12 Minutes of Madness | Crankworx Garbanzo Downhill.

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.

Railing one of the many huge berms in Blue Velvet, an impressive 4th today for Ed Masters.

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.

Phil Atwill was smashing runs on his trail bike all morning but didn’t start when racing came around in the afternoon.

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!

There’s more than just style with Sam Blenkinsop, two second places in a row for the kiwi on the long brutal track, still no gloves though obviously.

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.

A slower entry but a chance to roll one big rock instead of smashing about 20, one of 2 line choices along this section of In Deep.

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.

A tough year so far for Adam Brayton, not today though with a solid 6th place.

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.

‘Whistlerite’ Clare Buchar putting local knowledge to good us to move one place up on the box from last year into second today. Can she go one better next year?

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.

An impressive top ten for Pivot rider Rupert Chapman.

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.

Giant Factory rider Jacob Dickson coming home in 12th today, perhaps picking up a few lines from his team mate along the way.
George Gannicott was looking pinned all day and it showed when the results came in, a solid 11th place for the Brit.
Tracey Hannah finally getting on the top step of the Garbonzo DH after last year’s second place. After some impressive results this year the Aussie will be full of confidence going into the next events.
Legendary Fort William slayer Chris Kovarik showing that he can still mix it with the best with a top 5 today.
Marcelo Gutierrez just looks quicker on this track, even during practice it was obvious that the man would take some beating on what is now unquestionably ‘his’ track.
Gutierrez opting to take the rougher chute down the middle of in deep, who can question the mans line choice with 5 victories now under his belt?
The King of the Garbonzo Downhill.
No chain last year and some serious play in the rear wheel of his Giant this year – the Garbonzo eats bikes for breakfast!
Last year’s winner and Canadian National Champion Miranda Miller couldn’t make it two wins in a row here and came down just off the podium in 4th.
A repeat of last year’s third for Jack Moir who was “glad it was over” as he reached the bottom.
Jack Moir watches the podium presentations all the time eager to get back up the mountain for the Air DH practice that followed the race. No time to rest here in Whistler.
Men’s Junior winner Nikolas Nestoroff showing off his subtle Intense colour scheme before the start of today’s race.
Nestoroff would go on to take the junior category by a full 20 seconds with a time good enough for a top 20 in the men’s field.
Today’s top 3 pro men and women share the Podium here at Crankworx.
Jack Reading skipping over roots as he makes his way down to a 9th place finish.
Joe Smith on the gas across a flat section of Blue Velvet, proving that you can’t rest on this track. The pedal strokes paying off come the end though with an impressive 8th place finish.
Two legends of the mountain bike world. Brett Tippie was trackside all day offering encouragement as only Brett knows how with Kovarik steering his Intense to another impressive result here in Whistler.

You can check out the full Garbanzo Downhill results can be found here.

Find out what else is going on at Crankworx Whistler here.