Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Crankworx’

Whistler’s Bankruptcy: Meaningless or an omen?

In Mountain Biking on January 22, 2010 at 3:12 am

At this point there’s not a lot that can be definitively said about the mess at Whistler, other than there’s much more going on behind the scenes than we’re being told. That and the reporting on this so far has been opaque.

Typically any high-profile bankruptcy “announcement” is simply high-stakes brinkmanship aimed at loosening up some funds or quelling an investor revolt. Till a good business journalist gets in and wrestles with the gritty details, our speculation is that Whistler is trying to hold a gun to the head of the Olympics Committee, which at last word simply wasn’t honoring blithely stated commitments eons ago when Whistler was initially “awarded” the Winter Games for 2010.

We reported last summer from Ground Zero at Crankworx that locals were increasingly unhappy with the Olympics (later corroborated by The Seattle Times). Games preparations had torn apart the place, rents had spiked beyond profitability and dozens of businesses in the Whistler-Blackcomb malls were, to use an apropos cliche, skating on thin ice.

Crankworx 2009: Great festival, but the locals grumbled

We have no doubt the Games will proceed as planned. That doesn’t mean there won’t be strife and turmoil, and perhaps a few moments of nastiness resulting from “silent protests.” But there’s far too much money and commercialism at stake to disrupt the Olympics in any meaningful manner.

Instead the real issue here is the future of the resort. Whistler/Blackcomb built, built and built some more during the bank bubble years. It’s plainly overextended. Resorts lose their shiny-bauble appeal after a few years as the ski ‘n golf crowd moves to the Next Cool Place. Whistler is expensive, it’s overbuilt, and — not insignificantly for those of us who remember its distant hippie past as a rustic backwater — it’s sold its soul. Any local will tell you so.

For the mountain biking community, this is grave news. We were startled at the dropoff in slope attendance last summer. Tourism you can expect to be down, but Whistler is the gold standard of mountain bike parks, drawing from all over the world. Yet it was abundantly clear to us after multiple trips up that attendance was suffering, and what was left was largely “day-ers” — folks from Vancouver and Squamish who came up, rode the lifts, and drove back home. Not a sustainable business model for a world class resort.

Our suspicion is that things won’t get better any time soon, for three reasons. First, it’s hard to keep upping the ante year after year with new trails, features and lures. You can only do the same runs so many times, even if you get to ride a gondola back up. Second, the economy. By the time you total in lift tickets, transportation costs, housing, bike and/or gear rentals, food and drink, Whistler’s expensive, dude.

Third, perhaps most importantly, mini-Whistlers are popping up all over. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, including the rest of B.C., you’re seeing trail work explode. Why drive 4 hours to Whistler when you can pop over east of Lake Washington for some freeride action at Duthie Hill or Summit Ridge or Exit 38 or wherever. Or head up to Bellingham, over to Port Angeles or across the mountains to Leavenworth. Plus you’ve got Stevens Pass joining the Mountain Bike Park ranks later this year.

There’s no doubt that the pressure is on at Whistler. Its best days may be behind it. Greed — unbridled and conscience-less greed — has led the onetime innocent astray. Whistler will go on, we trust, and hey, you’ll find us up there this summer with everyone else at Crankworx. But the bloom is off the rose, and the current bankruptcy rattlings merely underline the obvious decay behind the glitzy veneer.

Daily Roundup: Old cyclist guys, Seattle Bike-In, David Byrne coming, Leadville & Crankworx wraps

In Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on August 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Today’s heroes: Septuagenarian cyclists still going strong, an inspiration to all of us callow sexagenarian cyclists.

Mark the calendar: Seattle Bike-In is this Sunday at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill.

Cycle Killer, qu’est-ce que ce? On September 28, David Byrne will be at Town Hall with his new book, Bicycle Diaries. A $30 ticket gets you a copy of the book too…

Great video of Lance and Wiens at Saturday’s Leadville 100.

MTBR has roundup and Top 10 results.

A look back at the Top 10 reasons Wiens was sure to beat Lance.

Humble pie: Yeah I was wrong, Wiens couldn’t hang with Lance after all. Not a surprise, really, but wished it could’ve been a closer race. Sounds like Dave is hanging it up, so next year’s race (assuming Lance defends as he says he will and Levi can keep from breaking something) will be between Lance and Leipheimer. I’m going with Double L! Stay tuned!

Cyclelicious: Empire Grade Road closed due to fire. Richard is a roadie but notes the smoke covers huge mtb sections of the UC-Santa Cruz campus, Wilder Ranch and back down to Henry Cowell State Park. Let’s hope the disruption was only temporary. There’s not much else for mountain biking in that section of the Santa Cruz range.

Crankworx wrap: PinkBike has video of Greg Watts’ winning slopestyle run.

Mountain Bike Action has photos.

Sam Hill and Emmeline Ragot took top honors in the Canadian Open Downhill…with Seattle-based Evil’s Steve Smith taking a bronze. Smith has been putting in some standout results this season after signing with Evil, which was at Crankworx showing off some cool hardware. More later…

We close with a tantalizing thought. Jill Kintner creamed Emmeline Ragot in the “mini-Downhill” Grand Slalom at Crankworx. If Jill had run the Canadian Open Downhill and presumably won, it would’ve given her 3 golds (as well as a silver) for Crankworx 2009! We continue to suspect Jill (maybe nudged by BF Bryn Atkinson) will enter downhill comps some day soon…

Lance’s Chances: Shoulder status?

In Bicycle Racing, Mountain Biking on August 10, 2009 at 7:30 am

You have to credit Lance Armstrong on one point: He doesn’t make excuses. Since declaring his shoulder a non-factor just a couple of weeks after “Home Depot” hardware surgery drilled and screwed and plated it together again, the subject has not even come back up.

Watching videos of interviews and the Tour, however, I thought his shoulder was quite a bit less than 100 percent. In conversation, he used his left arm and hand more in gesticulating, etc., and never raised his right arm above his shoulder.

On the Tour’s wrenching climbs, Lance stayed more in the saddle than the Lance of old. And he never attacked, either. Maybe his riding style has changed. But a reluctance to sprint or attack would also indicate not wanting to stress the shoulder, since out of the saddle requires more pulling on the bars.

It may well be that the shoulder is virtually healed by now (it’s been more than 3 months). But if there’s any test to tell for sure, it would be this Saturday’s Leadville 100. Nearly seven hours of up and down riding on uneven surfaces takes a toll on perfectly healthy shoulders. If anything’s askew, Lance should start feeling it about hour 4 or 5.

The subject of his shoulder hasn’t come up anywhere in news coverage lately, and I imagine that if asked, Lance would brush it aside. And let’s hope the shoulder isn’t a factor, because we all want a level playing field (so to speak!). But it remains an X-factor at Leadville, because this race is a different beast from what he’s been doing.

Don’t forget you’ll be able to see a live Webcast of the race and get full updates from the Leadville 100 site. As for news coverage, still no rundown on Lance’s prototype Trek Fuel full-suspension bike, and nobody’s apparently talking to Dave Wiens about all this. One problem: Crankworx’s signature event, the Slopestyle competition, is the same day, sucking a lot of mountain bike journalists to Whistler. Let’s hope The New York Times gets on Leadville…Juliet Macur are you there?

Daily Roundup: Naked cyclists! Crankworx, iPhone apps, kewl Portland, naked cyclists! and more

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup on August 6, 2009 at 1:09 am

Boy…dog days of August. Not much news to round up! But here goes…

Let’s start with the always reliable wakeup call, NAKED CYCLISTS! Usually naked riders in Seattle paint themselves…and this is probably why. My take: If a mother from Everett finds offense, she shouldn’t be comin’ to downtown Seattle. O my, the things you might see in the Big City! Hey, I’m offended by Everett blue-noses but you don’t see me running to KOMO News to complain…

Mountain Bike Action‘s Web site has video of Brandon Semenuk’s monster ride to win the Crankworx Colorado Slopestyle competition for the second year in a row. Now the trick is for Brandon to repeat on Aug. 15 in his home town — Whistler. A far taller order, the pressure being on…

You know those iPhone bike apps that get so much attention? Yeah, I don’t use ’em either. BikeHugger explores why, using the Bike Your Drive app as the whipping post.

The Tyee, one of the best metro blogs around, based in Vancouver, B.C., looks at why Portland is just so kewl and finds cycling to be one of its “superiorities” to Vancouver. I’m not so sure on that point — Vancouver has gnarly biking and the Stanley Park/English Bay/West Vancouver mile-after-mile bike path, and there’s nothing anywhere in the states to compare to it — but whatever. It’s an interesting take. is cool, however, pointing out how McCain still just doesn’t get it. The butt-kicked Zona senator thinks the U.S. spends too much on bike paths.

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is tracking potential fire closures in the Seattle area. But rain supposedly is on the way starting Sunday! Is summer over? Statistically, we’ve had more than our share this year so yeah, get ready…

Speaking of Evergreen, regarding the turmoil in the club’s membership, a Town Hall will be held Monday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. in Duthie Hill Lodge near Issaquah. “Please bring an open mind, great ideas and positive energy,” the Yahoo! list invite reads. “We’ll touch on some specific pain points the community has brought to light…” They’re on the right track here but what do you say to a club ride at Duthie before the meeting!

Daily Roundup: Texas badass, Crankworx Colorado, Fire at Whistler, Mr. Clucky and more

In Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Rider Down on August 3, 2009 at 2:10 am

Houston Chronicle: The father of a driver accused of killing two bicyclists last summer urged Texas Gov. Rick Perry to veto a bike-safety “3-feet-please” bill. Perry did veto the legislation, although it’s unclear how much impact the father’s views had. Perry broke his collarbone riding a mountain bike recently, so it’s not like he’s anti-bike on principle. But the father’s argument that 3-feet-please gives cyclists a false sense of security is ludicrous. Cyclists never have a sense of security around cars.

No wonder you have cyclists and drivers mixing it up out on the roadway…

Whistler’s emerging slopestyle star Brandon Semenuk won Crankworx Colorado, so now the pressure’s on for a twofer at his home Crankworx on Aug. 15. Other surprise results: Tyler McCaul, undoubtedly rooted on by brother Cam, pulled fourth place, and Paul Basagiota showed he’s not over the hill yet with a strong bronze medal. If the weather holds and fires stay away, the upcoming Kokanee Crankworx should be the best yet!

Fire on the Mountain!
Whistler/Blackcomb got tagged with a lightning blaze Thursday afternoon, causing evacuation of both mountains. No one got hurt and Whistler’s crack fire response team was on the case. With the Winter Olympics coming up next year, they’re not taking any chances on the village.

Fire in the tree farm? Popular mountain biking areas, Tokul and Griffin Creek, look closed from fire danger, according to the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. Here’s the list posting:

Hancock: Snoqualmie Tree Farm. Includes Tokuls East and West and Griffin
Phone number: 1-800-782-1493
Pilchuck Tree Farm: all 3 tracts (Victoria, Armstrong, Pilchuck)
Webpage: Pilchuck Tree Farm
Green Crow. Ames Lake Tree Farm – includes the South part of Tolt.
Webpage: Ames Lake Tree Farm

Note: These trails systems are on privately owned, working tree farms. The
land managers are being generous by allowing us to use their land for free.
Respecting the fire closures, even though not all the trails are signed, is
an important part of keeping a good relationship with the land managers so
that they continue to allow mountain biking in their land.

Bring Out Your Dead:
A 60-year-old British mountain biker went for his last ride at a good place, Chamonix. No conclusive word on what happened, but one can only hope his last thoughts were, “I feel happy, I feel happy…”

Is it also the end of the road for Mr. Clucky, the bike-riding rooster? Stay tuned