Team Wideopenmag’s Chris Hutchens takes a trip down memory lane at his time with the team since 2014.
Riders have come and gone, but since 2014, Chris Hutchens has been a stalwart of Team Wideopenmag, racking up plenty of content and solid race finishes in that time. As 2021 approaches, Hutch takes a look back through the archives.
After a proper transition across to Enduro in 2014 and getting a few seasons under my belt I remember getting a call from Jamie at Wideopenmag. Mark Scott had scored some cracking EWS results and found himself with a ride on Santacruz. The Wideopenmag vehicle had helped propel him onto a pro team. There was therefore a space on Wideopenmag and with Enduro growing they wanted to keep their foot in there and help another rider out.
I was beyond stoked to get a spot on the team and make plans for 2016. I would swing my leg over a Nukeproof, thrown on some swag riding kit and hit the races. Of course, along with racing the ‘mag’ would be looking for some media and race reports. This was all kind of new for me but armed with a GoPro I documented races as best I could. I squeezed in all the races, training, travel, and editing amongst other things around my Engineering job. Thankfully I like to be busy, something instilled into me by my dad.
Fast forward 5 years and the teams taking a different direction. The whole programme has given me so many opportunities. I’ve achieved a lot thanks to the team and all the sponsors. While I’ve not been snapped up by a Pro team, something I’d loved, I’ve learned so much from being on the team and this will let me continue to ride, race and maybe travel (pending COVID of course) in 2021 and beyond. Change can be good and I’m excited for what’s around the corner. Wideopenmag has certainly helped me since they brought me onboard as a fresh faced 25 year old.
I wanted to reflect on some of the highlights over the last few years. There’s been a lot. I’ve raced and ridden in some incredible places, ridden some great product and met some incredible people. Here’s just few…
EWS Top 30s
At the end of my first year with Wideopenmag I made the call to leave my engineering role and follow my own path for a bit. Going into 2017 I had ridden more than ever and really benefited from coaching others over the winter. This really gave me a chance to think about my riding while helping others. I was more ready than ever for the race season as I headed out to New Zealand for the first EWS. Here I scored a top 30 overall and this really gave me confidence for the rest of the season.
Madeira went well and despite some mechanical issues I just missed out on a top 50. I then finished 26th in Ireland which then put me in the top 30 for the following round in Millau. Just getting on the start line for that race was a gargantuan effort in the end (long story for another time) but to find yourself in this group of riders was pretty special. I knew them all well and you might think it was all serious but no, things were kept fun and the camaraderie was great to witness. The season then took a turn for the worst with some outside factors impacting it but for me scoring the results with Wideopenmag was a great highlight and showed to me what was possible when riding full time.
Megavalanche Win and weeks with the Nukeproof Team
With the megavalanche being a pilgrimage for any enduro racer I had the opportunity over a couple of season to head out with the wider Nukeproof team. Sam Hill, Jackson Davies, Kelan Grant, Natasha Bradley, Chris Cumming and Christo G all made this trip a blast over the years. We were well looked after by Rob Sheratt, Pagey and the Chain Reaction Cycles team. I’ve found myself doing fairly well in the past at mass start events such as the Macavalanche and in 2019 was buzzing to score a 12th place in the main event at the Mega…on a mega. I would then later find out that this would also put me on the top step for the Masters category. This will definitely stick out as one of my highlights with Wideopenmag and Nukeproof.
Trip to Brunei
This trip came to fruition fairly late in the day and I’m sure like 90% of those reading this now I jumped onto google and located where in the world Brunei was. This place has a unique history, both past and present and probably most recently hit the headlines for a controversial law it passed. The riding scene here is fairly young but there’s so much passion for the sport amongst the locals and the expats that live out there. Racing was pretty challenging with the humidity making everything a whole lot harder. What a trip this was with Christo and a massive thanks to Jason and the family at Kingdom Rides and Brunei airways for making this trip a reality.
The Wideopenmag team weekends were always an awesome way to kickoff and end the year. There was a big feed on the Saturday night thanks to Dave; bikes were fettled by James ‘Dru’ Farrow and photos shot by Iain Lean. There was always some fast riding from all the riders over the years and a competitive edge on who could go faster or bigger. Dan MR even managed to end his season before it started after breaking his arm at the Forest of Dean skills park. He’ll get that road gap one day.
Having Kelan, Dan MR and Christo join to race enduro alongside me really was an amazing addition to the team. While I only had a few races with Dan MR it was cool to see him achieve some strong results in that year. Kelan and Christo also excelled when they joined WO and having them to ride with and practice with was always eye opening. It’s amazing how people can ride a trail so differently.
Then there’s the wider WO family. All the DH riders, the parents, Dave and Jamie, the others supporting the team and sponsors. We’re all team mates at the end of the day and brought something different to the set up each year. It’s pretty impressive what you can do with some passion and a love for riding and racing.
Travel and Tourism
While Brunei was a unique trip over the years I travelled to some amazing riding spots to share what was on offer through Wideopenmag and to support tourism promotion. A couple of trips really stand out including a trip around Ireland and one out to Tignes. These were both super different but I enjoyed both the adventure and the process of sharing this story with others to help promote a location. Ireland had so many different riding locations and I’m eager to get back there again soon. Tignes had so much to offer and Mountain Sun was super accommodating throughout the trip.
Evolution of the Mega
I’ve always loved seeing how bikes have evolved and changed year on year and the Nukeproof Mega has really matured over the last five years. From the green machine I first jumped on at the start of 2016 to the new Mega V4 there’s been a lot of change. Of course there’s the wheel size changes but along with that the suspensions evolved and improved over the years.
Sizing has suited me some years better than others but the newest Mega brings together all of the best bits and creates a bike which has it all. It’s a masterpiece with nice details and of course a bottle cage. I’m pretty sure this bike will stick around for a while unless ebikes really take over in the coming years and analogue becomes a thing of the past.
I’d like to thank Wideopenmag for the support over the years and I hope it can be impacted less by COVID and give a few more young riders a stepping stone for the future. I’ll be taking forward so much that I’ve learned with Wideopenmag into 2021. I’ve got a feeling I may be seeing more of Christo…
Wishing everyone at Wideopenmag an awesome year in 2021!