THE DIRTY TRILOGY HOPS BASED FINALE: GEARS & BEERS
For the third and final episode of the Dirty Trilogy saw us hit the roads of Wagga Wagga for an event that has gone strength to strength with every passing year. The crew from the Gears & Beers Festival invited us up to take on both the Rapha Dirty 130, and the Filthy 50. After the more daring terrain of Ol Dirty in episode 2 it was a welcome sight, but would still come with its own hurdles by way of distance, pace and busted knee.
Benno, Nick and the crew from Washington Cyclisme teamed up to light up the roads all weekend long, our first big collaboration with the red hot border crew within the catchment of Soup Boys Regional HQ in Victoria’s High Country.
I: PARADE DAY
Inner Melbourne was a buzz with Grand Final fever, a quiet pocket of Flemington matching it with a frenzy of excitement of its own. Last minute preparations and kit choices were being carefully considered and plucked from the wardrobe with the weekends forecast in mind, a once over and ticking off of a mental to do list ensuring any spares left lying around were included, and nothing important was forgotten. If there’s three things Wagga is known for its the Canola, crows and it’s icy cold mornings, so caution was demonstrated in what winter gear was taken, and constraint was shown in the amount of mesh panelling selected.
With the “Poorier” soon running out of rego, Nick needed a new steed to comfortably cart both people and bikes vast distances. A roadworthy and keys obtained late the night before, a shiny new old Pajero was ready to hit the Hume, some last minute post Race To The Rock dental work courtesy of GPG’s Ming (Melbourne’s Hottest Dentist 2016-incumbent) ensuring Nick would have teeth and what was left of his legs to complete something that most people train for.
II: WASHINGTON CYCLISME NOT SO 130
Around 50 people gathered outside the millennial pink facade of Washo’s store, ready to take on a Dirty-Not-So-130. Acting as a warm up of sorts for the weekends main event on the Sunday, it was the perfect precursor.
A bunch rocking almost too much flanno for Grand Final weekend took on two loop options: short game being led by Washo (who had to return to shop duties early on) or the longer game with Connor. The ride head out south of Wodonga, taking in similar kinds of roads to their weekly rides, and those that form part of the extensive network of hidden gems that helps shape Washington Cyclisme’s flagship event – Ronde Van Washington.
Back at the shop riders, better halves and locals alike enjoyed fresh morning coffees – whether you’re on your way to Victoria’s High Country or passing through Wodonga on your way through to/from Melbourne, stop by and say g’day. They have trendy shit, and the store is damn pink, its impossible to miss.
III: DRIVE IN TO RIDE OUT
The goal of making it to Wodonga for the roll out of the Soup Boys x Washington Cyclisme shop ride was quickly dashed after a failed alarm, a cruise up to see Washo and the lads replaced the Dirty-Not-So-130 hitout. Like ships passing in the night, both Ben and Nick missed each other twice, leaving them to eventually reconvene the following morning.
An afternoon arrival into a sunbathed Wagga Wagga greeted Nick and Claud, both opting for a short ride into town to check out the registration village and grand final screening in the middle of town. Upon their departure a small runaway child would instantaneously wreak havoc, the mishap leaving Claud second best, most of the gravel from the Wagga Memorial Gardens now lodged in her knee.
IV: MAKERS MARKET
A new addition to the Gears & Beers weekend was the formally informal #DirtyEve at the Thirsty Crow. Bringing Australian frame builders and frame purvers together, it allowed people to talk shop on tyre widths, paint schemes, deposits and credit card numbers, all while sinking beers until they were tapped out.
V: SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY
In typical Wagga fashion, the mercury was barely creeping above 2 degrees, forcing Nick’s hand into the use of arm warmers and thermal gloves. Despite the weather leading to crowds upon crowds of shivering bodies, the centre of town the morning of the Dirty 130 is always a buzz, baristas slinging coffees doing what they could to help keep cores warm.
At the back of the field were some of Sydneys finest in Pete and Hot Brad, both sharing last minute laughs of nervousness. As if he hadn’t cashed in all of his mechanical luck during the cyclocross season, Brad was going hard by running some Vittoria Corsa’s. Not often the first choice of those heading off to do a gravel ride, they are as famously thin as their odd’s for puncturing before the end of the first gravel secteur.
As soon as the muffled voice over the PA wrapped up their briefing and welcome message, like a cross race the whistle blew and we were off down Fitzmaurice Street for the processional first few kilometres out of town. An easy past out of North Wagga was enjoyed on the bitumen as the temperatures slowly began to creep north, the bunch stretching out and flowing nicely as we followed roads heading out of North Wagga. At the head of it were two regular hitters – Alby and BonBon, up the front, controlling the pace, and eyeing off the unofficial GC title.
Once we left the blacktop and onto the first section of gravel, out of the dusty haze emerged Washo and the Hot Wheels crew. A pain train doused in flames included Connor, Tilly, Lachie and Ben; Luke and Graeme tagging on for the laughs and revolutions as all hell broke loose on that first gravel secteur.
VI: SPORTS NUTRITION AWARD
The nutrition along the Dirty 130 route is always varied, but one thing that can be guaranteed is a glorious spread put on by the fine folk of the Coolamon Rotary Club. Staked out at the halfway point of the ride and a stones throw from the pub, kilos of fruitcake, boxes of fruit and aluminium trays filled with regional NSW industry standard Anzac biscuits all glistened in the sun as riders pulled up for a well deserved rest break.
Once you were back out on the road you had to get a little more creative with it, Connor proving he had the smarts with a musette with Pringles for the AM, and a cheeky little hand grenade to signal 12 noon.
VII: BIKE OF THE BUNCH AWARD
The weather was warm and the gravel dry, but through some sections you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you saw thin trickles of mud. Chances are they would have been caused by Graeme’s incredible Legend by Bertoletti/Campagnolo collab machine. Sporting all the latest standards and go fast bits, the drool of riders passing by would make some of these gravel secteurs just a little bit trickier for those behind them.
VIII: ROLLING DEEP
The notorious Hatwell’s secteur of gravel awaited us as we began our last push back towards Wagga. Rated one of the harder secteurs of the day, prizes were on offer for the best Strava times posted. If that wasn’t enough motivation to push you towards the final few metres of gravel, the swooping magpies that often perched themselves in the trees on the chicane like corners would.
One of the nice things about the Gears & Beers Dirty 130 is that as you start making your return to Wagga – climbing up through the university, dropping down the other side and coasting back through North Wagga – you’re joined by riders taking on the other routes. It gives you a chance to catch up and roll the last few kilometres with friends and family who might be doing the shorter options, or get taunted by kids in their early teens who are gliding along while you’re well and truly shelled from the mornings exercise. In our crews case: the Filthy 50. Claude, Alex and Anna ticking each kilometre off after a much more reasonable wake up call. Particularly impressive was Claude pushing through the loop, given most of the Memorial Gardens path was still lodged in her knee.
You’re welcomed back into Wagga proper the same way you left it, back over the Murrumbidgee River, this time left onto Fitzmaurice and a casual roll up to the finish of the ride, and the start of the festivities. Shout out to the Gears & Beers gang for inviting us along, thats four in a row now, every year it keeps getting better.