Crankworx is a gong show. It is a beautiful, glorious gong show of events, parties and mountain bike excitement. I have not been privy to this festival for a few years, as it usually coincides with my Swiss DH trips. This year however, organizers decided to move Crankworx up a month and fortuitously aligned it with my schedule.
The week is overwhelming. There are stimuli from all angles, from the throngs of people in the Whistler Village to the many booths hawking their shiny wares. The bike park is in full swing, all the trails open and ready for riders. You are just as likely to head up the chairlift with a weekend warrior from Seattle as you are a World Cup DH contender. Crankworx truly is a week of bicycle celebration.
For all the excitement and action one does weary of the circus after a while. Once that gnawing urge to escape started to nip at my heels I hightailed it to Function Junction, where I met the Chromag crew for their weekly Friday ride. This ride is a drawn-out affair, usually consisting of a leisurely breakfast, some bike maintenance, storytelling and then the main event. This event is decidedly different than a Crankworx spectacle however. A Chromag ride consists of a core group of riders, dedicated to a handful of hours in the saddle, moving through technical singletrack, both up and down. The Chromag ride could be the only group ride where some of the climbs pose as much risk as the downhill sections. New trails are discovered, loamy singletrack is ripped, and laughs are had. The ride ends back at the Chromag headquarters with more storytelling, and beverages. The day was another pure form of bicycle celebration, minus the maddening crowds.
Back at Crankworx the events rolled on, delighting the huge groups of fans that travelled from all over the world to witness some of the most intense mountain bike competitions in the world. I took part in the last event of the week, the Kona Enduro. This event featured five timed stages placed all over the Whistler Valley, with only two of them being in the bike park. It was an amazing event, encompassing all that is great about mountain biking. Riding to the top of a descent with your friends, taking in the scenery and chatting, rallying down fun trails like your life depended on it, repeating the process several times, and then ending it all of with a cold beer. My fitness levels were not quite up to those of the former World Champions I was racing against, but it was a great day out on my Abra Cadabra.
All the events at Crankworx, both at the festival and away, reminded me how great and diverse this little sport of mountain cycling is. What a treat it is to have a festival that celebrates all the little niches of this culture.