Through mud, crashes and gondolas, Jones perseveres for win
Although a week of rain kept the numbers down for the third annual WORCA Max Vert Enduro, the 13 riders that did participate had an eventful morning.
The event got underway an hour late on Monday morning, which meant that the time limit had to be cut down from three hours to two-and-a-half. The object was to complete as many laps of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park as possible in the given time limit.
By the end of the day, the competitors were exhausted and coated in mud and dirt. One rider lost his pants and another lost four of his spokes.
Canadian downhill champion Mike Jones, a Norco pro team rider who moved to Whistler this summer to train, hung in to win the race after almost losing everything on his first lap.
Riding in a pack with Mike Steward and Todd Hollings on the top of the course, Jones bumped into Hollings while attempting a pass, and got a pedal in his spokes.
"I crashed pretty hard, and went right off the trail into the trees. I had to fiddle with my other spokes for a bit to get the tire straight, and lost a whole lot of time," said Jones.
"I was playing a tentative race at first, happy to just sit in and ride with the guys, but then Stewart just went for it and broke away. I didnt want to get left behind so I chased and probably tried to pass somewhere I shouldnt have."
Jones was ready to go again in a few minutes, and within the next few laps he had caught up to the leaders. After that point Jones and Stewart were never very far apart, leading to a foot race to the gondola station at the base of Whistler heading into their 10th laps. Jones got there a second earlier than Stewart, just as the doors to a gondola were closing.
Shut out, Stewart had to grab the next gondola with space, which happened to be three gondolas back. That secured the race for a tired but happy Jones.
"Im so punched right now its crazy," he said. "I was pretty much astounded by how much pedalling there was. From the top of the gondola to Dirt Merchant its pretty much flat, and riding a downhill bike through the mud, slipping around, was too much. Today we probably covered about six kilometres sprinting through that section."
Jones finished his 10th lap in two hours, 17 minutes and 43 seconds. He attempted to complete an 11 th lap before the cut-off, but missed out by about a minute.