Sea to Sky Enduro Series Round 5 – Squamish

Gauranga made a short, but intense stage 2

The Sea to Sky Enduro series return to Squamish for the fifth round delivered. In a surprise turn of events (for some at least), the list of trails that went live were tough, resulting in a number of local riders frothing hard, while racers pulled out! As a second welcomed surprise, it was exciting to hear that almost a week out from the event there were already 110 riders signed up to race, this after a couple of quieter events since the inaugural race back in April. In the end a total of 128 riders came out and threw down, taking on the challenging course despite the damp conditions, which threatened to make things more complicated.

In what is turning out to be a common theme in the series, riders hit the first stage hard and many crashed at least once as a result. No-one seems sure whether it’s a matter nerves getting the better of them, or whether they’re simply riding in an overzealous fashion, but its happening at every round. The bridge at the bottom of Entrails—a nasty little bugger at the best of times—was a common spot to see racers take a dive, often catching those that had actually made it down the stage clean. Some blamed it on finish line placement but at the root of it, that shouldn’t effect whether or not a rider can keep their bike upright.

Davis English gets wild on Mark My Word

That said, with racers riding at, or oftentimes beyond their limits, any hope in them actually knowing where to finish twisting the throttle is reduced to almost zero. Finish line issues have reared their ugly head numerous times this season, and marking is a simple solution to many of the frustrations had. Don’t get me wrong, the events have been amazing, and I would argue till the cows come home with anyone that thinks otherwise, but like any new born child there are going to teething problems. Its great the series has so few that this is one of the only ones, both for the simple fact that it proves the event organizers have done an exceptional job and its a super easy one to work on fixing.

Common themes, with a Twist

Its not always the finish line that is the problem for the riders though and after attending each event this year, no-where have I witnessed as many wipeouts as this round. As a ‘spectator’ most are simply shrugged off with a ‘you ok?’, only to watch the rider jump back aboard their bike and barrel on down the trail. At times though, there are those few that leave you cringing and the bottom of Mark My Word (Stage 3) did just that. With a number of riders being catapulted through the forest here, there was one particular pro men rider that took a break with a big ol’ Douglas Fur. The tree seemed less than impressed, judging by the manner it shrugged him off, but the racer got back on his bike and wrestled his new handlebar alignment the rest of the way to the finish. It never ceases to amaze just how much sh*t the body can take, only to keep on trucking.

Craig Bullen making light work of a trouble spot others

In an interesting turn of events, Jesse Melamed didn’t win every stage—in fact he had fierce competition from Aussie Josh Carlson, who in the end pushed within 1.5 seconds of Jesse for the tightest finish in pro men this season! Davis English, the hardest working rider in the series, showed that persistence and dedication does wonders, placing third just under a minute back from riders that are paid to play—not bad for a ‘working class man’. Another interesting change was seeing more racers in the junior women field than junior men. Right on little ladies! As with the week prior, visitor and the most unassuming rider out there, Emilly Johnston (note that name), tore through the course, riding most of it blind no less, including Gauranga! It wasn’t enough to take down Stephanie Denroche, but another amazing effort to say the least. The gap between these two was a mere 9 seconds after 32 minutes of racing! (We should also mention that Emilly is 12 years young—shredder!)

Local boy Luke Di Marzo decided to give the open men the gears, and riding like a man possessed, came within only 12 seconds of series shredder (and we think leader at this point) Pat Foster. Luke was pinned all day, and its impressive to watch junior riders come through the ranks and grow into the amazing bike handlers they often do. Another local boy and junior, Rhys Verner, finished 6th in Pro Men, the highest placed local in the race. Pro women was convincingly won by Whistler’s Fanny Paquette, but that didn’t stop Team Danger Ponies, Aja Philp and Veronica Voracek from having a good time and rounding out the podium.

Luke Di Marzo Roosting Where Others Didn't

Open women series leader and Whistler shredder, Simmone Lyons, was caught in a Kiwi sandwich between winner, Pippa Holdom and Roxanne Minnille—not a nice spot for a young Aussie lass to be… Joking aside, the down under imports are some fierce racers, and the battle between these ladies was no different. Masters women saw Yael Greenfield take the win by a solid minute thirty on second placed, Valerie Fraser. Tamsin Mills took third twenty six seconds back. Masters men saw Brennan Cowey take the win convincingly over Craig Bullen and LP Leonard, two Squamish locals that aren’t shy of going fast or racing. Chad Hendren, 5th in masters men, did his best to win the party, and did so in flying colours.

The races have been nothing short of amazing, with all participants continually enjoying their time ‘enduroing’ (is that a verb yet… ?), and a great grass roots feel has begun to lodge itself into the series. This being the first year there is obviously going to be room for improvement, but to be honest, far more has been dialled than not. Nothing some big, bright red signs and a consistent clock won’t fix!

The 6th and final round is set to fire off in Whistler at the end of the month, where we will see Jesse Melamed crowned king of the Sea to Sky, potentially Simmone queen of the open women—we’ll have to wait for updated standings before commenting on the rest. With the Enduro World Series and Crankworx coming to town only a few weeks later, we should see a good turnout of riders itching to get their mind in the game. Lets finish it off with a bang!

Greg Grant getting steezy mid run, final stage