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Bottom of the World - Surviving Whistler Top to Bottom
This is the second half of a run I took from the top of Whistler Peak to the Whistler Village following the Stage 5 route of the 2016 Enduro World Series.
If you havenít watched the first video I highly recommend watching the Top of the World stage first.
As I mentioned in the first part of this story it had been a lot tougher riding Top of the World than I expected and the OTB I had about halfway down the EWS signature trail had left me in a world of discomfort and slightly off my game. And donít underestimate how much energy had been burnt on the fire trails from the end of the single track to the start of No Joke. I was SHATTERED!
FULLY appreciating the tougher than expected conditions I headed off on the remainder of the descent psyched up to ride confidently. This was put to the test on the first section, No Joke. Not an overly steep trail but quite rough .. and of course much rougher than any video Iíd seen before. I knew I was barely going fast enough for the root cluster at 1:00, but in these conditions I made a wise decision to avoid it. At 1:12 a completely innocuous looking roll down off a rock slab into the trees .. HOLY CRAP .. is not so innocuous.
NO VIDEO HAS EVER MADE THAT LOOK DIFFICULT
but it was my FIGJAM moment of the whole trip.
Relying on the dozens of videos Iíd watched hundreds of times I came down the slab blind, riding ďthe high lineĒ some of the worldís best used. It was not only steeper and longer than I thought but was coated in a super slippery layer of talc and came with a massive bomb hole at the bottom quickly followed by a direction change through the trees. If you listen carefully you will hear Jasonís reaction from behind when he seeís the challenge.
You can watch this video a thousand times and still struggle to understand why I was so blown away with what Iíd done but for me it was a case of trusting what I knew and putting faith in my already stretched skills on a trail that was immensely more difficult than Iíd expected.
The short technical remainder of this section was a great setup for the rest of the run. A comfortable gradient and ample visibility enabled me to hold just enough speed to deal with the technical terrain while remain in control of my destiny. As you can I hear I was pretty happy with myself.
Iíd had some warning as to the state of the next section of No Joke, one of the Geherig Twins put up footage from the 2017 EWS a week earlier and it took a me few goes to recognise the trail it was so badly dug out, but what it didnít convey was just how slippery the rocks were and that drop you can see to the left when Iím stopped at 3:36 (just after the yellow sign), I was definitely going to do until I saw it in person!!
So just recapping, Iíd pushed myself to the emotional and physical limit on Top of the World, banged myself up pretty bad, had energy sucked from me by the long rough fire trails and then dealt with some pretty crazy conditions on the opening sections of No Joke PLUS I had seen what the EWS riders had done to the trails ahead AND there was plenty still to come.
I was hanging by a thread so the remainder of the journey to the village was about survival. Short sections of riding broken up by long breaks to recover.
The top section of Duffman was fun, sadly due to exhaustion I balked at a couple of the technical bits. I now wish Iíd ridden it again with more conviction. Freight Train was a punish on account of the corrugated braking ruts, Iím sure with a clearer mind there would have been smoother lines.
Mackenzie River was quite fun. Tight, technical and a nice gradient meaning very little pedalling and braking was required, certainly not a trail to relax on but not as intense as what had come before it or was yet to come.
Back onto a short section of Duffman and the level rose immediately with much bigger drops, ruts and bomb holes distributed in sections that required reasonable speed to survive but followed by super tight turns. Certainly one of the more memorable challenges I conquered on the whole trip.
The final tech section was Shady Acres and onto Del Bocca Vista, green trails that in most bike parks would easily be rated blue. Super fun flowy tech trails that I would have ridden every day had it not been inconvenient get to and from without extensive flat fire road style green runs.
The top to bottom run following the 2016 EWS Stage 5 route was truly EPIC. It took me over 2 hours to get from top to bottom (including stopping for the injury), 40:31 with stops removed, while Cecile Ravanel did it in 24:15 and Richie Rude in 21:30. Comparatively they would have been at the bottom by the time I completed Top of the World (without stops). Iíve now got an even greater appreciation of the skill and fitness of the Enduro World Series athletes, especially the amateurs when they have already ridden for some 50km before tackling this trail.
We did not do this run again. I had amazed myself with how well I got down it and Iíd let it weigh on me to the point of psyching myself out, believing I couldnít do it again. I regret that nowÖ I have unfinished business with the 2016 EWS Stage 5 Route.
Jason and Aaron celebrating (surviving) the top to bottom run at Whistler Bike Park
Trail Centres and Trails featured in this blog