Marcelo, had never been to Canada before, but I think after spending about a week riding with Rob Fraser at Bromont, then another week in Whistler (where he never stopped smiling), I am confident to say that he will be back ASAP!
So this write up is about the 18year old Colombian's first time to Whistler and Crankworx.
Marcelo Gutierrez phoned me up a couple of days before Crankworx started to say that he had just rolled into town and wanted me to show him around a bit. This was great as I had been waiting to meet this young ripper for some time now, half because he seemed like a cool guy, and half because I wanted to inspect his early prototype legend which he rode for the week...
So we met up, and I introduced him to a few of my friends around town, (I want to make a special shout out to all the guys at Summit Bike Shop for all their help and good vibes, they kept Marcelo rolling for the week. They are great people!). Marcelo decided that he might as well try racing all three of the DH race events: Garbonzo DH, Air DH (A-line race), and the Canadian Open. So he registered, got his Number, Grabbed a pass, and was good to go.
I spent the first couple of Days riding with Marcelo. I say riding with... that might be bending the truth a little. I have ridden these trails most summers for last 6 years or so... but Marcelo was faster than me when he was riding them blind. So after first couple of laps, I just pointed at the entrance of the trail and let him lead the way, while I tried to follow his back wheel through all the crazy lines he takes.
I have ridden with some fast guys who race successfully at national levels, but riding with Marcelo really showed me that there is a massive step in speed, ability, and mind set between the best and the rest. All I can say, is that Marcelo really should try using his brakes sometimes, personally I find them quite useful!
After a couple of days Marcelo went up the hill with Alan Hepburn, our Aussie ripper. Alan came back with a massive smile, and lots of scratches and bruises, saying he had never ridden as fast in his life (even tho he is a fast rider!), and loved it.
OK enough of the blurb... race report time in chronological order:
After less than 2 days of practice runs on the massively long and technical course, Marcelo already felt fairly comfortable. He said he was aiming for a time of around 15:30 for his race run... and that was when the course was dry.
Race day came, and so did the rain. The earlier race categories probably got the worst of it, and it was starting to clear up by the time Marcelo came down in a time of 15:27.7. By the time the pros came down, it seemed to have dried up almost completely.
That time put Marcelo in the hot seat, where he had to wait nervously for the rest of the riders in his category to come down to see how that time would hold up. Turns out that he won the 16-18 category by a clear 32seconds!!
Speaking to Marcelo after the race, he was happy with how he rode, said it went well, and the scariest thing was having to do the interview at the bottom while waiting in the hot seat, as he was scared that his English was not good enough. Actually he spoke very well.
1 Race, 1 Gold.
This was the race that Marcelo was most nervous about, as a lot of the riders were using shorter travel bikes, and were locals who knew A-line inside out, but Marcelo went up there after his morning of scoping the trail, and put in a really solid time of 4:37.1 on his legend. Again the hot seat and nail biting wait followed. This race was close as expected, but Marcelo won by a margin of only 0.7seconds over the local ripper Tyler Allison (keep an eye on this kid, as he is only 16, and shreds!)
Marcelo Said this was one of the hardest races for him, as he just had to pedal the whole way, and he knew that other riders knew the course better than him. but that said..
2 races 2 Golds
There was now some pressure on Marcelo, as the competition were targeting him as the biggest threat, and also there was that chance of getting the clean sweep hat trick of golds which he wanted.
He knew that the course suited his riding style as it was fairly tech, but also fast (see helmet cam in post a few below to see Marcelo riding the course the day before the race). So he was quietly confident to do well, and hopeful that he could get gold, but he also knew that there would be tough competition.
All I can say about this race is that Marcelo Killed it with a blistering time of 3:20.9, a time that beat all his competition by 9 seconds, and would have put him in 6th place overall in the pro category beating the likes of Brendan Faircloth, Tyler Morland, Ben Reid and Same Dale. He did it...
3 Races 3 Golds!
Next year Marcelo will be moving up to pro category, and he has a very bright future! After every race he would wait and see how his time compared to the top pros. This is what really mattered to him, as next year he knows that these are the guys he will be up against. Personally, I think he will do really well next year!
Congratulations Marcelo! Great results and a really fun week!