POV
RACE REPORT + PAINTINGS

Paint Fast, Ride Slow - North American Enduro Cup 2022

Words Cy Whitling
Photos Cy Whitling
Date Jun 16, 2022
Reading time

Helmet? Check! Spare gloves? Got ‘em! But where’s my damn water brush!? My packing list for the North American Enduro Cup was a mix of bike racing staples (goggles, extra tires, do I have enough riding underwear?) and not-so-normal items. Like the aforementioned water brush. And my homemade plein air clipboard, and a tiny watercolor set, and a whole bunch of other gear that has no real place in a bike racer’s duffle bag. Luckily, I’m not much of a bike racer. 

Hibernation

After a long winter in the Tetons it was time to dust off the big bikes and let them eat

Idaho

Instead I’m a lover of bike racing. I love the atmosphere, the scene, the vibe, whatever you want to call the ineffable experience of getting together with a bunch of other people who also love bikes and riding really hard for a weekend. So my reasons for packing both bike racing gear and painting gear were twofold: Most obviously, Silver Mountain is one hell of a place to ride bikes. Its trails are challenging, technical, and long. It’s the closest riding to my home in the Tetons that feels a little like the Pacific Northwest, and it more than satisfies my longing for off-camber roots. On top of that, the NAEC is one of the only opportunities to ride some of the more raw off-menu trails in the area. And an all-star crew had been working hard, cutting in fresh trails.

Sawh
Saw

And then, of course, there’s the painting. I’m an illustrator by trade, and I’m working to establish more of a foothold in the world of mountain biking. I’ve wondered for a while if it would be possible to mix my passion for painting with my love for riding, and Silver Mountain, and this race, seemed like the perfect test piece. Most trails are accessed by a long gondola ride, ample time to slap some paint around. And what better way to test my live painting skills than to try to paint the biggest, hardest race I’ve ever attended, while also riding in it?

We rolled in Thursday night and set up camp in the parking lot. As we prepared for the inevitable rain, I cranked out my first painting of the trip, trying to get warmed up before things got too challenging.

Treelines

It rained hard that night, and I lay awake, listening to the rain pounding our campsite, wondering what kind of idiot tries to paint outside in a monsoon. But things dried out a little as we ate breakfast and headed up for our first lap. The trails were sloppy, and fresh cut, wide taped tread immediately humbled me as I slogged through a rocky traverse and slid down the finish chute. We headed back up, for laps on more familiar trails, and I stopped to document the drawings I’d done to commemorate some of my favorite trail names.

War Gerbil
Spooky Woods

The woods were still sloppy, and after a lap I headed back down to the Schwalbe tent to trade a painting for a mud spike to replace my worn Magic Mary. Then it was back up the hill to alternate practice laps and painting breaks. By the end of the day I was cautiously optimistic. I’d completed about half of my planned paintings, right on schedule. Sure, I was riding poorly, I’d crashed a lot, but I was also feeling better on some of the more challenging features than I ever had in the past, and most importantly, I was having a blast. I lurked by the trail, painting, as I ran into friends new and old stacking their own practice laps.

Dirty Dan
Rider
selfie

As we cooked dinner, I set the groundwork for a few more paintings, prepping myself for a long day of racing. I woke up early, more heavy rain, and I played the age-old bike racing game of porta-john chicken, trying to make sure that I wouldn’t need to pee on a transfer, or in a lift line, or during a race run. There’s something about racing bikes that makes folks need to go take a leak “just one more time” over and over again.

Toilet

But when my age group rolled out of the village for our first transfer, all those nerves dissipated. This was just a bike ride, with friends, and their friends, who I was now meeting and forging my own friendships with. We climbed just long enough to get well and truly warmed up, and then waited in the drizzle, trying to keep our goggles clear before we dropped. Stage One was long. Over ten minutes of racing for many of us, alternating between tight, flat woods with pedal-grabbing roots, and a wide open section that rewarded the bold. I fogged my goggles high in the first traverse, rode nearly blind for a while, and then tore them off to dangle around my neck. During the next lap I painted my view, using the grit accumulated on my lenses as pigment.

Goggles

A lift ride, a long cold wait at the summit. Tacos provided by the crew at Schwalbe. And then, with the taste of guacamole lingering on my tongue, I dropped into Stage 2. I know those trails reasonably well. I can ride them fast on occasion. But on race day, it all fell apart. I fell. I got up. I fell again. Straighten the seat out, slide down the chute on my back headfirst. Let friends pass me. Slipped a pedal on the run-in to the big drop. Scooted out the bottom bruised and giggling. I loved those tacos, but my run after was pure carnage.

Carnage Asada

Stage Three ran clean. Familiar trails, nothing left to lose. Back up the lift, into the challenge that was the fresh-cut trails of Stage Four. Pedal out the fire road, drop into the slippery jank of loamy, rooty sidehill. Dive into the chute as hecklers roared to “watch out for the tree!!” Compress into the finish line, riding it out, sternum to stem as my arms collapse. This, this is the point of racing bikes. 

A long transfer, shooting the shit with new friends, getting to know each other, learning about backgrounds and motivations and friends in common. One more stage, long, fast, with a big compression, then a long cruise back to camp. Day one wrapped. A few more paintings stacked.

POV

I missed a weekend of Pride events at home to come paint this race. I missed last year’s Pride to ride bikes too. I always feel a little guilty, like an inadequate bisexual, when instead of celebrating found family and queerness, I’m off riding bikes with a bunch of bros. And at this race I was especially aware of that divide. I grew up in Northern Idaho. I’m intimately familiar with this place’s homophobia. Kellogg is not one of those mountain towns where every other business sports a rainbow flag. So I went out of my way to put ostentatious rainbow stickers all over my gear. Because June isn’t just for drag shows and poetry slams (althought I love both), it’s also a great month for queer people to ride their bikes.

CDA Bike Co

Laps back to the base area included this mandatory huck in front of the Coeur D’alene Bike Company shop.

On the first transfer I fell in with a friend of a friend who was sporting a rainbow flag on his downtube. We chatted, he passed me in the stage, and then we all rode as a big group for the rest of the race, making terrible puns, goofing off, and skidding around. I don’t get to do that usually. I don’t get to feel like a queer mountain biker when I ride on my home trails. So Saturday was special. And then as I rested at camp, wishing I had the energy to make the half hour drive to Coeur D'alene for their Pride party, I saw the news that 31 white supremacists had been arrested on their way to rough up the revelers. Northern Idaho, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

Pride - Cy Whitling

Sunday’s race is just one stage. A top to bottom lap, all the best trails, all the vert. The only way to prepare is to get in shape over the off season. Instead, I sat around painting bikes.

Fitniss

This stage played all the hits. A little bit of traditional bike park trail, into the slippery mess of Goat Rodeo, lose a couple of pedal pins in the rocks of Mutton Conductor, and then barely catch your breath before you dive back into the killer combination of Soup Kitchen and Mom Jeans.

Goat Rodeo
Mutton Conductor
Soup Kitchen
Mom Jeans

Another pass through the speed trap, another push through the physicality of War Gerbil, and then one last slog through Frog Trees before we broke through into the sun. I flopped down in the finish corral, dipped my brush in a muddy puddle, and finished out my last painting.

Finish

A brief respite, podiums, beer, pack the van, thank the race organizers, trail builders, and everyone else who made this race possible. Then seven hours through the rain to get home, scan all these paintings, air out my socks, and try to gather my thoughts. 

This race was incredible. I’m slow at riding bikes. I love riding bikes. I love spending time with other people who love riding bikes. I can paint a really hard bike race, while crashing a lot. My system worked. I want to paint more bike events. I want this to be my thing. 

Thank you so much to all the riders and organizers and diggers and timers and volunteers who make this sort of thing possible, and keep this spirit alive. You’re the best.

Cy Whitling Mug Shot


Cy Whitling is a freelance illustrator from Idaho. He likes roots, chasing kids into new jumps, and buying art supplies that he doesn't really need.

Instagram: @cywhitling // Website: bemorestoked.com

Trending on NSMB

Comments

hbelly13
Raymond Epstein
1 week, 6 days ago
+13 Cydwhit Metacomet Andrew Major Niels van Kampenhout Cr4w kcy4130 roil Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian trumpstinyhands gmacbike@gmail.com Timer justfrogurt

Best race report ever!

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
1 week, 6 days ago
+9 Cydwhit Andrew Major Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian ElBrendo Timer Morgan Heater justfrogurt

I hope Silver Mountain buys some of the trail name ones and incorporates them into the trails signs. A trail sign with a bit of style is always a nice bonus.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Cydwhit

This would be sweet!

Reply

cbamos
cbamos
1 week, 6 days ago
+9 Niels van Kampenhout Cydwhit Pete Roggeman Cooper Quinn Andrew Major Velocipedestrian justfrogurt JVP Timer

As a non-bro, I am here for this content.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
1 week, 6 days ago
+7 Pete Roggeman Niels van Kampenhout Cr4w Cydwhit kcy4130 Velocipedestrian justfrogurt

Thanks for the race report. A nice change from the usual MTB race content and format. I'm glad you had fun and the concept worked. Of course it does make me feel a bit inadequate when I am too lazy to pull out a camera and snap a photo on a ride. ;-)

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
1 week, 6 days ago
+11 Cydwhit Metacomet Jimothy.benson Andrew Major Niels van Kampenhout Andeh PowellRiviera Velocipedestrian DanL justfrogurt Morgan Heater

I want all race reports to be like this.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 6 days ago
+5 Niels van Kampenhout Cydwhit Pete Roggeman PowellRiviera Velocipedestrian

This is so awesome and original. Thanks Cy!

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 6 days ago
+5 Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Andrew Major Morgan Heater

Thanks for the kind words! I feel the same way, if I hadn't forced myself to haul around painting gear I probably would have come home with one blurry photo of the results sheet and nothing else.

Reply

PowellRiviera
PowellRiviera
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Andrew Major Cydwhit justfrogurt

I loved your article and art. So cool to see what can emerge from creative space. Thank you

Reply

trumpstinyhands
trumpstinyhands
1 week, 5 days ago
+7 Cydwhit Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Niels van Kampenhout Velocipedestrian Timer justfrogurt

"I missed a weekend of Pride events at home to come paint this race". It's safe to say that I've not read a line like this before in mountain bike media :D

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 5 days ago
+4 Cydwhit Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian justfrogurt

Thanks for highlighting that. I thought it was inspiring too.

Reply

Charliewentoutside
Charlie Custer
1 week, 5 days ago
+7 Niels van Kampenhout Cydwhit Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman Morgan Heater justfrogurt Mammal

Created an account just to leave this comment, loved this article. And as a bi man who's skipping Pride stuff tomorrow to go ride, in part because of fear our own local Nazis will do something awful, I don't think I've ever related more to an article. I feel guilty and somewhat cowardly about it — but as you say, June is a great time for queer people to ride their bikes, too!

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 5 days ago
+6 Deniz Merdano Velocipedestrian Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman Morgan Heater justfrogurt

YES! I caught some shade for skipping Pride to go on a riding trip last year, and I'm still somewhat conflicted. But on the flip side, Pride is by definition full of other queer people. Representation abounds. And being queer as a rider, or coach, or even racer, even if you're not being the most "out and loud" makes a huge difference. My adolescence would have been a lot better if I'd known that mountain bikers didn't have to be straight. So thank you!

And obviously, fuck your (and everyone's) local Nazis.

Reply

andyf
andyf
1 week, 6 days ago
+6 Cydwhit Andrew Major Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman justfrogurt ElBrendo

I want a carnage asada poster!

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Niels van Kampenhout Cydwhit Pete Roggeman ElBrendo

I thought it would make a sweet tattoo, as well!

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Cydwhit JVP ElBrendo

It might be my favourite as well. Next crash I witness, I'm yelling "Carnage Asada!"

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Cydwhit Niels van Kampenhout ElBrendo

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
1 week, 6 days ago
+6 Cydwhit 4Runner1 Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman Timer justfrogurt

So much awesome, on every level!

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 week, 6 days ago
+5 Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman Mike Ferrentino Deniz Merdano justfrogurt

Because Cy didn't actually mention it.... most of these paintings are available for purchase on his site. 

http://bemorestoked.com/

Reply

metacomet
Metacomet
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Cydwhit Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman gmacbike@gmail.com

Wow!   Really enjoyed that!  Awesome artwork and execution of the idea.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Cydwhit Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman justfrogurt

Will there be an animated video recap? tehe. This was great.

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 kcy4130 Cam McRae

Ha! So, actually, this has been on my mind for a couple years now, and yeah, eventually I'd like to do some short animations as well. Although I'm not hauling my iPad up the gondola to try to do them on course!

Reply

justfrogurt
justfrogurt
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Deniz Merdano Karl Fitzpatrick

I had to make an account just to say how awesome this is! You made me stop lurking, how dare you!

I second seeing if the resort would want to buy prints of your illustrated trail names, I cracked up at the "War Gerbil" one.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
1 week, 5 days ago
+2 Cydwhit justfrogurt

Welcome!

Reply

PdxDevvy
Devin Zoller
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Cooper Quinn Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

I just bought the Hibernation Is Over! I’ll frame it for above my bike bench. 

This is awesome, and as a born and raised Idahoan, all I can say is….sorry, and, not all Idahoans are bigoted morons- but good lord, the ones who are REALLY lean into it.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Devin Zoller Pete Roggeman

I'd like to present a similar apology on behalf of the neighboring State of Wyoming.

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 5 days ago
+1 justfrogurt

Idaho is a state full of a bunch of wonderful people, and some very loud terrible people! Thanks for the support.

Reply

DanL
DanL
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Niels van Kampenhout Deniz Merdano

This was one of the best articles I've read that contains mountain biking AND racing them.
Beautiful artwork, Cy and so glad you found a place here for it.

Reply

GnarlsNishi
Ethan Nishimura
1 week, 5 days ago
+3 Cydwhit Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

Cy Whitling is slowly infiltrating all my favourite sports media sites! Blister, then Newschoolers, and now NSMB! Love to see it!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
1 week, 5 days ago
+3 Cydwhit Pete Roggeman Morgan Heater

Damn I'm late to the party but this is some inspirational stuff Cy.

Would love to collab sometime on a photo/ watercolor project!

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 5 days ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Deniz Merdano Morgan Heater

Heck yeah, your photo work has definitely influence my palette!

Reply

Pnwpedal
Pnwpedal
1 week, 5 days ago
+3 Cydwhit Pete Roggeman Mammal

I love this so much, great job setting the scene with fun illustrations.

It reminds me of my Ibis Cycles manuals that are hand illustrated (by a different illustrator I believe). The visual experience has a much more personal and fun feel.

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 5 days ago
+1 Pnwpedal

I love those! I believe it's Chris McNally who does their illustrations, his work is so good!

Reply

evasive
evasive
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Cydwhit Niels van Kampenhout

Fantastic recap, Cy. Thanks much.

Reply

4Runner1
4Runner1
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Niels van Kampenhout Cydwhit

Very entertaining. Really enjoyed this!

Reply

michel77
Michel Vis
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Cam McRae Cydwhit

This was super cool, thank you!

Reply

WheelieWild
Jordan Wild
1 week, 4 days ago
+2 Cydwhit Pete Roggeman

This was such a great read! Love your art too! Please do more of these!!!

Reply

MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
1 week, 3 days ago
+2 Cydwhit Pete Roggeman

Those was joyous to go through, but also a bit bittersweet after missing the first three races of the season this year with a broken clavicle.  Fortunately got my first real ride yesterday and I'll be back between the tape in about a month.

God I love bike racing...

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Cydwhit

Love this Cy! Awesome contribution!

Reply

ThadTheRad
Jake Smith
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Cydwhit

Hey Cy, how the heck to I get to Chad's from the base of Alta?

Reply

Cydwhit
Cydwhit
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Jake Smith

Ski patrol blew it up!

Reply

JVP
JVP
1 week, 5 days ago
+1 Cydwhit

Good stuff!

Reply

ElBrendo
ElBrendo
1 week, 3 days ago
+1 Cydwhit

Man, this was great! Awesome race report and incredible paintings. While my favorite is the carnage asada one, the coolest execution has got to be using the dirt and dust off your goggles. Happy pride month Cy!

Reply

matzx
Pavel Maaca
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

Aaargh! Best stuff of this year yet!  So many pictures i want print right away to T-shirt or whole side of my Trip Van!  do you have some originals for purchase? Or like NFT? :D

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
1 week, 2 days ago
0

You can find Cy's work for purchase here: http://bemorestoked.com/

We're also hoping to have some of Cy's work on some merch we're working on in the very near future...

Reply

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