Sustaining Singletrack: Spring Riding Tips with WORCA

Mountain bikers riding towards Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains

Sustaining Singletrack: Spring Riding Tips with WORCA

The alpine snow is melting fast and emerging from underneath are the long-awaited mountain bike trails. Once the word gets out that riding is possible, mountain bikers get in a frenzy to hit the trails. While we might be ready with our dusted-off bikes and oiled chains, the trails still need time to adjust to their time in the sun.

WORCA Volunteer working on a Whistler trial

‘Tis the season for trail maintenance. PHOTO HAILEY ELISE

Naturally, after lying under a blanket of snow, the condition of the trails in early spring can be variable and riding them early can have a lasting impact. Fallen trees and ground saturation are among a few of the culprits that can both affect a trail’s overall health as well as the quality of a bike ride. We caught up with Dan Raymond, legendary trail builder from Whistler OFF-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) to find out the proper spring trail etiquette. With over 10 years of building experience, Dan understands the needs of the terrain to sustain biking for years to come.

Dan Raymond smiling in front of a tree

Dan Raymond has been in the business of building trails for over 10 years. PHOTO HAILEY ELISE

DO: Chat with a local bike shop

Many of the local bike shops have their finger on the pulse. If they haven’t been out there exploring what is clear to ride, then they’ve heard about it. Pop into a local bike shop to find out the intel on what is clear of snow and fallen trees. This is also a great way to learn some of the local’s seasonal favourites.

INSIDER TIP: As of May 20, mountain bikers can expect the snowline to be roughly around 900 metres. Most all-mountain trails at or around this elevation surrounding the valley are currently rideable (Cheakamus, Westside, Whistler North, Blackcomb, and Lost Lake) but it is still advised to check Trailforks for status updates prior to be riding. Alpine trails such as Lord Of The Squirrels are not currently rideable and still under a great deal of snow.

DO: Visit Trailforks

Visiting Trailforks online or using the Trailforks app can give you fast and accurate information on what is currently rideable. The trail report section is filled out by riders like you who have logged in and let others know about the current status of a trail. Trailforks reports also help WORCA know what needs attending. How exactly? According to Dan, by making your own trail report on Trailforks and adding a photo of the concern in question, WORCA can quickly obtain information on where they need to go. With over 200 kilometres of singletrack in the mountains that surround Whistler Valley, it can be hard to get to every trail before the public.

Fresh cedar planks on a mountain bike trail in Whistler

WORCA depends on trail updates on Trailforks to know what trails need attention. PHOTO HAILEY ELISE

DO: Ride lower valley trails

Snow tends to melt faster at lower elevations and on south-facing slopes. This means that lower valley trails are clear and able to be enjoyed far sooner than the trails higher up. If you’re looking to get out for a spin and not sure where to start, check out the trails in Lost Lake and lower Cheakamus first.

DON’T: Ride off the trail

Just because there is still snow on the ground in places, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ride your bike. Dan says that the biggest thing you can do while ground saturation is present is to stay on the trail. Free riding or riding off of the trail can alter the trail and hurt the surrounding flora which in some cases, has taken years to grow. If you see a bit of snow, just carry on through it.

A handful of dirt from a mountain bike trail

Before long, all the snow will melt and golden dirt will be all that’s visible. Until then, stay on the designated route. PHOTO HAILEY ELISE

DO: Ride prepared

There can be all kinds of surprises when it comes to spring riding. And to make sure that you’re ready for anything, it’s best to wear a pack filled with essential items. This can include extra water, cell phone, light jacket, snack, and a hand saw if possible. Being prepared for weather changes, unexpected trail conditions, and an emergency will ensure that you have a safe and fun ride.  

A hand saw for mountain bike trail maintenance

A hand saw is a great addition to your riding pack and can quickly clear branches that are blocking the trail. PHOTO HAILEY ELISE

Getting back on a bike is just one of the many reasons spring in Whistler is so exciting. As with every early season, conditions can be variable. By adhering to proper spring trail etiquette, riders can make sure that trails are in prime condition for the rest of the mountain bike season and that they can be enjoyed for years to come.

Mountain bikers riding towards Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains

Not long now until all of the trails are clear! PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

The trails are getting ready for you, are you getting ready for them? Start planning your ultimate mountain biking getaway at Whistler.com.

Hailey Elise

Hailey Elise

Hailey came to Whistler for a season and never left. Now, the local community, world-class mountain biking, and endless adventures are what keep her feet firmly planted in the mountains. When Hailey isn't writing, she can be found on a trail, photographing other athletes in action or working freelance as a digital strategist and content developer. Hailey's favourite mountain bike trail is Hey Bud on Blackcomb.

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