These North American EWS qualifier races are no joke… two of the toughest races I’ve ever done on back to back weekends. It’s been super fun to challenge myself at these tough events, and I feel like I’ve been learning a lot along the way.
The first stop was at Silver Mtn resort in Kellogg, ID. This sleepy northern Idaho town is home to one of the largest elevation and arguably best bike resorts in North America.
This race featured 6 long, tough stages on a variety of terrain from raw, off-camber fresh cut to rocky alpine shale to bike-park-style berms.
Stage one was entirely fresh cut… like freshly built the week prior to the race. It was loose and raw, with crazy lines waiting to be cut in with tires. It was also one of the hardest stages I’ve ever raced, with lots of flat pedally sections on loose dirt and rough off-camber roots for over 12 minutes. I found myself upside down in the bushes only a few corners into this stage and decided I need to ride much more conservatively on the loose terrain.
Stage 2 was my favorite, a short and steep DH track with lots of high lines and a large step down.
After a gondola ride, we pedaled a long ways up past the chairs to the top of the Silver mountain summit to reach stages 3 and 4. They were both fresh trails with some shale rock gardens, steep loose sections, and even some sketchy snow patches.
Stage 5 started back at the top of the lift access and was a short bike park stage. The last transfer seemed to take forever as we pedaled and traversed back up the mountain. We finally reached the top again and had a full-pull stage to the bottom to finish out the race. This stage was brutal on the hands and super challenging, but also insanely fun with some good heckling at the end.
After 6000’ of pedalling and 12’000 feet of descending, my hands felt like they couldn’t even hold onto a cup of coffee. I was stoked to come in 2nd despite some costly mistakes on the techy tracks.
The next weekend, I headed north to Squamish, BC for the next round of racing. After the Silver mountain race, I didn’t think a race could get much harder, but Squamish proved me wrong.
Stage one took us down Rigs in Zen, a technical, rough & rocky track on the north side of Squamish with plenty of punchy climbs and hand-numbing chunder. While this trail is a blast to ride, racing it is super tough. I had many “oh-shit” moments but managed to hang on and have a relatively clean run.
Stage 2 was a blind stage down a Squamish classic called Rupert. Lots of fun rock slabs and ripping single track sections.
Stage 3 was a long transfer from Alice Lakes over to Diamond Head area to ride another classic called 19th hole. This track felt more like a DH run with a lot less pedalling, fewer rock moves, but more high speed sections and jumps. I felt my best on this stage and actually practiced it twice the day before because it was so fun.
Stage 4 was a relatively mellow transfer over to a trail called “Somewhere Over There.” It had some awesome rock moves, and some gorgeous single track. The last stage was on the furthest south hill called Valleycliffe. I was pretty gassed by the time we made it to this stage, and didn’t have much left in the tank for the sprint sections, but thankfully it was a short stage. A very slow pedal through some neighborhoods and across town brought me back to the north side where I laid in the grass so happy just to have finished the race.
I was surprised and stoked to have finished 3rd behind some quick local ladies!
After two huge weekends of racing, I’m feeling more confident in my riding and learning some things that help out on big days. Taking the climbs and transfers slow is helpful to conserve energy for the race stages. Also, carrying and consuming as much food and water as I possibly can have been super important for keeping energy levels up! Huge thanks to Spencer Paxson with Peak Performance Bham for all the help with my race prep this season.
I’m stoked to have some good momentum at this mid-point in the season, and looking forward to tackling Trans BC this month!