Home > MTB

Pro Tips: Canada’s fastest share secrets to surviving Whistler “Crankzilla” EWS

Go-Karts and snacks: top riders advice for tackling the notoriously difficult Enduro World Series stop

2018 Enduro World Series Whistler Photo by: Enduro World Series

The Enduro World Series returns to one of its staple locations this weekend when riders land in Whistler, B.C. The notoriously difficult course, frequently hard enough it’s earned the nickname Crankzilla, is the only consistent North American stop on the EWS circuit.

With the EWS Whistler course now public, including a partial opening of the 1199 trail created in memory of Stevie Smith. It crams 2,800m of descending and over 1,800m of elevation gain into under 40km (plus one chairlift bump). We asked a few of Canada’s fastest how they get through such a grueling Enduro World Series event.

Jesse Melamed. Photo: Rocky Mountain

Jesse Melamed – Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team

Jesse Melamed is a born-and-raised Whistler local, Canada’s top-ranked EWS racer, a past EWS Whistler winner and absolutely on a tear this year. Who better to ask how to tame Crankzilla? The Canadian keeps his advice simple.

“This is a unique enduro, so my advice would be different than normal. We have really good trials here and they picked good ones for the race. They are long and rough so don’t worry too much about line choice and think more about getting comfortable on the main line of the trail. Also, do your due diligence on the transfers and your food and water intake for the race. It’s a big one.”

2021 Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team ALN Andréane Lanthier Nadeau
Andréane Lanthier Nadeau. Photo: Margus Riga

Andréane Lanthier Nadeau – Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team

Big days on hard trails require plenty of fuel. To get to the top and to get back down safely. Or, in Andréane Lanthier Nadeau’s case, get back down really fast. The Quebec-born Sea-t0-Sky resident is consistently at the top of the EWS women’s ranks. For her, consistent fueling is key.

“To make the most out of the Whistler EWS you gotta pre-hydrate and carbo-load the night before, and maintain a solid intake of food and fluid throughout the day. The race day is always massive here and you gotta make sure you have enough fuel to deal with the challenging terrain.”

Jack Menzies raced EWS Whistler way back in 2019. He’s since graduated to the pro ranks and to We Are One’s EWS team. Photo: Max McCulloch

Jack Menzies – We Are One

After a string of u21 podiums last year, Jack Menzies exploded into his first elite season with a huge 11th place at Petzen-Jamnica behind race winner Jesse Melamed. For Menzies, getting through EWS Whistler is all about managing body and bike – though the pressures on each are different.

“Whistler is one of my favourite places to race but it definitely comes with challenges. Keeping your bike in working order is difficult for any race, but Whistler is extremely hard. The trails are very punishing on tires, wheels and suspension. Keeping your bike in working order is key.”

Racing at home is always exciting for riders. But, when that home race comes with a week-long party, good results require some focus.

“Being at Crankworx and having friends around riding and hanging out makes it hard to say no to doing extra laps of the bike park and jump trails. Focusing on the race and not using energy on park laps is key to keeping your energy up for the race. With having three straight days of practice and racing, your body will definitely feel it. Recover is the best thing you can do to keep sharp and feeling good.”

Evan Wall Devinici Global Racing
Evan Wall. Photo: Andy Vathis

Evan Wall – Devinci Global Racing

Pinkbike Academy winner Evan Wall, who now races for Canadian EWS team Devinici Global Racing, keeps it simple. Have fun. Eat food.

“I usually tell people to just enjoy it and pack a lot of food. Once they’re racing, a lot of people rely on aid stations or think they’ll just eat a clif bar or something. For myself, that doesn’t fill me up well enough to actually survive a day so I always bring a proper wrap or sandwich”

RELATED: Meet Devinci Global Racing’s Calgarian: Evan Wall

Jacob Tooke – We Are One racer and manager

Jacob Took rides for the youthful, Kamloops, B.C.-based We Are One team. Despite being one of the youngest teams out on the EWS circuit, the small team is pulling in some big results. Tooke doesn’t just race. He also manages the team on the road. With a young roster, they key to success seems to be staying focused, but not too focused.

“For me, finding a mix of routine and resting while mixing in some fun is essential. I always find when we travel to a new venue all I want to do is go for mega rides and experience everything the area has to offer but I know I need to save energy for the race. Spending the whole week focusing on the race can get pretty tiring so I will try and keep things light. We’ll race mountain carts or having a friendly mini-golf wager!”

Between the tape, Tooke says Whistler is all about not getting caught up in details.

“For the most part, I approach Whistler like any other race week. The stages tend to be long and physical so I try and keep up the momentum through the whole stage. It’s not about how fast you can ride a key section but how well you can link them all together” Tooke says, adding, with a laugh, “On top of that, A-Line laps tend to be an easy way to let off a bit of nerves.”

We’ll be racing the EWS 100, a parallel event open to amateurs, this weekend in Whistler. The 100 takes in all the same trails, minus the Pro Stage (Stage 5, which the pros race twice. Amateurs only once). Follow along on Instagram as, armed with these pro tips, we find out just how hard it is to race an Enduro World Series event.