Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Whistler Mountain Biking! Car Free Holiday Number 7!

Yeah, Whistler is fun in summer too!

Actually, it is busier during the sunny months than during the snowy ones...the Village is hopping, all the restaurants, bistros and bars full, and in the evenings everyone's strolling around licking ice-creams. Very Euro!

So, as in winter, you can get yerself there by bus. Accoms can be easily booked via the central website.

In summer the main attraction here is mountain biking. This comes in a few different varieties:
  • rent a cruiser bike and ride around in the valley on the paved trails - nice 'n easy
  • rent a basic mountain bike (front shocks only) and take it up and down the myriad single-track trails around Whistler
  • get yourself fully kitted out with top-notch bike and body armour, and hurl yourself down the mountain
We did all three. I gotta say, the last option was fun, but downhill mountain biking is definitely a young man's sport. At 49, I was - by far - the oldest woman on the hill that day. Not that I even saw more than 3 women...We saw 2 ambulances cart away injured riders, and apparently the spinal trauma center in Whistler is busier in the summer biking season off of the single bike park, than all winter from both mountains...if you've never done this, a lesson is probably advised, and do take it easy!

This is also the priciest option; the bikes, armour, and lift ticket add up! Really, the best way to enjoy this sport is by renting the right equipment. I do a lot of biking, but I don't own the type of bike that is meant for flinging oneself at high speed down gravel trails. The double-suspension and hydraulic brakes really make it much more enjoyable and safe.

There are lots of bears to be seen on the slopes; they ignore the mountain bikers as long as you just cruise by, but you do have to be aware that they are likely to be in the meadows.

[black bear in the mountain bike park]

My favourite biking was the single-track trails around Lost Lake, which are a mix of "green" - wide gravel paths - and "blue" - single-track dirt trails with some logs and bridges. You zip up the greens and down the blues! You don't need body armour for this, and a bike with front suspension only and disk brakes (non-hydraulic) is fine. Probably the type of bike you already own... No lift ticket either! And you can use the same equipment to ride the asphalt once you're tired of going up and down.

The trails shut down in early October (Thanksgiving), as does the downhill stuff.

There are other activities to do in Whistler as well: ziplining (too high for me!), golf (yech), bear-viewing (just hang around in the village in the fall and you can see 'em for free...)...

And not to forget the stupendous hiking to be had; you can take the lift up to mainline it straight to the Alpine, or you can do it "traditional style" by starting at the bottom. When we were there this year in July there was still a ton of snow at the top so the hiking was actually pretty limited. But by late August and early September the trails are beautiful!

[snow at the top of Whistler Mountain in July]

The last thing that's worth considering is the evening BBQ at the Roundhouse. Buy tickets in advance, and then head up for a day hike. Once you're done your hike you can hang around the top and get nice food, a beer, and enjoy the scenery before taking the gondola down.

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