Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Right now I should be saddling up the rental V10 and getting ready for another day's awesome shredding at Whistler Bike Park. Instead I'm sulking in the lodge, wincing as I type with damaged digits. This place brings the best out of your riding, daring you to go a little faster and harder with each run. Each jump perfectly cleared, each steep techy section pinned and cleaned gives you that extra bit of confidence. But every ounce gained has a price to pay. The currency? Respect! Get a little too cocky and the mountain will rein you in. So far we've managed to get away with a few squirrelly launches and sketchy landings to keep things in check. But yesterday I pushed a little too hard ... and here I am. Hoping my hands miraculously heal before the week is out so I can experience one last blast down the mountain.

We're half way through the trip and have so far hit up old favourites like Crank It Up and A-Line as well as exploring some of the more technical blue runs on the lower half of the mountain. Yesterday, me and Chris decided to head higher and hit Freight Train a couple of times. I remember feeling well out of my comfort zone on Freight' last year, so I was determined to feel a little more confident this time around. My jumping is still not quite dialed on the black runs. I've been hitting the blue jumps with grinning abandon, but the lippy, less forgiving blacks tend to expose the weakness in my technique so I've shied from attacking them so far.

I'm loving the technical rough stuff though. I've realised that the groomed, bermed jumpy trails are a lot of fun, but its the more organic, rocky, rooty stuff that really gets me excited. It feels more like "proper" mountain biking (whatever that is.) I guess because it's closer (if not a lot bigger and gnarlier) than what we normally ride on our local trails. Freight Train has some lovely tech sections and, apart from one or two sections where I lost momentum, I managed to get through unscathed and grinning like a loon.

Most of A-Line was closed for the day, so in the afternoon we hit Crank It Up a few times to get our jump fix. I started to feel really good about getting air and hitting the jumps at speed - rarely braking between whoops and tabletops. Some choice nuggets of advice from Mike Brill rattled around my noggin as each jump became more fluid and enjoyable. The last run of the day and we aimed for one more blast down Crank' before the obligatory post ride beer. And that's where I went arse over tit..... Coming into the first jump waaaay too hot, I cleared the transition by a good few feet and landed on the flat. I've never caught that much air before and it felt great! But the landing sent me scuttling into the rocks, my ride collapsing beneath me. The gladiator costume did its thing and saved me from a trip to ER, but my defenseless hands weren't so lucky.

I managed to smash my index finger and thumb. Hard. I don't think they're broken. Just badly bruised... almost as bruised as my stupid ego for thinking I could hit jumps that fast. Still, a valuable lesson learned. A little humility at this place can go a long way to keeping you in one piece. Hopefully a combination of rest and some painkillers will mean my Whistler experience isn't over and done with for this year.... we'll see...

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