Visiting Whistler this summer and have a sense for adventure? Then the Whistler bike park is not one to miss! With it being the largest bike park in the world and held within the same mountains that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler has something for everyone. The bike park has three trail difficultylevels – green, blue and black, and you can visit the bike park come rain or shine.
What is the bike park 101?
The bike park 101 is a place for mountain bike rookies. If you are yearning to try out something new, fun and adrenaline seeking, the bike park 101 is the place to start. You will get kitted out with a bike and safety equipment (including a helmet which is mandatory and pads) alongside your bike rental. Learner lessons are 2 hours long. The bike park is located in Whistler Blackcomb, the number one rated ski resort in North America and also the place where the worlds largest mountain bike area is located.
After being kitted out by Whistler bike park we headed outside underneath the blue tent where we met our instructor Mike, alongside a learner instructor who was coming along for the ride. Mike went through the bike park chairlift that we were about the upload to our point in the mountain. The chairlift comes in 2 stages. Firstly you have the bike loading chair, which you need a good head start to get the bike up onto – this gets easier with practice – and also a secondary chair on which you sit (which is behind the bike chair). This is a very different experience to a ski chairlift as as at the top the staff will remove your bike for you before you reach the top so they are all good to go.
At the top there is a small learner area, where you pick up the basics of how to use the bike and get used to the lower seat, higher suspension and test out the brakes – which are very responsive. This gives you a good basis of how to handle yourself when you get onto the downhill so it feels more recognisable.
When on the mountain Mike would take us through step by step, we learned about how to hold ourselves, the code of the mountain and the safety of ourselves and other mountain bikers. The first run, which was 7.5k took us quite a while to get down as we were familiarising ourselves with the bike and the environment. The run was quite tiring if you aren’t used to it, but you are both mentally and physically learning. The second run was much smoother and the more runs you do, you get to the know the run and the conditions. The day that we did the 101 it was raining and by the end of the day it was pouring down. You don’t notice this too much as you are surrounded by the alpine tree line, which keeps you relatively dry. The rain can be a blessing as it does mean there are less bikers up the mountain and little or no dust kicks up when biking, (but a lot of mud!). We do advise to take with you a drink for hydration and also some waterproof clothing in a bag that you can change in and out of as Whistler weather does change throughout the day.
Overall the bike park 101 was a fun and informative lesson, where you never feel out of your comfort zone. The instructors are very professional and themselves avid experienced bikers who know the trails like the back of their hand. Ours had been instructing in Whistler for ten years. If you are looking to try something new and you want to start this adventure on the biggest bike park in the world, then Whistler bike park 101 is definately one for you.
For more information on the 101 and bike park rental then check out the Whistler Blackcomb website.