Things did not going according to plan for three Yukon mountain bikers at the Crankworx mountain bike festival last week in Whistler, B.C.
From least to most detrimental setbacks: a flat tire, more stitches than Frankenstein’s monster, a severe concussion.
“Things were interesting, for sure,” said Whitehorse’s Massey Baker. “Interesting is a good way to put it, I think.”
Baker was the only to return stitch-free. The 20-year-old placed 51st out of 69 riders in the Garbanzo downhill event, a race covering more than 1,000 vertical metres over seven kilometres.
“I got a flat tire part way down, so I finished with a slow time – I just rode my flat tire the rest of the way down,” said Baker.
Baker completed the race in 16 minutes and 33 seconds, about 3:02 behind the winner.
“In past years I’ve done it in the high 14-, low 15-minute range,” said Baker. “I did a quarter of the race on a flat tire.”
Watson Lake’s Spencer Skerget crashed the day before the Garbanzo event and received stitches in his arm. That was enough to keep him out of the race.
“Practising for the first downhill race early in the week – it was a bit of a stupid crash and I ended up with a few stitches,” said Skerget. “It did kind of throw off the rest of the week for me, but that’s part of (racing).”
A couple days later, Skerget got back on the horse – er – bike to compete in a Canada Cup cross-country event. But the pain in his arm caused him to scratch during the race.
“(My arm) was giving me problems,” said Skerget. “I thought I had figured it out to get through the race by wrapping it up and having a few painkillers, but it didn’t quite do it for me.”
Whitehorse’s Ben Kinvig, 19, was pretty banged up by the end of Crankworx, which ended Sunday.
The 19-year-old crashed in Garbanzo. Though he would need 11 stitches from the crash, he motored on to the finish and took 53rd.
“Near the finish line I got flipped out on a corner … I just kind of lost it there,” said Kinvig. “But I finished the race.”
Kinvig also placed 98th out of 117 in the pro division of the Fox Air downhill race, one of the main events at Crankworx. The high-speed race is shorter than Garbanzo but features some big jumps and berms on every turn.
“It was fun racing against some of the top guys,” said Kinvig. “I had my arm wrapped up so tight I was losing circulation in my hand.”
Kinvig was all set to close out Crankworx with the “no mercy” single-track madness of the Canadian Open downhill race but took a bad crash during a practice run.
“Then in my Canada Open training, on the last 60-footer jump, I came short and blew my back wheel out. I supermanned behind my bike over the landing and smashed my head into the ground and got a concussion.
“I couldn’t even remember how I got my stitches from the other race.”
“It’s part of the sport. It’s kind of depressing, but I should be riding my bike again, hopefully in a month,” added Kinvig.
Baker and Skerget recently represented the Yukon in mountain biking at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., a couple weeks ago.
Together with teammate Andrew Savard, the three rode to sixth in the relay race at the Games. Skerget placed 16th and Baker 21st in the cross-country race to start the Games in Sherbrooke.
Kinvig was a big winner at the resurrected Sima Slamfest last month at Mount Sima in Whitehorse. He won the men’s enduro event and the advanced downhill race as well.
“Crankworx is always fun,” said Baker. “The festival is always a good time, even if you just go to watch the event and watch what all these other riders put on the table.
“I do admit it was nice watching a cross-country race and helping Spencer, give him water every time he did a lap and not being the one on course the whole time.”
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