Posted July 31, 2004
Crankworx Freeride Mountain Bike Festival



I'm beginning to say bah-hooey to traditional races and yee-haw to events like Crankworx. Local bands made last weekend's event "edgy," and awesome courses made it "cool." You'll find no cross country or short track here; it was all about the Air Downhill, Nissan Bikercross, Garbanzo Downhill and Siemens Mobile Slopestyle.

For me, riding at Whistler is too fun to justify racing at Whistler, so I stuck to my strict goof-off schedule and kept a loose eye on the competitions.

Siemens Mobile Slopestyle
Here is the future. While just about nobody watched bikercross (most would rather ride), the slopestyle course was lined with hundreds of spectators. The Richie Schley-designed course was just plain rad: tree bridges, drops, big doubles, huge doubles, immense doubles, a fun box, wall rides, a quarter pipe and an elevated teeter. At the finish you jumped onto a platform then hit a stepdown lip into a long landing. This was a prime photo op: riders styling, framed by huge inflatable cell phones.

Riders were throwing some serious kung fu, especially in the final eight. Cedric pinned 55-foot stepdown at about 100 miles per hour. Richie was looking stylish but perhaps a bit careful. Kirt Voreis was going at it like a madman. He stalled on the elevated teeter and clawed onto the thing like a cat. After securing his spot in the finals Timo Pritzel doubled the entire box, then backflipped a huge set a of doubles, then tried to jump the entire finish platform. He went up nose-light and jettisoned his bike at least 30 feet off the ground. It was ugly. His previous run earned him a spot in the final two. The thing was, Timo was strapped to a board, so it was up to the other finalist, Paul Basaqoitia, to roll a victory run. Paul wasn't on the invite list; he came up from the Reno area, qualified on the poor schmuck day, then went on to win the whole slab of bacon. Nice.


Pritzel with the monster backflip.

Voreis, half-way through a 360.
  

Garreth Dyer, local bad boy, gets off the wall.

Cedric goes every which way.

High speed, big air, no hands, a la Cedric.

Umm ... huge! Kyle Strait dot com.
  

Cameron Zink finds his balance.

Basaqoitia with your standard quarter pipe lofter. Victory run style. A few seconds later he came up short on a hip and rendered his bike unrideable.

Zink.
  

Andrew Neethling.

Schley shows everyone why he's the unofficial mayor of Whistler.
  

Geordie Lund flips his Demo 9 pancake on the sizzling griddle of hugeness.

More Lund. This is impressive, but consider that he gave the pro men the business at the Big Bear super-D. Brave, skilled and fit is what I'm saying.

Why just ride off the box when you can 360 off it?
  

Kyle Strait dot com.
  

What a cool scene.

See that? That's what they call "an audience." Hmm, curious. ...
  


Nissan Bikercross
Richie designed the course with input from Brian Lopes and Cedric Gracia, and it too was rad. Many racers said this was the best course ever. Huge berms and monster stepups kept things flowing, an 8-pack of rollers tested everyone's rhythm, and a severe gravity feed kept the speeds up.

The amateur turnout was puny -- and it seemed like half the field was from Northern California. Eric Carter won for pro men.

I got a few shots in practice ...


Cedric Gracia gets a practice start. He snapped so hard one of his fork legs blew right off.

Heir Lopes himself pulls on some bars and pushes on some pedals. SNAP!

Stacey Kuhut gets it going, four-wheel style. You should see this guy blast down A-Line. Statistically speaking, he's probably faster than you.

Before qualifying, BL convinces the officials to place the timing lights right after the gate, instead of 15 feet down the course.
  

Carter stays nice and low as a mammoth berm becomes a drop.

Duncan Riffle: man on a mission

Superfun, superfast left-right sequence. This guy would find it easier if he rides higher on the berm, on the steeper banking.




Air Downhill
Racing down A-Line would be pure love the whole way. It would go pretty much like this: Berm, jump, berm, jump, berm, jump (repeat). The jumps serve up perfect back side at a nice, leisurely pace, so going fast would be tricky. You might as well dial 1-800-FLAT-LAND. Lopes says he brake-checked for many of the jumps.

Aussie fastguy Nathan Rennie took pro men with a 4:15 and an average speed of 33 mph -- pretty fast over those jumps! Claire Whiteman of B.C. took pro women with a 4:49. Will Spencer of B.C. took amateur men with a 4:35. Kim Saprunnoff of B.C. took amateur women with a 5:05.

When I saw those times the Type-A part of me said "Shoot, I should have raced." After three weeks of practice I was getting down A-Line in less than 3:40, and the finish line seemed less than a minute farther. Oh, well. I had fun playing.

Photo: Curtis Beavers of NorCal rails an A-Line berm.



Garbanzo Downhill
This is my kind of downhilling, a Super-D from hell: from the top of the Garbanzo chair, all the way down No Joke to Duffman to World Cup to goodness knows what else. No Joke's steepness rewards smoothness and pump. The flatter Duffman requires more oomph. And the rest is a pedalfest.

Cedric Gracia rolled a 15:17 to rule pro men. Kathy Pruit zipped a 17:29 to take pro women.

Photo: Brian gets some love on No Joke. These turns are so fun it's stupid.

For more info check out www.crankworx.com
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