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Mountain Bike Blog



The not so enjoyable part of Mountain Biking in Whistler


So let me start this story by pointing out a very important fact about the Whistler Valley mountain bike trails, this is no ordinary set of XC trails, in fact using the term XC is quite inaccurate. Most, not all, but most of the Whistler Valley Trails are full strength ball busting All Mountain trails. Nonstop roller coasters of torturous climbs and technical descents that require excellent bike control at low speed on tight, steep, off camber and loose terrain that could claim you're life if you screw up.

Based on my research and what I experienced riding some "easier end of the scale" trails, Whistler Valley blue trails (climbing or descending) are at least the level of Mt Narra/Twin Peaks and require the same level of fitness and skill to ride safely. Black trails .. well .. let's take it up a few notches.

If you're looking for something more like the main loops of Stromlo, Wingello, TVT, Kiwarrak or Jindabyne then stick to green trails or the trails around Whistler's Lost Lake. Alternatively, my second choice would have been a better option - climb Yummy Numby and down Comfortably Numb and through Lost Lake.

Our loop


Highlights of this loop from 4:32 - https://youtu.be/nFogWnPoN5c?t=4m32s

Somewhere along the way I totally stuffed up my research on the planned route. While I expected a pretty serious climb (with a lot of walking) from the Sea to Sky Hwy, along the Cheakamus River and up See Colours and Puke I was totally unprepared for the amount of climbing from then on.

From the top of See Colours and Puke (a skid road climb that very few could pedal up) there was some nice riding on Highside, Hi Hi and Highline, however these trails were not "descents", there was a lot of climbing, all of which I walked.

Due to the unusually dry trail conditions, I found it impossible to hold speed on the descents which made the riding extra tough as I'm a big unit with a high center of gravity on a bike that has a reputation of being difficult to ride at low speed. Without significant momentum I was in constant fear of going OTB and at times I had to walk down technical sections, something I'd not had to do in a LONG TIME!

By the time we got to the start of Business Time I was well and truly shattered but the climbing was far from over. From the start of Business Time to the sign was all uphill, it reminded me of Twin Peaks and even parts of Rotorua's Rainbow Mountain, fitter folks would probably eat this up but it was well beyond me.

On arriving at the top I really should have checked Trailforks again because I was clearly misinformed about the effort required to get this far and there was a very doable out clause in the form of AM/PM not far ahead. I should have made the call to take the descent down AM/PM, but I figured we'd got this far we may as well do the whole trail. IDIOT!

In my planning I'd actually considered riding down AM/PM and then climbing up again to complete Business Time! Ha - talk about delusional. 

Business Time did however appear to be a descent from this point on - WRONG! 

In fact, Business Time can best be described as 20m down and 10m up from start to finish. Every short section of descending trail was followed by a short steep and often technical climb that ALWAYS forced me off the bike. But as had been the case with the "Hi" trails earlier in the ride the descents on Busines Time were very technical and occasionally I opted to get off the bike - which for me was totally defeating the purpose of climbing all that way.

This section summed up Business Time for me. Steep, loose, tight and ultimately ending with a feature where I walked in favour of dying.

Now I'm sure there are many many riders who would absolutely love this route but for me it was the least enjoyable ride I've ever had - the descents didn't remotely come close to offsetting the effort of the climbs. It was however a learning experience, a learning experience like no other and here were my key takeouts:

  • When Whistler trails (and probably most other places in the world) are listed as Black they are BLACK, even those outside the bike park - in fact they are probably MORE BLACK than the park. Up or down they are going to be technical and tough.
  • Do better research on the vert by comparing Strava and Trailforks to be sure I'm looking at the total riding vert not the difference between the highest and lowest altitudes
  • Check out total riding times by those who have ridden the trails before. We expected to be out for a few hours it ended up being 6 hours! We ran out of water at the top of Business Time
  • When something is not adding up - stop, investigate, rationalize, adapt, survive
  • Understand my own personal limitations and adjust my expectations accordingly

Thankfully the human brain is very good at forgetting the shit things and remembering the good things. Despite all the pain and disappointment of this ride it was a great adventure and will remain an important part of my Whistler Mountain Bike storytelling!

Highlights from this ride from 4:32 https://youtu.be/nFogWnPoN5c?t=4m32s


Trail Centres and Trails featured in this blog



This website is brought to you by MTB weekend warrior Aaron Markie.
There are plenty of great websites out there with a wealth of information about Mountain Bike Trails,
however in my experience its hard to get a good mix of info, maps, photos and videos of trails I've never ridden.
The idea of this website is to tie those 4 elements together and give you a more detailed look at the MTB Trails I ride.
If you have anything to add then let me know.