Mountain bikers: Saddle up and prepare to get down, as the Whistler Mountain Bike Park is set to open for another summer season, beginning this weekend.
The park opens this Friday, May 17 and will remain open right through the summer until mid-October.
Opening-weekend riders will have the chance to check out the trails via the Fitzsimmons Express – which will be turning from 10 am to 8 pm – or via the Whislter Village Gondola, which will spin from 11 am to 5 pm. The Creekside Gondola is scheduled to open in June 15.
At its fully operational level, the bike park offers riders 4,946 feet or 1,507 metres of lift-serviced descending mountain bike trails and something for every level of mountain bike rider.
It is very important to ride the right bike for the job. You wouldn’t use a finishing hammer to frame a house and this is no different. A downhill bike has plush suspension in both the front and rear to smooth out the bumps on rugged trails. Rent a bike if you don’t have your own and ask the rental technician to tune the suspension to your body weight and skills.
There is a reason why most riders are wearing armour — it works. Crashing is a possibility no matter how slow or cautious you ride and protecting yourself from cuts and scrapes with pads is a must.
A proper fitting full-face helmet is the way to go. Protect your face and head by wearing it done up properly under the chin.
Warm up your body and bike skills. Before dropping into the trail network get familiar with your bike and the features you will encounter by riding the new Olympic Skills Park (located at the top of the Fitzsimmons Chair).
Stay low. Don’t hop on the lifts and ride up to the top right away. Ride in the Fitzsimmons Zone (lower part of the Bike Park) for at least three laps before going up to the Garbanzo Zone.
Stand up! Riding downhill requires an athletic stance on your bike. Stand up to absorb bumps and keep your pedals level.
Ride a trail a few times before you move on. Ride the easier trails at least two or three times before moving on to a new one. Some riders will do 30 laps on a trail before moving on to a more difficult run.
Take a guide along for your first day; guided programs are fully customizable and cost very little when combined with a rental package. You will be shown the best trails for your skill development, meet interesting people and learn more than you can imagine.
Take breaks, drink water, rest your hands, and eat to keep your energy up.
And most of all, enjoy the ride.
A full schedule of hours, as well as lift ticket prices and further information, is available on Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s website.