Tag Archives: Vorsprung

Talking Shop: Whistler’s Early Mountain Bike Shops

Not only do we have a trail-rich valley to call home in Whistler, but we are also spoiled with choice when it comes to bike shops.  This wasn’t always the case.

When mountain bikes first hit the logging roads in the valley in the early 1980s, most riders had to head to Vancouver for any mountain-bike-specific parts and maintenance, according to one or our oral history interviews with local mountain bike pioneer Steve Anderson.

Mountain biking steadily became more popular in Whistler from the 1980s but at the beginning there were few shops dedicated to the sport.  Whistler Question Collection.

A couple of shops were starting to pop up around that time.  In the newly constructed village Jim McConkey’s shop sold bikes in the summer months and Doris Burma operated a small bike shop, Summit Cycles, out of a trailer right above the commercial loading zone at the Delta Mountain Inn (today known as the Hilton).  Doris was passionate about mountain bikes and famed for her Cheakamus Challenge precursor race called “See Colours & Puke,” a wild mountain bike race reportedly meant to be completed on mushrooms.

In the autumn of 1985 Backroads Whistler owner Eric Wight opened a bike shop  in the basement of Creekside’s Southside Diner.  A short time later, the shop moved to the first floor of a house in Mons.

The new location was in the centre of the local mountain bike scene at the time, not far from new trails in Emerald and Lost Lake.  The shop sold, fixed, and rented mountain bikes, even building a small trials track outside their door.  Eric admits the shops didn’t make much money in the early days, as most of the clientele were locals who could only afford parts using “local deals.”  Big things were to come, however.

Whistler began hosting bike races in the early 1980s, creating even more demand for maintenance and shops.  Whistler Question Collection.

In 1989 Eric’s shop moved to Whistler Village, finding a spot in the base of the Delta.  The location was off the radar for visitors, however, and the clientele was still all locals.  The shop finally surfaced on the Village Stroll in the spot where Jim McConkey had sold bikes (currently Showcase Snowboards) around the time Backroads began working with Whistler Mountain to begin mountain bike tours down the mountain.  According to Eric, the new shop had a Santa Fe theme, a mechanic shop in the back, rentals and tours, and plenty of snazzy lycra on sale out front.

As mountain biking continued gaining traction the 1990s saw bike shops that are still kicking it today start up shop.

In 1994 John Inglis and Peter Colapinto opened the Whistler Bike Co., also in the underground portion of the Delta, for the summer months.  In 1995 they brought onboard Giant Bicycles and they eventually expanded to Pemberton, the Village Gate location, and, most recently, their Marketplace location to accommodate a growing population of bikers in town.

Molson’s Whistler Bike Race passes through the Whistler Village, where some of the earlier bike shops in town can still be found today.  Whistler Question Collection.

Bike Co. is currently the oldest independent bike shop in town, followed closely by Evolution, which was opened by Jenine Bourbonnais in 1995.  Many more mountain bike shops have opened up as Whistler has become the mountain bike mecca it is today: Summit Sports, Fanatyk Co., Garbanzo Bike & Bean, Coastal Culture Sports, Arbutus Routes, Whistler Village Sports, The Fix, Comor Sports, Fineline, Gateway Bikes – the list is long and continues to grow.  Needless to say, Whistler’s mountain bikers (and their bikes) are now very well serviced.

This week we’ve been celebrating Whistler’s mountain biking history with the museum’s 4th annual Mountain Bike Heritage Week.  You can find a full list of events here and join us for our final event on Wednesday featuring Chris Allen of North Shore Billet and Steve Mathews of Vorsprung.

Whistler MTB Heritage Week 2019

Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week

For more than 3 decades mountain biking has woven itself into the fabric of Whistler’s outdoor community. At the same time, our distinct biking scene has increasingly spread its influence throughout the MTB world.

In celebration of the trails, talent, and passion that makes mountain biking in Whistler special, from June 6 – 12 the Whistler Museum will be hosting a series of presentations, film screenings, workshops and more.

Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week is produced by the Whistler Museum, with generous support from the RMOW, and in partnership with WORCA.

Event Rundown

June 6: Post-WORCA Toonie Retro Bike Show & Shine

If you’ve been hanging onto your old Stump Jumper, have a frame you used to ride the trails in the 1980s or just have a passion for old bikes, now is your time to shine! Bring out your old retro bikes to the post-Toonie apres in the Creekside parking lot and take a look at how much mountain bikes have changed in the past few decades. Prizes for best retro bike & outfit. This week’s Toonie is hosted by Coastal Culture Sports, Creekside Market, X-treme Organics, Sabre Rentals & Arts Whistler.  Sign In: Interpretive Forest Car Park; Après: Creekside Parking Lot.  Ride starts at 6:30pm.  More info on the ride here. For more information on participating in the Retro Bike Show & Shine give us a call at (604) 932-2019.

June 7: Speaker Series – Think Bike Conversations: Indigenous MTB

As part of Think Bike Whistler, Patrick Lucas (Director, BC Aboriginal Youth MTB Program) and Pat Montani (Founder, Bicycles for Humanity) will be at the museum to discuss indigenous mountain biking on a global scale. At the Whistler Museum.  Doors open at 7 pm; talk begins at 7:30 pm.  Entry included in Think Bike registration. Tickets for those not registered with Think Bike will be $5.

June 8: Speaker Series – The Story of the Cheakamus Challenge: Whistler’s Classic MTB Endurance Race (1989 – 2011)

The Cheakamus Challenge ran from 1989 – 2011 and became one of Whistler’s classic mountain bike endurance races.  We’ll be joined by race organizer Grant Lamont and past winners and competitors to explore the stories behind the race.  At the Whistler Museum.  Doors open at 6:30 pm; talk begins at 7 pm.  Entry by donation, with all proceeds going to WORCA.

June 9: Film Screening – Ride to the Hills

The Whistler Museum is hosting a screening of Jorli Ricker’s classic mountain bike film Ride to the Hills,  followed by a Q&A with Ricker and door prizes.  At the Whistler Public Library.  Doors open at 6:30 pm; film begins at 7 pm.  Free admission.

June 11: 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.  At the Whistler Museum.  Registration is required (registration opens June 1).  Call the Whistler Public Library 604-935-8435.

June 12: Speaker Series – Manufacturing in the Mountains

Ever wondered about where your bike parts come from?  Some of them might be made right here in Whistler.  We’ll be joined by Chris Allen of North Shore Billet and Steve Mathews of Vorsprung to learn about why they believe in manufacturing in Whistler and how they make it work.  At the Whistler Museum.  Doors open at 6:30 pm; talk begins at 7 pm.  Entry by donation.

A huge thanks to all our sponsors of these events!
Partners and sponsors include: WORCA, Whistler Bike Co., the Whistler Public Library, Coastal Culture Sports, Pinkbike, Chromag, Vorsprung Suspension, Crankworx, Evolution, Creekside Market, X-treme Organics, Sabre Rentals, Arts Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb and the Province of British Columbia.