Into The Wild Whistler
|Brian racing deep into the heart of the Whistler wilderness. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalMTB.com|
It was an amazing week in Whistler as Brian took to the 5th stop of the Enduro World Series. Hear it straight from the horses mouth about why it was the toughest, but most satisfying race of the season. Images by Brandon Turman//Vitalmtb.com.
|Brian stoked and on Top Of The World. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalMTB.com|
I made sure to sign up for this race but at the time was unsure if I was going to be able to attend, however the dominoes fell my way and I was off to Whistler again for another Crankworx, but this time it would be spent on the small bike.
|Bags are packed, Whistler awaits!!! - Brian Buell|
|Dirt TV Intro Video: http://mpora.com/videos/AAdjs9fn545l|
|Boarding the prop plane from Seattle to Vancouver. - Brian Buell|
Travel was a breeze and before I knew it I was in Whistler getting my Whistler Season's Pass picture taken and soon thereafter was on my way up the Peak chairlift to the Top Of The World trail 4000 feet above the Whistler base village.
|Heading up the Peak chair and taking in the incredible views. - Brian Buell|
|Brandon hard at work making VitalMTB.com buzz! - Brian Buell|
Whistler's news source, The Question's Enduro Race Recap Video
I've never been up there before and was jittery to get going, so I wrangled Team Geronimo alum and VitalMTB.com frontman Brandon Turman and hit the high elevation tundra. There is something special about riding above tree line, the terrain is rocky and rough with massive views abound. First run we analyzed the terrain, took some pictures of marmots and tried hard to remember some key turns and sections that didn't leave much room for error.
|Epic view are everywhere no matter what angle you look at it from. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalmtb.com|
|Turn around and another epic view takes shape on the tundra. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalmtb.com|
|Its a good thing Brian likes downhill, only 4000ft to go! Photo Brandon Turman//vitalMTB.com|
The first two days of practice, August 7-8 were spent practicing Stage 5 and stages 1-4 would be opened August 9th with the race taking place on August 11th, so there was plenty of time to practice and get to all of the tracks.
|Turman and I cranking out some runs on the gondola. - Brian Buell|
|A screen shot off my phone looking at the Stage 5 map. - Brian Buell|
|Rocks on rocks on rocks heavily armored this track. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalMTB.com|
Stage 5 is going to be a kick in the pants come race day as its a 23 plus minute continuous downhill run on some of the roughest, fastest and most varied terrain the mountain has to offer. Due to its intense nature, I only took 4 practice runs in total to help not only preserve my body, but most importantly the bike. With two successful days of practice in the books I was extremely anxious to see what stages 1-4 would be like.
|Utilized this screen shot to help me navigate the 51km loop. - Brian Buell|
|This happened to more people than just Turman on Stage 5. - Brian Buell|
Tough to sleep not knowing exactly what the day would hold, but I knew it would be a long day so I packed accordingly and headed out to the 8am riders meeting. I was like many whom were kitted up and ready to rock, but there were plenty who attended the meeting pajama clad with coffee in hand who were not as stoked on getting an early start. The organizers highlighted some keys points, riders high five'd and by 9am I was off to stage 4 with Queenstown shredder Pang and Scotsman Gary Forrest. After a 45 minute brute of a climb to the top with an amazing view, I dropped in Go Pro rolling and tried to let it ride. One punchy 30 second climb split up one of the most fun, rough and steep tracks I've ever ridden. Come Sunday it was going to get loose on this one!
|Chris Ball addresses the crowd of racers enjoying muffins and coffee at the GLC. - Brian Buell|
|Atop Stage 4 overlooking Blackcomb and the valley from the parasailing launch. - Brian Buell|
10 miles in and we were back at the Gondola and on our way up to the Top Of The World trail and the start of Stage 1 on a natural trail called Khyber that would drop us down the shoulder of Whistler and into the Wild of Whistler. Half way down my day was extended by snapping a brake lever and hiking back up into the park to get it fixed. 3 hours later I was back where I left off riding solo and continued smoothly through the forest, down the 15 minute transfer fire road and to Stage 2 called business time.
|Back up the Peak chair for another scenic go around. - Brian Buell|
It was all business as there were some serious pitchy climbs that mixed up a twisty track through the tight trees that would open up at the bottom with some steep drops.
|This trail is designated to a fallen friend Duncan. - Brian Buell|
A quick peddle across the highway through Function Junction and up another very demanding 50 minute hill climb to Stage 3 trail called Pura Vida. This valley trail opposite to Whistler was tight, chalked full of tough turns, no room for mistakes here with a large drop off riders left. Unfortunately the track was shortened due to property boundary issues, instead, one of the transitions brings us down probably the most tech trail of the day AC/DC. Overall, it was an amazing loop with over 51km of peddling and 19km of timed stages. It was a big day as the clock struck 7:30pm and my chamois were still on!
|A big day calls for a big 3 egg and ham salad! - Brian Buell|
I spent the fallowing practice day in a cold tub trying to recover, tuning up the bike and dialing things in before race day!
VitalMTB pre-race Warm Up slideshow: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/ENDURO-ACTION-Crankworx-EWS-Prep-Survival-of-the-Fittest,6188/Slideshow,0/bturman,109
|What's cooler than cool? ICE COLD! Worked like a charm. - Brian Buell|
Another tough nights rest, a stressful morning double checking and triple checking, a quick selfie with the MC and OG hucker Brett Tippie and I was off front wheel manualing down the large start ramp towards the gondola. Lightning postponed my ride up the Peak chair and I was late to my start time and had to be slotted into the lineup within 15 second intervals which would create mayhem down the track filled with crashes and passes. I rode well, but the crash left me tight and wasn't the best start to the day.
|Racing fuel to help me sustain throughout the day. - Brian Buell|
|Who needs coffee when you have Brett Tippie yelling at ya! - Brian Buell|
|Trevor Burke fuels his hunger with iced coffee and a lemon bar while we wait out the lightning. - Brian Buell|
|The view from the start of Top Of The World Trail overlooking Mount Garibaldi. - Brain Buell|
|Dirt TV's Rob Parkin catches me climbing my guts out on Stage 1. - Brian Buell|
|Dirt TV Recap Video: http://dirt.mpora.com/featured/dirttv-enduro-world-series-round-5-from-crankworx.html|
|An over the bars crash left me with a lot of work to do after Stage 1. - Brian Buell|
A mechanical on the transition stage left me pressing for time and when I got to the start of stage 2 I was tossed immediately in the lineup without a break which made finding the flow more difficult and those climbs tougher. The crowd was amazing and helped me finish strong, it wasn't my best stage but at least it was clean. I kept my BPM under 140 while on the transition stages to keep my energy level high, so it was slow going but was the perfect pace to get me to the rest of the stages on time.
|Starring down the barrel of Stage 2. - Brian Buell|
|After getting thrown into the gate I had a hard time adjusting and the climbs killed. - Brian Buell|
|The true spirit of Enduro, lounge chairs half way up the transition between stages 2 and 3. - Brian Buell|
Stage 3 started great, I was having a great run going but ended up snapping a derailleur cable and jamming by chain in the process. I kicked and pumped my way the rest of the way to the finish.
|A broken derailleur cable and a jammed chain left me out the back. - Brian Buell|
Motivated to make stage 4 my best yet I loosened up and let it run big time making multiple passes down this brilliant trail and just as I reached the bottom third of track I blew my chainring in two and was once again subjugated to coasting to the finish without rear suspension due to the ring jamming in-between my linkage and cranks. Disappointed as I was on such a good run I flintstoned a few miles back into the village where I would fix up the bike and ready myself for a daunting stage 5.
|Fellow racers gear up prior to Stage 4 while overlooking the valley below. - Brian Buell|
|Stage 4 starting line and a 30 second sprint before dropping fast down the fall line. - Brian Buell|
|A major mechanical, breaking my chainring in two once again destroyed my chances of a strong finish. - Brian Buell|
An amazing venue, Stage 5 started so high up and far away from the finish that it was tough to grasp the distance between the two. Instead of riding all out like in the first 4 stages, I paced myself during stage 5 trying to keep a good pace and when the going got tough I started hunting the horizon for the bright colors of fellow racers polyester. My friend arm pump found me a few times but I was able to shake it off and finish the 10.5km track strong, well under 24 minutes, my best stage of the day.
|Brian off and about 23 minutes from the finish. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalmtb.com|
|Plenty of opportunity to get loose on Stage 5's dry and dusty drops. Photo - Brandon Turman//vitalmtb.com|
|Still plenty of opportunity for some airtime as Brian takes flight over one of many small doubles. Photo Brandon Turman//vitalMTB.com|
|Did I mention it was a very long way to the valley floor? Photo Brandon Turman//vitaMTB.com|
|Now thats an Enduro finish arena properly equipped with a huck into the finish line. - Brian Buell|
|I finally put down a run I was proud of and was slotted well inside the top 20 where I think I belong on Stage 5. - Brian Buell|
Crankworx Pinkbike Video: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Enduro-World-Series-Round-4-video-2013.html
VitalMTB slideshow: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/ENDURO-ACTION-Crankworx-Whistler-EWS-Race-Day,6200/Slideshow,0/bturman,109
Red Bull photo Story: http://www.redbull.com/en/bike/stories/1331606458136/photo-story-on-top-of-the-world
Enduro to me is a roller coaster of emotions, and this race was no exception. I had so many high points fallowed up with the lowest of lows but was able to keep things together for a top 30 finish. Not exactly happy with how it all went down, I'm constantly searching to become more consistent so I can avoid this roller coaster effect and just ride high above the mayhem, however bumps in the road are inevitable. The race organizers did such an amazing job once again, everyone from the timing crew to the race volunteers were incredibly supportive and it was awesome watching the traveling spectators with their cowbells navigate from stage to stage. It was truly an adventure and the most fun I'd had racing all year. I was however disappointed with the representation of my USA brethren, I feel like we as a nation have a long way to go to be competitive on these more demanding tracks and that we need to start replicating what the EWS is doing in Whistler and overseas in Europe. This will happen over time and I'm excited to be apart of it.
|One of my most trying weekends and I'm still in the thick of things and 3rd American if that means anything. - Brian Buell|
|A cookie and Flat White were much appreciated the morning after! - Brian Buell|
|With the race over its time to frienduro in Squamish with Pang, Baller, Irish Pete and Seb Kemp. - Brian Buell|
|The best trail treasure I've ever found! - Brian Buell|
Thank you to all of my family, sponsors and everyone that supports my mountain bike addiction as the season winds down with the conclusion of the Big Mountain Series in Durango and Moab.
|The Huck wizard. "huck I shall! Off stump I will!" Huck On! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYThI5IEFus|