Sports » Features

Enduro puts skills to the test



Riders go downhill to raise funds for Foreplay

More than 30 downhillers took part in the first, and hopefully annual, WORCA Max Vert Enduro last weekend, squeezing in as many laps of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park as possible in a three-hour period. The winner was the rider with the most completed laps in the shortest amount of time. Gondola trips averaged about six minutes, although there were a few slowdowns.

Ryan Day, a cross-country rider who made the leap to downhill racing a few years ago, made 11 laps of the park –12,452 vertical feet (3,735 metres) – to finish first overall in the expert men’s division.

"It went well. I was the first one on my bike at the start and took the lead, which helped a lot," says Day, who spent the better part of the season laid up with a broken femur after attempting a long rail slide wearing rail sliding shoes. "It’s better to be chased."

He kept building his lead, until a gondola slow down partway through the race allowed the competition a chance to catch up.

As far as the intensity of the race, and the endurance goes, Day says it was reminiscent of a downhill training day. "You ride the same course over and over, and see spots where you can cut corners.

"I pedalled a little more in the open sections than I ordinarily would have on a freeriding day, but it was a lot of fun."

Day, who lives in Vancouver, was in Whistler to close the park when he found out about the competition.

"I was just up here this weekend to have some fun, and the next thing I know I’m racing."

He says he is looking forward to competing in next year’s Enduro, which organizers are building into a full day event.

"Three hours was okay, but to go that hard for much longer would really start to test your fitness and technical skills."

Mike Jones finished second, about a minute behind Day, with 11 laps to his credit. Thomas Vanderham was a minute back of Jones to finish third.

The expert women’s category went to Jenine Bourbonnas of Evolution, who completed 10 laps of the course for a total of 11,320 vertical feet (3,396 metres).

"I knew what to expect, that kind of non-stop riding where you had to be solid," says Bourbonnas. "It was actually good for me. I improved a lot during the race, maintaining my speed and figuring out where to go faster, and where I could lay off the brakes. It’s good to have a full-on day like that."

She will also be back again next year, hopefully as part of a team.

"Ten laps was fine, but even at the end you could definitely feel it catching up. Doing twice as much could be dangerous if you gap for a second, or get lazy."

Bourbonnas was the only expert woman to compete, although five women participated in the unisex recreational category.

David Wilson won that category with 11 laps. More impressive than his finish was the fact that he accomplished this without the use of his bike chain, letting gravity do the work.

Tony Cailes was second with 10 laps, and Tim Graverson and James McSkimming tied for third place.

According to Keith Bennett, who organized the event on behalf of the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association, the event raised $600 for the association’s trail maintenance fund.

Specifically, the money will go towards trail builder Chris Markle and the completion of Foreplay, formerly known as Secret Trail. WORCA is helping to develop the trail with assistance from the municipality and the developers who have taken sections out of three west side trails.

"That buys us about a kilometre of trail," says Bennett.