Last time I came to Whistler I had just wrapped up one of the biggest programme’s I had ever managed… It was a big piece of work and had turned me into a robotic corporate machine, getting up at 5.30am not to go riding, but to get to work ASAP to continue the battle. When I arrived here in 2011, I took the same approach to riding…. Being first in the queue and riding the fuck out of the mountain day in and day out until my body capitulated in the last few days.
Fast forward 2 years and I am pleased to say that I have managed to take a more balanced approach, not hitting the first run until midday today, no real drama when you consider the lifts run until 8pm, what a place! Given finger status, I wasn’t rushing anywhere and it was coffee and V10 rental arrangements for next week first thing up.
The only thing that sabotaged my morning sleep in was Stage 8 of the TDF… Not a great timezone for watching it and I was lucky to catch the last 3km’s. It does seem perverse to watch road racing here, but it was interesting to see most of the top GC contenders hating that last climb riding clean, oh for the good old days huh boys? At least its good to see how they really go now. Unfortunately Chris Froome seems to be the only person on a bike that makes Oakley Jawbones look bad, someone swap him out to Radarlocks ASAP.
Just quickly here is a random picture from yesterday of some more shredding:
Heading out the door after a quick finger check it became obvious rather quickly that some modifications were going to have to be made, I’m not the best handiman ever (in fact I am massively dreadful at DIY), but I am pleased with this spot of MTB makeshiftness:
First runs were usual daily pattern here – B-Line warm up, then hit some tech stuff on Ninja Cougar etc… It was on my second run that I got stuck behind a dude who had taken his Girlfriend down Samurai Pizza Cat and she was struggling in the most cliche manner where there has been a disconnect between what a guy wants to ride and what his GF is capable of riding, it was like watching a very slow motion train wreck while he called out the most patronising advice he could muster.
During this slow mo crawlfest though I did notice an interesting phenomenon… Each time the bullit rolled over a rock or root it would bounce like a pogo stick, both ends… Hmmm… That’s not right, this must be set up wrong for sure. What would Herr Doktor have said if he was here and I had relayed this data to him? Let see:
Hard to argue with really, I’ve seen small cats (in a particular singapore suburb) set up a bike better than I can, so I made two simple changes, turned down (or up?) the rebound dampening on the rear shock and forks… Result? ITS ALIVE!
Straight away the bike changed, it stuck to the ground, it was smoother through the rough and had much better manners when landing jumps, stoked, but also slightly annoyed I was only a few clicks away from the fun factor increasing significantly, I set off to have some great runs with the new set up.
And what a difference it made! I was braking less, carving more and generally relaxing… All good news for my finger, which has settled down and cut out that hot stabbing action of yesterday. The worm had turned.
Celebrity watch – The celebrity update deservedly comes into the main body of the report today as I managed to score a coup this afternoon! I was bumbling around in the single queue when I spied the next 3 on the lift… 2 kids and some guy with a Trek… Hold up, is that? Really? Has to be… It is! Quick, RUN! In the most uncool manner I grabbed my bike and almost missed the upload, taking my seat on the chairlift next to none other than Andrew Shandro! Most people may not know who is straight away, but this 3 min video shows what this MTB freeride legend is capable of:
It was important to play it cool… Calm the celebrity fever as I hate it when people make dicks of themselves in front of them, he’s just here to ride his bike, so stay cool and just say hi… Don’t blow out. So this is what I went with:
“Hi Andrew!!! My name is James!!! Your movies are the reason that I came to Whistler and its awesome to meet you!!”
Oh fuck… Really? Did that verbal diarrhoea really just explode out of me all over one of the coolest dudes from The Collective? I had become one of those people, but that realisation didn’t seem to stop me from talking like a teenage girl at a Justin Beaver concert. Thankfully for me, he talked back and luck would have it he had just been in Queenstown shooting a new MTB movie, so I may not have appeared as crazy as I sounded (he did ride off quite quick at the top though, so hard to tell). I managed to restrain myself from asking for a photo at least.
Learning – Take a deep breath if you end up on the chairlift with a celebrity MTBer
This interaction must have given me carving fuel as I had a rad afternoon on the mountain until I snapped a rear derailleur cable and had to hand the Bullit over to the trusty crew of Aussie mechanic legends at the bottom of the mountain.
- Just riding my bike – I took a massively low key approach today and it worked well, more of the same please… There is a lot to be said for smoothness creating its own easy speed
- Suspension set up – Herr Doktor will be grinding his teeth in disgust, but its amazing what a little tinker will do for riding here, it feels like a different bike, if only I knew what those other settings did? Doc, open your own lounge.
- Glove modification – Worked a treat, sure I have wrecked a pair of gloves, but its a worthwhile trade to be able to ride relatively pain free.
- Two finger braking – How on earth did we used to do it all the time? I tried it today for a bit on my left hand to share the load and almost lost the bar a few times, odd given we used to do it for years, it now feels impossible
- Saturday traffic – Whistler is super busy on a Saturday, like crazy busy all around town and on the trails, you have to queue for some tracks and then its hard to get a clean run, weekdays are the way forward here.
Track of the day – It was a Technical combo today that takes the prize: Funshine Rolly Drops into Smoke & Mirrors into Blueseum into Devils Club… Seriously, I am not making these names up, but that combo was a lot of fun and a lot of work!
To wrap up a hot Saturday at a packed Whistler? Some air time (it feels a lot higher than this, really):
Tomorrow is a rest day, no riding in line with a 4 days on, 1 day off and 4 days on approach to ensure me and my T Rex arms make it through to Friday! It will be time to do something I am not that good at, exploring… Whistler lakes apparently good for a look…