I Paint My Face: New Race Report from Down Under at Dirty Deeds Cyclocross
Dirty Deeds Cyclocross does it right in Australia: irreverent, fun, snarky, and just a little … crazy. When was the last time we had a guy in a full cow costume racing in the US?
Words by Hamish “I’m a real reporter” Fitzsimmons & Andrew “I’m a shaaaark” Blake. Nik “Beard Power” Cee contributed random remarks but isn’t really as funny as those guys.
It’s rare that I’m at a loss for words, but Sunday left me speechless. The turnout and effort of Dirty Deeds Rapha Supercross was so good that it seemed like a dream.
More than 600 of the ‘cross faithful and the ’cross curious turned up to the Harrison Street Velodrome to worship at the altar of mud, frites, and gears.
At the stroke of noon, the kids blazed away at the infield before you could say ‘face paint.’ Yet again it was another sell-out of this category, which is hardly a surprise given mud and grass are a familiar playground for many of the entrants.
Some of the younger riders managed to get in line behind the grown-ups getting lightning bolts and corpse paint and set a blinding pace around the track. It also marked the first inter-generational Dirty Deeds Crew racing (hey, I announce it, I get to mention it), although for sheer commitment, it’s hard to beat the Jackson family; they have travelled from Bairnsdale for every DDCX race. Emily Jackson took out the girls race, just pipping BCC track gun Emily Hughes, and Conall Murphy won the boys race, ahead of Blake Williams.
By the time the open race was up, the fries were flowing from Beatbox Kitchen, the Rapha cowbells and various purloined kitchen pots were a clanging, and we were off.
A course by Nik Cee is a course of course to be reckoned with. This one was deceiving to the casual observer. Inside the velodrome was boggy for the main but surprisingly quick in other sections. The mud from June’s prologue was absent, which is weird because it’s been wet. Outside, the Roberts Reserve section of the course provided some respite before the off-camber carnage that was Pavlis’ Hill.
Your humble commentator started to get concerned and think announcer Brendan Bailey’s family-friendly set on the mic was losing the punters, who might have come to hear his blue work. But it turned out the hill was the place to be. The descent, even after we’d made it slightly easier following the slippery slapstick of warm up laps that was best viewed with Yakety Sax playing on the PA, was highly technical. The climb back up, short and brutal. The crowd surrounding it both heckling and cheering in equal measure.
After the open was smashed to bits by Heather ‘Crazy Socks’ Hoggan and Nicholas Morgan in their respective classes, it was time for B grade men’s, one of the most contested and coveted races of the day. Sam Watson was the man with the most, then the battle of the Bens. Ben Walderden and Ben Healey took centre stage. Leigh Schilling had been promoted to A, but had time commitments and so graciously agreed to forgo any prizes and raced in B for the good times. Racers that could manage to ride up Pavlis’ Hill were rewarded with Beatbox Kitchen burger & chips vouchers by Shark Man.
The women’s race was kindly started off by Councillor Oscar Yildiz from the City of Moreland, the man who shall be forever known as ‘He who saved cyclocross.’ Without Oscar’s support this whole thing might not have happened, so the biggest thanks to him and the good folk at the City of Moreland.
It was a classic exhibition of the sport in A grade women’s with Mel Anset coming up trumps, followed by Erica Gurner and Kate McCormack. The rise in number and quality of women’s entrants is yet another testament to the growth of the sport across all levels.
The crowd was incredible. The cheering and heckling was at fever pitch by the time the men’s A grade took to the start line at three. Indeed, the best performing spectator of the day was awarded a Focus CX bike. It was timely for Rich as he’d been on the three bike rule from a higher power and wining a cyclocross bike means he’ll be on the receiving end next year.
The A grade start was one of the fastest ever, with racers rushing to be the first around the initial corners and not surrendering valuable positions before the course opened up. Much like the clown he was dressed as, Leigh DeLuca shot off the start as if he was fired out of a cannon claiming the hole shot, but not the $5 holeshot prime that Brendan was waving. Not so quick was international import and now Sydney resident Vanilla-Speedvagen team rider Jeff Curtes who slipped a pedal off the start and managed to superman his way into a dropped chain (inside his chain catcher as well). The crowd held their breath as fears of marring one of the best bikes seen at Dirty Deeds circulated. His ride to recover from nearly half a lap behind was outstanding, and the podium would have looked different had Jeff had a clean start. But that’s cyclocross for you.
What followed was some great battling between the top riders of the series around the different elements of the course. The roadies loved the faster bike path sections, while the lighter-weight amongst the field took back time on the tacky muddy ruts and pinch climbs. Several racer’s bikes bore the brunt of the racing with broken chains and flat tires drawing riders back into the pits, and a few riders who won’t be named were seen taking unauthorised wheel changes and bike swaps on course. Lucky there were many around the course offering adult refreshments for those riders running back to change bikes or parts. Steve ‘Duggaduggadugga’ Duggan followed his run of mechanicals with a jog along the course, but was spotted taking a shortcut by Sam ‘You’re All numbers to Me’ McGregor and summarily DQ’d in a manner which suggested that Duggan was more than just a number to Sam.
After 45mins, the grass settled and Lewis Rattray overcame a horrible start to claim his first win for the year. Not only a nice guy off the course, he is disconcertingly pleasant on the course often asking politely to pass lapped riders. His stoke on finally winning again was evident to all. Following closely on his wheels was Allan Iacuone and NCXS Round 1 winner Luke Fetch.
It wouldn’t be a Dirty Deeds race if we didn’t give out the best prizes for whimsical reasons. Because serious bike racing is best left to the humourless UCI, and as HMC says, we just like to ride our pushies a bit.
- Best Costume: Grover, who supermanned across the line in a zentai suit a couple of years ago dressed up as Captain Planet and took home a Treadlie subscription for his trouble.
- Most enthusiastic spectator: Rich Kemp went all out, all day, and took home a sweet Ultegra equipped Focus CX bike.
- Best super commuter went to David W & his purple trek multitrack 700, earning a Full Monty service at Commuter Cycles.
- Best vintage bike was Rick Blazevic and his Giant ATX780, winning a porteur rack from Constructeur.
- Duty before DDCX to Dr. John Roy for assisting Verity who binned it hard on Pavlis’ Hill, winning a frame from Larry’s Custom Cycles.
- 2nd Best costume to Golden Gloves De Luca, also winning a frame from Larry’s Custom Cycles.
- Colin Bell also won a frame from Larry’s Custom Cycles, why? I can’t remember, but I’m sure he earned it.
- Furtherest travelled went to Scott Kirton from Ipswich, taking home some Rapha swag.
- Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop #1 went to Grant Hay for his amazing pile up into superman on Pavlis’ Hill, scoring a pair of Avid Shorty Ultimates from SRAM.
- Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop #2 went to Duggaduggadugga for not only destroying his rear brake in Adelaide, but also his chain during the race, and thus jogging the whole course. He won a Paul Neo Retro canti from Fitzroy Revolution & the ever supportive DC.
Thankfully none of the kids were sporting beards, except one: a Rapha racing Koala of sorts who bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Daniel Strauss (a gold gum leaf to Dan for doing every race in the character too). The facial frolics of Open and B grade riders were well turned out in a style that said, ‘Mountain bikes are the new 650B.’ The standard of facial hair in A grade was all over the place with a return to bush ranging look of the 1880s.
This is an area in which A grade men’s and women’s had it all over the rest of the days racing. Impeccable. One really couldn’t fault it at all. The stress of maintaining correct sock height was too much for many to bear and the toll was taken on the overlord of length, Northside Wheeler’s supremo, Malachi Moxon.
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