Crankzilla might well have tested the mettle of the Enduro World Series racers, but Crankworx’s Garbanzo Downhill offers more to those looking to suffer on a bike.
Words and photos by Lee Miller.
Most World Cup downhill tracks are done and dusted in under 5 minutes, and venues like Fort William, Cairns and Mont Saint Anne are arguably the toughest. Imagine then 12 minutes of Whistler Mountain, taking in 7 kilometres along and over 1,000m down.
Our man on the ground Lee Miller was on hand to capture the action.
The first of the 3 Crankworx downhill races kicked off today, with easily the toughest one of them all, and maybe even the toughest DH race in the world, the Garbanzo DH. With the recent grumblings from some World Cup racers that tracks are getting easier, the Garbanzo is the answer to their prayers with some 3500 elevation change over the near 7km track.
Times on the brutal Whistler track range from just over 12 minutes to well towards 20, 4 to 5 times the length of what most riders are used to. To be successful here you need to have it all, speed, skill, endurance and forearms made of steel will also come in handy!
The track starts way up high on the mountain sharing the same name, Garbanzo and winds its way down some of Whistlers most iconic trails starting on Original Sin, a rough and blown out section of big roots and switchbacks, ankle deep in dust in places thanks to the dry weather plaguing BC this summer. The track continues along Blue Velvet and then into In Deep for some monster-sized rocks and roots that seem to grow in size each year as the trail ages.
If you want to be in with a chance of a podium, taking it easy on the few flat traverses across the hill, including a cruel steep uphill are out of the question, every second counts even on a 12 minute track. Next up is Duffman, the pedally Golden Triangle and World Cup single track.
By this time most riders are begging for the finish line, but still to come are Ho Chi Min, Long Horn and finally Monkey hands before the riders can finally take a well earned rest at the bottom, usually slumped over the bars covered in dust and questioning their sanity.
All eyes were undoubtedly on Colombian Marcelo Gutierrez as he made it an unbelievable 5 wins in a row in the men’s race, with the rest of the men’s podium being a carbon copy from last year with Sam Blenkinsop in second and Jack Moir in third.
In the women’s race Tracey Hannah went one better from last year and finally got on the top step with local girl Claire Buchar coming in an impressive second and Emilie Siegenthaler in third.
You can check out the full Garbanzo Downhill results can be found here.
Find out what else is going on at Crankworx Whistler here.