The Whistler Experience Part 2: Kids, cross-country and the best places to relax

Kids riding A-Line inspire industry innovation — and provide parental motivation

Kids Travel
Whistler kids get a jump on the competition. Photo courtesy Whistler Mountain Bike Park/Justa Jeskova

Whistler kids get a jump on the competition (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Whistler Mountain Bike Park/Justa Jeskova

Anna Boyd has seen 6-year-olds that can ride A-Line well. By 8 or 9 many of them are really good, adds Boyd, programs supervisor for Whistler Blackcomb’s DFX Kids Mountain Bike Program. The fact that kids barely old enough to tie their shoes can shred one of the famous bike park’s toughest trails shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The program accepts kids as young as 4 — and even 3 if they’re almost 4 and able to ride on two wheels using a hand brake. (No coaster brakes allowed in the bike park.)

Check out part 1 of our Whistler Experience series here and read about Outerbike Whistler here.

DFX (as in downhill, freeride, cross-country) offers three core programs, a summer-long club session for the local kids (about 300 are enrolled), day camps for out-of-towners, and new this season, 5-day programs that essentially clone the club program with 3 days of cross-country and 2 days of downhill.

“It’s a segment that is really exploding,” said Rob McSkimming, Whistler Blackcomb’s VP of business development. “And we are starting to see the industry respond with better kid’s gear and bikes and clothing.”

Whistler Mountain Bike Park offers summer long, week long, and day lessons for kids. Photo courtesy Whistler Mountain Bike Park/Justa Jeskova

Whistler Mountain Bike Park offers summer long, week long, and day lessons for kids (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Whistler Mountain Bike Park/Justa Jeskova

Indeed, along with a massive array of adult bikes, the Whistler Blackcomb demo fleet includes 20” Norco Ninjas and 24” Giant Yukons, a dual suspension rig that Boyd says Giant originally built just for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

“It used to be really hard to find small size kid’s bikes without coaster brakes, so we used to buy Norco’s and take them into shop and install a new wheel,” recalled Boyd. “But now there are more options. The industry is catching up with the kids at Whistler and all the other bike parks.”

The other — perhaps more important — impact of all these kids on bikes has been on their parents.

“We usually see two basic demographics,” continued Boyd. “Most of the Whistler parents already ride bikes. But with the daily and weeklong program, that number is maybe half. But what happens is that the moms and dads get pulled in because they see their kids doing it. A lot of those people used to think that the bike park was unattainable, big jumps and too much risk because that’s what you see on the internet or at Crankwork. But then someone sees their kid having a fun and safe time, and that boosts their confidence to give it a try.”

Taking a lesson is a great way to get acclimated to the unique Whistler riding experience. Photo courtesy Arbutus Routes/Mason Mashon

Taking a lesson is a great way to get acclimated to the unique Whistler riding experience (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Arbutus Routes/Mason Mashon

When those new-to-cycling parents do decide to give it a try, they have options. The bike park will always be front and center. But the Whistler-area also boasts a massive network of cross-country trails.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Whistler Experience »
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About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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