Tag Archives: WORCA

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.

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.

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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.

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Bike maintenance workshop.

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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

 

Dirt Designations: Whistler Mountain Bike Trail Names Part I

Variety, flow, inspiring views, minimal environmental impact, challenging and creative features, durability… there are a number of factors that go into a great bike trail.  Often overlooked, though no less critical, is the name bestowed upon a trail.

A good name sparks curiosity and fuels stoke.  Looking to ride a new trail?  Would you be enticed to ride something like “Winding Forest Trail” or “Trail #28” when “Wizard Burial Ground” is an option.

The best trail names don’t only put a smile on your face, but tell a good story while they’re at it.

Luckily for us, Whistler’s burgeoning cadre of trail-builders  is not only dedicated, visionary and talented, but they’re also fans of quirky, idiosyncratic trail names that add another layer of fun when ripping through Whistler’s forests.

The Valley’s Trails

The Whistler Valley has an incredible and often under-appreciated network of trails meandering through almost every nook and cranny of our valley.  The first routes were mostly reclaimed from decommissioned logging roads in the early 1980s but it wasn’t long before more industrious folks began building them from scratch.

The Whistler Valley in the 1980s didn’t have many sanctioned bike trails, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.

The vast majority of trails came from countless hours of solitary, unpaid, back-breaking labour by renegade builders who simply wanted fun trails for themselves and may a few select friends.  Their efforts have been largely vindicated, as many of these technically illegal trails have retroactively become recognized.  Today, multiple builders are being hired and paid to create sanctioned routes.

Lost Lake Park – We begin where most riders are introduced to Whistler mountain biking: Lost Lake Park.  This series of trails was built by Eric Barry.  As we will see, musical influences often factor into bike trail names, and in this case Barry decided to name each segment of the blue-rated trail network after a Frank Zappa song, with psychedelic names like Peaches en Regalia, Zoot Allures, Toads of the Short Forest and Son of Mr. Green Jeans.

A number of less technical, multi-use trails pay homage to the logging industry, which played a major role in the early development of the Whistler Valley whose decommissioned roads unintentionally formed the backbone of the hundreds of biking routes that ensued:

Tin Pants – a heavy waterproof, canvas-type pant that protected loggers from the elements and their chainsaws

Molly Hogan – a technique used to splice together wire cables used by logging crews

Hook Tender – the supervisor of a logging crew

Donkey Puncher – the operator of the “donkey”, a slang term for the steam-powered machine used to haul logs around camp

Gypsy Drum – a big, strong breed of horse frequently used in logging operations

The Rest of the Valley

River Runs Through It – this reference to the popular 1992 film was deemed appropriate because, well, a river runs through it

Comfortably Numb – Whistler’s first official epic ride (it has actually been afforded the “Epic Ride” designation from the International Mountain Bike Association) a ride on this trail will leave your mind and body battered senseless.  The trail-builder, Chris Markle, was clearly a Pink Floyd fan, as one of only escape routes along Comfortably Numb’s 24-km route is called Young Lust.

Danimal – this westside classic is named after the trail-builder Dan Swanstrom, who also built River Runs Through It, much of the No Flow Zone and several other local trails.  Danimal has the distinction of having possibly the most ostentatious bike trail sign on the planet.  A solid granite plinth marks the trail’s entrance among others in the Stonebridge development high up on Whistler’s west side.  When work on this luxury neighbourhood was originally slated, anxiety beset the local riding community as it threatened a number of long-established (if not officially sanctioned) bike trails in the area.  In response to lobbying from WORCA, the RMOW decided to designate several trails as legal and thus protected thoroughfares and established a strong precedent for cooperation between the RMOW, the biking community and the local building community.  Since Danimal is here to stay, Stonebridge’s developer decided to embrace it and mark the trail in a manner befitting its swanky surroundings.

Dan Swanstrom emerges from the forest.

No Flow Zone – this collection of trails around Emerald offers a variety of frustrating, technical challenges.  Many of the trail names in the Zone warn the rider of what lies ahead: Shit Happens, No Girlie Man, White Knuckles, Anal Intruder (your bike saddle, that is)

High Society – this double entendre refers to its proximity to both the posh Stonebridge development as well as the pre-existing trail Legalize It (no explanation necessary)

Darwin’s – named in honour of the trail-builder’s (Eric Barry) dog, who was a puppy at the time

Tunnel Vision – this trail was originally built straight and fast, forcing the rider into this mental state

Cut Yer Bars – one of the Whistler Valley’s original bike trails, this classic ride used to be really tight, hence the instructional trail name

Ride Don’t Slide – this name is instructional (it is really steep and prone to erosion) although not in the way one might expect.  It was originally built as a climbing trail for trials dirtbikes, as is the case for a surprising amount of Whistler’s favourite mountain bike trails

Lower Yer Saddle – another instructional name, as this trail features mostly technical cross-country style riding, but with a few steeper features thrown in the mix

Bob’s Rebob – built mostly from reclaimed logging roads, this trail is named after past WORCA President Bob Eakins

See Colours and Puke – an old climbing trail that was later rehabilitated to work as a descent as well.  Simply climbing this trail might mess with your mental state, but the name is actually a reference to a very early cross-country race organized by Whistler off-road biking pioneer Doris Burma.  The race was always a challenging slog, but many participants were already hallucinating before setting of.  The physical exertion had nothing to do with it; this event was the predecessor of the Cheakamus Challenge, a gruelling endurance challenge in which the most common supplements are now energy gels and electrolyte powders.

Section 102 – this title refers to a change made to provincial law that made unauthorized disturbance of the forest floor (which definitely describes most trail-building at the time) illegal

Billy Epic – one of the oldest trails in Whistler, this was built by Bill Epplett

Binty’s Trail – named after long-time local Vincent Massey, who built this trail among others; Binty built this trail in the late 1980s, accessed by climbing up old logging roads that they had largely cleared themselves

Mel’s Dilemma – Binty and Richard Kelly are mostly responsible for this trail, with some help from Binty’s pre-school-aged son.  At the time, the two trail-builders were big fans of Scarface, and, for reasons long-since forgotten, had taken to referring to each other as “Mel”, a crooked cop from the film who meets an inglorious demise.  The dilemma is simply choosing your route through this snaking maze of routes.

Golden Boner – trail building can often be a lonely and thankless task.  Rumour has it that the trail builder was going through a bit of a lull in his love life at the time

Khyber Pass – this trail name was first applied to the backcountry ski zone which the bike trail cuts through.  Massey recalls how the name first came into use because, at the time (long before Peak Chair was built on Whistler) this section of the mountain was a long hike from the top of the t-bars.  “It was so far out there it was almost exotic, so we figured we’d call it Khyber’s after the famous mountain pass in Afghanistan.”

PhD – in the amount of time spent working on this long, steep and challenging trail north of Whistler, the builder could have earned an advanced post-secondary degree; most riders would agree that the trail was completed summa cum laude

Trail builder Dan Raymond poses with tools of the trade. Photo by Bike Pirate courtesy of WORCA

Rockwork Orange – for this trail, builder Dan Raymond put the cart before the horse and actually had conceived the name before building the trail.  This trail weaves its way through a particularly rugged westside mountain slope, linking up a number of rock bluffs and slabs.

Korova Milk Bar – a multi-layered reference, the title is a direct reference to the mind-altering drinking establishment in A Clockwork Orange, thus connecting it thematically to the previous trail.  Dan chose this specific reference from the ultra-violent novel and film because the trail was built in the same area as a long defunct ride called Dairy of a Milkman, thus enabling a lactose-themed literary homage to its predecessor.

Wizard Burial Ground – the final instalment in this three-piece epic ride draws its name directly from a heavy metal song by the band Umphrey’s Mcgee that Dan thought matched the intensity of the trail.  The fact that the trail ends in the vicinity of the Whistler Cemetery made it even more thematically appropriate.

Lord of the Squirrels. Photo courtesy of Dan Raymond

Alpine Dream Trail – this is the working title of WORCA’s major, multi-year project to build an intermediate-rated, climb-and-descend loop to the Sproatt Mountain alpine.  This title adequately expresses the trail’s epic potential, though some may consider it a tad generic.  In related news, Dan Raymond, the trail builder, is a strong believer that “the builder should be allowed to name a trail no matter who is paying for it.”  If he gets his way, Whistler’s next epic ride may very well be called, in typically cryptic fashion, Lord of the Squirrels.

Coming up: Trail Names of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park

Article by Jeff Slack

 

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!

#WhistlerMTBWeek wrap-up

Life is finally getting back to normal here at the museum, after the whirlwind that was last week’s “Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week.” This was our first time ever running this event, and it amounted to the largest coordinated event series the Whistler Museum had run since the “100 Years of Dreams” festival in 2011, which celebrated the centennial anniversary of Myrtle & Alex Philip’s first visit to Alta Lake.

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The Speaker Series kicked off with an evening discussion of trail-building through the decades, with Eric Wight (and friends) talking about the early days of Whistler Backroads and the first purpose-built trails for lift-accessed mountain biking on Whistler Mountain in the early 1990s, then Jerome David sharing his experiences and insights gained through many years as trail director and then president of WORCA, and concluded with current trail-builder extraordinaire Dan Raymond talking about his process, and giving some sneak peeks into his magnum opus, “Lord of the Squirrels.”

At the “Building a Community” talk, Charlie Doyle and Grant Lamont paid tribute to the many characters who helped mountain biking thrive in the early days, before it became sanctioned, legitimized and recognized as big business, then Chris Kent spoke of one of the great events of these early days, the Garibaldi Gruel.

In “Whistler MTB Gone Global” Paul Howard explained how being based in Whistler helped him create a global MTB coaching standard, Sarah Leishman shared stories from Ethiopia to the Enduro World Series, and Mike Crowe celebrated the Whistler Bike Park as a global phenomenon like no other.

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The Whistler Mountain Bike Park has come a long way since it’s origins in the early 1990s. Greg Griffith Collection.

The Kranked 3 film screening with filmmakers Bjorn Enga and Christian Begin made for wonderful reminiscing about this seminal time in freeride mountain biking. And, of course, Brett Tippie brought the party.

The retro Toonie Ride was a wonderful time and showcased some incredible vintage bikes and gear:

The photography show at the Maury Young Arts Centre (still up until June 14th) showcased the many facets of local riding through the lenses of some of the most talented photographers in the MTB world. The photos can still be purchased through online auction at http://www.32auctions.com/mtbweek

It was a wonderful time reaching out to a massive part of our community, and we’re glad we did. Mountain biking has contributed a lot to Whistler, and vice versa, but the biggest takeaway from the long weekend was the strong sense of community amongst the thousands of dedicated bikers in this town.

Thanks everybody who partnered, sponsored, spoke, attended, or otherwise supported the week! We look forward to repeating this event in 2017.

That includes (but is certainly not limited to):

Sponsors & Partner Organizations:

WORCA, Whistler Arts Council, Forlise Whistler, GoFest Whistler, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb, Whistler Bike Co., Chromag,  Deep Cove Brewing, Vorsprung Suspension, Whistler Roasting, David’s Tea, Whistler Film Festival Society, Province of British Columbia

 

Panelists/Speakers:

Eric Wight, Jerome David, Dan Raymond, Bjorn Enga, Christian Begin, Brett Tippie, Ryan Leech, Charlie Doyle, Grant Lamont, Chris Kent, Paul Howard, Sarah Leishman, Mike Crowe.

 

Photographers/Artists:

Reuben Krabbe, Robin O’Neill, Brian Finestone, Nic Teichrob, Greg Griffith, Patrick Hui, Sean St. Denis, Mattias Fredriksson, Margus Riga, Vanessa Stark, Eric Poulin, Vince Shuley, Thomas Rasek, Mason Mashon, Ben Lees, Sterling Lorence.

Now that it’s done us museum staff are really excited about all the spare time we suddenly have to go ride our bikes!

Whistler MTB Heritage Week

Over the last three decades, mountain biking has woven itself into the fabric of our community and Whistler’s distinct biking scene has spread its influence across the world. To celebrate this proud tradition, the Whistler Museum is hosting our first ever Mountain Bike Heritage Week, a full series of daily events running from May 18-23rd.

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We will be holding three separate Speaker Series events, each focusing on different aspects of Whistler’s MTB scene, beginning with an ode to those unsung heroes of the biking world – the trailbuilders. Dirtmasters: Whistler Trailbuilding through the Decades will explore the past, present, and future of Whistler’s world class trail network.

With thousands of dedicated riders, it’s safe to classify Whistler’s biking community as a horde of raving die-hards. Find out how our local scene grew from niche to enormous at Whistler MTB: Building a Community, a panel discussion featuring local organizers, coaches, and more on Saturday May 21st. The Speaker Series trilogy concludes the following evening as we expand our view outward with Whistler MTB Gone Global, featuring local riders and entrepreneurs speaking firsthand to the worldwide influence and appeal of Whistler mountain biking.

photo: Robin O'neill

Riders climb towards Whistler Peak during the Samurai of Singletrack race. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Robin O’Neill

 

It is a mountain bike festival, after all, so there’s more than just panel discussions going on. May 19th, being a Thursday night, we’ll be teaming up with the leading institution of Whistler’s MTB community, WORCA’s weekly Toonie Ride. Riders will be encouraged to break out the spandex, the clunkers, and any other retro gear stashed away in storage that you just couldn’t bear to part with. The ride will begin at the bottom of Scotia Creek on Whistler’s westside.

For all the freeriders out there, we are organizing a free screening of the classic freeride film Kranked 3 on Friday May 20th at Forlise Whistler in Mountain Square. We’re especially excited to be able to include a filmmaker Q&A with special guests Bjorn Enga and Christian Begin.

A legendary rider on a legendary feature. Brett Tippie on Whistler Mountain. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Margus Riga

A legendary rider on a legendary feature. Brett Tippie on Whistler Mountain. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Margus Riga

Underpinning the whole festival is Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photography and Art, featuring some of the world’s leading mountain bike photographers, artists, and athletes, including Sterling Lorence, Justa Jeskova, Reuben Krabbe, and many more. Running from May 15th until June 14th at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, this exhibit will showcase the trails, terrain, talent, and passion that makes Whistler a Mecca of the global mountain biking scene.

Artwork on display has been generously donated by the artists and will be available for purchase via silent auction, with all proceeds going to support mountain bike-related programming and archival work at the Whistler Museum. This exhibit is produced with generous support from the RMOW, and in partnership with the Whistler Arts Council.

Local riders enjoying the recent expansion of bike trails into the alpine. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Justa Jeskova.

Local riders enjoying the recent expansion of bike trails into the alpine. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Justa Jeskova.

The Whistler Museum will also be showcasing historic photographs and artifacts as we unveil a new display about Whistler’s mountain bike heritage in our permanent exhibit. Everyone is invited to come check it out during our regular admission hours or during one of the three evening Speaker Series events.

Everyone is encouraged to enter our Instagram contest, simply by tagging their riding shots with #WhistlerMTBWeek between now and May 23rd. Our favourite shots will be selected for great swag and prizes from our many awesome sponsors.

Of course it wouldn’t be a mountain bike festival without a ton of actual riding, so keep your ears and eyes open for a number of impromptu and informal group rides and bike park hot laps throughout the week.

Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week is produced by the Whistler Museum in partnership with WORCA, the Great Outdoors Festival, the Whistler Arts Council, and Forlise Whistler. It would not be possible without the generous support of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Province of British Columbia, Deep Cove Brewing, Chromag Cycles, Vorsprung Suspension, Whistler-Blackcomb, Whistler Bike Co., & David’s Tea.

Whistler MTB 20 years ago

So the Whistler Mountain Bike Park opened for the season yesterday! Mountain biking has quickly grown to become Whistler’s most high-profile summer attraction, but even before our ski lifts began shuttling fat-tire types up Whistler Mountain Whistler already had a well-developed biking scene. It’s just that hardly anyone knew about it.

Mountain Biking Whistler, early 1990s.

Mountain Biking Whistler, early 1990s.

For a little perspective we dug into our archives and consulted a copy of the 1993 publication “The Whistler Handbook.” In an article titled  “The Trails Are World Class But Few Know About It – Yet” local artist, sign-maker, and former editor of the Whistler Answer Charlie Doyle had this to say about the local mountain biking scene in 1993:

“Mountain biking in Whistler today is like skiing was twenty years ago. In those days the skiing was every bit as astounding as it is currently, but it hadn’t been dubbed “World Class” yet… All we had was the best skiing in the world and hardly anyone outside the Lower Mainland knew or cared anything about it.” Just to be clear, Charlie wasn’t complaining about this lack of recognition.

The article describes how Whistler decommissioned logging roads formed the backbone of the local trail network, frequently re-cleared by rogue bike enthusiasts to provide smooth climbs and trunk roads servicing an ever-expanding network of single track routes.

Newcomers to the sport will be surprised to learn how many of these trails had already been built in 1993. Some of Whistler’s bike trails might even  be older than most of the people riding today!

An early x-country race on Whistler Mountain, early 1990s.

An early x-country race on Whistler Mountain, early 1990s.

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About as technical as downhill descents got at the time, many of the images from in this collection show the racers walking their bikes down this section. Way up in the Whistler Alpine, early 1990s.

Among Charlie’s suggestions were now-classic trails such as Cut Yer Bars (“offers a truckload of technical drops, obstacles, climbs and slalom descents”), Northwest Passage (“runs like a roller coaster across creeks and big sweeping corners”), the Black Tusk climb (“not to be missed for those who love gut-wrenching climbs”) and a few Westside favourites like A River Runs Through It (“you may never want to leave”).

A poster for

A poster from an early Loonie Race (late 1980s). These weekly summer rides still run to this day (although inflation forced them to be re-branded “Toonie Rides” a few years back) are now massive social events, often with hundreds of participants.

As an aside, Charlie noted that “the municipal government has yet to be convinced that the bike scene can provide sufficient retail kickback to jump on the bandwagon.” Since that assessment the RMOW has clearly seen the light, as it is widely considered a case study in the positive impacts that follow from local government support for mountain bike trail networks. Interestingly, the first place Charlie suggested for prospective riders was Lost Lake Park, which is now a municipally-operated bike park.

Fast forward 20 years and Whistler’s biking scene is firmly in the situated in the mainstream.  As the trail network expanded, all the accompanying markers of “world class” status Charlie referred to are here as well: overseas visitors, global media recognition, dozens of dedicated bike shops, and media blitzes that are as calculated and labour intensive as the trails themselves.

For more info on the history of local trail-building, check out WORCA’s trail history article, and “Quest for the Holy Trail” run in the Pique last summer. 

And for fun, we’ll re-post this classic clip from our archives, showing some sweet mtb action from 1988: