When debating whether to go to Whistler or Interbike and Moab this year for my fall trip, mikesee sent me an email that basically said how bike-career alteringly awesome going to Whistler is. Says Mike, “Oh, oh, oh how I wish I could join you. I sincerely hope that you follow through with it—I look at my mountain bike ‘career’ in terms of how I rode (and looked at trails) before Whistler, and since. Knowing just a bit about you and where/how you like to ride, I suspect you’ll do the same. Whizzler does indeed change everything. Not everyone gets the same out of it–duh–but everyone finds something to love. And yes–god yes, go now, so that you can go again and again and again before you have to stop.”
I really didn’t need any further encouragement to go but rereading this now, I see how true it was. Saturday was my last day in the park and the last day of my trip I wanted to spend as much time in the park as I could before my arms, wrists and shoulders gave out. I figured I could always rest when I get back to work and like I said, I just don’t have anything like this near my home in the States.
As I walked out the lobby of the Aava Hotel where we stayed I noticed a booth where they would loan you a GoPro video camera for the day for free so I strapped one on and headed up the magical chair lift device for more, more, and more runs down. It just makes me giddy thinking about it.
Speaking of the Aava, we really enjoyed our accommodations there. The room we stayed in was spacious, clean,and quiet. Everyone we dealt with was very friendly and helpful and they really catered to bikers, offering in addition to the free GoPro loaner, a bike tuning and cleaning station, bike valet, and easy 5 minute walking distance to the chairlifts.
Only in Whistler
I started out with a couple of warm up runs on Crank It Up and Blue Line then hit A-line a couple times to cement what I’d learned the previous day. Then once the Garbanzo lift opened I caught a ride up to the upper mountain. I had the good fortune to hook up with a friendly fellow who lives a couple hours east of Whistler who was on his own as well, was quite familiar with the bike park, an excellent rider, and who offered to hang with me and show me around. Thanks a ton Andrew.
Several runs down Freight Train and A-line latter (not to mention a smattering of other interesting tech trails like Angry Pirate and Goats Gulley) we ran in to some friends of his from California who joined us for the last few runs. It was really great to hook up with a group rather than just riding on my own. I was able to see a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and progressed my skills on some of the jump line trails by following more experienced jumpers.
By 4:30 my arms and hands were screaming uncle and after a particularly awkward get-off into/over a berm on my “just-one-more-run” run down Freight Train I knew it was time to go. I reluctantly turned in the Giant and walked back to the hotel where my ever-patient and supportive wife was waiting. We drove down to Vancouver to catch our early flight out the next morning as the sun set over the peaks and bays along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Mike was right. This trip changes everything and ruined me for any other riding. In fact I haven’t even been able to face getting up in the morning to do my same old local rides. I really hope this passes but I know it won’t completely and I’ll have to get back up to Whistler and North Vancouver to scratch that itch again soon.
I can’t begin to thank everyone who helped make this trip a reality but special thanks need to go out to Lee Lau and Sharon Bader for taking us under their wings and facilitating practically everything we did while in British Columbia, not to mention making me look good in so many fantastic pictures; Wendy Robinson, Kerry Duff, and Mary Zinck, from Tourism Whistler; and Bea Searle, Tom Radke, and Rob McSkimming of Whistler Blackcomb Resort.