Crankworx 2013 for Groms

Crankworx 2013 is in the books.  The 10 days in August that are the highlight on the calendar for so many mountain bikers across the globe didn’t disappoint.  While there is no shortage of partying and racing for the ‘adults’ (‘bigger kids’ might be a better description), as usual Crankworx is a fantastic place for mountain bike-oriented families.  Here are our  thoughts on how the event went down from the perspective of one grom and his parents.  

Pro: Swag –  Like any event of this size, Crankworx was filled with vendor booths, and those vendor booths often include swag to give-away.  While the word itself is an acronym for ‘Stuff We All Get’, vendors often guard these items like they’re the one ring.  Want to know the secret of getting all the best free stuff?  Walk around with an excited kid.  Hats, t-shirts and Stickers were everywhere and unlike other kinds of events, you could wear them without looking like a computer engineer just back from ComDex.

One grom gets props from  McCaul and Semenuk when showing off his Kidsworx medal at the Trek tent.

One grom gets props from McCaul and Semenuk when showing off his Kidsworx medal at the Trek tent.

Pro: Signings – It’s a known fact in the sports broadcasting world that of the 4 major North American leagues (NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB), the hockey players are by far the nicest to deal with.  I’m willing to bet that they don’t hold a candle to mountain bike pros.  Over 10 days and many signings, every single pro we met was friendly, outgoing, and polite.  The impression they left on our grom couldn’t have been more positive, and this goes for EVERY SINGLE PRO.  Extra props go to:

  • Steve Smith who took a little extra time with our grom when he found out how much of a fan he was while visiting the Fox tent.
  • Brandon Semenuk who, at the very end of a long signing at the Red Bull tent, still engaged with the kids, asking about their bikes and what sort of riding they like to do.
  • Cam McCaul  who is every bit as friendly and down to earth as he seems to be in the bike videos.  He was engaging and came off as genuinely interested in what the kids were talking to him about.  When the groms we were with entered the Trek tent, they knew him as a guy from the videos, they left the tent as big fans as evident by the cheers for him later at the slopestyle event.
  • Danny Hart who was friendly and engaging to the kids who obviously weren’t really sure who he was when we visited the Giant Bikes tent.  That changed in a hurry later when they were shown this video.

I can’t understate enough the positive effect this had on the groms.  A big thanks to all the pros and their respective sponsors who arranged the signings (Fox, Trek Bikes, Red Bull, Giant Bikes, and Rocky Mountain to name a few).

Pro: Racing – It’s not all for kids, and the Dads (and Moms) have to get a little fun in there as well.  I won’t dwell on this, but as an often competitor (though this year sidelined by injuries) and always spectator I have to say that Crankworx stepped it up again this year.  Especially in the Enduro which was controversial to say the least in 2012, but went off in awesome fashion in 2013.

Con:  Spectator Access – While the Slopestyle is no doubt king, the second most fun event to watch is always the Whip-off World Championships.  Unfortunately access to the event was effectively cancelled and lifties were turning people away at the bottom and at mid-station.  Sure there were tonnes of people who snuck off, and even more that hiked up from the bottom, but neither option is appropriate for families.  The mountain is worried about hikers being in peril while in the park, but how hard would it be to rope off an official path to the event to keep people on a safe path?  Seems to work for 30k+ people during the slopestyle….

Pro: Kidsworx – This is the highlight for groms every year, and it got even better in 2013.  In fact, it’s so big it warranted it’s own review!

Pro: Slopestyle – While the riding level keeps getting bigger an bigger, so does the event.  More jumbotrons meant more places to view.  A site-line friendly course optimized viewing from all sorts of angles, and just the right amount of security making the crowd rambunctious but not rough.  Kids had a great time and may have even enjoyed the annual march of the bananas as much as the riding itself!

Pro: Expo activities for kids – Lots of stuff to do in the village expo, from stickers in the Teva/Cheese tent to exercising at the Subway trailer, there was no shortage of things to do while Dad looked at ‘boring bike parts’.

Con: Where were the kid’s bikes? – For all the bikes, parts, and apparel on display, there was hardly anything grom-specific.  The only things we saw were Sombio’s grom line (which was awesome by the way) and one 24″ bike coming up from Rocky Mountain hanging in the corner of their tent.  Kid’s bikes may not be the focus, but they are the future, and given the number of groms running around it’d be wise for manufacturers to recognize that.

Pro:  Locals Rule! – I grew up in Edmonton in the early eighties and just assumed that the Stanley and Grey Cups were just annually won by whatever city I lived in (it was a rude awakening when I moved to BC).  As a kid, knowing that the best players were from the same place as I was was both comforting, and fostered my love for hockey (CFL I’m still not sold on).  In that same way, watching local boys Steve Smith and Brandon Semenuk win the big events really got the groms stoked, and not to mention a few adults.  Now if only BC could produce an Enduro phenom……

Overall,  Crankworx has yet again outdone itself.  The 10 days just flew by and created tonnes of memories for everyone.  If you’re looking for a great place to spend some time next summer with the family, you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun time for a family of mountain bikers than Crankworx.  Even if the whole family isn’t bikers, there’s still Whistlers world class hiking, site-seeing, and spas.