A FEW GEARS, #MOREBEERS
The first volume of The Dirty Trilogy took place a month prior at the Hells 500 Ol' Dirty #freshinourmemories – so with October welcoming us with warm, open arms it was time to get dangerously close to Sydney and visit Wagga Wagga for volume 2 & the Gears & Beers festival. The showpiece event? The Rapha Dirty 130, an event we enjoyed so much last year it was penciled in for round two pretty early on in the piece.
I: THE YEEZY WAY
From the cities of Melbourne and Sydney, Rapha was hosting a bunch of death-defying-effed-up-long-and-mostly-flooded transfer rides, which are well and good if you're into that kind of vibe. We still wanted to make a weekend of it all and not completely bury ourselves so visiting an old friend (Hume Highway) all aboard a german panzer-chariot was the order of the day. Our first visit among the countless landmarks scattered along the iconic route? Nothing but the mediterranean surrounds of Glenrowan McDonalds, basking in the glow of street lights and misty rain. Apple Pie's and San Pel were purchased, exam study notes revised upon in the car park, and Adrian even caught some fans snapchatting us by the counter. Seems our fanbase is spreading.
It wouldn't be a Hume Highway Transfer if we didn't have a quintessential playlist, this time the vibe shifted as borders were crossed. Whilst we were in Victoria the vibe was a combination of chill vibes (#), trips down memory lane combined with a few contemporary certified bangers.
The reason only snacks were consumed at Glenrowan McDonalds was because Adrian secretly organised the dinner hook up courtesy of his nonna. As we stepped through the door a big ol' dish filled with polpette, numerous salads and danish was ready for the taking. Okky however made the mistake of only eating one superhuman sized plate worth of food, drawing an interrogation from the esteemed chef.
"But you only had one plate of food? Maybe it's just because you don't like it very much?! (x10)"
Once we crossed into the border, to the absolute second the playlist immediately changed significantly, accompanied by Dean's official "effin' good" seal of approval. A mix of hella b-sides guided us through the last 2 hours into Wagga as our German panzer-chariot waded through flooded, death defying waters. So when you think about it, our transfer was just as hard as the folks at Rapha. No?
II: BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
A late arrival into Wagga in the middle of a downpour, followed by familiarising ourselves with the surrounds of our accomodation Casa d'Estella meant that a late wake up call would follow. Agenda for the morning was simple – visit the local bicycle retailer to buy spares and tools that we left at home, and hit a breakfast spot. Despite being a country town, Wagga has quite a few offerings but it wasn't a hard decision albeit one enforced by Adrian at around 1am that morning.
"Dean, dude I want to go to the Blessed Bean for breakfast too but I accidentally matched one of their baristas on tinder last night so I can't show up mere hours after the fact at risk of the cops being called. We're going to Trail Street."
So, just in case you hadn't gathered...Trail Street Coffee Shop was the pick of the morning with its typically caribbean turtle table numbers and logotype forged from pure Cayman Gold Bullion. A duo of bacon and egg rolls for some, while Adrian made sure he didn't accidentally order bacon for breakfast for about the tenth time. So porridge and fruit, caffé latte (not pictured) brewed by a member of the junior national team. We didn't catch his name as he was way too fast for us.
III: DIRTY SOUTH
The Dirty 130 belongs to North Wagga and beyond, so Saturday called for a venture into the dirty south. Through a weird knack of local knowledge Adrian guided the babby gruppo out of town via the "scenic" Mt Austin climb, and along Plumpton Rd, dropping folk at the country club with relative ease. It wouldn't be long before we would hit the first of numerous bicycle creek crossings for the weekend – this one in Rowan. Once crossed safely we wound our way out of town via the first of a few mini gravel secteurs to help fine tune out skills for the big day that would follow. Along the roads headed south we ascended idyllic grassy knolls to chase flocks of sheep, ripped enough gravel skids to wear that wax coating off some of our new tyres, and took some major whiffs of that dank canola. Okky came to the Riverina with the single goal of seeing canola (kind of weird goal tbh) and it was after all of about 10km before he could tick that off. Despite this he decided that he wouldn't be turning back and heading for home, and chose to spend the rest of the weekend with us. Bless.
The not quite half way mark, but the turn around point was the Mangoplah Hotel. Culturally significant in that for the second year running it has played host to Soup Boys watching the first half of the AFL Grand Final. Also culturally significant because of that decadent roof, which was under actual construction during the first half of last years AFL Grand Final. Upon noticing we tipped our caps not hats to the publican in acknowledgement of his fine work. Despite our best intentions he watched over us like a hawk as we cheered on the slightly more muscular sons of the west between sinking tins and eating chips. No doubt confused by the 3 lycra louts he found in his fine establishment. Half time struck and once Jonesy had a chance to tinker with his cleats we were back on our way – see you again next year for the first half.
Local knowledge kicked in again on the way home as a quick detour was made via Maxwell. What greeted us was a section or secteur of gravel road that encapsulated all that was great about the Riverina, or specifically riding bicycles through the Riverina. There was more sheep upon grassy knolls, canola in its various stages of growth and approximately ZERO TRAFFIC. We took absolute advantage, someone had to.
Before too long we came to the second and third creek crossings for the day, certainly not for the weekend. Well, not technically creek crossings but the flooding rains of the previous week and a bit had turned small puddles into just that. With the Rapha transfer ride gods looking down on us, attempts were made to ride across these creek (let's just call them river) crossings however the earth beneath the surface was much too soft, swallowing tyres with absolutely no mercy. With the next required turn in sight we had absolutely no choice.
Once we resumed our journey on bikes, not walking...sorry WADING through water, specifically bikes on tarmac the end was certainly heavy on the mind. Aero tuck along the corridors of canola fields were initiated as we lead out trained, or solo bunchied our way back to Wagga, sure to dodge the potholes along the road that the esteemed publican of the Mangoplah Hotel described as if they were a badge of honour on the town.
Having been away from a television since half time, it was rolling back into town – fittingly along Adrian's old street that we found a group of future Soup Boys no older than ten kicking the football out on the street. With what remained of our voices we asked the all important question: who won the AFL players sprint at half time?
"Boys! Who won? Stop kicking the damn ball and tell us who won!"
(Children, in euphoric unison) "The Doggies!!!"
*Various Expletives, Wolf Howls & Dog Barks*
⇑ Jonesy and his deserved beers Hero Shit.
⇓ An Exhausted Okky Vol. 1 – Driveway of Casa d'Estella Edition.
IV: THE CULINARY DELIGHTS OF FITZMAURICE STREET
Much like the available choices for breakfast, Wagga has numerous offerings when it comes to decent dinner spots. This time it would be a little easier as Adrian promised to stay off Tinder and thwart any potential culinary experiences. Instead it would be the 70 or so Rapha Transferers seeking a meal at the Duke Hotel that would put up a blockade on our desired pub parma. Enter the Thirsty Crow. Now in its new premises just a few doors down from aforementioned pub it served up our first course – Dean so hungry and eager that he wasn't able to keep his hands still enough for a 1/500 photo of the divine fare.
Pork Belly – rated as "best Pork Belly ever".
Fig & Pig Pizza – 9/10
2AM Kebab Pizza – 9/10
Fries x3 – rated as "bette than KFC".
1 Lemon Lime & Bitters, 2 Cokes
Pizza didn't quite fulfil Dean so we immediately head across the street to a KFC that had either been ransacked, or played host to the Bulldogs cheer squad afterparty (trashed). Either way Dean and his second, or main course went a long way to providing him with the sustenance every growing boy needs.
1 cup of KFC chicken – awarded "smart choice award October 2016"
A handful of 2 day old chips – gastro/10
But it wouldn't be long before was longing for more. Following on from a quick chat with some of the Sydney Rapha Transferers in the middle of Woolworths, chicken cup in hand Dean led the way as we stockpiled breakfast, tomorrow on the bike, and dessert supplies.
1 bag of pitted dates – flawless victory tbh
1 box of six muesli bars – replenishing the pantry of Casa d'Estella
18 of the shittest jam donuts of all time ($9) – don't talk to us about it/10
V: NOT A WAGGA SHOW BAG
The Wagga show was wrapping up when we were last in town to race the Wagga to Albury, but as far as Riverina showbags come this at least sits third (1st being almost anything from the Henty Field Days, 2nd belonging to a Bertie Beetle bag from the Wagga show). King of flat lays Dean took care of this one for us – sorry we couldn't fit everything in, we all shoot with prime lenses (#pro).
Rapha Race Number – in signature bright Rapha pink, buttons to work with RCC Jerseys, pins provided to those who haven't purchased theirs off eBay yet. Unable to match his feat of getting 06 last year, Adrian fell 11 short of his next goal. Maybe next year.
Rapha Bottle Opener/Not a knuckleduster – considering San Pellegrino is screw top, we're not sure if there is much of a point in us owning this. Initially we thought they were actually a weird set of knuckledusters, but after a brief spar in the backyard of Casa d'Estella with cut up fingers we realised this wasn't the case.
Boosta Bars – made especially in either nut flavour, of with extra nuts, just for Adrian. For Dean, Okky and any others that wouldn't die from such a treat, they would provide important sustenance in the morning.
Top Tube Sticker – provided key information regarding the gravel sectors, and the all important Hartwells sector which had prizes on offer. Much nicer than anything hand written or produced with Times New Roman, and helping the Dirty 130 move towards the South Hemispheres Strade Bianche.
Wagga Wagga Brochure – cover photo by the fabled Beardy McBeard from last years event, it provided a map of the town (useless thanks to #localknowledge and friends) and emergency contacts (also useless as Adrian wasn't in the mood to eat a cycling bar made entirely of cashews).
Course Map – Also useless as the blessed rains that had hit the Riverina meant that the roads were at least somewhat under water. Replacing the map was the simple line "The Course Is Flooded, Now It's An Adventure". In short we were fucked.
Festival Band – with the death of Stereosonic still fresh in our memories (never forget) this would be the most prized festival band of the year. Yes, year. Coloured in safety orange to represent the amber ale we would be enjoying Sunday afternoon, and saving us the $20 entry fee we slept with these under our pillows.
Cap Not Hat – designed in London with a les exclusives print not too dissimilar to one of Rapha's Liberty print, the cap would be donned during or after the ride as a beacon of personal achievement. Or to save your bald head from sunburn.
Matchy Match Bag – an important element of a show bag is of course the bag itself. This one, also designed in London (England) matched the cap not hat and complimented the bright pink race number quite nicely. They were utilised perfectly during random jaunts around town, and will act as perfect market run bags in the future.
VI: THE GOBBAGOMBALIN DAWN TT
Opened in 1997, its 1.2km long and approximately absolutely pancake flat. It is the Gobbagombalin Bridge. Acting as the perfect link between Casa d'Estella and the rest of Wagga, and widely utilised as a commuting route by Adrian for a couple of early university years it played host to a brief daybreak warm up (50x11). Particularly handy this weekend as North Wagga (the only other way into town from the north) chose to spend the weekend mostly under water. We promise to host races along here during future visits, hopefully the river breaks its banks and provides us with such a view once again.
VII: THE DIRTY 130
Rego the previous day was at the Riverina Museum/Gallery/Library/Memorial Gardens, and it would be facing northbound on the adjacent bridge that we would begin our Dirty 130 journey. The cops heard we were in town and were searching for us far and wide, so decided not to show up for our escort down the main street and out of town. We were in plain sight, we will pay less rego next time. Under the echoing boom of the commissaire riders gathered their thoughts or warmed fingers under their breath before time was time to roll out.
The Dirty 130 begins with an immediate turn right into North Wagga, over the river and into immediate, warmly welcomed sunlight. Weaving through the rural streets that almost resemble a Grand Theft Auto country town we dodged big puddles and semi flooded roads on our way north, first through Estella, the Estella Heights, then finally onto the Gap Rd. The pace was brisk, allowing for riders sans warmers to keep the legs ticking over and ready for attack. Having not missed the start this time around, Adrian approached the first gravel secteur with much, much fresher legs – but didn't account for the extremely effective defensive riding of three old timers who successfully blocked his line into the path of an oncoming paddock drain. Just like that Dean was off the front.
Dean spent the rest of the morning wondering how on earth he dropped Adrian so early in the day. Having spent the weekend sleeping on a couch 3 to 4 times too small had not done his legs any favours, so he figured that soon enough Adrian would rejoin him and they could blaze a trail to the finish together. Arriving in Coolamon, and whilst short lived...the Anzac biscuits at the rest stop were a goddamn life saver. Crumbling away in his hands as he made a break for a brisk pace line out of town he mustered all the strength of the Anzacs (Bruce would like that one) but sure enough, got popped out the back and entered no mans land. Rolling into Marrar, there was the chance to reflect upon how things might have been different had he picked up a second biscuit 15km previous. Latching on to the wheel of national treasure, multiple CX national champ Lisa Jacobs for the final secteurs of gravel meant that not only did Dean drop Adrian – but did so by 10 or so minutes. In his post race press conference he described "handing him a coke after he'd crossed the line dropped and bonked was one of the best feelings ever. The only problem I have now is that I don't have any photos myself from the day, event the mighty Spurlo Styles couldn't capture me as I drafted dangerously...I mean dropped Adrian close to the commissaires car on the first descent."
Following on from being nearly thrown into a paddock, Adrian briefly tipped his aero helmet to resident Wodonga legend Washo and took off in chase of Dean. Managing to dodge another old timer doing his best Dan Martin LBL impersonation into the washed out rocky corner of the second secteur, he rolled into Coolamon out the front of a weird bunch that wouldn't allow a turn any longer than 200m. Anzac biscuits held the very real risk of nuts so watermelon and bananas were happily consumed amongst the roar of an XPT train (gotta hand it to NSW, their trains have the superior paintjob tbh). After a bunch or three of bananas it was back on the road to Marrar where low and behold Adrian ran into a familiar face. It was during the previous years event, along the exact same stretch of road that Ben and Adrian had latched onto the back of a small bunch of Sydneysiders being led out by Mr Flandrians of the Blue Mountains. Exiting Coolamon, albeit this time rolling solo, the same chance meeting occurred amongst smiles and thumbs up. Whilst initially Adrian went to hit the front and pull a turn, he ended up a few hundred metres off the front (future Tommy Voeckler ah-fuck-it breakaway specialist) before allowing himself to be caught back in Marrar. The remaining gravel secteurs were ridden switching turns together before in typical fashion Adrian completely Ryder Hesjedal'ed it going over University Hill. Not even the bar and three gels he consumed in a kilometre and a half of riding could save him from being dropped by 6 year olds on the 9km Gears & Beers ride. The descent down the other side, and a brief foray into the now almost completely flooded roads of North Wagga provided a breath of fresh air as he rolled into town to receive an important black doctor hand up from Dean.
As for Okky? Racing the guys on mountain bikes was his aim. Not completely dying his secondary aim. To his credit he achieved bot to the soundtrack of his phone blasting hella beats from his jersey pocket – much to the delight of passers by. At the end, he provided us with Volume 2 of An Exhausted Okky, the dank memorial gardens edition.
Group photos were taken as riders rolled in between 11.30am and noon, dirty bikes, battle scars and tall tales shared amongst friends both new and old. Following on from his award winning series from Melburn Roobaix, Dean grabbed his new camera and went about capturing some of the faces of the Dirty 130 in all their glory.
VIII: THE GEARS & BEERS FESTIVAL
It wouldn't be the Gears & Beers Festival without at least some kind of alcoholic involvement. Local brewers were on show to the left, local food vans to the right. Burgers and Hot Dogs were scoffed, hitting the spot before shade was quickly sought. Beer from our favourite alpine false flat (Dinner Plain) was sucked down, as was a couple of cones (ice cream) before the cover bands got just a little too much, and it was time to pack the panzer-chariot and head home. Work at 6am the next day beckoned.
IX: IN RETROSPECT
Sure it might take you dangerously close to Sydney, but there are so many reasons to visit the Riverina area even if it's just to bicycle ride. Despite the fact they were utterly wrecked from their efforts across the two days of riding, the participating Soup Boys offered brief post race shower thoughts on their weekend long experience. These kinds of raw insights from the gruppo don't come around all too often so savour them dammit.
"About 5km in a stray bidon came flying out of the bunch and almost straight into the spokes of my front wheel. Looking back I wish it had – I'm completely cooked. Now leave me to eat my milo cereal in peace."
"My race strategy of lacing the feed zone anzac biscuits worked a treat, Adrian wasn't able to refuel in Coolamon. He never caught up and now I can just add it to my long list of victories."
"Riding through fields of canola to over flowing crossings was something I'd never thought I'd see, this incredible weekend has been a reminder that a torn AC won't stop me from adventuring."
Whilst Adrian and Dean were busy snapping rides of WYMTA etc, Okky was sneakily throwing his iPhone 6s #RIPsteve around in Hi-Def video mode. We leave you with the result...a short piece of the weekends ridden roads as this websites video debut. The soundtrack? Claude Debussy's "La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin" – the weekends alarm track. Fitting and classic, kind of like Rapha's jerseys we guess.