The EWS tracks were riddled with roots, hundreds and thousands of them, surrounded by the most amazing, loamy, hero dirt one can imagine, whilst winding it’s way through some spectacular forests. Old man’s beard blowing in the breeze, with very thoughtful hand carved wooden signs naming the trails and low clouds that move slowly caressing the mountain tops and hillsides surrounding this spectacular valley we‘ve all grown to love so much. Oh, Whistler you are so gorgeous and so scary at the same time.
After the very demanding “Crankzilla” round we endured last year, of course we were all pretty scared coming into this round, wondering whether or not it would be a repeat of last years suffering or if the organizers would be kind to us… Turns out, they do have a gentler side and they wanted everyone to have a fun weekend of riding and racing. It was quite a relief to see all the lift access that we were allowed to use to access the trails, with very minimal climbing and very relaxed liaison times. Everyone seemed a bit relieved, but that didn’t mean that race day was going to be an easy day. Easy days don’t really exist in Whistler. Even though we didn’t have to climb much, it still took most of us the entire day to fit one run in on most of the stages. They were all amazing, they offered everything, they were super technical, steep, rooty, rocky, pedally, physical, long and demanding – a pretty perfect combination for an enduro race track and everyone seemed to love them. Again, none of them were easy, but practice day was a big, rad day out on the bikes soaking up the sunshine and the big blue skies.
We were all pretty relieved about this round, and then the rain came. It rained all day and all night and those relieved feelings turned into anxious worries & nightmares about how we were going to get down those root riddled tracks come race morning. All the practice went out the window, along with my confidence. Race day turned into a day of somehow getting down the tracks and surviving them. It wasn’t pretty, but of course we all did it. You just switch into this mode and get on with the task at hand. I felt stiff and scared and not too confident in these conditions, but we slowly checked the stages off, one at a time and every run improved slightly. By the time we got to stage three, I felt like I knew how to ride my bike again, stage four was actually fun for me and stage five was just a blast through the bike park and by the time we rode this stage, everything was bone dry & trustworthy again. Of course. Bloody Murphy!
I felt so ready and confident on all the race tracks during practice, but waiting my turn come race morning, I definitely felt a tad bit timid after the rain and I knew that I was in for quite a challenging day. Maybe it was a combination of the changed, wet conditions that we couldn’t practice on, but also maybe a bit of what happened at the last round in Colorado. Either way, I just wanted to get through this round safe & sound. These races are never easy, even when the stats look a bit easier, some other unforeseen element will jump in there to make it hard for us in some other way. It ended up being such an enjoyable day out. The girls all had such a laugh and such a great time cheering each other on, listening to all the war stories, the mishaps and the funny maneuvers that were pulled off to get down these slippery tracks. Falling off bridges, losing gloves mid race run, stuck upside down clipped in, it goes on and on, and those are the things that I remember, that makes these hard days enjoyable, and what makes me chuckle for weeks down the line. There were so many Juliana riders out racing at this round and every single one of them represented so well, racing and riding their hearts out. Kelli ended up in 12th place, myself in 16th and Sarah in 17th spot. It was great to have the whole team back together and out there representing again. Huge thanks to Allan, Mary & Tom for getting our bikes dialed and our bellies full all week.
The organizers were spot on with the ratio, the trail combo’s, the lift access and the liaison times. We had amazing feed stations with the most delicious mouth watering watermelon and a great atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Cheers to everyone who worked so hard to avoid turning this round into “Crankzilla” two, you guys killed it!
Loving this chill day today, catching up with life and looking forward to a week filled with yoga, adventure rides, some laps in the park, women’s clinics and chilling at the lake of course.