Posted by: Feet Banks
Guest Blogger: Seb Kemp
From the bottom of Whistler’s Fitzsimmons chairlift one look at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s ominously named “Boneyard” can give first-time riders more pause for concern than get-up-and-go. Fear not however, the huge wooden mouse traps and enormous dirt sculptures scattered about the Boneyard are definitely a playground for the world’s very best freestyle mountain bikers but they aren’t indicative of what lies ahead.
In fact, with professional coaches, accessible terrain, progressive features, well-signed trails, and beginner specific learning zones Whistler may be the very best place in the world for someone to try mountain biking for the very first time. Here’s an Insider’s guide to getting started:
1. Get the Right Bike
The Bike Park is gravity-fed and is best suited to very specific bicycles and equipment but the good news is you can rent a bike and all the necessary protective equipment in the same place you buy a lift ticket.
For the park, learning on a proper downhill bike with lots of plush suspension and powerful brakes will make everything seem much easier. If you want to explore the Whistler valley’s giant network of cross-country focused trails then rent a lighter, more suitable bike from one of the numerous rental shops in the Village. While you are there be sure to get a trail map, a snack, a bottle of water and some good advice on where to head. Whistler’s bike shop employees are generally passionate mountain bikers who get immense pride from showcasing their home trails (The trails around Lost Lake Park are a great place to start if you really want to explore on your own).
2. Get Instruction
Even better, learn from a pro and take a bike park lesson. A coach or guide will show you the proper techniques for mountain biking success and where to go in order to safely get your first taste of the sport. There are over 250 km of trail in the Whistler Bike Park and the same again in the valley, so if you’re looking to get caught up to speed quickly, proper instruction is the way to go.
3. Take a Breath
Mountain biking is an exhilarating activity and requires a lot of focus but don’t forget that it is also just a means of transporting you through the world. Whistler is a blessed place, with views and scenery that deserves a second look, so take time to stop and soak it all in. Trust us, this will make your mountain biking experience a whole lot more rewarding. Enjoy the journey.
4. Keep At It
It may be a bit tricky the first few times out but mountain biking gets the adrenaline gland pumping so don’t be surprised if it keeps you wanting more, and more, and more. Take it slow and easy at first, don’t fret and just keep trying. One day won’t be enough so give yourself as much time as you can. Practice and dedication at the start will pay off in the long run. And most important of all: have fun.
Tourism Whistler has a pretty cool trail database organized by area and difficulty. As well they have a good list of bike-friendly accommodation options and information on lessons, rentals and more.