Tom Puxley and a group of friends hit up Whistler at Crankworx for a five week adventure!
I spotted this Go-Pro Whistler video on Mpora and thought it encapsulated the Canadian bike park vibe really well so asked Tom for some more info.
Here’s Tom’s story, that I’m calling “Searching for a Way To Paradise!”
So with a typical student hangover and the University work for my masters piling up, the confirmation email popped up, the flight to Vancouver was booked and at a snip just over £800 the drinking fund was taking a fairly serious hit, but I did not give a damn because it was finally happening, nearly a decade of watching videos and having seen my friends fly off to Canada while I worked at placements for the last two summers didn’t matter anymore. Whistler was no longer a dream but a reality, a five week holiday in Whistler incorporating Crankworxs was just a mere three months away and all that stood in the way was a block of painful presentations and exams.
I was travelling with Dan Evans and meeting our good friend Rich Jones out there, they had both been here before and it was nice to know that they had a grip of where to ride, party and eat. With the flight behind me, a quick stop over in a fairly dank hotel in the middle of Vancouver and a 2 hour coach journey, we picked up the keys for our new flat in the Market Place above 7/11. Which later turned out to be a gold mine of ‘happy’ (drunk) downhill heros in the early hours such as Dirt’s one and only Duncan Riffle (we saw him the next day and asked him expectantly if he remembered us? he did not!).
With the bikes built we headed out to the chairlift, walking through the village I could feel myself getting giddy, full speced dh bikes everywhere just resting up outside shops, neck braces far and wide and wait, what was this? Good looking women in a mountain bike resort; my mind was blown, I’d been here a couple hours, not ridden and already I never wanted to leave. It began to rain but it was our first day in Whistler so like all good British riders we bucked up and got on with it. For my first run Dan lead me straight into, well I’m going to say ‘Whistler Downhill’, but in reality I think it might have been ‘Crank it Up’ but it was still wild. A few more runs and we were done. As it turned it that was the only rain we had during the day for the entire rest of our trip.
Back to the flat and straight into the hot tub, Rich and Greg the German (not that we held that against him) joined us and with beers in hand we flashed the swipe card and wandered in to the outdoor bath only to find that it was jammed full of the Australian ‘Wolf Pack’ guys, beers shared and stories swapped we thought there wasn’t a much better idea than for all of us to head straight out to the clubs; so we did! All me and Rich can remember from the evening is that we finished the night trying to fit a small Irish girl I had incorrectly been calling Perlow all night into the oven in her own flat.
Hangover in hand the first full day of riding commenced and it was all amazing, ‘A-line’ is everything I imagined and ‘Ride don’t Slide’ was the wildest thing I have ever ridden. The whole holiday continued in this vein, everything, including the riding just got more and more incredible. Highlights included; Head banging /moshing with Sam Pilgrim at Maxx Fish to some crazy heavy dubstep, majorly hungover days at the lake, the Alta Lake rope swing over jagged rocks, floating the River of Dreams while getting so sunburnt we looked like well cooked lobsters and so many more.
So as fast as lightning Crankworxs was upon us, what a wild 10 day event that turned out to be. First of all I want to dispel this myth that you can’t ride during Crankworxs, the weather was perfect and the queues had been longer during a standard weekend. Being honest the gang and I pretty much skimmed over the first three events as they tended to favour the XC and Enduro fellows rather than us DH types. The first event we watched was Speed and Style, this was so entertaining. We stood at the top looking down onto the first trick jump. The winding top of the course was a great place to stand and watching Brendan take the win made the event that much better. The amount of people that turned out was mind blowing and set the precedent for the rest of the festival.
Having ridden Garbanzo downhill the week before I was looking forward to seeing the haggard bodies of the pros roll into the finish arena and see what times they could pull out. When Steve Smith came across the line with such a dominating time the crowd went mad and I’m not ashamed to say I joined in, howling like a wolf seemed to be the gangs natural response during Crankworxs, so I tried to keep with tradition and howled like there was a full moon.
To anyone that hasn’t been, Whistler village has a Olympic plaza set up in honour of the 2010 winter Olympics and this was the location for the Pump Track Challenge, The GoPro Dirt Diaries and the Deep Summer Photo Challenge. The pump track challenge was outstanding, the crowd was going crazy and at points it was a couple of 100 deep, the big screens provided meant that this didn’t matter and people just wanted to be a part of it and soak in the atmosphere.
It became a battle at the end as to what would fail first; me or the bike, and unfortunately with three days left it was me. Five stitches in my right hand from washing the front wheel meant that the last few days would be well spent recovering and cheering on the pros on the final weekend of Crankworxs, which did not disappoint. Joyride was the most mental stuff I’ve ever seen on mountain bikes. It is that old thing; you just do not appreciate the size of those jumps until you see them in the flesh. I saw the winner at the airport and the Airline wouldn’t let him put his bike on the plane. This may have been because he and his friends hadn’t taken any wheels off and had just turned the bars and wrapped them in plastic bags. I know Whistler is expensive but I would think with $25,000 in winnings he could have afforded a bike bag.
Oh, I nearly forgot Whip off Worlds. Standing on the jump meant a pretty crazy view and you would not believe the amount of sideways that was going on over the jumps. They also whipped over heads, scrubbed beer cans and pretty much landed on people.
The video is completely shot on GoPros and although the riding may not be top class (actually, I’m just being modest, I think we almost look pro). It pretty much sums up how much fun we had in Whistler and I don’t think I will ever forget how enjoyable it was. If I ever do I’ll just watch this film again.
I’m sure there are loads of stories I’m missing and plenty of people but I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dan Evans for pretty much organising the whole thing. Also a big ‘shout out’ to Rich Jones, Greg Voss, The Swiss brothers Benoit & Romain Erard, Hendrik Single and everyone else that made this the most enjoyable trip I have ever been a part of.
By the way I passed all the exams, 2:1 ftw.
Video – Tom Puxley
GoPro Photos –Rich Jones & Tom Puxley
Non Go pro photos – Greg Voss & Hendrik Single