The first of the Crankworx gravity races kicked off today with the event that really needs no introduction. The Garbanzo DH, starting atop the peak of the same name and winding its way down some of Whistler Bike Park's most iconic trails, once again lived up to its reputation as a true punisher. While not the longest race run on the mountain these days thanks to the opening of Top of the World and the Enduro World Series, it is easily still the roughest and gnarliest race run in all of the park. Starting on Original Sin, there is no easing into things as the trail tips steeply downward through a series of rough chutes and switchbacks before spitting riders out into the open at full speed to battle with breaking bumps that could rival any World Cup. But the real fun starts when racers head back into the woods and through the three steep drops of In Deep, a two-minute thrasher of a trail that has come to define all things Garbanzo. Once upon a time In Deep was full of loamy dirt with a few rocks and roots scattered about, but over the years it has weathered a lot of abuse and those rocks have gotten much bigger and the roots more plentiful as the soft dirt has all but gone away. Some might say it's a bit old and tired, while others would argue that like a fine wine, age has brought out the trail's best. Either way, if you want to succeed in the Garbanzo DH it's a beast you need to slay.
As the track leaves the steeps of the Garbanzo zone, racers get a brief chance to rest their hands but not their legs. As the trail flattens out it's a full sprint across a few big traverses before dropping into the more rough and technical terrain on Duff Man, Monkey Hands and Ho Chi Min before finally sending battered bikes and bodies over the infamous GLC drop to the finish. With times averaging between 12-15 minutes and temperatures pushing 30 degrees Celsius, racers crossed the line nearing complete exhaustion, many of whom needed more than a few minutes to recover and conduct the obligatory post-race interview. All except Marcelo Gutierrez that is, who broke his chain coming out of the flat woods on the lower mountain and was forced to speed tuck for about two minutes to take his 4th consecutive Garbanzo win here in Whistler. Second would go to Sam Blenkinsop and third to Jack Moir who battled a head cold to grab the final spot on the podium. In the women's race Whistler local and former Canadian National Champion, Claire Buchar set the early fast time, only to be ousted by current Canadian Champ, Miranda Miller. Miller would sit through an onslaught of top World Cup talent in the form of Emile Siegenthaler, Manon Carpenter, and Tracey Hannah to take her first Garbanzo DH win since 2009.