The rain added a whole new level of challenge to this past weekend’s Crankworx events, with athletes in the Volkswagen Biker Cross and Garbanzo Enduro Downhill contending with mud, slippery terrain, puddles, and slow patches. Courses that were groomed to be in competition shape deteriorated quickly as hundreds of riders made hundreds of practice and competition runs.
But while the rain made conditions unpredictable, the podiums were anything but as the top World Cup riders more or less finished on top.
Volkswagen Biker Cross
Although the hole shot was important in Saturday’s Volkswagen Biker Cross, the rain and mud opened the entire course for passing — if you were willing to take a chance.
“I did a few runs yesterday when it was dry, and today it was pretty much a new course,” said Cedric Gracia, who held off a few late challenges to take the win. “There was lots of chances to pass, but you had to be careful not to slip and pick a good line. It was a really good course — I like big jumps, and they had a step-down this year that was great. There was more pedaling with the mud and you had to be careful around the corners, but it was an exciting finish.
“You never knew what could happen.”
Czech Republic rider Michal Marosi placed second, followed by Andrew Neethling from Draper, Utah and J.S. Therrien from Squamish.
Therrien was happy with his race as he almost placed third.
“Everybody was going a little slower but it was still hard to pass because it was so slippery,” he said. “It’s still a race and you never know what’s going to happen, you just try to go as fast as you can and maybe someone up ahead will go off course. I’m pretty happy with my race, it was really close and everybody was passing.”
On the women’s side, Washington’s Jill Kitner took the win with a solid lead from the beginning. British racer Fionn Griffiths placed second, followed by Joanna Peterson and Lynne Aitchison. Aitchison made it into the finals when two riders in the semi-finals bumped into each other and went down.
Kitner was happy with her finish, but said it was tougher than she expected.
“I had a good start and a good finish, and that’s about it,” she said. “I wish it was dry. The middle section started to hold water by the end, and the mud and puddles just sucked up all your speed.”