Tag Archives: WORCA

#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.


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.


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



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.



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.


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.

Griffith img070 large

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:

Speaker Series 2012 Wrap-up

We at the Whistler Museum would like to thank our wonderful community for making our winter 2012 Speaker Series a complete success. Every event featured compelling presentations from great speakers, all of whom spoke in front of a sold-out crowd!

Roger McCarthy

Roger McCarthy started the new year off with a bang with his fascinating talk about his experiences running the show at the new ski hill being built near Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. We got everything from great insights into the local terrain to the rather frightening amount of security one must pass through to speak to a Russian oligarch – Roger’s boss on the high-pressure job. I’m sure his new gig with Whistler Municipal Council is less stressful!

The next month, fellow municipal councilor Jayson Faulkner opened our eyes to the possibilities of the Spearhead Huts Project, for which he is the committee chair.  Jayson’s extensive experience as both a mountain guide and backcountry gear retailer set him up nicely to present his answer to the rhetorical question “Backcountry Huts: Why now, more than ever?”

Ski-touring in the Spearhead Range.

In March we welcomed the always-entertaining “Garage Sale Frank” Salter in to talk about his 500-plus pairs of antique and retro skis. The amateur ski-curator brought in a sizeable chunk of his private museum to speak about some of the high and low points in the history of ski design.

Frank shows off one of his more unique artifacts, an early model swallowtail ski!

It was only fitting that we close of the winter season with last week’s presentation by a panel of WORCA board members on the past, present and future off Whistler mountain biking. The stoke was high among the crowd of fat-tire enthusiasts, and we all left with the impression that we have lots to look forward to in coming summers!

One of the more unique courses for a WORCA Toonie Ride – the Olympic Sliding Center track!

Our Speaker Series events are designed to feature knowledgeable and engaging speakers and the amazing lives they lead. We were fortunate to have such an outstanding line-up this year and we appreciate all of them taking the time to share their stories. Special thanks as well goes to Namasthe Tea and the Whistler Roasting Company, who generously supplied each event with their wonderful teas and coffee.

The Speaker Series now goes on hiatus for the summer, to resume the third Wednesday of the month for October, November, and January through April.

We are always on the look out for exciting new presenters in the fields of local history, mountain culture, the environment, travel, adventure, or anything else that might captivate a crowd of Whistlerites. If you or someone you know has an interesting story to tell, or if you have an idea for something you’d like to see at a future Speaker Series, drop us a line at programs@whistlermuseum.org. Meanwhile, although the Speaker Series takes a temporary break, we aren’t going anywhere, so stay tuned for upcoming announcements regarding our summer programming!