B.C. Whistler, I only ride park.

Do you even drift bro?

British Columbia is mountain biking. The sport might have been born (kind of) in Marin County USA, but it grew up and had kids in B.C. If you want to get an idea of the benchmarks in biking, and to see what’s behind all the shiny images in most mtb media, you have to take a trip to B.C.

I finally took a trip to B.C., travelling over with Lorne and meeting up with assorted friends from Chamonix and the UK. It was, as expected, amazing. The trails, the biking culture, the infrastructure and the space were everything the internet had told me they’d be and some.

All of this made for a great trip, and I can’t thank my friends, the folks I met and the trail builders enough for it.

What it didn’t make for though, is a great blog post. It’s not even going to scrape through as an average blog post. Three weeks is a long time to either remember everything that happened, or condense everything that happened. There’s far too many varied experiences to try my usual crutch of finding a random fact that interests me and writing around it without missing most of the trip, and far too much material to just write about the whole trip in an even remotely interesting way.

Instead I’ve channeled my inner Partridge and, by scribbling notes during the trip, have managed to drag this out to two posts, one for Whistler and one for not Whistler, of random bits and bobs that happened to space the photos. I’d focus on the photos.

This is the Whistler one:

Rob showing the way where, really, there isn't a way. Cheers Rob!

With an 18 month build up to getting here, the stress and anticipation of a day or so dragging 60kg of luggage around planes, trains and automobiles & a healthy dose of jetlag…..the first lap was always going to be an anti-climax.

Lorne was obviously keen to start on a grand trail. Not too hard to ease us in, but fun riding, and with his experiences from last year had been set on “Crank it up” for a whiles. It’s not that it was a bad trail, far from it, just between the wheel sized craters in the berms and my struggle to get the speed for the jumps I got to the bottom of the hill a bit “meh”.

The second trail was a different story. We’re on blue velvet and, at this point, Lorne is leading out. The trail arcs almost 180 degrees right on a dirt wall of a berm, straight into a second berm, the mirror of the previous. As I look round the corner to see what’s coming up next I see Lorne fade out of sight, slightly sideways in the air, with the accompanying giggle. At this point I get park.

The park chairlifts are pretty sociable, if you’re lapping on your own but want company it doesn’t take long to meet someone to ride with.

Heading up the Garbo chair I get chatting to Gary, who is riding a bike that looks like a session. Because it’s a session. I ask how Freight Train is riding, I’ve not ridden it yet and my first lap down jump trails is always…entertaining….as I try and get my speed right.

A couple minutes later, 52 year old Gary is leading out down Freight Train and giving me a tow into each kicker. Seems there’s plenty of time left to get better in the air.

I'm not saying the park is ALL about A-Line, but it's all about A-line.

Top of the World, TOTW, is apparently a “must do” when you’re in Whistler. A must do despite being an extra 20$ for a short chairlift to access one trail much like all the trails Chamonix has off all lifts above the tree line. I digress. The TOTW trail is fun enough, but the best reason for going up there with a bike is to then get into the trails like Khyber, Babylon, Ride don’t Slide. All of these used to be accessed by a long push up the hill, but now for a mere $20 you can ride a fun enough trail into them.

We were stopped for photos about half way down the TOTW trail when one of Rob’s bike patrol colleagues passed us and said he was going to be needed. A couple minutes down the trail a rider was receiving CPR. His friends, assorted stopped riders and the bike patrol worked, for over an hour, to keep Derrick’s blood and oxygen moving around his body whilst arranging for helicopter transport from the mountain to hospital. After he’d been carried into the helicopter and the area tidyed back up we continued on to Khyber, Upper Babylon, See colours and puke and other classics, my first rides of “real” B.C. trails instead of bike park, followed by a BBQ.

The next day we found out Derrick had died of a heart attack. Sometimes the world is shit.

https://nsmb.com/articles/memoriam-derrick-rockhill/

Ride don’t Slide is a bit of a pedal and push away from the park when TOTW isn’t open. I’m on my own in old growth forest with no human sounds other than the tick of my freehub. I start thinking about bears and cougars.

The bears seem sufficiently vegetarian however the cougars are more of a concern. Several folk have told me you only see a cougar when it wants you to see it, seeing a cougar is fine, it’s when you can’t see the cougar you have to worry.

I can’t see any cougars.

There’s a lot to be said for countries where you’re the top of the food chain, but this trail is good enough to beat that argument.

It’s damp out. Make a cup of tea, have a sandwich, and put on waterproofs.

Shady acres into Del Bocca Vista in Whistler hero dirt is as good as it gets. Renegade in Whistler humidity, is not.

I’d love to know what freak of geological nature makes Whistlers dirt so tacky in the wet, ‘cos it’d be great to get that sorted in Chamonix. The rock is just as slick though.

There’s a word to describe the feeling of realising for the last 350m of climbing you’ve been on the wrong trail. And there’s no other trail cutting across to where you want to be, And there’s no alternative descent from where you are. And logging service road back to the trail head to start anew the 600m climb is your only option.

There’s a word for this feeling, but I don’t know what it is…

 

 

 

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