This was a big one for me, my result at this race was going to determine whether or not it would be worth trying to do some (or all of) the 2023 EWS rounds next season. It’s something I’ve really wanted to do. Since I was unable to race any qualifiers in New Zealand, I had to race the EWS100 in Whistler, which had the benefit of not throwing myself completely into the deep end with a full field.
Stage one was Microclimate on Blackcomb—I REALLY loved this track as I thoroughly enjoy loam and tight corners. My run started off way jankier than I wanted, and I got bounced around a bit (probably due to not being warmed up after a long wait at the start). I started to pick up the pace about two to three minutes in until I hit the climb, which I had forgotten about, causing me to lose all momentum and grind up in one of my harder gears. All in all, my performance on stage one fell a bit short of what I would’ve liked, and I’d pin it on my lack of race fitness (strength and endurance), and being able to stay in control of the bike and myself the whole way through a long stage. I did take the stage win, though.
Stage two was Golden Boner and it started off much the same as Stage one—janky. I got bounced off my good lines took a few wrong ones, then stalled out. I got going about two minutes in, until I had a washout just before where my dad was shooting photos. Easily six or so seconds were lost, as well as momentum for the rest of the stage. I definitely left more to be desired from that run and I’d pin it on the same things: I need to be able to charge on the sprints and hold myself up in the rough. I was surprised to find even with my crash, I took my second stage win.
Stage three was No Joke. This one hurt a bit, haha. Inspecting my bike on the gondola ride up, I noticed I’d suffered a mechanical on the previous stage. With stage three being easily the roughest of the day, I had kinda shot myself in the foot and cost myself the overall win, as this stage was pretty much a write off, stalling everywhere scared that my bike would blow up, I gingerly kept things as smooth as I could. With all that, I let my competition gain 27 seconds back on me.
Stage four was Ride Don’t Slide. After a trailside repair, I made it to the start of the trail. This one was interesting, I can’t think of a moment when I didn’t have a foot unclipped, dangling in the wind. I kinda just focused on making it down, losing another 10 seconds on this stage. My lack of race strength and fitness was definitely getting to me at this point.
Stage five was 1199. I was 25 seconds back from first place heading into the stage. I knew I had to pull something out of the bag on this stage, but when I arrived at the top to drop in, I was basically falling asleep, genuinely unsure if I would make it to the bottom. Fast forward a few minutes to dropping in, I still felt like shit but managed to make it work. I felt pretty good through the first section, but missed a few of my lines and lost a bit of momentum into the second section, so I wasn’t too stoked on that. When I got to the climb, I was absolutely gassed, and pretty much crawled up and had to sit down at the top. This is a big hole in my riding that I need to sort out, purely fitness and my ability to keep pushing. Down the rest of the stage, I just felt messy and tired, I was pedaling, but no power was going down, even with all that I managed to pull back 20 seconds to take the stage win but it was six seconds short taking the overall win.
The biggest benefit of this race is I am now able to see where I need to make up the time to get to the fast top 50 EWS pace. The top of the top doesn’t seem that distant somehow.