The dog may be getting a little shaggy and long in tooth but watch out his bite is still vicious. At 39 years and change Brian Lopes still finds time in his riding schedule to go out and school the pups at a game that is designed for the young, strong and limber. In 2008 he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and for good reason, four time World Champ, six time Overall World Cup Champion, and with nine National Championship titles to his credit along with numerous World Cup wins he is the winningest dude in the history of the sport.
Brian on his way to a gold in the Fat Tire Crit.
This incredible record has followed the fierce competitor to Kokanee Crankworx where he has won more titles over the years than any other competitor and there is no one that comes close to the width and breadth of his wins. With Crankworx titles in the Dual Giant Slalom, Garbanzo Enduro Downhill and six wins in the Air DH, five of which in an unheard of performance were consecutive. If Brian's name appears on a start list in Whistler everyone needs to be worried.
In 2011 few of the World Cup boys put in a great effort at the events, Mick Hannah, Neethling and Hart were there to race but many seemed to get caught up in the great riding at hand and blew off the races (can't blame 'em). Brian was also one of the guys who entered several of the events, Fat Tire Crit, Dual Slalom, Air DH, Giant Slalom and Canadian Open Enduro. All this in ten days and with just one week of rest after completing the 7 day stage race that is the BC Bike Race.
After the Fat Tire Crit it was on to the Dual Slalom for Lopes.
Kokanee Crankworx started a day early with a new event. The Fat Tire Crit and Lopes came out with a hunger to be on the podium. In a new event for the festival Brian put the hammer down for the win. Then again on the last day of Crankworx it was time for Brian to shine again. He finished the festival the same way that it had started for him with a win in the Canadian Open Enduro.
The Canadian Open Enduro has come and gone several times to Kokanee Crankworx and this year they patterned it after Richie Schley's Rally from last year. A stage race where the downhills are timed and the climbs or transitions between stages are just allotted a time limit that you must make it in. As long as you are under the limit it has no bearing on your results.
Friday was the Giant Slalom and of course Lopes showed up.
This style of racing has become very popular across the pond in Europe and for good reason, it has a closer reflection to how the general mountain biking population rides than any other format. Now the downhill sections are not all downhill, there is lots of pedaling involved as there are flats and small climbs throughout all five stages. Richie even set a course that saw the riders pedaling in Stage 5, the Whistler Bike Park section.
Racing against a field of riders, some of whom were half his age, Lopes crushed all taking three of five stage wins. Not just impressive because he beat out many of the local hotshots who take pride in their big lungs and technical DH abilities on mid-travel bikes, but also because he beat out the Euro specialists Remy Absalon and Nico Vouilloz (former untouchable downhiller, now all mountain hell-man).
Lopes ends the week the way he started it with a win in the Canadian Open Enduro.
Sure in the Dual Slalom, Giant Slalom and the Air DH, events that Lopes specialized in he didn't get 'er done like he has in the past, but try and find any other racer who stuffed as much competition in during the ten days of Crankworx and still had the energy to pull out with two big checks in the Lopes 55 Sprinter van. Really the young pups should be ashamed, here, a guy who is almost 40 came out, raced more and won more than any of them while still chalking up top ten finishes in the other events that he entered. Maybe, just maybe he is like an ornery old hound who just becomes more grumpy and vicious with time. Watch out, next year Lopes will be forty and surely he will be back to crush more of the pups at Kokanee Crankworx 2012. Hmm, the only thing left for him to win now is the slopestyle.