When standing in the Whistler Village at the foot of the Whistler Bike Park, looking up (in a normal year) the first thing you would see is the Crankworx Redbull Joyride course with 60ft jumps and terrifying drops that would make any non-rider, or someone new to mountain biking, weak in the knees. This fear may also be compounded after doing some Internet browsing for “Mountain biking in Whistler” with results turning up videos of the steepest and toughest trails in the world. But – new riders, don’t be dismayed! Whistler is not just famous for its most gnarly features – it’s also a world-class location for learning and progression on mountain bikes. Don’t believe us? Here’s why you should:
Top 5 Tips for Learning to Mountain Bike in Whistler
- Hire a guide: We cannot express this point enough. Sure, we may take this opportunity to shamelessly plug our amazing team of bike guides [link] and bike programs [link], but really, just be sure to hire a guide from a reputable company that is going to make your day fun and safe. Statistics overwhelmingly show that you are several times less likely to have an accident with a guide than riding on your own or with friends. Ending up in the clinic will not only dampen your day but likely deter you from the sport – and nobody wants that!
- Discover Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s Green Trails: Here you’ll find specially-designed green trails with gentle gradients, perfect for getting comfortable on your mountain bike. The most famous of these trails is Easy-Does-It, a 5km-long winding machine-built trail that winds down through the Whistler Bike Park. Even though this trail is for beginners, if you’ve never mountain biked before you will need to learn the basics from a guide before descending. Sure, you may know how to ride a bike – but there are many things you may not realize you don’t know once you get onto a mountain bike – it’s a totally different ride!
- Whistler Valley Trails: Outside of the bike park there are over 200 trails hidden in the mountains that you can pedal too. One of the best areas for a new rider to practice is the Zappa Trails in Lost Lake Park. The Zappa trail network has been built up over many years for beginner to strong-intermediate riders. You can find green-rated trails such as Molly Hogan, Tin Pants, and Lost Lake loop for beginners and several intermediate blue trails. If you’ve progressed from green trails and are feeling comfortable on blue trails, you’ll find plenty of challenges and wooden features of Pinocchio’s Furniture and Central Scrutinizer. Any rider can have a ton of fun in the Lost Lake trail network – there is something for everyone.
- Whistler Valley Skills Park: Next to the municipal parking lots 1-3, you can find the new Whistler Skills park featuring four different beginner rate roller lines, one intermediate jump line, two advanced jump lines, one expert jump line and two pump tracks. This is an excellent area for riders of all abilities to dial in their skills. Riding in a pump track is one of the best things you can do to progress your cornering, body position, and jumping technique!
- Rent a quality bike: For most things you can say it’s the rider and not the equipment. If you are starting out, renting a bike will be well worth it as you figure out what kind of bike you want to purchase. Renting a newer bike from our friends at Premium Rentals will help you ride longer and enjoy the trails even more!
With all these trails to choose from it can be difficult to pick the right ones for your ability. Unlike skiing, the difficulty of each trail in mountain biking can be very different even in a single category such as Intermediate. There are two types of trails in each category, Flow and Technical. A blue flow trail might be easier for a rider then a green technical trail might be depending on their experience. Flow trails tend to be machine built and smooth where technical trails tend to be built by hand and have more roots and rocks to ride over. One thing the west coast is famous for is our north shore woodwork. These raised bridges that you ride across and are typically built where you would be crossing over muddy or typically wet terrain.
We always recommend riding with a guide or instructor who knows the trails to ensure you ride the trails that are good for your ability and you don’t end up walking too much. The guides and instructors will be able to help with your riding technique and new skills for you to take home to your local trails.