There’s really no place like it- Whistler Bike Park is in a league of its own. Sure, we’ve all heard about it. Most of us easterners have probably ridden Highland before, which consistently stacks up right under Whistler in bike park rankings (www.mtbparks.com). Whistler has been called the birth place of bike park riding, and rightfully so- the park shines in every way and when you are done riding you simply don’t want to leave.
We headed up north for closing weekend, October 7-11. Whistler has a slightly longer season than most other lift-accessed parks, and the dirt was perfect with the autumn temperature and moisture content. The crowds had dissipated after the madness of Crankworx, and the trail crew had fixed most of the bomb holes and brake bumps left after the busy summer thrashing of countless tires throughout the peak season. Throw some cheap off-season lodging deals into the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a stress-free trip to help bring your lift-accessed season to a close.
We started our first day with some rain, but dressed accordingly and still had a blast- in fact some of the natural trails like Angry Pirate seemed to ride better when hit with some water. Once the rain let up we dropped into Dirt Merchant (opening step-up image), which blew our minds. It’s always a good idea to scope jumps before hitting them, but after seeing countless videos of this dirt masterpiece we just dropped in and hit everything first go- you can see all the lips and transfer lines coming up as you approach them. You can also go as big or little as you would like- the landings have massive hip options on the sides and normal options in the middle. This trail rides as well as it looks in all the photos and videos out there and was absolutely one of our favorites.
We hopped on A-Line for a few runs, which was actually re-built in 2015. We were greeted with overhead berms and manicured jumps from top to bottom, ending in a house-sized jump. Yep, you could fit a pretty normal house under there, it’s impressive.
We ended our first day with Crabapple Hits, the notorious jump trail home to Crankworx Whip-Off’s every year. While I’m not entirely sure how big these jumps were, they seemed like some of the bigger jumps any of us have hit. They roll down a slightly sloping ski run and progressively grow larger- you just drop in and keep riding each one as it comes up without braking or pedaling. Then at some point you realize you’re pretty high up and going fast with a bunch of hang time- ideal for leaning out a few whips here and there.
After melting our faces off we headed into town and grabbed a few Kokanees. We were invited to a hockey game but chose to wander around aimlessly instead and discovered a bunch of touristy activities to entertain ourselves.
Day two started with mild temperatures and tacky dirt, with the threat of torrential rain around noon. We got an early start and headed up to the Garbanzo zone above the lower mountain lifts. We ran into a friendly local who showed up a few off-the-map rock roll-downs which woke us up and scared us a bit. Freight Train was next on the list, and did not disappoint. We were met with endless jumps and berms of all sizes and were ultimately dropped off on top of Dirt Merchant for more- sweet! After two runs on Freight Train the sky opened up and we called it a day. Too bad, because there were so many more trails we wanted to ride. Mother nature has a mind of her own, and now we have to come back- fine with me.
Whistler Bike Park rules, period. I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for 2016. Thank you to Brian Finestone and Chris McLeod for taking care of us. For more information, visit www.whistlerbikepark.com. Cheers, eh!