So, we all knew it was coming and with recent cancellations, the long haul to Panorama Mountain Resort
would be a must for any DH racers wanting to get some gravity racing in. Once we finally figured out who was going, which was staying and what vehicles were being filled, it seemed to come together. We knew that we had our rooms reserved at the Panorama Springs
, so we just had to get there.Well, Isaac Jenkins
picked me and my gear up at about 10 pm on Thursday night as we wanted to get some riding in on Friday and not be on the road all bloody day. We hit Kamloops around midnight and found our way to the Kuhn residence, where couches were awaiting our arrival. Ryan is our new Kamloops correspondent, so you can expect some quality stories and pictures coming out of him this season. We were up and on the road by 7:30 am (tough for a slacker like me that’s gotten used to 9 am wake ups). Not really sure about hitting up The Ranch
first thing in the morning, so we gave Chuck at KBC
a call to see what he was doing on the fine overcast day. Sure enough, Chuck was up and working on the ever growing trail network at KBC and asked if we’d like to take a look at the newest creation Mitch, Cebo and he had strung together. Not being one to refuse an invite to see new trail work, we headed in to see what the boys have been doing. “What the hell is that?” was pretty much the words that came out of my mouth when we pulled up to the new road gaps that were just getting their last nails hammered in. In front of me were 2 new gaps that measured in at a do-able 10’ tall by 17’ out and a healthy 20’ tall by 28’ out. Mitch Cheek was the builder behind this little creation and probably the guy that’ll hit it up first too. Once we were done oogling this SICK gap, Chuck figured the two of us should ride a few trails, as it’s been over a month since I was last out there.
Change is good!!! And things have changed up there for sure. Chuck took us up to Old S-Kool and wow has it ever had finishing touches added to it. We sessioned a few little features that had been put in since our first outing back in April. Cebo picked us up and we headed to Moose, which leads into Cebo’s Revenge and finishes on Cauldron. More new trails seem to be popping up at a great rate. Cebo’s revenge is so well built that you can really get off the brakes and let the berms do the work on the way down. We then took a look at some work being done for future film work that’ll be going on out there this season. Chuck had to go meet clients and we needed to hit the road, so we parted ways around lunch time.
Back on the road, we made up a little time where we could and straight lined it to Panorama Mountain Resort. Note to travelers, if you’re going somewhere that may not have a grocery store that’s open late, you should stop in the closest town to buy food. Check in was painless thanks to Marke Dickson who had all the details sorted out for us before we got there. Room 316 in the Springs
was our home base for the weekend.
Race weekends are about hanging out with your friends that you only get to see at races and having a good time. I got to see all my old Calgary riding buddies and their families. It’s cool to see what kind of set up teams or individual’s have at the parking lot/pit areas at venues. Shops like Cove
and Calgary Cycle
have fairly big set ups and easily stand out, but you also have your privateers like Clayton Racicot from [L=http://www.ridleys.com]Ridley’s Cycle[/L] or Tucker Braun from Bow
that have stickers on their vehicles to show where they are from. The vibe in the parking lot was a good, friendly atmosphere and you can always bet Kev and Mark has a cold one in the cooler for a weary traveler-thanks guys!!
Radek and Rusty showed up out of nowhere with food on the mind. We grabbed Rock and Marita, and headed to the newly named Crazy Horse. (Talk about a face lift in a restaurant) Well it was late and food was now off the menu, so barley and wheat sandwiches were a must. Riders from all over had made the pilgrimage to Panoram
a for opening weekend and to race. Lots of riders were there from Whistler and even Ian Butters from Fort Mac Murray made the long haul to sample the new course and some terrain that was over a minute in length. The taps went dry at about 2 am and it was off to bed. The rest of our crew, (Steph and Eric) pulled into the village at around 4:30 am after 12 plus hours on the road.
Saturday saw the biggest line ups ever at Panorama, with 20 minutes being the average wait time between runs. I’m sure they’ll be looking into a new bike hauling set up for the near future that allows for more then 2 bikes on a chair. Thank goodness for the high speed quad action though. I managed to hit up most of the open trails on Saturday and things are pretty buff right now. The DH course was getting all kinds of rave reviews in the lift line up. I heard a few complaints about an up hill section, but once I finally got over to it, really folks, that’s called a pedaling section!! The new changes to the course were great and challenging to all riders. Keeping the lift running until 8 pm was sweet, that way I got to ride after dinner and most racers were off the DH course, so I was no longer “in the way.”
The 4X qualifiers started at 4pm, with finals at 6pm. In between runs I checked out that action. A few notables would be the all Calgary final in Jr. Men and Andrew Pohlman’s win in the open men category. It was his first 4X race and the second day on his little bike too. Andrew would also spend some time in the hot seat on Sunday’s DH race when he brought the course time down to 3:39. A lot of riders where there from the neighboring town of Golden
and you could see the local groove settling in with these guys. I just want to send a good work to Steve and Ryan for killing it on your big DH rigs in the 4X.
Saturday night was a lot mellower for most people (but not for others though) and the focus was on Sunday’s DH runs. After a few slices of pizza and watching Kyle Ritchie fall in a pond, it was off to good ol’ room 316. Come Sunday morning though, ol’ room 316 in the Springs was smelling a little less than fresh, but hey it was check out time soon. On with the smelly gear and back to the lifts we go for some pre-runs for the racers and trails for us regular folks.
While the racers did their thing, myself and a handful of non-racers had the whole left side of the mountain to ourselves. And the line ups were much smaller today as the racer crowd didn’t want to burn out from too many preruns. Racing started at noon and spectators dotted the course to see the high speeds and a little carnage. I chose to plant my rear end near the finish line and take in a little sun too. (I am now suffering from a sunburn and peeling shoulders) The racers didn’t let the crowd down at all!! Early on Steve Pawlitsky in the U15 men set the pace with a 3:56, this held until Mike Patychuk in the U17 Sport Men took the seat with a 3:55. One or two riders would occupy the hot seat with second here or there, but it was Andrew Pohlman in Sr. Sport with a 3:39 that made a bunch of us go WOW, and then it started happening 3:30 from Tyler Gnitt-HOLY CRAP!! I was all, this is crazy, people can’t go faster then this, and well I was wrong!!! The next really big time cut was from Andrew Mitchell of the Cove Army with a blistering 3:21.78. I’d like to note that Andrew is a Junior that has been given the move up to race Elite at the BC Cups-good work man! Well I was sure the time was set and that we had our winner, once again I am wrong-this is getting to be a trend. Jeff Beatty came across the finish line with the day’s winning and course record time of 3:18.13. Sara Porter was our ladies winner with a time of 4:29.13. Thanks to all the racers that came out and to the organizers for putting on another great event at Panorama Mountain Resort
Well since we knew that there were to be no podium visits in our posse, it was time to load up and hit the highway. We hadn’t made it to Golden and Steph already needed a driver swap as she was playing the “I’ll close one eye here, and the other there” game. Grabbed some eats at the Golden Grizzly and hit the highway-Destination home. The rest was smooth sailing (except the crazy ass fog on the Coquihala) and we are all back at work looking forward to the next race weekend. I’ll see you all at Bear Mountain for the next BC Cup.