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Whistler Report - LONG & LOTS of Pics...BE WARNED!


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Well, I've been home now for a full two weeks since the best freakin holiday of my life!


I had been sharing some tales and pics with my friends on facebook so kind of didn't feel the need to share here. Also didn't want to come accross as showing off.


Seriously though, have just felt like I want to shout it out to the world. They probably won't care though, but I figure since everyone on here is interested in riding bikes you guys might actually appreciate me sharing this.


And if sharing my stoke inspires some of you to go to Canada or wherever it is you've always wanted to ride, then that is a wonderful thing.


I am not well-off by any stretch of the imagination and to go on this trip I "paid" with the extra bike I dearly wanted to buy this year. It was a wortwhile trade!


Don't let the cost deter you. Don't let family members who openly suggest you're silly to travel halfway around the world to ride your bike deter you.




'Whistler XC'


As I mentioned in another thread, I've been riding in SA for 15yrs but had probably the 10 best rides of my life in Canada!


The trails really are simply in a whole different league.


Although I rode in the bikepark quite a bit I honestly prefered the Valley Trails. These are the trails the guys refer to when they say we're doing an 'XC' ride.

Now you might think you've ridden 'XC'.....but that sure doesn't mean you've ridden 'Whistler XC'!

It should have a description all of it's own in the dictionary. What it basically means is that in stead of going to the bikepark, catching a lift ride to the top and riding the gnarliest trails in the world down you actually grind uphill for 45-90minutes in your granny-gear and THEN ride the gnarliest trails in the world down with several natural and manmade stunts and obstacles! Some woodwork combined with some of the steepest, technical and just plain scary rockformations!

The ride we did one Saturday was simply mind-blowing. 'River Runs through it' is a fairly flat trail but a firm local favorite. Plenty of stunts like ladders, jumps and logrides. It's a great trail to just spend a couple hours on trying the different obstacles and lines and practicing your skills.








Daemon will appreciate the woodwork I'm sure Smile



This must be the coolest stunt ever....two opposing see-saws that are connected by pulleys and ropes. When you ride up the first one and your weight rocks it forward the ropes pull the second see-saw flat enabling you to ride onto it and down the other side.....sheer bloody genius LOL



The reason for the trails name is the river running through it....this is the logride over the river





From there we moved on to 'Cheap Thrills'. This really opened my eyes to what the term 'Whistler XC' really means.


If you want, link to my buddy Scott's helmetcam site and download the video titled 'Cheap Thrills' to have a look http://www.fmhelmetcam.com/


Here are some pics:





All the trails are just of such amazing quality.


Can you imagine seeing something like this on a trail in South Africa....problem: A gorge



Solution: Build a bridge, no? Not a rickety old plank bridge.....a full-on suspension bridge!



An important notice.....bears have right of way....NO PROBLEM THERE!



Some more woodwork:





Obviously it's got a lot to do with orginisation and funding. The local club is WORCA (Whistler Offroad Cycling Association) that does all biking related trail maintenance and deals with land access and any related issues.


Whistler is a fairly small town, and yet at the weekly club ride, the so-called Loonie Ride, they'll have anywhere between 200-400 riders pitching up on a Thursday evening. Every week the race is sponsored and organised by a different company with free food and beer....well I consider it free. It's only for WORCA club members with an entry fee of $2!


This was some of the most fun I had with just such a social and relaxed atmosphere....with free beer, how could it not be? Wink


Back to the trails.....one night we were taken on a ride by a Whistler local called Zane. We started on a shortish but awesome little trail called 'Blueberry Trail' which literally starts outside his backdoor(lucky bugger) where he lives on Blueberry Hill(no, really)

This was beautiful, fast, flowing and technical. Then we climbed and climbed and climbed over a mixture of tar road and trails up to the Flank Trail, a sort of contour that connects a whole bunch of trails on Whistler's Westside. We went mostly uphill for 1.5hrs until we stopped at a little trailhead called 'JAWS'. It's named that for a reason!

Jaws was just ridiculous. I have honestly never seen anything like this. We basically headed straight down the side of the mountain and for about 5 minutes the gradient was at least 45 degrees. I'm talking heart-in-your-throat descending with your dropped saddle hitting your chest as your screaming down the mountain OUT of control and just trying to stay in the trail and not crash....which I did 3 or 4 times. It was INSANE! The thing is that it might be better if the trail was smooth and straight, but it's not. The whole time you're twisting left and right dodging trees and rocks and going over little 1 and 2 foot drops created by rocks and roots(keep in mind you're already pointing 45degrees down)

It was at the same time hilarious. We couldn't stop laughing.

After that we moved onto 'Billy's Epic'. This trail is simply THE $H!T! The gradient was quite a bit more relaxed than Jaws. This meant that you could actually slow down when you applied brakes. Other than that it had the same combination of roots, rocks, trees and drops. The other thing it had was FLOW! The most incredible flow and rhythm! We dropped in the top and just immediately started absolutely screaming down this trail, three in a line literally on top of each other's back wheel twisting left and right and down for what seemed like an eternity.

I really can't find the words to describe what I felt on this trail. Something I've never experienced. I wish I could bring it accross to people that don't ride bikes.

I was completely and utterly BLOWN AWAY by this ride. It was.....I dare say....one of the greatest days of my life.


It was without any doubt the greatest ride of my life!


We met up with the guys who were riding the park for dinner and I was sitting there grinning. An hour later my friend Eric's wife pointed out that I was still grinning. Really. I still do now when think about it!



The Bike Park


Well, there's a certain pleasure to be derived from a bike park that has a rule forbidding anyone from riding UP the mountain with threats of 'Park privileges will be revoked' if you're caught doing it.


The park was undoubtedly an absolute blast. It is brilliantly laid out and maintained with the most incredible selection of trails.


Again, you can download some helmetcam footage at http://www.fmhelmetcam.com/  Whistler Bike Park July 2007


Obviously one of the most important things anyone can do is to ensure you ride within your limits. This is something that became almost like a mantra the last week before I left as the last thing I wanted to do was to injure myself within the first couple of days I was there.


I can't really say much more, except that even though I enjoyed riding in the valley more, the park is surely a biking nirvana with 200km of lift accessed downhill trails and an endless selection of jumps and drops and bridges and stunts....sheer bliss!


To give you an idea of some of the runs, during the Crankworx festival one of the main events was the Garbanzo Downhill, which started at the top of the highest trail. This was not the main DH race as it is considered TOO LONG....with a winning time posted by aussie Sam Hill of 14 minutes 25 seconds!


Anyway....some fun from the park


The village below taken from the skilift



On the lift....Eric, Scott and Fenton



A logride



A wallride



Me on a logride....there's that big, cheesy grin again



This is just an awesome pic....Eric on the hip-jump



Can you say 'technical descent'....?



A long succesion of connected logs and ladders twisting up, down, left and right



Me again on a roller. I'm on the easy line. The real men ride the line to the right.....as in onto that big boulder and then JUMP of the boulder and land about a meter up from where I am on the 70degree face!



Fenton sending it!



The GLC drop....named after the restaurant at it's base. Pic taken from the deck, chowing Beef Dip and sipping Kokanee Gold Big%20smile



This is one of the few pictures that really brings across just how steep some of the lines are



Can you tell we're having fun...?




Kokanee Crankworx


Another eye-opener was actually being able to witness the Crankworx Festival. It's supposedly the biggest freeride and downhill MTB festival in the world and it was simply awesome seeing the riders I've only seen in magazines and dvds pulling the sickest stunts in real life.


Darren Berrecloth aka Bearclaw dropping off the Mavic box



The last stunt on the Slopestyle course....the Gap-O-Tron



Up the Giro Box....



....and down the other side!



Not forgetting one of my heroes, Ryan Leech the trials god!




And all that spectating and clapping and shouting is hard work, so naturally refreshments were a must!




What was really great to see was how absolutely down to earth all these guys were. No egos or showing off. The top freeriders in the world were so uncompetitive, discussing different lines and stunts and actually giving each other pointers.


Just as laidback as any social group of riders.



The North Shore


We managed to head out to Vancouver for one day to ride some trails on the North Shore, specifically Mount Fromme. We rode a couple trails, 7th Secret, Espresso and Lower Crippler.


This was simply awesome as well. The quality of these trails is something you have to see to appreciate. We bumped into another rider who was telling us that him and another trail builder had put in in the region of 400hrs of trailwork each on two trails in the preceding 2 years!

It shows. Wish I'd taken some more pics just of the construction. They work with wood, rocks and dirt and carve out the most incredible trails.

It's SOOOO technical. My bike really wasn't up to the task, the geometry of the frame just not allowing me to get my weight far enough back for the steep sections and simply not enough travel to soak up the hits. It coped, but it wasn't comfortable. Still had a ball though.




Me on a logride....I was TERRIFIED the whole way down, but so incredibly stoked when i made it.



The Crazy Kiwi....my buddy Fenton



Fenton pausing on top of a rock drop....



....before rolling it!



Eric....our fearless 'guide'



A jump onto a boulder



A loooong logride....seriously about 40-50meters and about 2m off the ground in places....I chickened out on this one. You only had about 15cm to manuevre on!



Ralph killing it!





Comfortably Numb


Another highlight was riding a trail called Comfortably Numb. I met up with two Aussies, Chris and Oli, and a Whistler local, also Chris, for this one. Originally the plan was just to ride the 12km out of town to the trailhead and then hit it. On the way out there we pass the trailhead of Kill Me Thrill Me(another must-do that was on my list anyway)


Chris the local suggests we do this as it exits only about 1km passed the entrance to Numb. I was apprehensive at first as I knew that they were all a lot fitter than me and also because the statistics I read regarding Numb in the Whistler Bike Guide were plain scary....1300m vertical elevation gain in 24km, 4-7hrs duration, 'physically demanding terrain' etc etc....


Some pics on Kill Me Thrill Me....





...and then we hit the big one!



Stopping for a breather


Al Grey Memorial Bridge




This trail was simply incredible. What's really interesting was how this trail came about. It started out somewhere in the 90's as an illegal trail. A man by the name of Chris Markle(also responsible for Kill Me Thrill Me) would sneak into the woods to work on his baby. There were no entrances visible from the road and details of the route were only whispered among trusted friends. He would set off into the woods sometimes for several days at a time so as to avoid the hectic hike to where he was working.


It is a gem. 24km of the most beautiful, twisty and technical singletrack you have ever seen in your life! You might think 24km is nothing....as I did initially, but it's just such an incredibly physical trail. The WHOLE way you're just throwing your weight around and muscling the bike over obstacles. I honestly can't tell you how many times I rode over bridges and logs and rock formations after rock formations with hard, technical moves. It just absolutely never let's up!


The term 'body english' springs to mind.....except I learnt a whole bunch of new 'words'!


I woke up the next morning with purple blue bruises on the insides of my legs above and below the knees from hitting my legs on the toptube repeatedly while trying to pedal and move the bike around to keep momentum going.....and my bike has a dropped toptube for extra clearance!




So....those were the highlights of an incredible trip. I really hope to be able to get back there. My mates are in the process of organising a trip for next year so will see. If not then, maybe '09.


But I WILL go back! Honestly nearly cried when the bus left to take me back to Vancouver and I looked up at those mountains where I spent most of my time.


One of the lasting memories is riding back to town on the paved village trail to meet our mates for dinner after that ride down Billy's Epic and for the first time truly understanding what it means when someone speaks of something they're passionate about and says....'This is my church'
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oh, good, minty. back so soon! was only expecting to read this tomorrow (haven't at time of this post), so won't be posting in a while!! holy roller2007-08-27 22:15:57

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minty, just when i was feeling good about my life, you go and show me that ... making a noose as we speak. kidding! dude, at no point in that report do you come across as showing off. that was just sharing! really, really, really cool. nice one. gonna bookmark it and come back to it. again and again and again and again, nicest post in monthsClapClapClapClapClapBig%20smileBig%20smileBig%20smileBig%20smileBig%20smileBig%20smile

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WOW! WOW! WOW! Awesome stuff! ClapClapClap


Roughly how much does one need to save up for a trip like this?
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OH WOW! minty, you sure as hell do not come across as showing off - this was one of the best "reports" i've ever read. it sounds like you had an utterly amazing time and those pics have left me utterly breathless.

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Schaweeeeeeeet Mints!!! Unfair...dit was nie so volledig op FB nie! Dit lyk sooooooooooo lekker! Ek is nou groen van jaloesie! (...hmmm...dalk is dit nie so slegte idee dat my pa dalk in Canada moet gaan werk nie....)


Maar daai goed lyk SCARY?? Ek sal myself doodval!
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Awesome!! Whistler and the North Shore is just the best!!! Amazing the amount of effort people put in there to build trails!! Will go sometime!! :)

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Okay, I can save about R5 maybe R6.50 a week if I cut down on my sweets. How long before I can go?


Amazing and super jealous.
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Minty that is really one sweet report and some of those photos  mind-blowing.


Riding some of those trails would scare the krap out of me !!


Damm, shouldn't have bought a road bike.


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What a repor back' date=' do you work for a magazine. that needs to be published.  Looks like a fantastic trip.[/quote']


Haha....No I don't Embarrassed


Thanks for the compliments guys



Roughly how much does one need to save up for a trip like this?


Obviously the biggest chunk of dough goes to the airlines.


I stayed in Whistler and there was certainly no need for a car. If you need to get to a part of town that's further out you just take the bus. They're super reliable and are even fitted with bikeracks if you need to transport your bike....how cool is that?! Big%20smile


For something like that and a similar timespan to what I did you can budget on 25-30k if you share a self-catering apartment. Considerably more if you stay in hotels.


That's a lot of sweets Mampara LOL



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ClapWell done. you should take commision on airline tickets to Canada, I will be there in the next year or two. Amazing eh.
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Sjeez Minty!!!  Very jealous.  Would love to go.  Did you take your own bike though?

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Sjeez Minty!!!  Very jealous.  Would love to go.  Did you take your own bike though?



Yip....rental was simply not an option. A full-suspension xc bike costs $70/day.


I couldn't even convince myself to rent a downhill rig just one of the days we were in the park.....a Kona DH bike with fullface helmet and pads....$140/day!!!!!


I transported mine in a bag as my second piece of luggage and paid roughly R250 per flight handling fee for the bike.


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Thanks Minty - you just inspired me to work harder to get the money together!!


One question though - your mate Fenton, was he riding a Nicolai?

If so - those are really sweet rides...

They have a automatic gear(?) fs bike out as well - though think its still only a 'working test-bike'... review on it in one of the "Dirt"s...



Bookmared this page too...

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