If 'Chazz Michael Michales' is figure skating, Whistler is mountain biking. With hundreds of riders from Australia making the trip each year to ride the world class trails in and out of the bike park and watch the biggest mountain bike spectator event in the world, Whistler Crankworx, it’s a mountain bikers paradise. Offering everything from flowy berms and jump trails to rough and rugged tech tracks, green to double black diamond and ‘pro lines’ every rider will love Whistler.
Getting there is simple although timely, with a long stint on the plane to Vancouver. The good news is that Air Canada now offer direct flights from Brisbane to Vancouver, as someone who has never flown direct this is a very enviable option. For such long flights we really recommend you’re ready with the right bike bag / box, check out our bike travel options online. Once at Vancouver airport there are a number of bus services that take you to Whistler that are well accustomed to transporting bikes.
There's plenty of accommodation options In Whistler depending on your flavour and budget. The good news is that pretty much wherever you are the ‘valley trail’ is close by. This bitumen path will let you ride your bike straight to the main village. Although normally a slower ride back after a full day of laps it’s a nice ride home.
Whislter’s crown jewel, this is what put Whistler on the map. There is enough terrain and trails here that even the most experienced riders are ensured constant entertainment. You'll need to grab a 'bike park pass' to play this game however and although they are expensive facilities like this are incredible.
As a beginner a green level favourite is ‘Del Boca Vista’. A technical trail that flows well, so well that experienced riders also love this lap. To step it up from here intermediate riders will enjoy ‘Crank it Up’, a long jump track full of table tops and wide sweeping berms. Looking to mix it up with some intermediate tech? ‘Funshine Rolly Drops’ combines rock features, roots and snappy turns to make for a great run with plenty of other blue trails to link into and out of it.
For the more confident riders who don’t mind a bit of air time Whistler has you covered. A-line, the world’s most famous mountain bike trail and for good reason, I could lap this thing daily and never get bored. Fast berms into smooth jumps that allow for plenty of time off the ground on this long lap down. The trail generates all the speed for you as you can easily average 40+km/h as you cruise down. For the more technically minded Whislter has a great range of double black diamaonds, some of the best found in the ‘Garbo Zone’. 'In Deep' is a personal favourite with large, steep rock slabs and a maze of roots to keep you on your toes the whole way down.
If you don't have one already its time to get a full face helmet. The speeds you reach in the bike park come with more than a few potential consequences. If you're planning on doing some trail riding as well something like the Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet is perfect with a light weight breathable design. Otherwise, if you're looking for a more classic DH dedicated full face the new Rampage Pro Carbon is hard to pass up.
If the bike park is Whistler’s crown jewel then the trail biking is its hidden gem, although a lot less hidden nowadays. With more tracks in the Whistler valley than you can imagine we recommend you download the trail forks app and select your desired highlight list, you simply won’t be able to ride them all. Beginner riders are best off sticking to ‘Lost Lake’ which has a vast range of XC trails and easy climbing. Intermediate riders have a bit more variety to choose from with classic blue trails in the valley including ‘Danimal’.
‘Blackcomb’ is full of technical trails that offer a steep gradient and some high speed, technical riding. If you’re an advanced rider up for the challenge check out ‘Micro Climate’ for a long descent with a consistent steep gradient broken up with a few very small pinches / traverses.
No matter what level of rider you are Whistler has some big mountains and these require big climbs which nearly all feature a steep slog to the top. As much as your bike needs to be working at its best so do you. Make sure you take ample water and nutrition so you can make the most of your descents. The USWE Airborne 9 is a versatile hydration pack perfect for big Whistler rides, offering a 'bounce free' design and ample storage space without the bulk.
Should anything go wrong with your bike we recommend you go see the crew at Coastal Culture. A great bike store in Creekside owned and operated by true Whistler locals Ryan and Thomas. They have the mechanical know how and a solid range of spare parts to get you going should you have a mechanical issue, all delivered with passionate friendly Canadian service.
The Whistler Bike of Choice
If you’re looking for one bike to do it all in the wild, wild west of Whistler you’re going to need a bike with a decent amount of travel to take on those big hits in the park but still want a bike that will play friendly on the pedals. There are many bikes fit for the job but two FTR favourites are the Santa Cruz Nomad and Norco Range.
The Nomad has 27.5” wheels and 170mm travel front and rear, its more than capable enough to take on any jump or bomb hole in the park yet ready to haul down the single track in the Whistler valley. This is the bike of choice for many Whistler locals which is perhaps the biggest statement of just how well this bike meets the demands of Whistler's rowdy trails. Check out the Nomad here.
Norco HQ is in North Vancouver so its no surprise the Range is a great fit for all that Whistler has to throw at you. The 27.5” model offers 160mm of rear travel with a 180mm fork and the 29” model has 150mm rear travel with a 170mm fork. The 27.5” and 29” frames are designed specifically for their appropriate wheel size to make sure the best ride feel is achieved. Pick your wheel size of choice and you can’t go wrong with this Canadian tried and tested beauty. Check out our Norco Range’s here.
Of course there are many other bikes that are great for taking on the Whistler trails. To see our full range of mountain bikes and get the bike that is suited perfectly to you please get in contact with us or stop by our Brisbane mountain bike store and talk to our experienced sales team.
The After Party
When you’re flogged out from riding all day you’ll be pleased to know that Whistler has more than its fair share of great spots to grab a meal and a drink. The most iconic for mountain bikers, the GLC. At the foot of the Whistler bike park you can watch riders’ stream down the park whilst polishing off some tasty bar food. The ‘Waffle Fries’ come highly, highly recommended. After your feed if you’ve rejuvenated enough energy and the drinks are going down smoothly you want to head underground. Nearly all clubs at Whistler are downstairs throughout the village and although everywhere will be busy on a Saturday night if you’re looking to run a riot mid-week check out the weekly ‘locals nights’ where select clubs will draw a big crowd for their selected night.
Whistler is a big place with plenty to see and do, this introduction just scrapes the surface! Words can only say so much so just go and see what all the fuss is about already.
Photos courtesy of Chelsea McKenzie Photography, a very talented local photographer. Unfortunately these images have been heavily compressed for our blog so you can't see them in their full glory.