Ollie & Sally Honeymoon – part 2 – Whistler

30 06 2011

In the morning we packed up our bags, tried to post some postcards (sorry everyone – no post cards as Canada Post are on strike so no post is going anywhere!) and were picked up by Mark from Bear Back Biking (BBB) from our hotel ready for our drive to Whistler. The drive up took about an hour and a half on the Sea to Sky highway – a beautiful drive up along the coast, before heading inshore. On the drive up we chatted to Mark, one of the company owners about the riding we would be doing, and he assured us that there would be more then enough xc riding for us at our level, and that whilst the bike park was fun, in fact most of the guides, who are from downhill backgrounds, enjoy the xc more.

We arrived at the chalet, which was much bigger then we expected, and settled into our room. We had a quick tour of the chalet, and were explained the meal times etc which is very important! All the meals are home made (5 evening meals and 6 cooked breakfasts included as part of the holiday), and the chef even makes homemade cake everyday for post ride tea and cake. They also had proper British tea, which was most welcome!

After we settled in, we walked into Whistler village, about 20 minutes from the chalet to have a look around. All of the roads/pavements are dual cycle/pedestrians, with far more bikers then walkers! Also, it was amazing the amount of Bear droppings on the pavements, hopefully we would actually get to see a real wild bear! The village is basically full of bike shops, cafes and outdoor clothing shops, plus a very nice chocolate/ice cream shop. The whole village is pedestrians only, and the place is just swarming with proper expensive downhill bikes! All the bike shops also have rows and rows of downhill bikes for hire. At the top end of the village is the bottom of the downhill park, where there are a couple of bars/cafes where you can watch people come down the final part of the downhill.

After a delicious 2 course evening meal, we chatted to the guides and other guests before heading off the bed, full of excitement and nerves!

We were being guided by Paul for the week, who, whilst spending many years guiding, is his first year in Whistler. For our first day we were heading to ‘The Lost Lake’ trails, just a 10 minute pedal away. These trails were amazing, with green trailed ‘pea gravel’ service around the edge of the area, with many ‘blue’ graded trails linking in between. As this was our first day, the idea was to get used to riding some more technical trails, and for our guide to get an idea of the level we ride at.

These trails were just fantastic. Every trail could be ridden either way, so, we just played around all morning, riding which ever trails we fancied. With Ollie in front, we ended up riding up some pretty serious uphills, with lots of raised woodwork. Whilst these were blue graded, this would compare more to red/black in the UK, and so was a good introduction to the type of riding, both uphill and downhill we would be doing.

Due to the technicality of the riding, the guides only guide for the morning, finish about 1.30/2 each day. To start with we wondered whether this would be enough, but after riding for the first day we realised that it would! You really have to concentrate on the riding the whole entire time, and as you are doing technical climbs as well as descents it is very tiring. It also means that we get to have a nice lunch in town, followed by relaxing in the hot tub back at the chalet!

On the second day we were joined by Mark, and headed off to the ‘Riverside’ trails, south of the chalet. Today was going to be more of an xc ride, with some nice double track descent alongside the river and railway to get the start of the trails. We then followed a wideish trail up the river for a couple of miles, which gradually climbed, with the odd bit of technical climbing to keep you on your toes, in till we reached a suspension bridge across the river. After the obligatory photo on the suspension bridge (and an argument about how much Ollie was rocking the bridge) we came off the riverside trail and climbed up a short fire road climb, to get to the top of a technical descent. This was a lovely descent, slightly technically but also flowed well, and brought us back down to the bridge. Definitely worth the climb.

We then crossed the bridge to the other side of the river, and climbed for a bit further, before hitting a fantastic, fast, really flowy descent back down. Nothing technical, just lovely! We all had big grins on our face at the bottom of that one. Mark then tailed off, as he had to do an airport drop-off, but we carried on with Paul, climbing again. This was a wide fire-road type climb, which started of with lots of spinning, but then got steeper and steeper. Whilst Paul and Ollie cleaned it fine, I had to dap about 2/3rd of the way up, and managed to fall over, grazing my leg in the process. First, of many, unexpected dismounts!

We then had a cornering lesson with Paul, which was quite interesting as neither of us had done anything like this before. We learnt about how to really lean the bike over into corners, to get the most grip out of the tyre, and turning our upper body to keep our weight over the top. After a practice in the car park, we got to our last descent, where we got to put this in practice. This started off really quite steep down some rock, before turning into a flowy descent, with lots of switchback turns. Lots of smiles at the bottom (from both us and Paul as he had not ridden that descent before) before heading back to our chalet for some lunch, cake, tea and hottub!

On our third day of biking (Tuesday) Mark said he was going to ‘up the ante’ after seeing how much enjoyment we got from the technical sections we rode. This involved riding some of Whistler well known xc trails, including ‘Cut Your Bars’ ‘River runs through it’ ‘Whip me Snip me’ and ‘Bobseld.’ This was going to be a day I was going to get over my phobia of slick rock and woodwork!
We started off with Cut your bars, which involved a technical singletrack climb to start with. I was really chuffed, only dabbing once on the first part, and Ollie of course cleaning it. After fixing a snapped chain on Marks bike, we continued to climb, until we reached our first lesson of the day, rock rolls. Now, being used to slippy greasy chalk, we were not initially convinced of the amount of grip that you could get on this stuff. We started off riding down one slab, after being advised to use mainly front brake, and to ride it as slowly as possible, so that we could realise how much grip we had. After a demonstration from Paul, I went first. This stuff really is amazing, you had so much grip, although if you used slightly too much back brake you could feel the back wheel skid. After practicing a couple of more times, we then progressed onto another piece, and combined them together.

After a bit more single-track climbing we then got to the next bit of slip rock. This was quite amazing, with two parts to the rock face, with a flattish section in the middle. There is no WAY I would normally ride down this! After a walk down with Mark to show us where the line was, and a demonstration from Paul, I decided what the hell, I wasn’t going to learn if I didn’t give it a go. I just had to keep it nice and slow, and I could stop for a rest in the middle!

I went for it, and it was amazing. I stopped for a break in the middle, and to make sure I was on the right line for the bottom half, which was slightly more technical with a more difficult run out at the bottom, and when I got to the bottom I could breath. Looking back up at it was amazing, I couldn’t believe I had ridden it! Ollie also came down like a pro, and hopefully from the headcam video later you can see how steep it actually was!

After a bit more singletrack we came to the final piece of rock for the day. There were three lines down this one, an easy line, and steep line, and a less steep but more technical line. We opted for the third option, as we could always stop as it was not too steep if we were starting to struggle. After walking down to inspect the line, Ollie went first and made it look easy, as always! I then went for it. It was all going well, until I got to the main technical part, where we had to drop off into a wheel sized whole, and turn a sharp left to the rest of the trail. Inevitably I had a bit too much front brake and weight on the front, so took a spectacular dismount. It felt like it was I slow motion, and after watching it back on the camera it also looked like this! I was absolutely fine, but didn’t fancy any more rock for the day so walked to the bottom.

After a final technical drop off, which was actually really steep, this finished the trail, and we followed an easy low level trail towards the next piece of trail we were going to do. However, as part of this easy trail there was some low woodwork that Mark rode on, so I just followed on, was going a bit too fast and had my second over the bars moment for the day! Again, no damage done and Ollie very pleased he had them both on camera, so on we went.

We arrived at River Runs through it, an iconic Whistler trail. This is basically a trail in the valley following the river, with very little in the way of climbing but is full of twisty rooty sections, and woodwork! This was our favourite trail of the day, with things to test both me and Ollie. Ollie even managed a double see-saw, which was really impressive! I managed far more then I would normally, but there were definitely bits we wanted to go back and session!

After a brief stop at the beautiful Alta Lake, to enjoy a quick snack, we decided we had enough left in our legs for the final piece of trail. This involved a climb up ‘Whip me Snip me’ which wasn’t particularly technical, but had some really steep sections. Once we got to the top, it was then downhill down a lovely flowly trail that had us all smiling when we got to the bottom. After a quick discussion about what we fancied doing the next day, where we came to the conclusion we were going to hire some downhill bikes and see if we could survive the bike park!

Lift pass sorted, bikes hired (rocky mountain DH bikes) and we were ready to hit the mountain! After working out how to get what felt like 50lb of bike onto the lift, we were on our way! Whilst from the bottom of the bike park the runs all looked intimidating, we were assured that there was lots of easier stuff that we would be able to do.

Our first run for the day was ‘Easy Does It,’ a green trail which slowly wound its way down the mountain, this was probably one of the easiest trails we had ridden all week! However, even on this trail we got to the bottom and our legs and arms were hurting! We got the lift back up and rode down part of ‘B line’ till we got to one of many skills parks, where we were going to learn how to do ‘drops.’ Neither of us have had skills lessons before, and so it was an interesting to learn that there is actually a ‘technique!’ In fact, there are three! We spent a good hour or so practicing the various techniques, Ollie of course managed to nail all three, I managed 2 of them! At one point we had to fend off a ferocious bear – we had taken our bags off whilst practicing our drops and the bear thought it was an easy lunch! After we re-claimed our bag from the bear, we progressed to the final jump, progressing from the 1 foot drop to about 3 foot – even have a photo of Ollie with some air! Was really interesting to learn about the techniques behind drops etc!

We then finished the morning off with a run down ‘Crank it up’ followed by lunch in one of the various lunch spots in Whistler. We then spent the afternoon sessioning Crank it up, a fantastic run full of big berms and table tops, and had to finish about 5ish when our arms were absolutely killing! Fantastic day playing in the bike park on trails that were absolutely fine and great fun!




7 responses

1 07 2011

I hate you both! ;op

1 07 2011

I love the way that they made the suspension bridge into a wall ride.
I know Ollie eats a lot, but 5 evening meals and 6 cooked breakfasts is overdoing a bit – that was in one day, wasn’t it?

Seriously, though, having been to BC twice, in a non-mountain-biking capacity – I’m jealous as hell and am now thinking more seriously about a revisit.

1 07 2011

So incredibly jealous!!! Sounds amazing! 😀

1 07 2011

hey thanks for posting, O&S! sounds like you’re just about getting by over there *grin* enjoy!

2 07 2011

oh yes the stickiness of slickrock, we remember that 🙂 Great to hear your story so far it sounds truly fab, not jealous at all…L&R xx

4 07 2011

looks like you had a great time. Not jealous at all…oh nonono…well, perhaps a little bit 🙂

4 07 2011

That rockface looks terrifying! Great write-up. Not at all jealous.


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