Sam Shaw is off-shore and on-the-road - hunting down the Enduro World Series as a privateer. He's had a stellar NZ summer racing singlespeed (winning the World Champs in Rotorua), Enduro (2nd in the NZ Enduro and 4th in the Toa Enduro at Crankworx Rotorua) and XCO (6th at the NZ Nationals and a cameo in DH).
Sam is despatching regular diary updates to us by pigeon post. Think Alistair Cooke's Letter from 'Merica - but without the toff grammar and political satire. The story starts at the NZ Enduro and progresses as the season unfolds. Stay tuned.
@samshawthing Photo: Tony Hutcheson
EWS Round 5, La Thuile, Italy
Nice to have Mum and Dad visiting us for a couple of weeks. It means having a ‘birth fam’ and an EWS ‘adopted fam’ for the next round of racing in Italy. Good excuse for more touristing, and there’ll be double the yelling when we get to La Thuile.
Up and at ‘em with an easy pedal up Avoriaz and down Super Morzine in the morning, then Brooke, Mum, Dad and I left Morzine for Chamonix. We took the cable car up Mont Blanc for some tourist action! Then pinned it to La Thuile, to chill and prepare for a big four days.
Awoke nice and early for breakie with the 'rents before checking the messages for the morning, quickly getting changed and heading out to catch up with (Daniel) Selfie and Alex Holowko for some prachy runs on Stage One and Three. The tracks were a wee bit damp making for some uncalled for jibs. Morning of practice done and dusted, I spruced up the rig before light refreshments. Alex, Selfie and myself piled into the Norco van (cheers Blenki) and headed up the other side of the valley to prachy Stage Two, my favourite stage for sure. Stopped by the pizzeria for some fuel with the adopted fam, headed home, and then took the birth fam around to the adopted fam's house for dinner. Thanks Dee! Bed.
Woke up feeling good. Yesterday's prachy was one of the easiest so far. There were long stages, but the liaisons were chill thanks to a chairlift assist. Had breakie with Brooke, geared up and headed out. Teetered my way down Stage Four before getting into a big hike-a-bike mission to Stage Five - actually my kind of gig. I was liking the liaison, to disgust of many, then straight up the chair to Stage Six. The day was done by lunchtime (this never happens). Got the bike and gear all ready before chilling with the adopted fam to watch ‘Now You See Me Two’ (second viewing). Tidied up before hanging' with birth fam for one of the best meals yet (tortini cheese wrapped in pancetta, melted on polenta, yum).
Photo: Sven Martin
Huge amount of rain over night - wholley cow - thunder, lightning, rain, sideways rain, torrential rain, hail, more lightning. An email was even sent out from the EWS outlining plans to avoid this rain. Turns out it wasn’t too bad in the end. Breakie with the fam, got out all my Ground Effect gear to avoid getting caught out on track. Jumped on the lift, headed to Stage Three (the stages were reversed in order to magically stop/reverse the bad weather!!!?). Stage Three was a well-ridden-in track with an alpine section to begin with before dropping into a rocky, rooty, niggly trail all the way to the bottom. I crashed at the first corner… great start! Enjoyed reasonable flow for the rest of the stage, but suffered one more niggly crash on some slippery roots. Great stage, but it definitely broke some people. A two hour liaison to Stage Two. With no stops, we only just made it with five mins to spare before start (a lot of people didn’t make their start times). Stage Two was seventy five percent alpine. The rest trees and a pedally, false flat, rooty section that blew the doors off me. I rated it and had a good run with only a couple of tiny errors - so much fun! Just a chairlift away to Stage One, but the rain creeped over the ridge line and the jackets came out. It started raining five minutes before drop time… churrr. Stage One was fresh track with off camber rocks everywhere and a whole lotta roots with added log rolls into steep sections. Add rain to this for a huge starter pack. I relished this stage and felt in control/outta control (due to the wet). Unluckily the rain stopped straight after the finish. Good day out, but the arms are feeling it a bit!
Photos: Sven Martin
Back home to chill with the birth fam and out for another round of delicious snackies (repeat of last night's tortini number).
Huge changes in the race plan due to many complaints from day one's load and physicality (didn’t know that was a word). The order of stages now jumbled some more. Did the usual morning tributes, then into it. We caught a lift up to start with Stage Six, an all out speed kinda track with quite the hard (about seven minutes) pedal. That completely blew everyone up (who I talked to anyway), and then dropped us back into three more minutes of techy steep dirt sections with tight corners. I had a pretty good run on and kept everything upright. A good start to the day. Another lift to Stage Four, a half new alpine trail mixed with an old open farm cut single trail. I managed to lay 'er down sideways, but without losing too much time. Cruised downhill to a revised Stage Five which consisted of a flat 30 second pedal on grass and nothing else. Definitely a highlight of the weekend and good reason to be eating so many carrots (the goal is carotenosis). I got pumped on this stage - haha - 3 seconds off the leader, but one hundred and twentieth :)
Photos: Sven Martin
Onto Stage Six again, but without the pedal. Turns out Jordyn Prochyra and I had not only been riding together all weekend, but were on the exact same time leading into this final stage - it's crazy how that happens. As Jordyn is Australian, the pressure was on to defend some positions from the Aussie. I had a good run with only a couple of small mistakes and just managed to pip him by 5 seconds. Holla holla. Race done. I finished in 48th, which is my best result of the season, holla. Big dinner out with pretty much everyone, making for a grand time in La Thuile.
Back in Morzine to catch up with Jamie (Nicoll), Elena, Teresa et al, and to start the prep for a big ol’ trip to Canada in a few days. Squeezed in some rap video mr world wide thing with the Pivot crew that evening for a bitta fun.
Piecing a couple more things together for the trip to Canada and catching up at Jamie/Elena’s house for a bbq with a whole lotta good m8s. Morzine is definitely a place that feels like home (away from home). Big ups to Jamie and Elena for putting up with us.
Packed all day, said goodbye to the Morzine crew, and then drove outta town. Turns out Maccas does a pretty good caeser salad (if anybody was wondering). Let the sleep deprivation begin.
Booked the van into long term parking but turns out the underground parking and our van do not fit. We left Morty with them anyway, aha. Jumped the plane, found a good movie called ‘The Isle of Dogs’, from the same crew as ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ - would highly recommend both these movies. Am currently on the bus to Whistler after many delays and the sleep deprivation is hitting hard, Good to know we are in good hands with the Bathgates on arrival (thanks Chazmaz, and Bathgates ya legends). Now for pancakes and some Celine Dion…
Turned up in Petzen, Austria. Bubbleys (Brendan Clarke) booked a couple of us privateers a house for the week (huge thanks bro!). Big Lez (Shane Leslie), Selfie (Daniel Self) and Ameal (Emil De Vries) all checked in with Brooke and I.
Sam and Emil sport the Ground Effect-Zerode twin set.
For some reason Selfie and Lez chose to sleep in the same bed, good on em. Headed over to rego to catch up with everyone and pick up race numbers and a complementary staff top (definitely a keeper). Brooke cooked up a seriously good spag bol while I cleaned and stickered my bike with a starry blackhole enduro stickerset by hasdesigns.pt, how gooood. Finished the night off with some carrots.
Emptied Morty (the van) out and filled 'er back up with bikes on bikes for a day of prachy with Big Lez, Bubbleys and Selfie. Tracks were wet and slippery, but not too bad. Stage One and Two seemed bound to blow out come race day and Three was an absolute gem! Got home for some RC car time and went over the bike, changed to shorties (looking to be a wetty!). Headed around to Bubbleys, Dees and Nikkis for dinner, and carrots.
Spot the actual car.
Jumped outta bed and loaded Morty for a day of prachy. Some big ol' liaisons made for a hard day out. We had a bit of a wait to ride stage six, so took out the RC car for a hoon on the world's biggest flow trail. Finished off the day on the bike with a pedal back home. Headed to Bubbleys, Dees and Nikkis for dinner again (holla) then a lotta bike prep for tomorrow's racing (packed some enduro carrots). Looking forward to it!
Photos: Sven Martin.
Mushroom omelette for breaky, el-yumo. 10am start, how good. Had some quality talks with the MC before dropping into the liaison to Stage One. Somehow a bunch of us missed a turn along the way, ended up following our noses to the start with an extra climb and couple of extra ks (more training for the World Cup cross country). Stage One was one big pedal and a lotta slippery rooty corners, I had a pretty bad brain mechanical down this and found the ground three times on the way to the bottom.
Photos: Sven Martin.
Back on the normal liaison for the following stage. Feeling mega bonked so early on in the race, not the norm. Drunk about 10,000 litres of Xeno energy drink at the feed station and got the juice back. Stage Two was much like stage one, except somehow a lot more fun (I think one prepped us). Had a good time down the steep sections and then just as I got to the pedals I jammed my chain on a stump and it bent out the chain tensioner (this is close to impossible with how tight it's tucked away, but Enduro always finds a way to wreck stuff). I didn’t realize straight away and pushed for a bit, Big Lez came past and gave a holla, finally realized what had happened and got to bending everything back and jumping back on to finish the stage, catching Big Lez who just blew his whole bike to pieces lol. Unfortunately lost a big chunk of time for the overall on this stage.
Photos: Sven Martin.
On to Stage Three, feeling well-bonked on the way back to the gondy. Another 10,000 litres of Xeno - whatever it is - and some carrots. Three was nice - long and steep, consisting of barely any pedaling (what a stage). I had a fun time down here keeping things very safe and under control, onwards to tomorrow.
9.30am stage start, carrots on my mind. Missing Big Lez (Shane Leslie) this time, biked off to stage four (already practised this route). Had over two hours to get there with a nice hike a bike at the end. Four consisted of fresh-cut loamy lines through low-growing shrubbery and a few open sections with slick roots and tight turns. Aimed to ride consistently, make no mistakes and test out the shoulder after yesterday. All went well. Not my best effort, but a good confidence boost.
Into the mines for the tunnel liaison, 20min of tunnel vision passed a couple of molemen on the way through. It was cool for 5min and then it just got cold and narrow, so the peloton took off to get outta there asap.
Another hike a bike up to Stage Five to watch people making new lines - enduro asss m8. Stage five consisted of grippy clay with roots, highspeed steep sections with chicanes and minimal peddling, holla. I felt comfy and was finally riding my bike like normal, a couple of mistakes lost some time, but stoked to get my best stage result with a 23rd. Back home to the pits for some shnackies and a gondy up to Stage Six to finish the day off.
Stage Six had a good gradient the whole way down with a mix of Stage Three and a good amount of loam 'n' roots. I started out feeling good and strong and getting my lines, but 2 mins in I heard the classic ssssssssss, as the rear tyre went down. Was still keen-as and kept 'er going to get 68th after 14min of riding the flatty out (the Enve held up, ayo).
Stoked to salvage some positions, from yesterday but bummed for what could have been. Happy to see some speed there and catch up with everyone and ride some sick trails (minus Stages One and Two).
Brooke ended up racing the Challenger and finished third!! How gooood :D.
Brooke on the podium. Photo: Sven Martin.
Woke up feeling like a potato as per usual after four days of big ol' rides (my favourite thing to do), combined with bubbles b'day festivities (happy birthday bru). Packed up the team Zerode van and drove off to Lake Bled, Slovenia (maccas first (sin)) and a carrot. This place is amazing, would recommend. Special mention Nikki Clarke lol.
Woke up early for a run around Bled - a very busy tourist town that seems completely empty at 8 in the morning - some exercises and carrots before a big day of tourism with everyone else in the 11am rush. Am now at a bike park in Slovenia and have no idea where we are (just followed Bubbleys in the car). It's one of the best stops so far!
Sam has scored a van and friends (the VANSACS) to maraud the Continent. Round 3 was at Montagnes du Caroux in France. A quintessentially beautiful french village in the Massif Central with an abundance of long rocky descents, and (on day two) wet ’n’ slippery trails. Thanks Sven as always for the bangers.
Picked up Dan Self from the airport with Bubbles (Brendon Clarke). Had a small look around Toulouse, got a message from my Cousin Amy Shaw after she saw I had tagged my location. Whoops forgot she lived there! Headed back to Orlargue for a wee ride and chill and snickers.
Photo: Sven Martin
Weather is lit. Up and into it. France changed up the format a little this time and we were getting out on stages 5 to 8 today instead of the usual stages 1 to 4. Bubbles drove his car and I drove Morty (the van) to the top of stage 5 with our crew for the day (Dan Self and Shane Leslie). Stage 5 was fast with a good mix of rock, dirt, and roots on reasonably smooth trail with a flat pedal towards the end. We pedalled back up to stage 6 and then into it. 6 had a lot of solid pack dirt corners between tight trees, making for another fast stage. Baguette and snickers for lunch.
Photo: Sven Martin
Towed a whole crew up this time with Brooke Thompson (Miri), Nate Corrigan (Bifi), and Megan Rose (will get in trouble for nickname here) added to the group. We managed to fit 7 people and 7 bikes into Morty for the last round of shuttles. Leaving the door open for a bit of ventilation in the back, we nearly took out multiple cars on the way up to stages 7 and 8 on wee tight Frenchy roads. 7 was steep, rocky and rooty. Not really any dirt in this one, and the hardest stage of the race (although 8 comes pretty close). Climbed back up to 8 on le bike to find a lot more dirt and the odd technical rock feature towards the bottom - finishing on big slabs of slippery wet rock taking you all the way into a small stream at the end. Snickers to finish the day.
Brooke & Dan do french history. Photo: @samshawthing
Looking at Snickers for breakfast, nahh body’s a temple. Muesli and coffee (sessions at Ground Effect got me hooked). Packed into Morty and headed up to stage 1. Another narrow Frenchy road got us to the top (patience). We mucked up the vehicle shuttle idea on this one a little so Bubbles opted to miss prachy on 1 and drive Morty down for us (thanks Bubbles).
Bubbles dabbles in french fashion. Photo: @samshawthing
1 was pretty straight with flow, two tight Frenchy corners, one speed section and a couple of wet rocky chutes towards the end. We all gathered at the bottom and biked up to stage 2, everyone’s favourite trail. It consisted of mainly loamy dirt and rock sections that could be jumped or flowed. A good mix of play and speed, getting steep at the bottom right after a climb. Lunch stop at LIDL, which won't allow shirtless entry fyi. Chaussen aux Pommes, bananas, and baguettes (and snickers) for lunch followed by a big ol’ pedal up to 3. This was the rockiest stage of the weekend and seemed to just follow an old Frenchy horse and cart path, full of big rocks for a good 7mins of racing and then into some climbs and dirt towards the end. 4 was a short stage from the Orlargues church (race village) back down to the pits, a 1min urban stage with a couple of narrow building sections. Best weather we have had since arriving. Back home to get everything cleaned and ready for race day tomorrow (snickers).
Photo: Sven Martin
Overcast for the day (classic EWS). Had the same start as Shane (Big Lez, guy from Chile that I met breaking into his house). We headed to the start and I got some last minute maintenance done thanks to SRAM for the brake calliper parts. We got a shuttle to the bottom of stage 1 and pedalled to the top with Alexander Kangas (dude from Sweden who loooves the nicotine). Had a good start to the day feeling comfy, but not pushing hard enough. Losing only a small amount of time and still in the mix. Stage 2 was the same story as 1, feeling really comfy and not getting loose at all. Getting a reasonable time, but not quite where I want to be.
Photo: Sven Martin
On stage 3 I finally found some speed and went for it, unlucky to crash in a tight Frenchy corner losing the time I had made. Still my best stage of the day. By stage 4 it had started raining (ayyye). Took the inside line Loui Harvey was too scared to do and got down for a reasonable day in 51st, less than 10secs off the top 40 and 20 seconds to the top 30. Times are tight like a tiger. Amped for tomorrow (and some snickers). Pizza for dinner with the team, Bubbles shouted. Sticker set turned up from Has Designs to add a Frenchy touch to the Zerode, pretty much a child about this kinda stuff, froth.
Rained all night, looked out the window, still raining. Mildly worried about riding stage 7 in the wet. Headed to the start and it was feeling winterish with a bit of rain and sub 10 degrees temp, along with fresh snow on the surrounding hills. We pedalled up to stage 5 with a tiny shuttle-assist and then into it. Was supposed to be an easy one, but water on the rock made it pretty challenging, I started the day off being taken for a ride instead of riding my bike. 6 was much the same as 5. Back to base for some snickers and back up the hill for 7. Really taken for a ride on this stage, full of steep rock and rooty sections. Control was minimal and I just went with it managing to not hit the ground, but did hit a camera man (sorry old mate), stoked to get down there without damaging anything. Big ol’ pedal up to 8, I was getting tired by now and me arms were worn out after battling the slip slip all day. Got down 8 with dead arms. Stoked with the weekend’s riding, still figuring out how to go faster as I moved back to 59th in the overall. Think the snickers are gunna have to go.
Photos: Sven Martin
Completely rekt potato for the day. Dropped Big Lez at the airport in Toulouse and visited Amy (cousin) and Tebo (her boyf) along with Leo and Flo (the kiddies). After a mean platter of French snackies at Amys, Brooke and I took off for Sospel.
The bikes have arrived, holla. Put everything together, then got out for a track walk with Shane and the Cube team. Headed out to a local restaurant for some local cuisine which consisted of Colombia club beer, a giant piece of pork, bean soup, plantain, rice thingies and a bunch of avocado on the side - would recommend. Every team in town managed to also pick this restaurant on the same night.
Photo: Sam Shaw Selfie
Early start to the day to jump on an old school bus shuttle (probably still flasher than Jamie Nicoll Adventures’) with a rack on the top, we picked the day for it!
Photos: Sven MartinThree buses made their way through town full of riders and bikes. Turns out bike frames are perfect for cleaning-out low hanging foliage. We arrived to a local band playing some lively music, unpacked the bikes, jumped on and followed local legend Rafael Gutierrez around his Grandmother’s coffee plantation trails. Pretty cool scene biking around banana palms for the day and being shuttled up the hill.
Photo: Sven Martin
After the last run down Charly (Murray) and I biked back up the shuttle hill. We realised that we are still at 2500m so there was no banter on the way up, just gasping for breath. Got to the top for some beersies and rode the trip home sitting on top of the shuttle bus with Mops and Charly. Coffee tally: 0
A huge’normous day on the bike, getting in 7 stages of an 8 stage race for practice. Met up with Shane, Mops, Martha and Ella and headed out to get the day done (it was raining, and had been raining a lot throughout the night). The tracks were slippery, but not too bad and manageable on dry tyres. Riding around in a jungle was the hard part as the humidity was pretty intense, and the high altitude made for sweats on sweats. We got through stages 2 through to 5 and then made the liaison to 6, which was a big mish up a fairly steep hill. It started to rain a bit more heavily at the top so I waterproofed up in me GE gear. By now I was starting to feel comfortable riding fast. Half way down stage 6 there was a steep straight. I asked the marshal what it was like he said "ride the line and go fast" (honest). So I went in no brakes and from the top it looked like a good run out, but as I got closer to the end of the straight I noticed the track in between me and the flat runout at the bottom just kind of vanished. I tried bailing and slipped up, literally just sending it to being flat on my face. This seems to happen whenever I put a fullface on. Lucky to walk away just really muddy. Finished the day off and headed home for some cleaning.
Photos: Dave Trumpore
Met up with Ted Morton, Chris Hutchinson, James Hall and Charly for a coffee before heading downtown to practise the Urban Prolog - a race through the streets of Manizales. I have never raced an urban stage before, so even lining up for practice was making me hands sweat. Heading down the course it was a mixture of steps with wide corners then onto roads with hay bales and sandbags to add a slalom of corners to the straight sections. The course was short and not too technical, making it pretty fun. We had 4 hours to chill between practice and the race, so I biked around a bit of downtown Manizales and tried some local cuisine with the lads. Headed back to the race venue with a bit of panic setting in as the rain clouds threatened to open up. Which they did, luckily only for 5 mins. The roads dried up quick as. I got my race run in nice and safe, and headed home to change the tyres to muds and get some rest.
Photos: Sven Martin
Rain on rain. It was wet. I gobbled down some breakie, chilled out, got ready and biked down to the venue to join the crew for the day - Ted, Loui, and Charly. On the way up to stage 2 (prolog was stage 1) the weather wasn’t actually looking too bad, and then we got the first glimpse of the track and wholley hecka, people’s wheels getting caught in bogs and there was quite a bitta walking/crashing. We just carried on like we didn’t see that. Stage 2 started out with a run, as it was uphill, boggy but steep so the rest was rideable, unrideable climb part way down and then the rest of the track was fast and fun with slick sections. I managed to loop out for the crowd in a fast corner. Got to the bottom and felt like vomiting from the altitude for the next 30mins. Stage 3, mud mixed with bamboo bridges, off-camber straights and paddock. Apart from the run in the middle this was a fast rideable one. Stage 4 was completely fudged with massive ruts, the best way down was to tripod 90% of it, nobody enjoyed this one haha. Stage 5 was like a bobsled track, 50% was a chute that you could ride at max speed and then finished off with steep off-camber corners through pine forest. I scraped the side of the chute in the bobsled section and had a big wipe-out hitting my visor upright and then struggled through the off camber section - I was a squid on this stage. Stage 6 was cancelled. Heck yeh. Stage 7 was actually fine and had not been damaged that much by the rain. I caught Loui and Adam on the final climb and we rode in a train to the bottom. Easily the funnest stage of the day. Stage 8 was a 30 second sprint on a grass field with a tiny liaison. Perfect way to finish a big day on the bike. Got down and finished in 66th.
Photo: Sven Martin
Bike wash (gotta get that bike blinging) before heading home to Shane’s place where I had left all my junk for the week, and we started drin… I mean packing bikes which took up the next 4 hours of the night. Rafeal (Gutierrez) came over, and we headed out to the after-party.
Got home nice and early, setting many alarms. Waking up not very long after and unset alarms, then heading back to sleep only to wake up in a panic that we were supposed to be at the airport, but had just woken up. Dragged the boxes and all that out onto the street to catch a taxi. A man at the hotel offered me a ride and we jammed the bike in (which didn’t fit so hung it out of the boot) and he got me to the airport - he called himself a Gutierrez so assumed he was Rafeal’s Dad. Jumped on the plane and got out of Manizales headed back to NZ.
Caught up on sleep and the force, with the three new Star Wars movies. I find it funny how they just understand robot beeps and Chewbaka’s chewbaka noises.
Arrived in New Zealand 5:30am with a bike frame, but no wheels. Found out they are still in Bogota, Colombia. Headed straight to BP for a butter chicken pie and three chicken bites :)
Back home catching up on the real world, giant slap in the face. Hella worth it.
Flew in to Santiago with Charlie Murray and we got our tetris skills out and packed up the city car with three bike boxes and luggage before heading up to Lo Barnechea where the Enduro World Series round was being held. We noticed on the way up it was a bit higher than expected. The race village sits at a sweet 2600m altitude. Dropped Charlie off and headed to my accom at Valle Nevada, even higher at 3000m. Upon arrival a Chillean man was waving and came up to my car asking if I was the third person. I was staying with a Liam Moyniham, James Shirley (from Scotland) and Joseph Nation so I just thought there was a language barrier and mentioned James and Liams names which got a very excited reaction from the man, "si si". He was a hotel carer and took me down to the room as the boys were out riding.
He unlocked the room and let me in, so I unpacked the car and settled into the room, took a dump, had a shower - all the post travel stuff. I was still in my towel putting my bike together when the boys came home… except it wasn't ‘the boys’ - some randoms Shane and Barret turned up to my room, or actually flip that around, I was in their apartment and there was a stranger in their place setting a bike up half naked. Luckily they found it pretty funny and ended up getting along pretty well. They had also arrived today and showed me a video they took that morning of a man getting beaten by cops on the street at full whammies. Went and found my actual room with the boys and went for an evening ride and soaked up the amazing scenery! Ded.
Sleep-in with a couple of laps on the Lo Barnechea activity park, trying to get used to 3000m altitude as quick as possible.
Keeping it local. Sam and his Rotorua-bred Zerode Taniwha. Photo: Sven Martin
Stage 1 started right outside our house - hola hola. Got on the bikes with the lads and headed to the gondy, first stair section on the way claimed Joe's tyre and we were one man down before even getting on the gondola. Stage 1 was open, fast and drifty as. I managed to slide over on two loose corners, bitta "wholley hecka I’m actually in Chile riding my bike" kinda nerves.
Photo: Sven Martin
Headed up to Stage 2, 11km of downhill that actually doesn't have a climb. Biking down thinking to myself wowwoweewow what a track, before getting to the last section where I toppled over in the rocks - luckily not hurting myself - but smashing my frame, stem, and wheel. Wowoweewow what the fudge? Big, sudden wake up call. Luckily the only thing that was immediately stuffed was my stem. I found a replacement for Stage 3 prachy then headed home to catch up on a lot of admin.
Another perla of a day, scoffed down some eggs on toast before jumping in the car with ze bike and Liam. We stopped by at Cody Kellys to pick up a new stem, whacked it on and was good to go for the day.
Chilly winds on the lift and yarns with Jamesy boy on the way to Stage 4. Watched a photographer in a red jacket taking stills of pinners on a wall ride, he then moved from his safe spot onto a liaison road and was quite promptly bof'd in the back by a rider at speed. I saw his camera fly at least 5 metres. Luckily everyone got up. Got onto riding bikes and the tracks were running mint - another day of fast loose and bouldery tracks. Stayed on my broken wheel from yesterday (I wanted to save my race wheel) and fully fudged it down Stage 5 losing the tyre off the rim completely. I chucked a tube in (thanks Liam) and finished the stage still on the same rim. Back up the hill, chucked a fresh wheel on and boosted Stage 6. Thoughts: Stage 6 is going to take out half the race, rock bombs everywhere. Caught up with the kiwis for some chinwags before boosting back Valle Nevado to spruce the race rig up, and down some chicken sammies.
10am check in and 12.30pm Stage 1 start time (due to time delays) made for a pretty relaxing entry into the first bit of serious racing for the year. I was teamed up with a stella crew - Kiwis, Loui Harvey, Charlie Murray and Jake Paddon along with Shane from America (the guy whose room I’d broken into earlier in the week). Stage 1 was loose and drifty - I took a reserved approach to avoid any misshaps and got down clean.
Photo: Sven Martin
We caught the chair up to Stage 2 with a small push in between and then right into the biggest/longest stage the EWS has ever run. It started with rocky park type track, then changed to more natural terrain part way down, picking up speed in wide open sections and finishing with a very technical tight rocky section followed by tight switch backs (this part destroyed most people's race).
Photos: Sven Martin
My hands gave up half way down the stage and nurse mode engaged. Crawl mode was unlocked for the final section. Big ol’ pedal up to Stage 3. We were rewarded with a shorter final stage with wide blown out corners and rocky park sections - pretty satisfying getting to the bottom with no spills for the day. Riding into 65th. Sleep mode engaged.
Slightly earlier start and everything running on time today made things feel a little less faffy. Headed up to the day's first stage with the crew and had a skid off comp at the top for the media squids. A couple of the riders nearly ruined their day in the process - true enduro spirit right thur. Stage 4 was fast with minimal pedalling and enough bumps to vibrate your eyeballs. I came into the top section in true kamakazi style and just held on luckily, riding the rest of the stage with quite a bit more control. I had a good singletrack liaison to Stage 5 with a minimal rest period before heading down the steep switchback, off camber track. Had a lotta fun managing to stick on line most of the way down and bring the back wheel back from the brink of wash out a fair few times. The same big ol’ liaison again today that we had to Stage 3 yesterday, except now we had an extra pedal, chairlift and hike-a-bike to 3600m for the final Stage 6. This again had a mixture of everything that a loose, rocky, dusty mountain could provide.
Photo: Sven Martin
I rode well down this stage and felt like I was having a goodie until I hit a tight corner quite a bit too fast and washed the front out right underneath me, twisting the bars in the process. After fixing ‘er up I jumped back on and finished up the stage cleanly. Bummed about that last hickup to what could have been a crash free weekend, but then found out I had ridden into 50th and things seemed a lot better ayo. Sloth mode engaged, followed by rushed pack mode, intensified by lost passport panic.
Found my passport at 1am (in my bike box), went to sleep for two hours and woke up at 3am to travel to the airport with Shane (remember, the guy's house I broke into). Came across a search party on the way down looking for a man lost on the hill, not ideal as it's pretty chilly at night. Got to the airport at 4.10am with more than an hour to kill so we headed back into Santiago for a McDonalds mission. Bad fail in the drive-through when we couldn't overcome the language barrier and were ignored even though we took multiple laps around trying to place orders. Hah jokes on them, body’s a temple anyway Maccas. Filled up the car and bought a Coke, that I decided to drink whilst I was driving. To my surprise what I thought was the motorway was not the motorway and just as I was opening the Coke a speed bump popped up out of the dark and we hit it at 80. Coke was now everywhere, but the steering wheel grip was unreal. We got back to the airport. Got the car ticked off (somehow ) and joined the rest of the EWS riders at the airport for check in. Got on the flight completely pooped, but watched movies the whole way as per usual. A guy fainted next to me on the plane - drama followed. We sorted him out with water and juice and the lucky bugger was upgraded to business. The whole EWS squad landed in Bogota, Colombia way behind time for our connecting flights, so all 50 of us had to run through the airport, loosing two frenchies along the way - lucky they found us again just in time for the connecting flight. The plane to Manizales from Bogata was filled entirely with EWS riders, and as expected there were absolutely no bikes when we landed, haha. An hour filling forms and Shane and I were back on the road in search of Maccas, but had to settle for Subway before spending another two hours finding our accom as Colombia likes to have many streets with the same name and numbers. Found it, still no bike. Beer item earned.
Chur Sven, as always, for the banger photos.
Early start for packing and taking the bike into Bike Culture for a tune up and some fresh rubber. Spent a wee bit too long there before heading over to Keegan Wright's house, chucked him and his gear in the surf (ute) and boosted out of Rotorua bound for Wellington. DJ Keegs kept things entertaining and we made it to the Ferry bang on departure time, jumped into my good mate Matt Miller's van (the BFM) and got on the Ferry to bridge the gap to the South Island. In three hours we managed to solve most of the world's problems and then made our way to Liv Bishop's house in Blenheim to crash on the floor for the night.
Photo: Duncan Philpott/NZ Enduro
Big ol' sleep-in on the floor with a couple of visits/face licks from Ruge (the Bishop's family dog). Made a smoothie with all the healthy stuff for Matt and I and have never seen a smoothie give someone the shivers before (must have been delicious) alongside some duck eggs from the Bishop's ducks. All three of us jumped in the van and headed to Whites Bay for race rego.
Nate Hills grabs pre-race coffees from Liv Bishop. Photo: Photo: Boris Beyer/NZ Enduro
Registered up, jumped in the ocean, jumped on the bikes and headed up to stage one. Yarns on yarns with familiar and new faces is what's good about the rides between stages. On the way up my pedals came loose so I gave 'em a tighten. Got to the top of stage one, loose again. Tighten. Rode 50m, loose again. Put dirt in thread, tighten. Stayed tight finally. Stage one was rowdy with a million wet roots going in every direction, no traction and corners without catches. I love this kind of riding!
Photo: Cameron McKenzie
The second half of the stage was super pedally, not so much a fan of that. Pedals - loose again. Took it to B-Rad, Oh sh$t my cranks were on the wrong way around. Never making that mistake again.
Photo: Richard Goldsbury
Stage two was a straight downhill track with a bit of slick and a bitta catch berms, fun fast and slippery. Good way to finish day one of racing. Back to Whites Bay for food and beers. Sitting 5th overall.
Photos: Duncan Philpott/NZ Enduro
Slightly better smoothie today, Matt made his own this time. Nydia Bay day, we were shuttled to the top of stage one where Elvis and his disco ball sent us off for the start of day two.
The Chris Burr and Brenda Clapp 'send off' at the top of Stage One. Photo: Boris Beyer/NZ Enduro
This track was tight and fast. Very hard to ride fast as there was a lot of vegetation and line of site was short in most places. Towards the end there were some hard pedals and you really had to dig deep to keep speed, or just run.
Photo: Tony Hutcheson
Stage two was a lot more fine with slick rock gardens and cheeky highlines all over the place. I got caught out straight away and had to run the first section, but got the hang of it after that, just letting the bike move around on the slick rock surface. Got to the bottom and old m8 Charlie Murray was getting a jab as he had swallowed a wasp and got stung in the mouth, must have gave him a kick as he was second overall on that stage! Lunch break at Nydia Bay for venison burger snackies and chinwags. Then off on a big ol' liaison.
Exiting Nydia Photo: Boris Beyer/NZ Enduro
Stage three was my favourite of the day, just a steeper version of stage two and then the final stage was open and down the whole way so you could really fire it up. Sitting 3rd overall.
Sam Gaze wins South Africa World Cup, Anton Cooper 6th and Ben Oliver 2nd U23. Good start to the morning, thanks for that boys. Headed up Wakamarina Road to find a couple of Helis picking people up with their bikes to head to the top of stage one.
Photo: Boris Beyer/NZ Enduro
Had a wee dip in the river, a chai latte (thanks Liv) and jumped on the heli to start off the first stage, awesome!
Photo: Digby Shaw/NZ Enduro
Stage one was super slick and impossible to hold a line so it was just foot out no brakes and commit to the corners. Pretty dam fun, except there was this big climb somewhere in the middle which was damn unfun. Hike a bike to stage two, this stage was the highlight of the race. Entered the stage and saw Connor Mcfaralane off in the bushes somewhere (wrong turn), sent it into a rooty section, getting caught up losing my grip, hands off the bars, did a Richard Goldsbury and otb, got up quick and straightened the bars back up, boosted off and crashed again and Connor came past.
Photo: Tony Hutcheson
Rode with Conner in a two man party train for the next couple of minutes until he stopped to let me through. It just kept going! A never ending trail of steep rooty sections and tight switchbacks. What a track! Got to the end with armpumpanitus and dead brakes. Stage three was also sick and super fast with a techy bog rut section and a couple of rock sections towards the end. Got a cheeky inside on the guy in front. Finished up, had a beer and went for a dip, what a race! Couldnt be more happy to find I had moved into second place overall. Just pipping Joe Nation by 0.4 of a second with Jerome Clementz taking the win. Headed to Picton and blew all my phone data streaming the XC world cup.
Photo: Digby Shaw/NZ Enduro
All day travelling back to Rotorua getting back at 10pm and straight into an hour and a half of work :(