Sunday, 7 August 2011


Our last day of shredding Whistler's beautifully designed slopes and I brought something a little more fitting for the occasion : a Santa Cruz carbon V10. Very similar to the Nomad, in fact it weighed about the same, but the wider bars and slacker geometry, not to mention 10 inches of plush, meant she was a little more gravity inclined than my own trusty steed. After a few warm ups, we hit A Line to really see what I could do with it.

The V10 is not as burly or brutal as the other, 40lbs+ rigs you see at the park. It's a little more poised and elegant. It's lighter weight makes it super responsive, especially when airborne, so I struggled at first to keep it tame. Those extra inches of travel meant I gained - what felt like - several feet more air each time I hit the jumps. A first I was unnerved but once I got used to it I was hitting the lips with as much speed as I dared, eagerly awaiting the kick skywards! (The Go Pro footage - which is to come - will confirm that my "skyward" launches were in fact about 3 feet) ;o)

The bike soaked up drops though. Rolling over with the merest shift of weight backwards inspired a lot of confidence. I stuck to the trails on the lower half of the mountain. A week's worth of riding fatigue, plus a love of A Line, meant I shied away from the rougher trails at the top. A shame as I had the ride for it, but I wanted to dial the jumps. It was like an addiction!

Me and Spangles finished our final day's riding with a blast down Crank It Up. I felt like I'd dialed that trail and had some awesome, fast runs down it. It seemed fitting to end the trip with one last shred. Mentally, I felt keen to ride more, but physically I was shot so injury was inevitable. Just as well that I quit while ahead. My last run and I hit many of the jumps way too hard and cleared the transitions. The V10 didn't flinch though and coasted me safely back to the village where, weary and grinning, we sat and had cold beers and reflected on the week's fun.So, that's it. All done and dusted (literally on some days.) 7 months ago me and a few fellas I know decided we'd had enough of simply gazing at DVDs featuring the world's best mountain bike park, and that we were going to pack up our bikes and head up there to see what all the fuss was about. A broken collar bone, the daily grind and United Airlines meant 3 of us fell by the wayside. But that's just a good excuse to book another trip next year. The rest of us spent a week in the shadow of Whistler mountain, ripping down the dirt equivalent of Disneyland. Awesome, amazing fun and definitely something to be repeated annually.

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