Here’s Sh*tbike Challenge, Part VII–straight from our November 2008 issue. Catch up with the previous installments here.
[Editor's note: We've been too easy on the sh*tbike. Sure, it raced the short track at Sea Otter and bounced down a DH course, but it's also spun a few carefree laps around Moab, went for a pub crawl in Minneapolis and plodded around some local XC trails. Easy.
Not this issue. Since we announced the Sh*tbike Challenge, Wade Simmons has been begging to ride the bike. First he wanted to take it to the Shore and abuse it on the ladder bridges, rock drops and skinnies that made him a legend. We said no. No one here wanted to take responsibility for killing the "Godfather of Freeride."
Wade is a persistent fellow, though, and can talk people into doing almost anything. And what he wanted to do this time was ride the sh*tbike at Whistler, during Crankworx. It needed to be hammered, he said. And he was right. So we breathed deeply, crossed our fingers and shipped the sh*tbike.]
Photographer Sterling Lorence and I made our way to the lift, enduring the occasional giggle and point. Sketchy bikes are common in the park, and most riders probably figured we were just another group of tourists in over our head.
We headed to the top of Garbonzo, probably the easiest 4,000 feet the sh*tbike has ever climbed. I started nervously down Freight Train, but the bike was performing better than I had expected. It took a little weight transfer to level out the jumps, but it was actually making all the transitions. Not bad for an old dog.
The farther we descended, the harder I pushed, the more she revolted. The light frame and tight geometry felt fine in the air, but made for a sketchy ride on the ground. The fork couldn't handle the braking bumps and who in their right mind would descend on that I-beam seatpost?
The upper part of Freight Train feeds into a steep wall ride. It was the perfect spot to session the sh*tbike, but every time I hit the transition, my head would slap forward like those "Dansitions" Dangerous Dan made famous in the late-nineties. Sterl nearly pissed himself laughing.
I was starting to feel good and we veered onto Sidetrack, a trail with sick hip jumps that toss riders 20 feet through the air. After a cautious bitch run, I sent that sh*tbike, and she loved it. The plastic beam kept getting in the way of proper tabletops, but I didn't care. The mountain was ours. Sh*tbike, welcome to manhood.