Day two was a short day, only about a quarter of an hour, but don’t discredit day two because of this short time. Today started at 5500 feet up in the mountains and descended over 3000 feet back to Whistler village going through the rooty, rocky, holey hell of the Bike Park.
This year the course was a little different from last year (which was the exact same course as the Crankworx Garbo DH race), but still it was gnarly with a capital GNAR.
It’s a fun stage to have in the 4Queens because it really puts the cat amongst the pigeons for the fitness geeks, old older dudes, and with regards to tyre choice. A flat on this stage can put you way down the standings which will have repercussions for the overall standings.
A lot of the local people that enter the 4Queens never ever ride the bike park. Don’t be shocked at this statement. Time and time again I have tried convincing people that there is so much quality riding outside of the Bike Park that it is completely understandable why people never even bother paying to get a ride up that one mountain. I mean, it really is just one mountain in the valley and Whistler is ringed by many many other mountains all that have miles and miles of ribbony singletrack. There are more very very keen local mountain bikers in Whistler that DO NOT ride the Bike Park than there are locals who ride the Bike Park. Yes, there are that many riders in Whistler.
Anyway, off the point as usual. Back to the story…
The course really puts a certain amount of trepidation into some riders. Riders frantically look for full face helmets and body armour to borrow. Many people also build up the monster of the Bike Park in their minds, but for daily Bike Park shredders we savour this day because we get to swing our dicks in our own backyard. Even though we never ever ride with pinner XC bikes in the Bike Park, we still know where the trails go and where the better lines are.
But the levelling factor is that everyone is on pinner XC bikes and are all equally utterly at the whims of punctures and/or mechanicals.
Last year I had a pretty decent run and got fourth so that put me second in the seeding this year. This made it fun to know I wasn’t going to have to battle through traffic, and it also meant I was going to be at the bottom waiting to watch the carnage cascade off the GLC drops.
I had a super mellow run, very smooth, in fact the smoothest run I think I’ve ever had down Garbo regardless of what bike I was riding. I don’t know if it was because I was on the Tallboy with monster truck wheels and it wasn’t falling into the 26″ wheel braking bumps and holes, or if I had just found a comical sense of inner calm. Either way, it was ridiculous how smooth it felt. When I charge my big rig down the same trail it feels like I’m turning square wheels. Admittedly, I may be smashing into those nasty square edges with much more reckless abandonment under the comfort of eight and a half or ten inches of magic carpet ride. Still, it made me think a little more about the time a raving Roskopp asked me whether I thought a longer travel 29er would be useful…
In the end my time got me 7th which was “okay” but I felt like maybe I took things too conservative. My run was beautiful, my lines were executed smoothly and efficiently, and I had fun all the way down by giving the slayer hand to as many friends and marshalls on the side of the course (including going across the finish line pointing at the timing peps). I even hucked the big GLC drop. Yes, that’s right, the Tallboy (a 100mm travel carbon fibre XC whippet machine) hucked the GLC drop!!! (Google it if you are feeling behind.)
Although 7th would be a tiny bit disappointing had I been able to put any strategic planning, training and preparation into the run up to this race, it still meant I was the highest placed rider on such a, supposedly, pinner bike. And it was the highest placed Tallboy. That right, there’s another rider doing the 4Queens on an orange Tallboy. Now the battle is between the Tallboys….
There were a lot of mechanical casualties at the finish line. The most common was flat tyres and twisted and broken chains. Jinya even lost a shoe in Crack Addict but still managed to huck the GLC drop with one shoe and finish fourth…on a Chromag hardtail!!! I was left with a chain so twisted that I am planning on using it as Xmas decoration this year. What will be fun is now having to run a brand new chain on an eight month old cassette and chain rings.
PS. Kiwi Chris Johnston came first again so holds onto the yellow jersey. Full results available on the WORCA site (http://www.worca.com/?page_id=2182)
If you like this blabbering mess then check out 2FLAT. (www.2flat.wordpress.com)
All photos by Matthew Mallory/ Cycle Component Network (www.cyclecomponentnetwork.com)