The Personalities of Crankworx

Red Bull Joyride is Crankworx's premiere event, and when the riders take to the course, the hillside fills up with somewhere around 50,000 people ready to witness history.

The Personalities of Crankworx

The crowds flow through the village like a river, a stream of humanity broken by dusty downhill bikes and flashy booths and as tumultuous as a waterfall.

Excited young groms hunt for anything free, decked out riders push their bikes through lift-lines, and irritated employees serve up extra-large plates of poutine. Flip-flop bedecked spectators carry cameras, searching out the best spots to watch the flips, whips and sending.

Whatever their purpose, everyone’s eyes bounce between the general buzz of the village and the Jumbotrons above. This is Crankworx Whistler, the world’s biggest mountain biking competition, and no one wants to miss the show. We ventured into the village to meet the people that make up the collective community of Crankworx Whistler.

Burke Jurjaks was up from Vancouver, BC, taking a quick break to wait for friends between afternoon laps in the Whistler bike park.
From left to right: Adam, Tyler, Raquel and Vicki Weiss came from Chilliwack, BC to check out what Crankworx had to offer.
Erica Roman was enjoying some time off before heading to grad school in Bozeman, Montana. She was trying to maximise her fun before two years of late nights and research papers.
Benedict Mauel and Nicolas Samson were wandering around the Whistler village checking out all the vendors.

Over the course of its 10 days, Crankworx Whistler sees some 150,000 people, encompassing everyone from hardcore riders to excited spectators to random tourists asking, “What’s with all the bikes?” Some have flown overs oceans to be here, driven across North America, or hitchhiked from all parts of the Pacific Northwest. Some are families who booked vacations with no idea that the largest mountain bike festival in the world will be taking place the same week.

The stoke of Crankworks is visible everywhere. Back-woodsy zealots rev chain-less chainsaws on the sidelines of Joyride, young kids get their foreheads signed by Brett Rheeder, and people raise signs as high as they can while dangling from trees on the sidelines of the World Whip-Offs. The gondola sees as much foot-traffic as bikes, and the number of selfie-sticks has reached a whole new level. Some of the spectators have never ridden a mountain bike themselves, but they’re cheering all the same.

Left: Gary Robinson, father of Curtis Robinson who competed in the Pump Track Challenge the night before. Right: Zulem Salas and Lani Landis of Bellingham, and Mt. Venon, Washington, respectively. The two came up for the weekened of Crankworx.
Mallory Hotar and Cody Grant drove over from Nelson, BC.
Ellie Barnard, from the United Kingdom, was one of the many volunteers that make Crankworx possible.
Daniel Bunimovich came up from Squamish, BC to check out everything that was going down at Crankworx 2015.
Left: Lucy and Dave Low came from Alberta to watch Joyride. Right: Michele Bianchi came from Milan, Italy on a year-long visa in order to ride bikes in Canada.

It’s a mutualistic relationship that Crankworx has developed with its crowd. Spectators scream their lungs out at the top of Heckler’s Rock, their vocal intimidation pushing racers by with even greater speed. Colorful hooligans wave flags and signs along Crabapple Hits, a living, cheering barrier that inspires riders to get a little more sideways during the Whip-Off Championship.

At the top of the Joyride course, the week’s most iconic event, competitors suppress butterflies—there are no other podiums as highly prized, and progression is necessary with every trick. As mountain bike icon and two-time Joyride winner Cam Zink puts it, ““There’s nothing else that compares. It’s the big show. Game day. How crazy the crowd is, how excited the riders are—I’ve had some of the best times of my life there.”

Dana Cameron, Cindy Morrill and Allison Kuhar came up from Seattle, WA to ride bikes for the weekend. When asked if it was their first time to Whistler, Dana replied, "First time this month."
Nick Shoji and Damon Berryman came from the Sunshine Coast, and were stoked for another year at Crankworx. Nick said it was his ninth year in attendance.
Sara Valana and Dylan Sherrard drove over from Kamloops to cheer on some friends.
Vicky Savard works in the Whistler village and was on break between shifts, watching the endless lines of tourist pass by.

So while that mass of humanity feeling the village is made up of everyone from complete outsiders of the sport to living legends of the mountain bike world, it’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason…or rather, stoked for the same reason. Mountain biking is fun, whether you’re enjoying riding your bike or watching others enjoy riding theirs.

These are the people—hardcore, casual or unintentional—that have elevated Crankworx to the world stage that it is. Whatever their origins, everyone is part of the experience, and their collective roars are deafening.