Mountain biking in Whistler
A tour diary of the thrills and spills enjoyed on a weeks mountain biking in Whistler and British Columbia.
Mountain biking in Whistler – tour diary, by Euan Wilson, H+I Adventures owner
The air stewardess announces over the intercom that we will be arriving in Vancouver international airport in 30 minutes…
As my thoughts turn to riding my bike in the world-famous playground of the Whistler valley, out of the clouds appears the vast expanse of British Columbia and the mountains that make up our playground for the coming week.
With my nose pressed against the window, staring in awe at the mountain range stretching out before me, for what feels like two minutes, we touchdown and a round of applause goes up from a group of travelers behind me. I am not overly impressed at landing, after all that is what our trusty pilot is being paid to do, but I will give my own personal round of applause when I am reunited with my bike and luggage in baggage reclaim. And applaud I did, to strange looks from the rest of the passengers, little did they know that my baby was in that big EVOC bag.
Vancouver has recently been voted the best city in the world in which to live, so I am interested to find out why. It doesn’t take long to work it out: stunning back-drop, international flight connections, diverse community, impressive houses and a bustling harbor area, not to mention you are an hour away from some of the best mountain biking in the world!
Once all the group has assembled, we make that one-hour journey up the Sea-to-Sky highway to the Whistler valley. En-route we are dumbstruck by the true beauty that presents itself around every corner, and we are not even out of the van yet!
Before we know it we arrive at our accommodation for the week, a stunning mountain chalet with its own hot tub, but check-in and bike build must come first before we soak our travel-weary limbs with a cold beer, then dinner in town.
First day and first ride. The weather is amazing; hot, sunny and calm. We pack the van and trailer and head down to Squamish, a very well know trail system that is flowing and very rewarding for the effort put in – perfect for a first day ride, and the first check on the must-do-list of any mountain biker visiting British Columbia.
After a great dinner in a local pub that houses its very own brewery and impressive selection of beers, we bed down for the night to prepare for the next two days of exploring the Whistler valley trails.
Over to next two days we criss-cross the valley weaving in and out of the forest on delightful single track punctuated with some fire road climbs and hidden trail entrances. We are trying hard to keep track of which trails we have been on, but with names such as ‘Comfortably numb’ and ‘Emerald Lake’, we just decide to concentrate on having a great time and letting Shaun, our guide, worry about the trail names.
For our fifth day, we don’t need to remember any trails names, all we need to remember is that this is helibiking day! As we leave our chalet and roll down to the helicopter launch pad, the mood is one of big smiles, but little talking – I think we are just a little apprehensive and very excited! We are dropped at 2000m, high on the flanks of the Whistler valley in a blur of rotor blades, wind, photographs, laughter and wide eyes.
Our bikes are awaiting our arrival. So we take our last pictures of the helicopter as it disappears out of sight and saddle up, now for the fun bit… We drop 1400m in a ten-mile descent of flowing trail that will see us riding the Alpine and dropping into the thick forest and popping out at a stunning valley lake where we will take a dip and cool off. Would that be the third item checked off our must-do-list?! I think so, what a day…
After the mind-blowing day yesterday, we enjoy a long breakfast, re-filling our coffee cups a few more times than normal, eating that extra croissant on the table and sharing pictures from the trip so far, before we hit the bike park trails for the first time on this trip. They have been present all the time, teasing us to come and have a go, so today we head up there with our guide. He leads us around two runs of the trail-bike trails – no need for body armor and full face helmets here, just fun, flowing trails! To follow on from the chilled nature of the day so far, we decided it was only polite to make a visit to the Scandinavian Spa for a few hours in the late afternoon. Life is hard around here!
As we rise for breakfast the next day, I realise that this is day seven and our final riding day, but no need to be sad as this is ‘Top of the world’ day. We’re dropped at the very top of Whistler mountain by the cable car system, at the highest point on the mountain, and that can only mean one thing: everything from here is downhill! This trail turns out to be a feast of mountain biking, aptly named ‘Top of the world’ for more than one reason.
All that is left now is to wash up, pack bikes, get changed and head into town for our farewell dinner in a local restaurant, and maybe a couple of beers. A good night is had by all, recounting the week’s thrills and spills, running over each others pictures, sharing email addresses and promising each other that we will meet up again soon for another mountain bike adventure.
In the morning we eat breakfast with slightly cloudy heads, but manage to feed the hangover monster in our stomaches, ready for the long journey back to real life.