As Whistler is one of the premier mountain-biking destinations on the planet, it’s no surprise that there’s lot of information about rides and the trails available both on-line and in print.
However, there are no current comprehensive guidebooks for Whistler; the last effort was compiled circa 1997 (by Rob Cocquyt and Dave Kelly, “Squamish-Whistler Mountain Bike Guide) is difficult to find and not current. As one can discern from the many questions in online bike forums, the need for a comprehensive guide is evident. “Whistler Mountain Biking” by Brian Finestone and Kevin Hodder, a new guidebook on the topic, is current, comprehensive and fills this information gap.
Cheap Thrills on the West Side ~ rider Lee Lau
Presentation of the book
The book is attractively presented on high-quality paper and will probably be able to take a fair amount of abuse even if stowed in a pack. The cover is also of high quality paper and may even be able to handle a bit of moisture. The book is a compact size, convenient for portability.
The heart of any good trail guide are directions. This guide uses very good maps to present that information. Legends on the maps are informative and clear. Contour lines are presented; although without altitude markings and purely to roughly gauge trail inclination. Elevation profiles are also given. GPS points (in degrees, minutes decimalized) are used to designate trailheads and exits. To top it all off, the authors have also provide access information for drives to the trailhead. Truly the authors have catered to the anal-retentive.
The title page of the book is provided below. I’ll post an example page soon
The authors have provided short, useful trail descriptions, have tried to rate the difficulty of trails and, more uniquely, have attempted to ascribe a “quality” value to trails (using a 3 star sliding scale) . Photographs are provided of the trails. They have described trails in the valley and in the bike park. They have described a wide variety of trails (from beginner to gnar-core). Potentially controversially, even some of the more obscure (even “secret”) trails are described along with some access descriptions which allow one to use the Whistler bike park lifts to access trailheads. It’s a good thing that one of the authors is the manager of the bike park! It should be noted that assigning a difficulty level to a trail is more subjective then to ski runs where this rating system is derived. What is a blue square to a fit rider who likes technical trails would be a black diamond to a fit rider who does not have the same technical skills. Also, when the trails are wet they can be far more difficult then when they are dry. In order to assess the difficulty of the trail it might be best to choose your ride based on the length, steepness and features on the trail and how skilled you are at riding the ascribed technical features.
An impressive array of trails is described. You’ll have heard of a few but many you won’t know (Mandatory Suicide anyone?) It will take you some time to ride even a small percentage of the trails described in this book.
Kill Me Thrill Me ~ rider Lee Lau
It would be nice to have the GPS coordinates in UTM format also. Given the ease of providing information over the Internet it would be nice if the authors would provide the waypoints in downloadable format.
Rock Drop on Schleyer in the bike park ~ rider Sharon Bader
I don’t know if this book is really necessary if you can find the information for yourself online (and by that I mean having the ability to do a bit more then posting in MTBR’s forums along the lines of “I want to ride in Canada – what trails would be good for me?). There are already maps of Whistler trails.
I also don’t know if this book is necessary if you don’t want to leave the manicured confines of the bike park. There’s already a very good bike park map. But your friends or family who don’t want to ride in the bike park would find it useful.
Having said that this book isn’t about what is necessary. This book is about well-packaged, accurate information, beautifully presented and tied together in one convenient package. Get this book if you want to explore Whistler trails and you don’t know where to start.
Pictures of Whistler trails
Cheap Thrills on the West Side ~ rider Lee Lau
Angry Pirate in the Whistler Bike Park ~ rider Sharon Bader
Whistler Alpine ~ rider Sharon Bader and Mike Johnstone – available as a private tour through the Bike Park
Khyber Pass ~ rider Sean Killen
Khyber Pass ~ rider Lee Lau
Comfortably Numb ~ rider Sharon Bader
I would like to summarize Brian and Kevin’s acknowledgments and recognition of all involved in creating the great mountain bike experience in Whistler:
Marc Bourdon, Shawn Beaudoin and the Whistler Bike Park Patrol, Dave Kelly and the Whistler Bike Park trail crew, Anthony Horn, Ian Ritz, Ian Hodder for contributions to the valley trail portion of the book. WORCA for maintaining the valley trail system, Resort Municipality of Whistler for pushing the limits and recognizing the needs for all types of trails within this community, Robert Kennedy – always good to have a good lawyer on your side and all the riders who will support this guide.