Jesse Melamed's Crankworx EWS Report
WHISTLER BC, Canada - The Crankworx Enduro World Series race has come and gone. Battered bodies are gingerly making their way to well-deserved food and dusty bikes are getting some well-deserved cleaning. With the race being on our home turf we fielded a strong contingent of riders, including our Altitude Enduro Team of young, up-and-coming enduro racers.
In his second ever Enduro World Series race 21-year-old Jesse Melamed was the event's biggest surprise, earning a blisteringly fast 6th place against an incredibly stacked field. Read his race report below. Words by Jesse Melamed. Photos by Margus Riga and Sean St. Denis.
Getting off to an early start, it was awesome to roll out of the VIP deck together with our team captain and mentor Andreas Hestler, before heading up the gondola to Khyber for Stage 1. Due to a thunderstorm delay we had only 15-second starting intervals for the first stage, which made for lots of interesting passing. I didn't warm up enough and was having some issues with arm-pump, so my riding was a bit rough on this stage. I had two over-the-bars crashes—I'd pass two guys, crash, and have to pass them again as I made up time. Still, other guys were having problems too and I was able to salvage a 16th place on the stage.
Stage 2 was on Business Time and AM-PM, both super fun trails. I actually caught a guy right as he crashed and ended up T-boning him pretty hard. He was okay, but it ended up eating a bit of time. This stage had a lot of spectators, which was awesome because you can't help but push a bit harder when people are yelling your name. With the help of a fast bottom section I was able to snag 13th place for the stage.
After the first two stages we had a long uphill transfer to Stage 3. I was running a single 36t chainring, which meant I had to push up the steepest bits. Some of the big-name riders were running smaller-than-normal chainrings and then changing them before the final stage. On one hand I'd have been able to conserve some energy by doing that, but it's not exactly in the spirit of the competition; nobody goes for a ride with multiple chainrings in their backpack.
Stage 3 was my stage. Pura Vida is one of my favourite trails and I knew I could put down a good result. It's tight, twisty, technical, steep, and super fast—a perfect Whistler trail—and I absolutely nailed my run. Unfortunately, I blew off the trail and down an embankment just before the finish line, and those seconds getting myself back together cost me a stage win. Regardless, I was super happy to be up there with the big guns and nobody can complain about coming 3rd after Jerome and Fabien.
I consoled myself about throwing away a stage win during the big climb to the 4th stage. My equipment was perfect on the day, no mechanical issues at all, but it was good that some guys were able to sort out their bike problems during the generous transfer times between stages.
Stage 4 was on Billy's Epic, which was two loose, steep descents separated by a two-minute climb in the middle. Normally I can count on my fitness as an advantage, but against these ultra-fit, world class racers I knew I'd have to make my time on the descents and was really happy with 5th place.
Finally, we had a break for lunch and a bit of recovery before heading up to the Top of the World trail for Stage 5. By this point I knew a good result was possible, so I had to remind myself to ride just a little conservatively throughout the 20-plus minute descent. That being said, I had one small get-off on the stage, and I was absolutely worked by the finish, so I think I played it just about right. I claimed 18th on the stage.
This result, along with a pretty high starting number put me in the hot seat for quite a while. It was awesome having all my friends and the riders I coach encourage me. Definitely a feeling I could get used to. Ultimately though, my time was good enough for 6th place on the day—awesome!
Finishing 6th overall leaves me chasing all sorts of "what-ifs"—13 seconds faster throughout the day would have put me in 3rd spot. But, then I give my head a shake and am ecstatic about the result. This sort of event is everything I've wanted mountain bike racing to be and it's so cool to be a part of it.
Bike Setup Notes
Rocky Mountain Altitude 790 MSL frame (with RIDE-9™ set to full slack)
Fox 34 Float 160 Kashima (75psi), Float Remote Kashima (140psi), and DOSS dropper post
Raceface SixC bars (cut to 745mm) and Turbine stem (60mm)
Shimano XTR brakes, shifting, and drivetrain (36t single ring crankset setup)
DT Swiss M1.4 wheelset
Continental Trail King Protection 2.4" tires (26psi)
WTB Silverado saddle
ESI grips (cut down to half the normal size to push my brakes further out)
Along with Rocky Mountain I'd like to thank all of the Altitude Enduro Team sponsors for keeping our bikes, clothes, eyes, stomachs, etc. in good shape: Shimano, KazLaw, DLD Financial, BC Bike Race, Fox, DT Swiss, Race Face, Sombrio, Continental Tires, Ryders Eyewear, WTB, Planet Foods, and ESI Grips. Cheers!