I am an XC rider. I’ll do small jumps and logs but mostly I like to stay on the ground. But I also enjoy the variety of cycling. I’ll ride an all-mountain bike, singlespeed, 29er, cross bike, road bike and I’ll always have a big grin on my face.
I haven’t really delved too much into downhill. About 5-10 years ago, I tried Mammoth, Northstar, Squaw resorts and was just not impressed. It just seemed too fast, dusty and rocky with only the upside of not having to pedal up.
Fast forward a few years and I keep hearing about this place in British Columbia called Whistler Bike Park. Folks started calling it the ‘mecca’ or an ‘awesome place to learn’. Still, I discounted it as just a place for downhillers and dirt jumpers.
Then I saw the Whistler segments in the DVD’s ‘Roam’ and ‘Seasons.’ “Wow, Now we’re talking!” I thought that singletrack actually looked pretty special.
By pure luck, my extended family decided to have a group vacation in Whistler. Who was I to object? If biking happened, bonus. If not, no problem.
Whistler is two and half hours north of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. The road is narrow and slow-going as they are trying to widen the single-lane highway before they host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Whistler features a stunning village/downtown area which is about a quarter-mile long with shops, restaurants, groceries and four Starbucks coffee shops. Some of the finest hotels are represented here and the architecture of each building complements the rest.
There’s a kids activity park with zip lines, luge carts and fun attractions. Also, the Village hosts at least a dozen adventures like ATV rides, rafting, guided hikes, etc.
It becomes obvious however that the king of all summer activities here is mountain biking. There’s about 10 bike shops in the village that sell and rent a huge selection of bikes and gear.
Outside the Village, there is a paved bike trail that goes for miles and loops around a few lakes in the area. Nearby, there is a fascinating trail system called Lost Lake. It features smooth fire roads as well as manicured singletrack topped with crushed gravel. And intertwined with all these trails in Lost Lake is an intermediate/advanced trail system called the Zappa trails. These trails feature rocks and roots and elevated wooden structures that is sure to challenge and thrill any rider.
There are also a ton of trails around the area. Trails like ‘Cut yer Bars’, ‘A river runs through it’ and others give the Whistler rider a lot of options.
In the Whistler Village, there is an indoor bike jump park with a foam pit for those super cushy landings. There is also a bmx style jump park on a flat area near the river.
Riding with the family:
I have two small kids and a big family and we had zero bikes and gear. Problem? Not at Whistler. There’s a lot of riding for any level of rider. Eight of us stormed a bike shop at 4pm and we were fully equipped with bikes, trailer-bikes, helmets within thirty minutes. We did the Lost Lake system and the kids had the time of their lives. We did this twice riding from the Village and finished off both rides at Lost Lake which sports a beach/picnic area.
With a more experienced group, we did the Zappa trails at Lost Lake. These trails are a series of short, technical and absolutely fun trails all connected together. Each section is named after a song by the great Frank Zappa. I was introduced to elevated wooden ramps here. All the ramps are low, consistent in width and very solid in build. Plus the cedar wood used seemed to have great traction.