How to Pick and Train for a Cycling Event in Whistler

Road cyclists training in Whistler

How to Pick and Train for a Cycling Event in Whistler

Each spring the treasure hunt begins. The snow gives way to hundreds of ribbons of singletrack that cross the Whistler Valley, and the mountain roads are swept clean. For people like myself, eager to re-explore Whistler on two wheels, our vibrant resort town has us feeling like a kid in a candy store. Road cycling, triathlon, mountain biking: I’m a fan of trying all the flavours of cycling. In fact, the number of options can be a bit overwhelming. To keep me focused I set a few goals to work toward and pick a local race to train for.

Step 1. Pick a Goal Race

Each season, I pick one or two larger events to gear up (mind the pun) and work towards. Here are some great races to choose from:

Whistler X Triathlon – June 9

A new race on the calendar, this off-road triathlon stretches across Whistler’s Lost Lake region, one of the best places in Whistler to swim, bike and trail run. The trails are less technical than a standard mountain bike race – be prepared for some all-out, lung-busting efforts.

Event Details

Mountain Bikers on a sunny trail in Whistler

The Whistler X Triathlon could be just the challenge you’re looking for. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Whistler Canada Cup XCO & Downhill BC Cup – June 22 & 23

A great race for cross-country or downhill fans, riders can expect to be climbing Blackcomb Mountain or descending Whistler, depending on your discipline.  These races are a fantastic challenge and a perfect midsummer goal for riders of all ages.

Event Details

Subaru IRONMAN CanadaⓇ & Subaru IRONMAN 70.3 CanadaⓇ – July 28

If you hadn’t gathered already, I’m driven by curiosity. I love trying new sports and racing triathlon is a crossover from cycling that satisfies that hunger. For those less interested in the swim and run portion, cyclists can form a relay team and still get wrapped up in the incredible feeling of racing with over 1,000 people around all of the corners of Whistler. For a shorter distance, you can sign-up for the Subaru IRONMAN 70.3 Canada course.

Event Details

Cyclists competing in Ironman Whistler

Cyclists riding past Green Lake during Subaru IRONMAN CanadaⓇ. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Crankworx Whistler – August 9 –18

Each year, thousands of people line the courses of Crankworx to cheer on their favourite athletes, but it’s even more fun to race alongside them. Crankworx hosts amateur divisions in the Air DH, Garbanzo DH, Dual Slalom and Enduro. Some riders chose to work toward one race, but in the true spirit of Crankworx, why not work toward multiple? A personal favourite of mine is the Enduro. It typically showcases a collection of Whistler’s best (and most challenging) trails.

Event Details

Rider in the Enduro Challenge at Crankworx Whistler

You can’t go wrong with signing up for the Enduro. PHOTO SCOTT ROBARTS

RBC GranFondo Whistler – September 7

Over 4,500 riders line-up to race the length of the Sea to Sky Highway each September. This is one of the most beautiful and challenging stretches of road on the planet (in my humble opinion). Need a little added incentive? This year, top age group riders have a special chance to earn a spot in the 2020 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, which will be hosted right here in Whistler.

Event Details

Bars of Fury – September 7

This course is not for the faint-hearted, it travels in one continuous effort from Whistler’s Peak to the finish 5020ft (1530m) below in Creekside.

Event Details 

Step 2. Get Training!

A group of cyclists training in Whistler

Training is always better with friends. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

The beauty of training for an event hosted in Whistler is the ability for athletes to get acquainted with the terrain and the friendly competition well in advance of race day. As an added benefit, there’s a thriving community behind just about every discipline of cycling here, so no need to go at it alone. Check out the bustling collection of social rides, gatherings, and races that fill out the summer calendar.

Over the season, I drop into a combination of the following weekly events to train for my goal race. Here are some cool options:

Build Cardio and Test Race Skills: WORCA Toonie Thrillers & Chillers

If you’re training for a race that includes pedaling off-road, there isn’t a better Whistler option than the WORCA Toonie rides. These events are ideal to check out if your goal is to race the Whistler Canada Cup XCO or the Whistler X Triathlon.

When: Thursdays | More Information 

INSIDER TIP: To race in the WORCA Toonie Thrillers & Chillers you do need a WORCA membership. WORCA are stewards for Whistler’s mountain biking trail networks. Your membership fees go towards maintaining the trails and developing the sport you love!
Woman working on a mountain bike trail in Whistler

Volunteering at WORCA events is also a great way to meet other riders. PHOTO DAN HARMON

Practice Explosive Efforts and Cornering: BMX Racing

For the third season in a row, I’m making a special effort to get to the Whistler BMX race sessions. It’s a great space to develop bike handling skills, learn how to do gate starts and test all-out sprints in a low key setting. Add these into your training plan for the Downhill BC Cup, Crankworx events, and Bars of Fury. Each Tuesday, you’ll find me here.

When: Tuesdays | More Information

Whistler BMX Track First Corner

The first banked corner on the Whistler BMX track. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY WBMX

Hone-in Descending Skills: Phat Wednesdays

It’s the perfect storm of friendly competition, a way to test speed and line-choice. Over the summer the courses get increasingly difficult. It’s an awesome progression and a great way to get to know the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Use these races to prepare for the Downhill BC Cup, Crankworx events, and Bars of Fury too.

When: Wednesdays | More Information

Road and Group Riding Skills: Whistler Cycling Club Rides

Triathletes and road cyclists will find these sessions ideal. Drop into rides Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday to log some time on some of the best road routes in Whistler including sections of the Subaru IRONMAN Canadaand the Whistler GranFondo courses.

When: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Sundays | More Information

Road cyclists training in Whistler

The views are worth the ride alone. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Ready to commit to one of these iconic Whistler events? Make Whistler your playground and plan your race-cation on

Then, share your start line stories with me on my local blog, Outdoor Stories.


Nina Arnold Harmon

Nina Arnold Harmon

Bike, ski, swim, run: Nina has a hard time standing still. Although originally from San Francisco, she's been balancing that beautiful, fine line of work and play in resort towns for years. In 2011, she laid claim to Whistler as her permanent base camp and with one of the most incredible playgrounds at her fingertips, she's finally found home.