2017 FULL NATTY CX CHAMPS
Adelaide is the centre of attention come January, when the sun is beating down and the vibes are gg, but for the second year running (2016 playing host to a non-Mallorca training camp) the Soup Boys would reunite in the 5000, to warmly cuddle each other through the colder months. This time would be a little different, with a number of bæs in town, both local and from interstate. Put this on to set the mood; photos and intel for this one come from the Boys, the Bæs, our known associates and identified rivals. Andy, Alex, Lugo, Lana, Max, George – Blessed are you all. Truly always and forever.
I: DROPPING IN
In the darkness of a setting sun coupled with a raging storm, Adrian and Kip dropped themselves in behind the friendly lines of South Australia, thoughts of contesting the 2017 National CX Champs Cute Boy category the reasoning behind steely demeanours. The mission would be simple in principle, but difficult and death-defying to execute. Recapture and resurrect the glory days by bringing home some green and gold bands. For such a dangerous and thrilling mission, it was only apt that the place we would find ourselves gurning through a 45 minute battle would be Zombie Park.
While we received proper briefings from M back at Soup HQ, out in the field things are always a little rough and tumble, always unpredictable. For Kip, transit to Adelaide for bikes and friends had always been a cruel experience. On an intel-gathering mission earlier in the year, he was met with a storm that literally shattered the earth, the plane he was aboard unable to safely arrive at the LZ. It comes part and parcel with our line of work these near death experiences, but what would life be without one or two? Upon arrival at the bizarrely suburban Adelaide airport, two local operatives; Caz from Bombtrack Treadly Racing, and Andrew Theodore Rushdi Rogers from Speedvagen x MAAP – were there to welcome Kip, and escort him to the safe house. While they were unaware, during our flight we had received an important intel laced telegram that notified us of their true motives. The origin of the organisation they belonged to was never explicitly mentioned, but our suspicions were Russian; our memories being jogged by a recognisable Unicorn motif that we swear we remembered from old missions in Moscow. The telegram mentioned theft, sabotage and the suggestion that they could possibly be double agents; further fitting our narrative kept Kip on his toes. With their backs turned, Kip undertook a covert side mission to ensure that any sinister plot against the bæs would not be successfully executed. Commence a sabotage of their bikes, and their entire lives. Bleeding hydraulic brake cables in all cars and bikes, glitter in their washing machine, clots of human hair in every available household drain, all of which went unnoticed. Kip would await their reaction, but it would never transpire. These potentially Russian double agents simple continued being outrageously fantastic hosts in welcoming and briefing us.
II: NOT QUITE BROADSHEET
My Kingdom For A Horse
191 Wright Street, Adelaide CBD
High Qual. Caffé Lattes
Take home beans.
Extensive menu options
Warmth; the sweet, sweet warmth.
Colourful decor (including Cayman mural)
A favourite from Tour Down Under week (shout out to Papez for the tip off & introduction) My Kingdom For A Horse was the closest breakfast eatery to Zombie Park, discounting the OTR across the road from the course itself. The 14km warm up from the northern reaches of Adelaide had Adrian raring to go, the Israeli baked eggs and due caffé lattes provided nerve settling sustenance. An extensive menu is impressive, and it is a true exemplar of Melbourne vibes, right down to the colour blocked chairs.
III: FULL NATTY CHAMPS
Racing outside Victoria for the first time, Kip and Adrian rendezvoused with local informants Sam and Fi, as a strong bæ representation was matched with the vocal support of the ADL division of the Soup Boys. We retracted everything we said in Mount Beauty regarding how shit MAAP x Speedvagen & Bombtrack Treadly Racing’s tents were compared to ours, as we were on a covert operation, we couldn’t be peacocking all over the place when behind friendly lines.
CUTE BOYS (EXPERT MEN)
A briefing from M back at Soup HQ, and equipped with the latest technology by our newly announced sponsor Q-Branch had us raring to go, eyes firmly on the missile launch cod– sorry, green and gold bands. By the time the Cute Boy category (Expert Men) were up, the lengthy course had been shredded up just nicely by the Masters and Juniors. Things were good to go.
All things except Kip. Starting into a headwind, then turning right and onto an uphill drag blasted by a crosswind, Kip lost touch from the Lotto-Soudal-esque 1km to go looking lead out train. With JR of Rogers Bespoke at the bottom, Kip would hit the swing tree complex of the lap – arguably the hardest part of the course (it looks a hella lot steeper irl) – for a second time, offering himself up as a blood sacrifice to JR, who together with Satan would be able to harness the power of such a sacrifice in order to weld more delicious steel bicycle frames.
As for Adrian, a small slip in the annoying fusilli section of the course had him sitting mid pack of the just short of 20 rider field. It was a section that if dry was easy to ride, but since hella wet was nothing but a slosh fest through to the other side, bar for the single rock that he managed to slam his knee down onto. At half race distance and the wind starting to really fuck with other riders, he chose to pace himself – choosing Victorian C Grade rival-non-rival* Tom McQuillan in his distinguishable white jersey as his target.
*rival-non-rival on account of Tom is always at the pointy ends of Victorian C Grade races, but is lucky enough not to start at the back of the pack. With the lack of traffic related turbulence, Adrian sniffed an opportunity to stretch his legs against one of the states premier C Graders.
Getting as aero as possible as to hide from the wind behind Tubular Tommy Adrian hit the bell lap, well distanced from first but driven on by Kip screaming words of furious feedback from the sidelines. A mistake at the barriers affected things a little, as did a precarious abseil down the hill towards the apex of the swing tree (no Tarzan impersonation as was promised) but a strong final sector of the lap had Adrian back on Tom’s wheel as they rounded the final bend. Bronze was missed by a bike length, lap traffic and a slight skid on the exit of the final corner leaving Adrian in a gallant fourth, Victorians taking 2nd and 3rd. Having fully recovered, like a Lil Uzi Kip offered us his race thoughts, having finally regained his breath, scoffing it with rice cakes then rinsing and repeating; Adrian did the same.
"I could probably complain about the guy who stacked it in front of me and seemingly refused to get up while everyone went around us, or how my shiny new cleats were impossible to unclip with (Q Branch has a lot to answer for) but all those things would actually be my own fault. I didn’t have a super fun day racing truth be told. The coach chewed me out for it though, Adrian did a lot of screaming and sharp poking of his index finger on my chest behind closed doors. The phrase 'for queen and country' kept getting thrown around like it was in vogue. But that’s racing, you can’t expect not to get roughed up when you can’t lead out your team. A lil tirade every now and again makes you stronger, or so coach keeps saying."
– Kip, DNF
"Yeah full credit to the bæs, unfortunate I couldn’t bring it home.Time to get on the 600kg leg presses with the DS to help win these CX sprints. I had a pretty shocking start like always, maybe I should just do a HRT F1 and start from pit lane. That first corner wannabe holeshot thing followed by the long uphill drag to the north eastern corner of the course had my jaw feeling like I’d just double dropped not that I do. Fortunately I got back on, and after my little slip out I figured I’d just pace myself Froomey style, thats why I have the q-ring after all. All season I’ve seen that I can pace myself pretty well compared to everyone else, I just made the mistake of hinging all my bets on the sprint finish which I royally fucked. Good battle with Tom though."
– Adrian, 4th
FI DEFENDING HER TITLE
Yep, thats right. Not only did the VeloClub Soup Bæs CX manage to nab a whole host of real, definitely not fake sponsors, but we managed to lure a current Australian National Champ too, possibly something to do with our attractive pay packets courtesy of the Cayman Islands, and through lack of enforced salary cap. As this would be the race where she would defend her title, the bands would not be out in force as the rules stated. Instead, with matchy match nail polish (incredible). Having battled illness and a stronger desire to be swimming in tropical waters, it wouldn’t be back to back victories for Fiona, but she raced gallantly on a course that had been disgracefully chopped up by the Expert Men before her.
IV: ARTIST FEATURE
Sam was the final rider in the Bæs roster to hit the course for his race, standing as an ominous, and quite possibly the tallest figure in the under 23 Future Cute Boy category. It was also the racing debut of his recently hand painted Cannondale bike, such fine mastery did not go unnoticed, thus he is chapter 1 in what will be a sporadic but ongoing series known as the #Artist Feature.
“The paint job was inspired by that of the rattle can jobs coming out of Squid Bikes. Sick of the 15 or so Cannondale logos and the lime green and black I wanted something a bit different. The colours mistakenly taken from a states program default colour scheme were applied in various ways to the frame with fading and stripes, and finished off with detailing on the interior parts of the frame. You’ve got to have them all.”
With guys like Ben Walkerden and Adam Blazevic lining up in the same race, Sam was always going to have his work cut out for him, but with his younger brother as a carrot just up ahead, he pushed on to execute some mighty fine swing tree work. After the race in quite trying, much windier conditions he was still kind enough to offer the bulk of the Australian mainstream cycling media a few candid thoughts.
“Learnt a lot, lost a lot, gained a lot. Not bad this time, I’ll be better next time. Like it now but it will be better in the future.”
V: GREEN AND GOLD BANDITS
Positioned down at the swing tree, we lay witness to the Elite Women totally kill it. And by it we mean the most difficult part of the course (in our humble, experienced opinions). Too afraid to swing let alone ride down, Adrian stood on the sidelines in awe at the front runners gliding their way down and back up. Under the watchful eye of an awfully chilled out, wannabe Mowgli kid up a tree we cheered the riders on, some taking more tumbles than others, but still managing to do it with much more grace, poise and speed than us. At half race distance the stars aligned somewhat for Peta Mullens, turning a 20-odd second deficit to Nat Redmond in front to a 20-odd second lead, one which she would never give up. Such power on a single lap left us gobsmacked and further inspired to pursue a career as CX Bæs.
The Elite Men? Well, upon the first passing of the swing tree J Blood had a thirty second lead. Considering we didn’t have to pack up a team tent and navigate our way precariously out to a car to load it up into, we began discussing motivations to head home early, deeming that the winner had been decided.
A little further back however things weren’t all as they seemed. As he so often does Paul VDP turned it on for the locals before pulling the pin and ending up on the race commentary mic within a matter of seconds, a fine art. Jaw Fourth had his best race of the season, barnstorming his way through the field, and there were plenty of tumbles and incredibly daring overtaking moves to keep us well entertained. By the time we got back to the tent, it was the bell lap anyhow, so we were able to bare witness to J Blood cruising home by a mile – something that was potentially possible given the length of the course. He would retain the green and gold, its going to be interesting to see if anyone can come a little closer next year.
VI: ANTI-RECOVERY RECOVERY
To make up for what was a rollercoaster of a days worth of racing, we spoilt ourselves with a supreme cultural experience that evening. Dumplings, too many of them. Reminiscent of the time we had spent chasing bad guys wanting world domination (thats our goal to have thx) through the streets of Hong Kong and Shanghai, we ventured to Adelaide’s premier dumpling experience, ‘Dumplings R Us’ (truly). Washed down with a visit to the most classic of Australian pubs, the Exeter (Coopers and red tins only, no shaken Martinis), which we, through our mission briefing were told was the be all and end all of social melting pots. Having not exhausted ourselves quite enough, or procrastinating from reporting back to Soup HQ in the motherland, we finished the evening with ice cream and several cut throat games of BuzzWire. Hectic.
An evening that may sound innocuous enough, but let us tell you. To the boys or the bæs nothing is as plain as it seems. A truly winning combo of dumplings, beer and iced creme left us having to adjust our utility belts to allow for the stomachs mad gains. Like the impending doom of a satellite harbouring the power of the sun to destroy earth, the acquired gains lay dormant within us like a ticking time bomb – due to go off at around lunch time the following day. Was the world ready?
VII: IS THIS THE REASON BAMBIS MUM GOT SHOT?
Day two of racing. This day was a winner. The weather was god awful, but Soup Bæs of Melbourne & Adelaide braved it and got together at a cafe before racing. This is a tactic. Get together, don’t talk about the race at all, get your coffee orders lost by a Yung Pixie waiter clearly still buzzed from a generator techno warehouse party with glitter all over the place (from the washing machine??), miss any and all course reco, sit around for far too long and let your muscles culture and atrophy. Also we bumped into Lewis, Alex, Lana and Max. All good souls, it was a winning combo in the end.
VIII: REWIND, REPEAT
The dinner the night before, and the lazy brekky had us all in good spirits, and well nourished with the most incredible nutrients. Despite the presence of UCI and MTBA officials, they bypassed the pre-race dumpling gains testing, a good thing as with those ticking time bombs having snuck through undiscovered we would have surely flagged a huge positive and had our cover blown. Having arrived just minutes prior, our heart rates were high, and we were ready to race. With a three pronged attack on the cards thanks to the consolidation of the Yung Cute Boy and the Cute Boy categories, Kip, Adrian and Sam developed a rock solid team tactic. Normally we would charge an hourly rate to divulge this kind of intel, but as you’ve made it this far:
- Take it easy.
- No hammer drops
- No 6969w intervals or anything like that
Nervous pre race banter flowed throughout an amicable peloton. Jake from Bombtrack Treadly Racing was possibly dropping hints as to his true allegiances (we swear we picked up on a Russian accent here and there) by rocking a red and black skin suit. Despite the message it communicated: “Series Leader” all we could think of was that sinister unicorn motif, and the three letters: KGB. Before the whistle had blown, it was already deemed a victory for Babby Ockenden, the kid who mechanicalled on lap 1 in Bright, then still won anyway. Two corners in and the rest of the peloton was shouting Bon Voyage, we would see him at the finish line.
It was rainy, it was muddy, the heckling was a lot of fun. The small ponds around Zombie Park began rising as a result of the melting of nearby polar ice caps, and the course was becoming more and more treacherous with each and every lap. Lap one saw Sam slide out on an off camber corner to take out Jake, Prong 1. Adrian and Kip avoided that particular mess and continued on, civilians and local marshals providing Soup related heckling throughout the entire course. Pumpkin seemed to be the most popular choice…whats the Italian community like in Adelaide? From the sidelines Lana asked for our numbers. She didn’t get them – we were too busy busting our lungs, she probably already has them, but she gets herself a bonus prize: Best Heckle of The Day.
Sam recovered and surpassed both Kip and Adrian following his crash, he and the latter swapping positions a few times, fortunate not to perform a classic Rosberg v Hamilton re-enactment. With the iconic white jersey of Tom McQuillan up ahead, Adrian forged a solid gap between his team mate, pursuing sweet sweet revenge for the previous days sprint finish fuckup. Through the most mulchy part of the course Adrian would follow Tom’s wheel for the first time, discovering that this new line was incredibly slow through a lack of placed rubber. Next time through he would take his favoured line around the outside and attack for position. And it would work. A shut door on the exist, and a 420w effort to the following snake like complex meant a gap to his new rival was already gaping. Prong 2. The final prong would not come in the form of the busted derailleur of one of the Gravier kids, caused by a quick blast from Adrian’s wrist watch laser – but again to Jake. Thoughts of being lapped and DQ’ed Kip and Jake held hands together across the finish line in a defiant display of the struggle for power. Local media back home in both our respective cities would spin the story and accompanying photo different ways, but nobody could have predicted Prong 3. No indication was made to suggest that they had actually been disqualified, and it was in the ensuing mayhem that Kip gave Jake’s rear a smack and giddied him up into a competitive frenzy once more.
Adrian would go on to finish 6th, Sam a place behind, Kip just outside of the top 10. It was super fun, it was really muddy, there were a lot of beautiful moments with touchings of thrown elbows, smacking of butts and heckles. Which was fortunate for us, and others directly involved. Shit was about to go south.
IX: TROPICAL CYCLONE VERSACE
With the start of the womens racing, the weather took a major turn for the worse, and in retaliation of us revelling in it all, it just kept getting colder and windier and rainier and hailier(?) as the affectionately named Tropical Cyclone Versace rolled in to Adelaide.
In the toughest conditions of the day, the handful of womens grades battled for the best part of an hour through the mud, the hail and ice cold wind. Many were afraid to venture beyond the confines of their team tents, and the radar wasn’t showing any signs of it letting up. We livestreamed on and off, as our lack of courage, and underdressed selves were far too scared to head out into the weather.
The rather innocuous first two corners of the course began playing tricks on many of the riders as ruts that had been formed were hidden beneath a proper layer of standing water. Fans began waves of cheering and heckles as each rider came by, spurning on the women taking on conditions that Cute Boys just weren’t cut out for. We normally leave all this rough and tumble stuff for our beloved colleague Daniel.
Faces immediately after the checkered flag dropped were ones of supreme exhaustion, but with each competitor rolling across the finish line smiles began to grow, facial expressions showing great accomplishment. Faces covered in mud were cleansed somewhat by the holy rains, the baptismal cleanse coming before the dirty, sinful hour that would be the Elite Men. Some incredibly strong riders both athletically and mentally had just knocked it out of the park during the worst conditions of the season. Nothing in Victoria during our rather tropical CX season thus far could have prepared anyone for that.
X: SOUP BÆS DAY SPA
Elite Men as always (with the exception of Caribbean Cross, bless ‘em) would round out proceedings for the weekend. The course was totally fucked up, the weather had gotten a little better but polar iced caps continued to melt as we were blissfully unaware sheltering beneath the MAAP tents (now our tents). Water covered the course entirely on 2 different sections, no doubt evening out the lap times between the Cute Boys and the Elite Men…we hope.
Riders glasses became pretty useless with the amount of mud being thrown up by their sponsors tyres. Andy lost a tub on the first lap, rolling back to the tent pretty clean and rather dry. Cashy lost another RD, but a few minutes later was back out there. Squid took a couple of hits before pulling the pin on a spare bike. Us? We were starting to cut up some cucumber and put on some Bonobos for the grand opening of the Zombie Park day spa, ready to make a killing. Order of the day: Mud facials.
Within the first few laps, attention immediately turned to sinking tins, while on course a lead group of a handful of riders, the real who’s-who of Australian cyclocross shot off the front, and for a moment there it looked like J Blood might not win, or least be challenged for a good while. Lol.