber. They then marched him at shovel point 100km’s down the road to Rotorua where that silliness was being embraced… And, as they say, the rest is history!
Back to current day, and 15 mins in it was pretty clear that this race course was going to try and take your soul through a million little accelerations out of each dip and flat corner you fucked up. The antidote to this was of course to ride as smoothly as one could muster, carrying momentum, anticipating and trying to resist the urge to get out of the saddle to power up the next wave of pinch climbs.
I was also reminded that there are three types of riders in traffic when it comes to passing:
- The GC – They will mutually negotiate the best passing scenario for everyone involved, with the classier ones using your name (it’s on the jersey plate) and applicable manners, making it a tax free and pleasurable experience for all
- The Humble unit – Clearly going faster than you, but almost feels embarrassed to pass, even when offered up. Can suffer from indecisiveness and may reject an initial offer to pass, only to ask for it back 30 seconds later. Suspect microwave shopping with these people is a bitch
- The fuckhead – Absolutely zero comms, other than potentially a tire rub due to great fitness and shit bike control. This individual usually waits until the most terrible opportunity to pass and then without even a whisper, sticks it up there like they’ve just watched American History X before the race. Luckily, these seem to be the minority*
*Oh, and as you might imagine, there is absolutely a robotic version of this species. Public service announcement: If you turn up to a race where 99% of the humans are on acoustic bikes, and you’re able to ride uphill at double or more the speed of them, the bare minimum obligation you have is to announce not only when you want to pass, but also which side, given the track is half a meter wide and your handling skills seem to have been developed over the 2 week period since you brought that eBike. Yes, based on a true story!
It took me exactly 34 mins to have not only deep Gilet regret, but also need to unleash that tactical piss, and like day 1, I managed to kills two distractions with 1 pit stop and emerge with clear track to indulge my anti-social racing behaviour.
As I expected, this was a course that allowed you to absolutely bury yourself as much as you wanted – No breaks, no flat spots and even the downhills demanded more effort than you’d expected. As I tactically slipped back through the pack, my inner survivalist was ecstatic and my racing brain was simultaneously livid and embarrassed.
But things were going ok as I did my utmost to sparingly measure out my effort and think of tomorrow. Any time it did get hard, I reminded myself that the hurt was still nicer than being on a Teams call explaining to someone that “No, your budget is not a suggestion“, so on we pushed.
Another trait of today was it was a 2 lap gig, so even though large parts of the trail looked the same, at least you had some familiarity with what was coming. Except, in my book, that big climb. Strava indicates its 9.25kms at 2% or so, which isn’t steep, but it’s never ending. at 35 mins on my second lap, it felt like I was never going to see the summit as I channeled my inner Peg (classic Pioneer gag) in my solo bubble up the hill.
As you might imagine, eating and drinking on a course like this not so straightforward and when I did try it, there was usually a flat corner waiting to pounce and fuck up my feasting plans. Still, this was actually going alright and the scenery is pretty fucking on point around here, so with the final climb out of the way, it was time to burn to home.
This is where the last 5 mins of Banditogasim an my above eGripe come together into a tremendously loud “Shhh, you’ll wake the kids!” happy ending. As I made the run for home with renewed vigour and stoke that I had got through the day without exploding, I spotted a dead eBike in front of me… Its battery drained and ready to be picked off like a Lancaster with one engine left. I naturally obliged, giving a field tutorial on MTB etiquette at the same time.
Overall then, a pretty fucking sweet day on the bike! The Bandito froth is definitely coming to a boil and this event is super well run, so can already rock out that endorsement that it should be on your 2024 calendar. Right then, let’s do a numbers round to wrap this muthafucka up:
- Results wise – 16th out of 47 in M40, legit surprised and stoked to move up 3 places over day 1 when I had forecast today to be a potential Dirty Nomassacre
- Numbers wise – 57km’s, 1,164m of climbing and 3 hours 30 min ride time. Contextually, M40 winner did it in 3.04. Fastest pair of Matt Wilson and Cam Jones did it in 2.41.
- Mental torture wise – I think nudging towards 7.5/10, given how there was no real rest today and with a lot of the trail appearing the same, with never ending pinch climbs, it tested the brain a bit to not freak out when it felt like you were going slow AF. Also, a sneaky big day on the bike at 57kms with two more days to go.
Halfway through then, hoping for some more technical terrain tomorrow in Tokoroa to allow me to get back to hiding, and Sunday shaping up to be a huge one in Vegas with some traditional bangers in there. Here’s to the Blur 4 being fucking awesome to ride every day and coke still being the king of faux recovery!
Totally does my head in when dicks on E bikes wanna plough thru ya. I compare them to angry white men in Ford Rangers. They just see red and don’t give a fuck, riding courtesy goes out the window. Cupla years back in the whaka100 this dick on an E shouldered me to pass up a climb, no comms. as we crested and headed down ball tickler he did an OTB – I didnt even stop. Fuck him. Karma. But race organisers need to get wise – why have the E bikes soon after acoustics its freakin dumb. wtf.
Great effort ! Enjoy the ride and the cokes