Words by Hannah Bergemann, who was having an incredible race at the Whistler EWS, holding on to 11th place when an irreparable flat forced her to pull out on the final stage.
Crankworx started off with practice for the enduro. It was my first time getting to hang out and ride with the Kona Gravity team.
Practice was fun and challenging with lots of trails and features to remember in and out of the bike park. Conditions were a bit dry, but the trails were running great. It was awesome to see the skills of racers cruising down the tracks and choosing their lines.
Day 1 started off late in the evening with the Top of the World queen stage. It had been threatening to rain all day but continued to hold off as we rode lifts up to the alpine. I was nervous and stiff at the start of the stage resulting in a small wash-out that required me to stop and straighten crooked bars. After a few minutes, I began to warm up and felt much better towards the end of the 24-minute stage. I felt a huge improvement from last year where I was just surviving towards the end, trying to make it down in one piece. This year I rode conservatively, saving energy expecting to get fatigued again like last year. In hindsight, I wish I had been a little more aggressive and pushed harder. I finished stage 1 in 28th place.
Right after finishing the first stage, the storm finally rolled in, and rain started to fall heavily. It didn’t let up all night and continued into the morning leaving the trails muddy and slick.
The 2nd day started with a pedal across the valley to a trail called Jaws. The stage had some steep, gnarly rock rolls and chutes covered with slimy roots that were now very slick. My run was messy, but I made it down without any crashes and felt pretty good about that.
The next stage brought us over to Blackcomb to ride Roam in the Loam and Golden Boner. Both fun trails to ride, but hard to race with lots of steep, punchy climbs and one long grueling road sprint in the middle.
After a pit stop, Stage 4 was back in the park at the top of the Garbo lift. We rode rocky Whistler tech trails down to Creekside on some new and insanely rooty trails that were wild in the wet. My goal was to ride smooth and hold momentum through all the crazy roots. I was nervous, but it ended up being an awesome run for me. I found a stride in the wet conditions and found myself in 11th place after this stage.
Stage 5 was a raw, low angle track that became a mess with the rain and hundreds of racers. I dabbed my feet in most corners and found my wheels in several muddy holes trying to get through the stage. I held onto 11th place and was excited to be almost done with the race.
The last stage started back on the upper mountain on In Deep. The tech sections were spicy in the rain, with lots of slippery rocks. After popping out onto the expressway road, I was trying to hold my speed when my front wheel found a rock in the wrong place, burping my front tire flat in a few seconds. I tried to continue on, sprinting up and across the road sections and dropping into the next trail with the front flat. When I got down to Clown Shoes, a little spill on a slippery rock reminded me of the steep rock sections ahead and that it wouldn’t be safe to ride it with the front flat. I pulled over to try and repair it. After no luck with my CO2 or my tube, I decided to pull out of the race.
Luckily my friend Tyler happened to be standing right there on the track, so we walked down together as the race finished up down in the village (and shared a beer on the way down).
I was super bummed to have to pull out right at the end but was also super proud of the way I rode in the gnarly conditions, coming back from 28th to 11th place in the end, and for keeping my body healthy!
I learned a ton and had a lot of fun during this race, and was stoked to see some huge improvements from last year! I’m heading down to Tahoe for the next round today, and hoping I can put together a good race!