Every trip (especially a cycling trip) has a peak… As I sit down to craft todays update I can reflect on the concept that the previous two days were that peak, the epic shredding after the rest day and the V10c love fest.
So, how to describe today then? Well, if it were an animal it would be one of those small slightly fluffy house dogs that has been humanised by its owners, meaning it has little to no manners, but its still endearing in some aspects, leaving you confused as to whether or not you want to love it or strangle it while the owner isn’t looking… In a word: Fiddly.
In keeping with feeling flogged out, I decided that today was a sleep in day here at Shred HQ:
Yes, this is slightly palatial now I am ‘seeking new and exciting opportunities’, but damn it has a fucking good washing machine. And, for us professional Mountain Biking athletes, not a bad recovery centre – Which is where I spent the morning stretching out my weary chassis:
Can’t sit around forever though, so it was time to get kitted up (a 15 minute process) and get lift side for my afternoon sesh and the daily installation lap (B-line). Being here has reinforced again that I am a creature of routine and tend to implement and then follow the same process each day, clearly there are still some robotic kinks to sort out in there somewhere.
So, loaded up on a gluten free muffin and Raspberry smoothie (a shit combo when you hit the first rough stuff), I headed into B-Line to rip it up… Feeling GOOD and carving right from the go, letting a bit of air out of the front tire to get more grip clearly an inspired move! Bravo… The front tire agreed so much that it decided to let go of the rest:
So it was a loooong walk back to HQ… Carry a pump and tube I hear you gasp? As if! That would be SO uncool man. Actually, I did ride the last 3 days with my Evoc pack with a spare tube and pump, but even that is uncool. Its clearly way cooler to walk down the mountain hauling your 20kg DH bike with you… If I was a conspiracy theorist (I am actually…) I would pick the Bullit was paying me back for my day of V10 shredding. Proof that being unpractical is rad was reinforced by seeing Optimus Prime on the way down:
Not a bad view either. Now is probably a good time to discuss the food chain at Whistler and how it works in this place. Like any eco system there are groups, here is a shortish summary:
1. Shredders – Top of the food chain obviously, some key features of the shredder:
- How to spot them – Easy, singlet or t shirt only… Troy lee shorts, usually all black, 510 shoes and minimal armour, usually only knee guards and maybe a neck brace? Troy Lee helmets are standard equipment
- Hunting grounds – Black or double black diamond trails only, they don’t bother with anything less than full gnar and life threatening features. Usually seen on Slayer, A-line or any of the other double BD runs
- Hunting style – They tend to hunt in packs of 2 or 3 max, but will sometimes group together into trains of terror of 5 to 6. They will approach at mind melting speed and scare other users into submission without speaking. Tend to feast on Hyena’s that have strayed into their path
- Other attributes – They speak seldom if at all, usually in a low tone. Tend to race or appear on websites jumping things that make your anatomy shrivel. Aged between 19 to 28, but some older specimens spotted occasionally.
2. Hyenas – Would be or wanna be shredders, just below the shredders, we (yes, this is me) tend to feast on portions of gnar and still shred, wanting to graduate, but can’t seem to manage it. Still some prolific speed and flashes of brilliance (apparently), but we spend a lot of time watching and wishing. Some key features:
- How to spot them – We have a little bit more armour… Not gross amounts, but we don’t like having bare arms and a neck brace is mandatory. We don’t tend to strut as much and tend to keep to ourselves
- Hunting grounds – Black or Blue trails generally… Some times we will dip down into green, but rare. Same with double black runs, we may digest small sections that are palatable and hope we don’t get caught by shredders
- Hunting style – We tend to hunt solo or in small packs… Hunting storm troopers or cows on blue runs or black runs if they have made a horrendous error and ended up on them
- Other attributes – We can do rad stuff occasionally, tend to be a bit more friendly but like to ride a clear track, so tend to queue up looking at each other waiting to see who blinks and drops in first.
3. Cows and stormtroopers – The masses, cows as they can tend to get slaughtered and stormtroopers as they are coated in thick armour and their riding is as accurate as… well, as a stormtrooper. Some key features:
- How to spot them – Old kit or bikes, looking uncomfortable or awkward (terror in the eyes also a give away) or covered from head to toe in thick armour that could be useful in Afghanistan
- Hunting grounds – Being herbivores they don’t tend to hunt, but can be seen in large groups on Ezy Does It or maybe Crank it up. Its green or blue runs only unless something goes terribly wrong and then end up on a black run
- Hunting style – They will group together in a herd for protection and move slowly to safety… Mostly escorted by a park guide/instructor who is a shredder in cow clothing and demands respect
- Other attributes – Can tend to look like they want to crash at any second… usually won’t move off the trail for riders behind, not due to be an A hole, but because they are maxed out and literally can’t.
Yes… I am scene setting here… So, after a lengthy flat tire change (there are an army of bolts to negotiate with my beloved 888 fork, quick tire change a no go) it was back up into A-Line for a few runs to build on yesterday’s fun I had down there. Being a black run and so famous, it demands respect. I checked the coast was clear and set off on my own to have some carving fun. Halfway down the first section as I was busy fucking up all the jumps, my senses were alerted to something… Oh no… Could it be? shit… yes… shredders, closing in fast… I wasn’t exactly hanging around, but I was jumping like a frog with no legs, so had to go FULL gas to get through a series of berms and find a spot to let the shredders literally jump past me:
I have to be honest… I am not accustomed to being passed downhill on my mountain bike and I don’t have the smallest ego on the planet, so this was a little annoying… as was casing the rest of the jumps on A-line all the way down the hill. Time to head up to the summit and ride Garbanzo and get some zen carving action back.
Boom! Into Original Sin and pinning it… This is the way, get some of that! Final challenging rock section drop-in here we come! GET IT in there! YEAH… Wait, fuck, is that my rear wheel hitting my ass… oh shit, am I go over the bars?! Noooooooo…. Suddenly realising that I was clearly no longer on the V10, the shorter and less stable Bullit with a higher BB height had pitched me into the section I had cleaned multiple times yesterday at a higher and more dangerous angle and I hadn’t adjusted for it. The result? I rode the front wheel of death of what seemed an age, absolutely on the cusp of a massive rock shit eating moment. Somehow I managed to pull off the biggest save ever and not crash.
Whilst I had saved my face, my mojo had disappeared like the concept of accountability in a meeting of Senior Executives, so I decided to head down and have a snack and regroup. Generally riding like shit all the way down…. hmmmmm. After some chill time I squeezed in a few more confidence building laps before pulling pin around 7pm. Not the ultimate penultimate day one would wish for, but I still have one good day in me for tomorrow and I know I can pull it out! Some awards from todays fiddly scenario:
- 888 fork – I am pretty sure that it saved my face/collarbone/arms from some nastiness when I almost lost it on Original Sin. Also had at least 5 people comment today how rad those forks are dude, fuck yeah they are man
- Flat pedals – Same theme, but if I had been clipped in today I would have gone down, hard… They take a few days to adjust to, but there is no surprise 95% ride flats here
- Talking to other humans – Lots of decent chatting today, I am not the biggest talker with new people, but had some good lift yarns going down today… mainly with Aussies (they make up 60% of the population here).
- Inconsistency – Its become annoying to be really rocking in some parts and ghastly in others… Grating
- Jumping – Have to wave the white flag and finally admit that it ain’t like it used to be… Casing what I used to clean a thorn in the mojo
- Trail destruction – Over the last 10 days I have noticed the trails getting smashed and the brake bumps getting worse, coming in July (early) key, the place is getting shredded.
Trail of the day – Being a weird day, nothing massively stands out today as grabbing me and going ‘pick me!’, but nod probably goes to Ninja Cougar and Karate Monkey today, had a ripping run through there this morning.
Celebrity watch – Chris Kovarik, Lord of the Shredders was out making the park his bitch again today, keep a 50m distance (not hard) and watch the man get busy.
Right, so one more day to go… Need to avoid the last day nerves shut down and get some of that shredding love back on the menu, it can be done! Parting shot today? Well, I figure there has been a glut of scenery shots, so how about a shot from the on board cam as I am about to get airborne and then hit a lovely berm down Blue Velvet (lower section), yummy: