The image above pretty much sums up ‘the Mont‘ for me. The weekend-long, 24 hour racing adventure is serious in that there’s months worth of logistics and planning that have gone into it, but it’s very un-serious in character. Which is why once you’ve turned up, unpacked all your food, camping gear, night lights and teamly extras, everyone chills out, celebrates and, well, weird stuff happens.
Weird stuff like Swell Design Group riders, Adam and Liam, getting it on in matching Sausagefest t-shirts, next to a pack of pirates, in the start chute, moments before 600 riders take to the track. Swell made headlines at the 2012 Mont by setting up a BBQ near the finishing straight, curious to see how many riders would say ‘yes’ to a sausage sanga. ‘Four,’ is the answer, and was more than enough to encourage them to formalise things in 2013, complete with ‘design that sizzles’ team t-shirts to match.
I rode the event this year with the Flow Mountain Bike team who were set up almost directly across from the Swell crew. Our team consisted of Pat ‘the Porpoise’ Campbell, Jason ‘Gavin’ Blackmore, Craig ‘BBQ Master’ Baylis, Chris ‘the Beak’ Southwood, Mick ‘Crop Circles’ Ross and myself ‘Double Froth’ Bicknell on bikes. Lara ‘the Legend’ Winten, Dave ‘the Taller and Better Looking One’ Southwood, and Damian ‘Lone Wolf’ Breach made the campsite feel like one of those cool share houses that everyone wants to visit.
Despite being there with a media group, this was the first year in a while where I wasn’t signed up to write an article after the event. I think The Beak is on that one and I can’t wait for the read. Meanwhile, I’m secretly glad not to be thinking about how to describe this year’s Mont beyond my own nose. Our campsite was so ‘next level’, I felt completely out of touch with what it must be like as a regular rider at the event.
While most teams rest at the campsite and are all stations go when riding, I had an opposite experience in this regard as well. Campsite time was ‘on’ time, selling subscriptions to Flow, meeting lots of people and hearing what they are enjoying about the content we’ve been producing. Ride time was ‘off’ time. No talk, no thinking, just pedaling. And jumping stuff. The track was the best one yet.
The campsite shenanigans reached an all time high (and continued on email for several days after the event), but lap times on the bike confirm that everyone in our mixed six team gave the riding a good crack. Enough of a crack in fact to find ourselves in third place on the podium at the end of the event.
I was quite thrilled about the whole third thing as it has a nice ring to it when added to other recent results. Three thirds, in three weekends, at three different formats of racing, on three different wheel sizes. Not bad hey? It makes me feel quite versatile as a rider and says a lot about the number of opportunities available for mountain bikers right now.
Standing at the Flow tent, seeing over 3000 other riders soaking up all the good things the Mont has to offer made me feel pretty incredible as well. The part where the Swell guys gave me my very own t-shirt the day after the event? Well that just topped the awesome-o-meter. Being a vegetarian, I love it even more.
Photos: Kath Bicknell