Tag Archives: crankworx

Biking Through the Decades

We’ve got a few more videos today!  We are currently planning our 3rd annual Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week, so what better way to get into the mindset than looking through some footage and photos from the 1980s and 90s?

First up is a video of mountain biking on Blackcomb Mountain from 1988.  It looks a little different than the biking that happens in the bike park today.

Klunkers to Crankworx is a slideshow put together by the Whistler Museum for Crankworx in 2012 showing the progression of the sport from the 1970s.

Our last video for today comes from the 1995 Cactus Cup.  This footage also doubles as an advertisement for Whistler Village as it was in the 1990s.

We’ll be making more announcements about Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week in the next few weeks!

Dirt Designations: Whistler’s Mountain Bike Trails Part II

In a previous post we shared the stories behind the names of some of the bike trails in the Whistler valley; today we’ll be sharing some more stories, this time focusing on the trails of the Whistler Bike Park.

Whistler Bike Park

The Whistler Bike Park has been a major factor in the progression of freeride mountain biking for nearly two decades.  One could argue that the names bestowed upon its several dozen trails have been just as influential.  They would be wrong, of course, but that’s beside the point.

Still, the titles found on the trail map are full in insights into the trails and, even more so, to the characters that brought them to life.  As long-time park rider and trail builder Peter Matthews puts it, “The best names always come up during trail building.  A lot of time for banter; everyone’s tired, light-headed, dehydrated, cracking jokes.”  Not surprisingly, pop culture references, heavy metal and playful ribbing at the expense of their peers feature heavily.

The Whistler Bike Park, shown here in 2000, has changed a lot in the almost two decades for which it’s been open.

The trail crew’s jokes and banter have a tendency to go a bit further than popular tastes might appreciate.  There’s a whole gaggle of unofficial trail names and other inside jokes that never made it onto the official trail map and, for obvious reasons, will not be included in this article.  For those you’ll have to ask the builders themselves.

B-Line – B-Line is the name of a type of explosive detonation cord which can be used to link charges together or used as an explosive on its own.  When building this trail a generous amount of explosives were used to remove a stubborn tree stump and, though early bike park visionary Dave Kelly confirmed that other explosives were used in this case, the name stuck.  Also, as the trail was the bike park’s new showcase Beginner Line, the name seemed apt.

A-Line – a machine built flowy jump line that followed B-Line’s suit, this name was an obvious choice for the new “Advanced Line”.

Crank It Up – on this moderate-but-flowy jump line you can maximize the good times by pedalling aggressively, hence Crank It Up.  A name starting with the letter “C” was appropriate as this trail could also be though of as the “C-Line”.

Ho Chi Minh Trail – this trail was designed and named by Eric Wight (owner of Whistler Backroads) who was the original mastermind and creator of life-accessed biking on Whistler Mountain, operating there until Whistler Blackcomb took over operations in 1997.  Sections of the trail ran down the middle of Lower Olympic through grass up to 1.5 m tall, reminiscent of scenes from the Vietnam War.

Heart of Darkness – this trail name builds on the Vietnam theme established by Ho Chi Minh; plus, it can get fairly dark in the section along the creek where it can get surprisingly intense for a flowy blue run.

Clown Shoes and Dirt Merchant – both of these trails reference the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Captain Safety – there are conflicting reports as to which mountain employee it was who had the healthy zeal for injury prevention; some say he was a mountain patrol higher-up, other a bike park manager.  Either way, he took his job very seriously, sometimes to the dismay of trail crew.  This trail is named after him.

Mackenzie River Trail – named in honour of the late Duncan Mackenzie, an esteemed trail-builder and ski patroller who died tragically in an avalanche in December 2011.

Original Sin – named by original bike park manager Rob McSkimming.  Multiple meaning and wordplays are at work here but it is also considered the original trail in the Garbanzo Zone.

Schleyer – named after legendary freeride mountain biker Richie Schley, while alluding to equally legendary thrash metal band Slayer

Joyride – the name “Joyride” recurs often in Whistler.  This trail was built in 1998 by local biking luminaries Chris Winter and Paddy Kaye, the latter of who had founded his own trail-building company also named Joyride.  A few year later a local mountain bike festival was created and called, you guessed it, Joyride.  This festival was the predecessor of today’s Crankworx festival whose showcase event is a slopestyle competition which still bears this name, and Kaye’s Joyride Bike Parks Inc. remains one of the world’s leading mountain bike trail-building companies.

Del Boca Vista – in yet another pop culture reference, this trail’s name is derived from the Florida condominium complex in Seinfeld where Jerry’s parents and, for a time, Kramer had retired to.  Life here would hopefully be relaxing, fun and leisurely, just like this trail.

It’s possible to get injured in many different ways in the bike park, including on Angry Pirate, though most of the time an actual bike is involved.

Angry Pirate – trail-building entails more than just crude jokes and high fives; it also involves a lot of back-breaking work and the potential for some serious bodily harm.  One builder received this nickname after experiencing an especially unfortunate series of events while working on this trail.  First, while walking through the woods, he stepped on a wasp nest and angered the hive.  During the ensuing chaos he tripped and stumbled downslope, injuring his ankle, but not before he got stung by a wasp very close to his eye.  These mishaps left said trail-builder with an eyepatch, a heavy limp and a sour mood.

Devil’s Club – while building this trail the park crew had to contend with this infamous coastal bush which grows dense, tough and covered in nasty thorns

The “Asian Trilogy” – all three of these trails were named by trail crew veteran Andrew “Gunner” Gunn:

Samurai Pizza Cats – named after the American adaptation of the anime series Kyatto Ninden Teyandee which originally aired in Japan

Ninja Cougar – the trail like to joke that Jesse Melamed (one of the trail-builders) required this special type of bodyguard due to his esteemed political position as the then-mayor’s son

Sun’s out, tongues out on Karate Monkey.

Karate Monkey – this trail name maintains the “martial arts/animal” theme from the other two trails, but whether there is any deeper meaning is unclear

Blue/Black Velvet – simply put, these trails were designed to ride as smoothly as possible

Blueseum – this trail was built through the same section of forest as a long-neglected trail full of derelict wooden structures.  Riding this new trail gave the impression that you were passing through a freeride bike stunt museum.  The trail is blue-rated and this creative portmanteau title was conceived.

Afternoon Delight – the park crew was on fire this day, building most of this trail in a single afternoon

Funshine Rolly Drops – simply the most playful, friendly-sounding name the trail-builders could brainstorm

Duffman – duff is a term used for the soft, thick layer of organic material often found on a Coastal forest floor.  When working on this trail, the park crew had to contend with an especially thick layer of duff and thus took the opportunity to shout out to the highly enthusiastic beer mascot character of The Simpsons fame.t

Detroit Rock City – some trail names come easy; this trail features a long, committing rock ride and so borrowing the title of the famed KISS song seemed appropriate

Fade to Black – named after the classic Metallica song, this trail was intended to demarcate the transition from blue-rated to black-rated single-track.  Let’s say the trail-builders got a little carried away with this one, including a sizeable mandatory road gap that is most definitely double black material.  Some riders prefer to call it “Fade to Pro Line”.

Freight Train – the name refers to the freight container stunt that bikers can jump on and off of, but the title has been given further meaning from the fact that riders have a tendency to ride this fast and flowy jump run in tight formation, like a freight train running down the tracks

The bike park has grown considerably since its beginnings and even more trails are underway.

Tech Noir – evidently some trail-builders are fans of Arnold “The Gubernator” Schwarzenegger, as this is also the name of a bar in the original Terminator film.  Cover charge is optional.

Dwayne Johnson – another memorial to the musclebound, this trail feature a huge rock and was a perfect opportunity to honour everyone’s favourite wrestler-turned-actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

The Manager – an optional pro line in Duffman named after then-bike-park manager Tom “Pro” Prochazka

D1 – the various models of excavating machines used to build the trails are named according to their size: “D35”, “D50” and so on.  This trail is named after the smallest excavator in the park crew’s arsenal, the shovel, because this seemingly machine-built path was built completely by manual labour.

Too Tight – as the name suggests, this trail is very narrow and winding; countless riders over the years have face-planted after catching their handlebars on an adjacent tree trunk

Little Alder – this short run cuts through a picturesque alder grove

Fatcrobat – among the diverse array of characters who have worked for the bike park over the years, one particular gentleman went through extensive gymnastic training in his youth.  As his years progressed he lost his trim figure but he retained a surprising amount of his athletic talent.  This trail is named in honour of this rotund gymnast.

Drop-In Clinic– named after the steep rock roll “drop-in” entrance to this short connector trail

Top of the World – this name is self-explanatory.  As the first bike park trail from the summit of Whistler Mountain, a ride down here leaves one feeling elated.  If this name doesn’t convey the same tone as the other bike park trails, it is because the park crew didn’t come up with this own.  This trail’s construction was an exciting new attraction and upper management wanted to convey an inspiring image to attract more visitors.

Article by Jeff Slack

That’s A Wrap on This Year’s Mountain Bike Heritage Week

The past week has been a busy one here at the museum as we made our way through five consecutive days of events celebrating, what else, mountain biking in Whistler, during our second annual Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week.

The week started on Tuesday with “Transition: The History & Influence of Crankworx & Gravity Logic Inc.”  This Speaker Series event featured Tom “Pro” Prochazka of Gravity Logic and Nicole Freeman, project manager for Crankworx, talking about the origins of the two institutions in the Whistler Bike Park and how they both came to have international reputations and a global reach.

The Whistler Bike Park, shown here in 2000, has changed a lot in the almost two decades for which it’s been open.

mountnb1.jpg

Nicole Freeman, project manager for Crankworx, speaks to a crowd at the Whistler Museum.

The museum teamed up with Clint Trahan on Wednesday to offer a free photography class focused on capturing your own mountain biking photos and, so we’ve heard, Clint continued the discussion over drinks after class.

Clint Trahan speaks to room full of budding mountain bike photographers.

Thursday Toonie Race drew over 250 WORCA members for the weekly ride.

The bright pink was an easy choice for best retro gear outfit.

Thursday’s Retro Toonie Ride was a great time with over 250 riders.  Hosted with the Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com and the Whistler Bike Park, it didn’t feature quite as many vintage bikes as last year’s (not surprising given the course involved biking up and then down part of the bike park) but those riders that brought out their retro bikes and gear were all the more impressive for their commitment to the theme.

 

A classic Whistler jersey promoting The Cheakamus Challenge, a 70 km race between Squamish and Whistler, that first ran in 1989.

It’s not that often you see bikes like this one in the bike park these days.

Our winner for Best Overall retro ride & outfit.  It might have been the first time a bike with a milk crate has gone down Karate Monkey in the Whistler Bike Park.

On Friday the museum and the amazing team at Forlisë held a screening of The Collective, the 2004 film that continues to influence the ways mountain bike films are made today.  Jamie Houssian was on hand to discuss how and why The Collective was different than other films coming out at the time, as well as the challenges of using actual film (changing the film magazine every 2.5 minutes).

Filmmaker and producer Jamie Houssian.

The screening of The Collective at Forlisë included a discussion of the film with filmmaker Jamie Houssian.

The Whistler Public Library, Bike Co. and the museum offered a free bike maintenance class on Saturday afternoon (which luckily was bright, sunny and dry) which quickly filled up early in the week.  Part of anything you do is taking care of and maintaining your own equipment and mountain biking is no different.

mountnb.jpg

Bike maintenance workshop.

mountn

As part of Mountain Bike Heritage week we also installed some temporary exhibits in Whistler Village.

Thanks to everyone who supported the week, by partnering, sponsoring, speaking or attending!  We’re already looking forward to our third Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week next year.

Sponsors & Partner Organization:

Resort Municipality of Whistler, GO Fest, WORCA, Whistler Bike Co., the Whistler Public Library, Forlisë, the Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com, Arts Whistler, Whistler Bike Park, Pinkbike, Chromag, Vorsprung Suspension, Coast Mountain Brewing, DavidsTea, the Province of British Columbia

 

Mountain Bike Heritage Week 2017

For the second year the Whistler Museum is hosting Mountain Bike Heritage Week, a full series of daily events to celebrate Whistler’s distinct biking scene.  Over the last three decades, mountain biking in Whistler has grown to become not only a large part of Whistler’s business but also a large part of our town’s culture and identity.

Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week is produced by the Whistler Museum, with generous support from the RMOW, and in partnership with GO Fest.  Partners and sponsors include: WORCA, Whistler Bike Co., the Whistler Public Library, Forlisë, the Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com, Arts Whistler, Whistler Bike Park, Pinkbike, Chromag, Vorsprung Suspension, Coast Mountain Brewing, DavidsTea and the Province of British Columbia.

Event Rundown:
Speaker Series – Transition: The History and Influence of Crankworx and Gravity Logic Inc.
Nicole Freeman of Crankworx and Tom Prochazka of Gravity Logic Inc. will be joining us to discuss the origins and growth of two globally recognized mountain bike institutions with Whistler roots.
May 16 at the Whistler Museum
Doors at 6pm; Show at 7pm
Tickets $5

Photography Class – Shoot Like a Pro: MTB Photography with Clint Trahan
Photographer Clint Trahan will be providing techniques and tips to select and compose your own mountain biking photos.  Clint Trahan has been shooting mountain biking and more for over a decade, including events such as Crankworx and Enduro World Series.
May 17 at Maury Young Arts Centre (Arts Whistler)
Starts at 7pm
Free admission

Retro WORCA Toonie Race
Hosted by Summit Sport, the Whistler Golf Course, Whistler.com and the Whistler Museum, this week’s Toonie Ride includes prizes for best retro ride and outfit.
May 18  Sign in: Summit Sport; Après: Whistler Golf Club
Ride starts at 6:30pm
http://www.worca.com/toonie-ride-schedule/

Classic Film Screening – The Collective: A 16mm Mountain Bike Film (2004)
The Whistler Museum and Forlisë are hosting a screening of the influential first film from The Collective with a filmmaker Q&A and door prizes.
May 19 at Forlisë
Doors at 7:30pm
Entry by donation, with all proceeds going to WORCA trail maintenance

Bike Maintenance Workshop
Whistler Bike Co., Whistler Museum and the Whistler Public Library are teaming up to offer a bike maintenance workshop.  In this two-hour session, we’ll be talking techniques to keep your bike in working order and how to know when a trip to the bike shop is required.
May 20 at the Whistler Public Library
Starts at 4 pm Registration is required, opens May 1
Call the Whistler Public Library 604 935 8435 to reserve a spot

MTB History Exhibits
Learn about Whistler’s early mountain bike history through a series of small exhibits in the Whistler Village.
May 18 – 22
Located at Mountain Square, Whistler Village

We’ll see you there!

Mountain Biking Back in Time

In the spirit of Crankworx and mountain bike culture in Whistler in general, we thought we’d dig up some vintage mountain bike footage. Here’s a video from the Cactus Cup Mountain Bike Competition in 1995:

Although we no longer hold the Cactus Cup, Whistler is home to the exciting and popular Crankworx, happening right now. Recently, our Assistant Archivist, Alyssa Bruijns, spent some time digging through the archives here at the museum to get to the root of mountain bike culture in Whistler. Below, Alyssa takes us back to the 90s to the origins of some of Whistler’s most popular trails, the bike park and Crankworx’s Redbull Joyride.

Cranking Through the Decades 

By Alyssa Bruijns

With Crankworx in full swing, all of Whistler has mountain biking on the mind. Whistler Museum and Archives is no exception: lately we’ve been reflecting on the history of the sport in Whistler.

The first trails in the area were built and cleared by riders themselves in the mid-80s, many of them incorporating gravel access roads and decommissioned logging roads where necessary. A 1993 article from our archives identifies Cut Yer Bars, Northwest Passage, Black Tusk climb, A River Runs Through It, and Lost Lake Park as ideal spots for riders who wanted to venture off-road at the time. A few mountain biking enthusiasts began running tours up Whistler Mountain  under the name Backroads Whistler. Some of the trails they rode were incorporated into the bike park we know today: for instance, Ripping Rutebaga formed the skeleton for what is now Dirt Merchant.

Since mountain biking had to be put on hold on the mountain while the new Roundhouse was being built in 1998, the employees of Whistler Blackcomb used the opportunity to pitch the idea for an more intensified bike park to Whistler Blackcomb. Despite some hesitance, Whistler Blackcomb agreed to begin building, although many trails were quite difficult for the average rider from the outset. As technology and rider ability caught up to trail difficulty, the sport burgeoned in Whistler, and Whistler’s trail-builders rose to the challenge in order to create new machine-built features and trails each season. It is from this base of expertise that Gravity Logic was born, a company that has contributed to trail design and building in bike parks around the world since its inception.

As mountain biking gained popularity into the 2000s, Whistler became known as a world-class venue due to the amount of overseas visitors, global media recognition, its plethora of bike shops and media blitzes. Whistler Mountain Bike Park is now a prime destination in the mountain biking world, and A-line has become one of the most well-known downhill trails worldwide, having grown to signify a style of trail including flowy dirt jumps and berms. In 2003, Richie Schley pushed Whistler to host a slopestyle type of competition that would use many freeride elements to form one show-stopping contest course. Upon approval, Schley designed the first Slopestyle Expression Session which would allow riders to choose their own lines and tricks. Now called the Redbull Joyride, this contest has become one of the favourite events of Crankworx for riders and spectators alike, especially with Sea-to-Sky resident Brandon Semenuk clinching podium spots nearly every year competing.

Crankworx has grown not only as a sporting event but also as an event central to Whistler’s culture. The film portions of the festival, the live music, the cheese-rolling competition, and the fan-fuelled spirit of Heckler’s Rock on the downhill course make Crankworx so much more than a mountain biking festival. As the birthplace of slopestyle and a yearly mountain biking bonanza, it is no surprise that Crankworx has engrained itself in Whistler’s history and culture. Certainly, summer is no longer ‘off-season.’