CARIBBEAN CROSS '16
Way out in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, in the shadows of the Dandenong Ranges, lies a tropical oasis known as Caribbean Park. Sure it is an industrial estate playing host to the Diadora Factory Outlet, but it also is the home of #MCLCX, affectionately known as Caribbean Cross. The site of an ill-fated cyclocross debut for Adrian last season, it was his chance for retribution. This time around the crew was in tow to make sure the vibes were strictly tropical.
I: WARMING UP PART ONE
Across the globe and before the sun shows itself to mark the start of the day, Directeur Sportif’s worldwide are rising and shining in the early hours to prepare themselves for the often grueling routine of their role. They must show resilience, smarts, and maintain peak condition both mentally and physically. The DS of the Soup Boys, Harry is no different. In the quiet before the dawn he is preparing himself for race day with a hella tight playlist and a sound workout routine at the Olympia Gym. Today he may need to provide strength to pick up the morale of the team, or hoist Adrian atop his shoulders in the event of victory. He gives us an insight to the relationship between Directeur Sportif-ing and getting swole.
All parties and teams need a dominant leader. Whether it's Vlad Putin riding a wild bear into battle vs. Tony Abbott, or a cute teen who can squat 5 plates, the need to be on top of your physical and mental game can't be denied. Getting swole isn't necessarily first priority though, rather the mental fortitude that's gained while you're at the mercy of the steel perched on your shoulders. A skill that directly translates throughout life and into the seat of the Directeur Sportif.
Tom Platz says it best, "Every successful athlete - or businessperson - enjoys taking calculated risks. You have to. Especially in the gym when you're squatting 500 for reps and you can't get one more but grunt out ten. Your nose starts bleeding, you fall into the rack and that's set one."
II: CAFFE LATTE
Our morning destination was the rather elusive Monk Bodhi Dharma, located down an alleyway and at the back of a hidden carpark in the type of suburb that really should be west of the CBD, Balaclava. Once we had finally arrived, caffé lattes, long blacks and soy chai’s in Studio Ghibli type mugs were enjoyed as new Soup Boys met for the first time, and pre race day banter began to seep out from weary minds. Riche, who had just arrived home from a deep reconnaissance mission in the Swiss Alps threw up some dust Soup Boys throwies in the name of typography on our way out and we were on our way.
III: PARK UP
Whilst we weren’t really running late, as surprising as that may sound, the carpark had well and truly filled up by the time we had arrived at the course. That was with the exception of a nicely shaped space in the centre of it all. As a cycling team that always zigs instead of zagging (or should it be the other way around) we bucked the trend of parallel parking, instead taking inspiration from the country towns we have spent so much time in recently, parking up how we liked – at a close to 45º angle.
IV: THE CHILLOUT TENT
It wouldn’t be the Caribbean Cross without The Chillout Tent now would it? Initially we had the muscle on the door but with the help of thehardside we soon realised the crowd was filled with nothing but tropical energy, so soon the attention shifted towards something vastly more important: chilling. A blue tent to match the primary colour of the SBC, one that took inspiration from the blue waters of the Caribbean, and one that matched the flag of the Cayman Islands (it is not time to explain that reference yet). Inflatable Palm Trees, cardboard boxes fashioned into Persian rugs, and a bucket of San Pellegrino, Bundaberg Peachee, gels and fresh fruit. The second last corner, a child of a Soup Boys x Admiral x RMIT Cycling collaboration was officially titled Cayman Corner, offering up a prime spectating, or napping in the sunshine position. Only to get bigger and better with each year.
V: A WORD FROM THE DS
He put the hard work in before the sun was up, but Harry had been focusing on this specific date for a while now. Channeling the vibe of an 80’s boxing coach, he was kind enough to meet us in the forest behind the course for a quick chat about Adrian’s C Grade prospects for the day.
VI: WARMING UP PART TWO
The morning of the race couldn’t have gone any more smoothly for Adrian. Running off 3 hours sleep thanks to a late night of work, followed up with a breakfast of a Monk Bodhi Dharma caffé latte and a Coles bought gel, he had worked his way down to the perfect C Grade race weight. Add to this a quarter lap warm up, almost forgetting to pin his race number on, then almost missing the start all together with Ron meant that they would both start the race at the back of the grid in a field almost 60 men deep.
VII: CHASING C GRADE GLORY
Being interviewed by our wonderful host for the day Dan Wilkins of MCL, Adrian and Ron voiced their pre race predictions via Periscope mere moments before the lights went out and the racing was under way. For Adrian, the goal was to make it further than the half a lap he managed before a rear derailleur decided to blow itself up, ending his race and ultimately the rest of his season. For Ron, he would be happy to make it a lap without spewing. Both goals that at the time would have been considered incredibly unlikely, fortunately that was not how it would unfold.
Under the watchful 200mm digital eye of Ben Lehner, through the sea of cheering on Cayman Corner, and past the jeer of Wilko on the mic by the finish line, both Ron and Adrian worked their way through the field. Ron would aim to follow Adrian’s wheel and lose him out the back corners later, whilst Adrian became lost amongst the sea of MAAP skinsuits, foolishly refusing a San Pellegrino handup in the final few laps when it was probably quite required. In the end Adrian would finish 8th, 3 minutes behind the winner and outsprinted on the line by a guy he had already lapped. Ron came in just short of a lap behind in 30th, cheeky vom’s and San Pellegrino’s shared back at Cayman Corner before the attention turned to #content gathering and the snacks of champions.
VIII: SNACKS OF CHAMPIONS
Considering the calories burnt, and severe lack of calories consumed – it was the shiny caravan located by the Start/Finish line that offered itself up as destination of Snacks of Champions. With a sticker to remind you to love your mother, and a line long enough to call her and tell her just that, breakfast wraps and caffé lattes were consumed hot off the presses.
IX: SUPPORT RACES
The track had been in pristine condition for the showpiece event, the C Grade showdown – and now that it had been slightly worn by riders of lesser bike handling skills and speed, the support races could commence. Much like the Formula 1, the starting grid was filled with a plethora of sound bites. The weird headed tourist train click clacking its way past the track, the sound of shutters going off and #content being gathered, pre race heckling being shouted across the crowds, and Wilko providing the digital sphere with more Periscoped insights of the racing.
Under the watchful eye of the drone, oddly not supplied by us, the final race for the day got underway, the Mens B / Womens A collab race. Having multiple grades racing on course at the same time meant that spectators were always spoilt with action, and runs a lot smoother than you would think. On such a course which is super twisty, but nice and fast meant that you would have a chance to heckle your mates every three or four minutes.
Kern (ing); The process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Also the name of local Cycling Apparel Brand run by Mr Pantone GT.
Sandbagging; to deliberately underperform in a race or competition to gain an unfair advantage.
We are all about mates supporting mates. This includes supporting mates who, like us race bicycles in their very own designs. Ron repped a Kern Cycling skinsuit in the first race of the day, and Greg donned the skinny in the B Grade hit out, coming home and taking the win. With each lap and under the watchful eye of Harry atop Mount Olympus, we cheered louder as he and a number of others battled it out front before he finally came out on top by a few seconds. A solid and deserved victory? Absolutely, but we are also about supporting beef between mates, especially when it throws up the tantalising prospect of Andy Rogers v Greg Thorne beef. Hence the change.org petition and Royal Commission into the question of: “Is GT Sandbagging?” Will we get a second serving at Kings Cross in a few weeks time? Time will tell.