(c) Tim Bardsley-Smith

Josh Carlson – So far so good

Crankworx usually marks the midway point of my race season. As well as it being one of, if not the biggest mountain biking event in the world, it also acts as a mini trade show full of sneak peaks and fresh products. It is by far my favourite event of the year and it is the closest event I have to call ‘home’ on the EWS calendar.

After a rough couple of races in France and Colorado, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief to be back in Vancouver and heading to Whistler for Round 6. I was frothing to get back into the woods and ride some steep, loamy, rooty goodness again after riding the dry blown out alps and big mountains of Samoens and Crested Butte. Leading into the race, it also rained a bunch which made everything feel even more ‘normal’. For me, I spend the majority of my time in Vancouver during the winter in the rain and cold. That means that I am now more used to the trails around the Sea to Sky corridor being soaking wet and slippery rather than dry and dusty.

This worked in my favour when Round 6 kicked into gear. I was able to win Stage 1 and Stage 2 on the slippery wild trails. Stoked! Although I had won two stages, I didn’t want to know the results and I didn’t find this out until later in the day. I was just super happy to be riding my bike on some killer trails at ‘home’ that I honestly didn’t have my eyes on results and times. All I wanted was to ride the way I knew I could ride and enjoy it. This attitude seemed to work well throughout the day and I held the overall lead all day leading into the final stage in the bike park.

The final stage was the one I was looking forward to the most. Wide open and super fast for almost 15 mins down the most famous hillside in the world. Happy days! I still hadn’t found out the results before I lined up in the gate. I dropped in and sprinted down the fire road.

No more than 35 seconds into my stage I heard that dreaded sound. That haunting “sssSSSssssssssSSSSSsssssss…” There’s no way this could be happening I thought to myself.

I hoped it was a stick or a rock caught somewhere but as I dropped into the gnar it was exactly what I thought it was. A rear flat!I rode it out, pedaled as hard as I could just so I could finish. I had lost the lead and slipped back to 24th overall for the day. I was gutted and overcome with disbelief. It was a tough pill to swallow after such an awesome day on the bike.

It took a little bit to get over the disappointment, but once I took a step back and looked at how I rode over the course of the 7 hour day, I was stoked on how the rest of the day went. Winning two stages in a row and holding the lead all day was amazing! Just to know that I have the pace to race with the top guys is great and is a huge confidence booster leading into the rest of this season and the future.

Once the EWS was over, I looked forward to the rest of the Crankworx activities on the cards. I signed up for the Garbonzo DH, Dual Slalom and Canadian Open DH. All rad events, which were set to be lots of fun. Capping the week off with the DH race was sweet. So much fun on the wild, steep track. There were lots of pieces to put together in the short sub 3 minute track. I found myself constantly riding my Giant Glory like I would ride my Reign Advanced, which turns out is not the way to do it. Usually I would have to be a little more delicate on the reign in the steep gnar but on the glory I could jump everything and it was sweet. My DH racing experience is very slim but after this race, I would love to do some more in the future.

Now that Crankworx is in the bag, I’m looking forward to spending some time at home to prepare for the final two races of the season in Spain and Italy. Mixed in with that, my wife and I are expecting our first baby in September. No doubt it is due to be a wild couple of months and I can’t wait to get amongst all of it.