SOUP BÆS CX: A YEAR IN REVIEW
Season 2018, also known as Season 2. We flicked through 50 applications for people wanting to occupy the last 2 spots on our team, attempted to solve thrilling mysteries of missing sponsor-issue shoes (just one), not-so-delicately embraced pine trees and course bunting, slept in beyond the starting whistle and took home at least 3 kinds of glory along the way. We’ve got our first ever National Champion in Alice, and we’ve got aalice treasure trove of stories written, photographed and videographed to cherish forever more. This is a season review post.
PROLOGUE: A THANKS
Fact of the matter is that the Soup Bæs wouldn’t be who we are without the help of some key people. Theres little to no work behind the scenes done to put this team together and keep it afloat, mostly because the race day efforts of subcontracted mad legends prop it all up come race day. Without them, and without our adoring fans, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the kinds of success like Alice’s gold medal, Ron nearly crashing into a lake or Adrian DNFing half his races. So thank you.
First, full credit to the sponnos. They injected us with caffeine in the morning, helped us out of our broken shoes and into new, flashy ones, fixed bikes and helped with upgrades, and had us looking proper fly. Thanks to Ajax Amsterdam and Dennis Bergkamp for providing the inspiration for the kit pattern, and to the GPG guys for the inspo for the numbers on the back, may our mid pack battles resume in the new year.
And finally, big thanks to the dedicated media crew. We cover the costs for their media passes throughout the season, and they reward us with straight fire shot through the lens. Namely Aaron, Okky, Connor, Harry and Scotty. We’re gonna keep the Soup Bæs CX digital hub live until January, head there to cop more directions to our professional photographeurs respective internet corners.
I: OPERATION DESERT STORM
The Sunday leading up to the opening round of the Victorian season had a short, mid-morning window of no rain, just hella wind. That small window right there gave us a chance to scope out the conditions at Fields of Joy and put the new prototype skin suit to the test.
A week spent praying for more rain and repenting for past sins in the hope of a deluge did nothing. Late April dishes up an opening round course that was as dry and bland as a mouthful of communion wafers with absolutely nothing to wash it down. Dubbed Operation Desert Storm, our team did our absolute best to fight through the ping lag and CPU’s under stress for the opening race of the season.
II: SADDLE CLUB CX
A second first lap mechanical in as many races relegated Adrian back to the stables nice and early, swiftly changing from his silks into a tracksuit and manning photography duties. Another warm morning bathed the Ballarat Pony Club as a course that had anything and everything you could fit into a cyclocross course set up some stellar rivalries in the B Grade field, before Katie went one better on team debut and took home our first podium spot for the year.
As the afternoon began to cool down, isolated showers began to develop around a small section at the back of the course. After consulting Jane Bunn, what was estimated to be nearly 20,000ml fell in the 15 minutes leading to the start of the A Grade race, while another 20-30,000ml fell during the first few laps. These unseasonable and tricky conditions on a single corner of an already feature packed course led to pure mayhem, and pure jubilation for the nearby spectators.
III: GOING ON TOUR
After 2 races in warmer weather we decided to embrace the earths impending doom and packed our t-shirts for the mild June vibes of Adelaide. The National Round kicked off in style in Tampawardli Park – the mulch finding it’s way into every crevice imaginable.
Out on course, Adrian would come face to face with a pine tree on the outside of the third corner, before he was joined by Sam in an out and out team battle on day two of racing. Nat Redmond absolutely blitzed the Elite Women’s field on home turf, while J Blood did what J Blood does; win. There was sun, a box of Coops, pizza and waffles, the race village really turning it on with the culinary delights. We were on holiday after all.
IV: TOUGH MUDDER
Our dreams and nightmares would come together in Mount Beauty. The Bright round traditionally held on the Sunday had been canned, Team Mount Beauty rushing to save the day. Greeted with a dreary forecast and some of Liam Panozzo’s finest, Michelin star level course design, our biggest turn out for the season to date would get to rock their skin suits for the first time.
Like a muddy baptism of fire Brando and Kip endured the breaking in of the course, while early rain made things tricky for those in B Grade, especially Nick and Harry on cantis. With sticks, logs, knee deep ruts and rolled tubs coming at you all over the place, Mount Beauty was only some electrified fencing away from being a tough mudder course.
But like in so many movies, from the trenches of war emerges beauty, emerges art. It wasn’t until the final race of the day that the gods shined down upon us, rewarding our earlier efforts with such artistic splendour. First it was a coming together on a rooted hairpin that, like seeing Rembrandt wet his palette and begin throwing down on a canvas – got our tongues wagging. Mere minutes later, the masterpiece would be complete, much faster than the typical 14-20 business days Michaelangelo quoted. A tap of the brakes, the gentle embrace of the ground, and an out-stretched hand barely kissing the tread of a Challenge tubular. A true sight to behold, and one that will stand the test of time.
The muddy sins committed by the A Grade men during the previous race weekend would be washed away in dappled sunshine as cyclocross racing returned to a spiritual home: Darebin Parklands. The Apostle Nick Cee of Dirty Deeds brought the crowds together from far and wide, feeding them not with fishes and loaves but with more contemporary fare of burgers and caffé lattes, fuel for the belly as we witnessed a truly divine day of bicycle racing.
The highest of high’s and the deepest, darkest lows would be witnessed and experienced that Sunday. Ron flying into a bush after taking a corner too fast, Adrian still recovering from a month long flu coming way too close to seeing God as his heart rate touched 180bmp. Ariella laid down her wrath on Lap 1 of the Women’s C Grade race, proving herself to be the finest race starter on our team, Fiona from MAAP Enve took the win in Women’s A on her birthday no less, and the beaming grin and glowing pride emanating from Jonesy’s face and vest could have warmed the coldest heart as he marshalled the bottom corner of the course.
VI: HOME DAY
Tropical cyclones is all we had been given at last years home race, a day where we invited the masses into our home (team tent) and played the important role of supplying the finishing flag for the winners. While the sun greeted us on this fine day, heavy Caribbean trade winds that typified this round of the season were ever present.
Typical Caribbean fare and McDonalds breakfasts fuelled our racing efforts, the bumps and wind out on course throwing us about as if we were deep inside a washing machine. Huge fields would make results of note scant, but the fact we made it to the end after a McDonalds based breakfast means we should be considered winners to some degree.
VII: GLORY GLORY
The lush surrounds of Sam Miranda in the King Valley played host to this years nationals, a site, and a winery that is a huge supporter of cycling in various forms. The state series wrapped itself up and formed lines for us the week before, a weekend we decided to sit out to save our legs in the hunt for glory.
It would be one of our very last races of the season that would finally deliver some proper cyclocross conditions. From the humble Pirate Ship x Farmhouse weekend long team house we emerged to soaked ground and technicolor verde. Rain began to pour as the races began, and while it would be nothing to match the deluge of Adelaide last year, it left us coated in a thin layer of mud by race end, and actually required bike cleaning (shout out to Muc Off).
Out on course we chased glory from the starting whistle to the chequered flag. Brando competing in his first national round let along his first national championship race battled it out with Adrian in Expert Men. Ben took glory in his Masters category by ripping the biggest skid of the weekend across the finish line, but it was Alice who would steal the show, taking home our teams first ever win, and our first National Championship in Masters Womens 1. A bottle of prosecco, a gold medal and a very special skinsuit produced with Pedla her reward.
VIII: GRAND PRIX LE CYCLOCROSS
We would finish the season where we started, and despite a whole winter to soften up, the conditions were more or less the exact same as April’s visit to Fields of Joy. The Melbourne GP of CX, now in its second year as a UCI category event hosted the best and brightest of Australia’s Cyclocross talent fighting over the last 2 rounds of this years national series. Alongside them was international riders from New Zealand, the Squid CX crew from the states, riders from Japan and a few mad legends from the holy land – continental Europe.
ALL GOT OUR RUNNELS NOW
Kit game set to 100, it was the women from the Squid CX team that lit up the course during the Elite Women’s race. For the first few laps of their race things were close-ish, but as the race went on it would be Sam Runnels that pulled away, shaking of probable heavy duty jetlag with a resounding victory in rather dry and windy conditions.
BABY’S DAY OUT
In the men’s race it was former junior world champ Jens Dekker who had the Elite Men’s field on strings. With a face about 20 years younger than everyone else in the field, and legs probably forged in the dry docks of Rotterdam, it took about a lap before he pulled away from Australia’s best cyclocrossers with minimal fuss. Technically he was near perfect, and even when he wasn’t – flying over the handlebars while navigating the sandpit and bonus Ogaram chicane – he didn’t bat an eyelid as he went on to a resounding victory.
Watching it unfold from the top of the course looking down it was like watching Neymar and the rest of PSG fucking around with some Ligue 2 side made up of part time staff from the local Boulangerie. Other Euro-pro contender Gosse van der Meer, racing alongside our m8’s at Bombtrack Treadly took out 2nd place a nautical mile behind, daylight between the two of them and the Australians over the course of the weekend.
The final race day for the season came with great anticipation. All sections of the Fields of Joy course that proved hardest the previous day would be taken in their dustier, much more extreme reverse, presenting plenty of opportunity to grab a feature on GCN’s Extreme Corner if that’s your vibe.
Much like the last decade or so, Australian politics had been rocked with further cases of scandal, infighting turmoil. Out on course two team mates were doing their very best to replicate the antics of those in Canberra. Fresh off her first National Champs win, April was under threat early from her teammate Jo, and with no speaker keeping order in the house of reps, the latter challenged the status quo and pushed on ahead.
“I WANT THAT FERRARI, THEN I…
..swerve. At time of publishing we’d be notified that that very Sunday would be final time riders would be ducking and weaving between the sticks at the bottom of the Fields of Joy course. Pastures new in 2019, the Elite Men would kiss the bunting gently as they descended and weaved back towards the business part of the course as if they were in their playground among the Swiss alps.
SLIM DUSTY CC
There would be little chance for the dust to settle at the bottom of the big hill, riders taking the opportunity to either tear down to the bottom still aboard their bikes, or abort mission early and run the corner – Squid CX’s Anthony Clark staking a claim for a spot with Hunter Athletics such was his running form. Beej from CyclingAcross, the Focus Attaquer mad-legends and other capable mountain bikers among the field wowed the audience with some hella skids, Fields of Joy seeing out the race, the season, and a handful of joyous years in dusty style.
IX: WHAT’S NEXT?
We tried a Kickstarter and a GoFundMe. We pestered Angel Investors, the Barefoot Investor, and spent a bit of time busking on Toorak Rd. At the end of it all, the only thing that was set in stone was that there would be no #Denmark2019 for us. Even with a National Champ among our ranks, we have been unable to gather the funding to take on the worlds best in Europe, rain checking our goals for at least another year.
The good news to come out of this is that we will be back in 2019 for another tilt at the Australian season. Our roster will be getting a reshuffle as we look to fill holes left by European wanderlust and unfortunate injury. Alongside our friends at Pedla and Essendon Cyclery, we’re looking for a few new partners to jump on board with extending our teams vibe, and advancing our skill level as we race across this land far and wide in 2019. If you’d like to get involved in any way, shape or form, hit the button below.