Bang – Day 2 and officially it is my birthday! As my homeboy Fitty Cent said, we gonna party like its ya birthday, but no one (here in Whistler) seemed to give a fuck it was my birthday, so no free lunch or dinner it seems… And what about presents? None of those forthcoming either, so what is one to do?
Take matters into their own hands it seems… Or at least try to. Since I arrived here there has been a calling to me… I can hear it every time I approach the bottom of the lift… Or when I hit a rough section and get kick out under braking from the Bullit, or smashed through the mega braking bumps on Crank it up. Here is the source of the beacon:
This folks is the Santa Cruz V10c in Black & Yellow… A World Champ and World cup Downhill winning piece of machinery… And there is one frame (just like this) hanging on the wall at the shop that resides at the bottom of the lifts (of course there is, can you imagine a more captive and emotional audience?). Its one of my dream bikes (the other being the Nomad Carbon – tick), but dreams aren’t free and nor are they technically easy to obtain sometimes (I had never heard of a 157 x 12 Hub standard, WTF? I just got 142 x 12).
An irrational purchase at an irrational time?
Clearly… But that still doesn’t stop me from wanting the fuck out of it… But, I came to my somewhat good senses and realised I needed to conduct some testing and research, both in terms of sizing and also scoping out alternative options (As an avid Santa Cruz fiend I find this awkward to be honest). Where to start? Here:
The Specialized Demo 8… Ubiquitous Park bike and the machine that killed Aaron Gwin’s form. Can’t say I am a massive Big S fan, but I have to admit that this bike hits a sweet spot in the market in a clever way and so I was intrigued to ride one (plus it was a free ‘test’ and I wanted to hit it prior to the Doc in order to increase his Demo fever).
How did it go? Good… Which is a rather G rating description really. Its a nice bike… It tracks well, stays active under braking, has good manners and felt instantly at ease (Really Aaron, what’s your problem cuz?)… Its user friendly and I can see its appeal. Did it give me wood? Not really…. Was it transformational in a way that makes me cut my hand trying to get my credit card out of my pocket? No… So, tomorrow morning we have a test of a medium V10c coming up, so stay tuned to see if that blows my mind (half of me wants it to, the CFO half of me doesn’t want it to). Right, on to today’s riding:
A word on jumping
I didn’t mention this yesterday as there wasn’t a lot of jumping on day one, but today needed a bit more of it, so its worthy of a description as this is where the fearometer starts to come into effect. I am by NO means a great jumper (or jersey), but in my world the jump is all about the approach/run in. The trick is to not brake leading into the jump… Easy right?
Well, normally it may be, but here the issue is the bike picks up so much speed so quickly, which then translates into terminal launch velocity and a rather large jump, there is a moment during the run in when the brain sees the jump lip and says “Fuck dude, if you carry this through and hit that lip do you realise how high/far/big we’re going to go? Really? You want to hit that shit at this speed? We don’t have a wallet, but if we did would it have bad motherfucker on it? Lets just pump those brakes a little…” Result? Braking, tensing up, arm pump and poor form on jumps, which ultimately translates into frustration (this is a holiday right?).
The catch is that when you let it roll, you are usually (hopefully) rewarded with a clean and sweet jump and sensation that leaves you quite pumped. Unless you’re on A line and get it wrong… Like I did.
A line – Arguably the most famous MTB trail on the planet I would wager, well in DH circles at least… Its a black run that has pretty much anything you could hope to find on a run and its VERY demanding, not to mention frequented by some extremely fast people. If there is one trail you want to hit and feel like you have nailed, its A line… I will post some video of it over the weekend most likely. I really wanted to hit it on my Birthday, so stepped up to give it a go. It replied with giving me my biggest ‘Oh fuck’ moment of the trip when I got one of its jumps (the 3rd in a demanding series of 5 back to back) wrong and almost ate shit in a major way… I was pleased to recover from that moment, but it unfortunately provided fuel to the fire for my jump conservative brain…
It was about this time that I realised that physically and mentally I was starting to feel like I did in the last two days the last time I was here (not a good sign), especially with one particular culprit, this guy:
That would be my left hand braking finger… In charge of the rear brake. Its clearly is at odds with my brain, as each time I brake I am getting a hot stabbing pain right where its all pink. This isn’t a new phenomenon, its just that last time here it took 2 weeks to manifest, not 2 days! I am blaming poor brake lever positioning from yesterday, now corrected.
But, could there be another explanation?
Well… One hypothesis may be that I am two years older now, but I will quickly dispatch this as I am pretty sure I am Peter Pan and don’t feel any older. The other – I did no gym prep this time around. Last time I was in the gym turning into coiled steel for 4 months before Whistler… This time I was lazy and fell back on TP as my prep, I suspect I am now starting to pay for it.
In summary – Jumping is about fear management and don’t turn up here for an extended period without hitting the weights. May also be useful if you are early twenties, wearing a singlet and don’t care about being hospitalised.
- Inconsistent form… An odd winner yes, but I did have patches today where I was stoked with how I was going… It was patchy, but there were moments where I really hit things how I wanted to and that’s a good feeling. Now to make it consistent, and feel easy…
- My DX shoes – Shimano make good shit, I am a fan… Their old school white DX shoes are a real winner and have survived a lot of punishment, a quality product.
- Go Pro Camera – It seems to have taken on a HAL like approach to life, once again lying to me massively with its confirmation “I’m fully charged, James” only to give me the beep of death 3 mins into my first usage today, its definitely self aware
- 661 Knee guards – A week in France on TP with lots of pedalling and not a chaff in sight… 1 day in Whistler and they have worn a hole in my right knee… Sticker plasters please, big ones
- My left braking finger – Is now on a diet of Ice, Naproxen tablets and tomorrow, strapping. Hang in there R2.
Track of the day – Two winners, A-Line for putting me in my place and scaring me shitless and B-line for being a gentler little brother and a lot of fun today. Special mention to Devils Club for being nice and technical and a bit slower (and for taking me back to TP, sort of).
Celebrity watch – Slim pickings today… Saw someone I know is sort of famous, but can’t recall their name, so guess not a celebrity really.
And finally, my birthday dinner at the best Sushi place in Whistler, Sushi Village – This place is awesome. Went to see ‘White House Down’ afterwards, 3/10, I still can’t forgive chaffing tatum for ruining GI Joe:
Tomorrow will be about RELAXING and having fun, not that today wasn’t, but I can smell tension in the air (emanating from me), so it will be about chilling, testing the V10c. Traditionally day 3 and 4 are the sweet spot days, so fingers (except my left braking finger) crossed that plays out!