The biggest event in mountain biking is in its hangover stage right now. Broken bodies have been whisked away to their usual habitats around the globe, the kegs have run dry, the litter swirls around the deadened streets, and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief or take a few days to rest and recover. It's in this period of melancholic malaise, inward contemplation and reflection that we can make harsh, brash and unnecessary judgements about the past.
Today, in the depths of bodily weariness and mental anguish I decided to figure out exactly who the winners and losers of Crankworx really are.
BRIAN LOPES. He might be the most hated man in mountain biking but he is actually probably the most misunderstood. The guy was pure class after being beaten by Needles in the Air DH. Rather than cry like a spoilt child and stamp his feet he admitted defeat in the most courteous of ways and even had a chuckle about all the crowd heckling that occured along the entire length of the course. I think we would have all rather he acted like the little shithead we have all painted him to be, but in fact his charming demeanor shows us all up to be the shitheads we are in actual fact. Shame on us all. I still don't mind that I flashed my arse to him during his race run, I just feel bad that the whole crowd made a collective decision to try to belittle his achievements.
SRAM. Lots of goodies coming from SRAM which we will be highlighting in and on Spoke very soon, but what really makes them a winner is their constantly innovative and inspiring ways of communicating what mountain biking means to them. There's Taylor Sage's amazing TRUVATIV videos, Adrian Marcoux's beautiful and moving photos of everything SRAM does, then things like how SRAM had a pop-up store at Crankworx where all the proceeds from sales of tee shirts and hats went to their charity, World Bicycle Relief, which has already donated over 81,000 bikes to communities in the third world since it was started in 2005. In the store they had cutaways of most of their products, their top pros bikes lined up for us punters to squeeze the brake levers of, as well as a photo gallery where the proceeds of the photo sales will also go to World Bicycle Relief.
ANTHONY MESSERE. The kid is 15 years old but he went higher than anyone else may ever have done so on a mountain bike. Seriously, his air on the hip on his first run of the Red Bull Joyride slopestyle was perhaps the greatest thing I've ever seen on a bike. The future of slopestyle is going to be bonkers.
VITALMTB. They may not have spent the big bucks having naming rights on everything at Crankworx or having giant towers erected or putting on a party that gets shut down by the cops because they didn't get a liquor license, but VitalMTB put on one of the best events ever at Crankworx with the Whip Off Unofficial World Championships. It was totally rebel run and probably totally against Whistler Bike Park/Crankworx policy but because it was such a good event it will be integrated into the official Crankworx schedule next year. It had all the ingredients to work: cheap, simple, and easy. And that's why VitalMTB crushed Crankworx. Also, Spoke contributor James Allen won the vote for the best photo of the Whip Off. Good work Jimbo! Thanks to James for banging us photos from most of the events all week and making Spoke the second best media outlet for Crankworx (as voted for by me and Caleb).
GIANT BICYCLES. They came to Crankworx to announce that rather than sorting out the geometry on what could be really good bikes they have revolutionised the world by making bikes 30% stiffer at the front. Actually let's take a step back. What they say they have done is increase torsional stiffness by 30%. Sounds great but they haven't actually changed anything. Nope, Giant themselves have done f-all. What they have done is keep exactly the same headtube on their bikes from the previous year and just changed the name from Overdrive to Overdrive 2. So how have they increased stiffness by 30% you may ask. Well, what they have done is pressure FSA to make a new headset that is 1 1/4 inch at the top bearing and 1 1/8 inch at the bottom, and then push Fox, Marzocchi, and RockShox to make new steerer tapers to accommodate this change. What this results in is smaller bearings at the top of the headset, more incompatibility between fork models, a new stem size (yes 1 1/4 inch and currently only Giant make them but now all the components manufacturers will need to produce stems that accommodate), and a brand new f-ing industry "standard". Great job guys, thanks for nothing... but wait, isn't 30% stiffer a good thing? Well, I suppose with wider bars putting more leverage on front ends these days 30% stiffer is going to make a noticeable difference. I mean, wow, 30%. That's an awfully rad number. Except what does 30% mean? 30% more than what? In this case it means 30% stiffer than the original Overdrive headtube...which is unchanged. So it is all coming from the fork steerer and stem? What forks did they use? What headtube size are we talking about? Let's hear some facts not just handy numbers because until we do then I am calling bullshit on it. It might be stiffer, it might even be a lot stiffer, but these numbers just seem so wild for the fact they have changed nothing. If most of the change had come from the changed fork steerers then why aren't all the fork manufacturers jumping up and down preaching this? But really even if I am being a knee jerk reactionist Giant are still losers because they totally underestimated what the reaction of people would be to this. I like that they came to Crankworx expecting to be carried around on people's shoulders and bought shots all week, when in fact they now have egg on their face.
If you want to read more clear and unbiased information on Overdrive 2 then you should read Mike Levy's write up on PinkBike.com. Some people might not believe I'm posting links to PinkBike but credit should be given where credit is due because it's a great piece that attempts to quell the hordes of witch burning village idiots, of which I am one.
SAM PILGRIM'S TYRE CHOICE. I've tried to find out if he has a tyre sponsor and it looks like he doesn't. Which makes him even sillier. When you don't have the restriction of running one manufacturer's particular tyres and you still choose tyres that are utterly inappropriate for the job then you look like a bit of a wally. Then turn up to the biggest event of the year while you're fighting for the overall FMB World Title (he was 8 points behind Brandon Semenuk going into Crankworx and to win the overall now he would have to win a couple more gold events and hope Brandon Semenuk gives up mountain biking tomorrow) and puncture on both of your runs ON THE FIRST STUNT makes you look like a right plonker. It reminds me of someone else who seems to be having tyre misery at the moment, but they don't have the choice of what to run. Maybe I shouldn't say much about poor Gee Atherton's tyre woes at the moment... but I will. After he blew a tyre at Windham World Cup, Gee turned up at Crankworx and got a slow flat while riding A-Line in the Air DH race. A-Line, for those of you who haven't sent your meat to flat on it before, is the perhaps smoothest of all the Whistler bike park trails. If you aren't in the air then you're coasting on a wide, machine made, work top surface. Where you puncture is beyond me. But anyway, let us not dwell on poor Gee, instead let's all stand and wag our index fingers at silly Sam Pilgrim while we shake our head. What a Rodney. By the way, the bike pictured above was nicked from Google Images and is of Sam Pilgrim's slopestyle bike...which he chose not to use and instead used his hardtail.