BIKE PARKS BC ROAD TRIP
Whistler / Sun Peaks // Silver Star // Big White // Kicking Horse // Fernie
Last December, Mark and I were surprised when we got a call from Andrew at Pinkbike. He was organizing a British Columbia wide Bike Parks tour for the following summer in partnership with Mountain Biking BC and he wanted US to produce the piece. I had just undergone the 11th surgery on my left wrist, and Mark had returned to Gatineau Centre-Ville Ouest to endure a harsh Eastern Canadian winter - so bikes were not on our radar at all. But once we received the trip details our mindsets changed as it was obvious that this was going to be the trip of the summer.
As the winter progressed and the trip crystalized, our excitement built to nearly uncontainable levels, and once spring rolled around we were chomping at the bit to get on the road. Mark and I both grew up watching Drop-In, and this trip was going to be the closest thing to living out our childhood dream of hanging out in that converted bus touring around BC to ride bikes.
Twelve-year-old me was so hyped on this crew, I would have given a year's allowance to spend a day on that bus riding with these guys.
Two weeks, 6 Bike Parks and thousands of vertical meters of descending is a recipe for good times. Add an RV full of beer, one stoked grom, a couple of downhill bikes and some new friends and you've got one hell of a road trip!
Check out the links below for our route and the other episodes.
Whistler Bike Park
For the first installment of the series we are kicking things off in our more-often-than-not summer home of Whistler. We indulge in the madness and excitement of opening weekend and then hang around until the re-designed Dirt Merchant and Creekside trails open. If you have never experienced opening weekend, also known as Whismas, it is a sight to behold by every mountain biker at least once in your life. The energy and excitement for mountain biking grips the village in a way that is only matched by Crankworx. Yet, unlike Crankworx, the trails are buff, the dirt is all-time, the lines are shorter and there are far fewer Chad’s and woo-girls crowding the village. Opening weekend is all about catching up with summer friends at the Fitz chair, riding A-Line until you can’t feel your hands, eating nachos at the GLC and washing it all down with a couple of jugs. Bonus points if you don’t change out of your riding kit before you go underground.
Day one of WBP this year was wet, VERY WET. This kept the fair weather folks out of sight and off the trails. The line for the bike wash was almost as long as the one for the lift and spraying down your friends was heavily encouraged.
Thankfully Day 2 was perfect weather. The lines at Fitz can get long if it is nice out, especially after 4:30 when all the local shredders get off work and the twilight pass kicks in. Get there early to maximize your laps and burn off your hangover sooner than later, with any luck you will be seeing straight by noon.
In contrast, the Creekside gondola is THE spot to avoid waiting in the village.
Mark, aka Sharky, carves a tight turn on the perfect dirt of Insomnia. The Creekside trails are affectionately referred to by locals as the Creekside gym because you get one hell of a workout going T2B.
Dusty's nachos are an important part of every healthy lunch break
Henry Fitzgerald of Norco Factory Racing is a trendy mofo, always look to him for the hottest new styles in mountain biking and haute couture. Finn Iles obviously got the blonde memo from him on opening weekend as Finn has been seen rocking ‘The Henry’ ever since. Mark Taylor has also been spotted with ‘The Henry’, apparently, it's hot right now.
Nate Hills of @followcamfriday fame was out shaking shocks and smashing laps. The OG YouTube sensation loves A-Line and tequila. He made the big mistake of showing up to Whistler without riding pants and had to buy these ones in the village. Don’t make the same mistake as Nate, come prepared for the conditions, pants are strongly recommended.
Will scrubs a roller on Earth Circus. The Creekside flow trails opened last spring and have been a huge hit ever since. You're blowing it if you visit Whistler and don't ride Creekside.
Matty T models a free hat while demonstrating a perfect high-pour on the GLC patio.
Sharky keeps it low while Matty T boosts on one of the new Dirt Merchant jumps. The trail has been re-worked below the massive hip that was put in last season. Remember to pre-ride, re-ride, then freeride kids.
Another new Dirt Merchant feature is the step-down over Rippin’ Rutabaga. Riders can take a left down Rippin’ to avoid the new pro-line section of Dirt Merchant, or stay right for some added airtime.
Pizza is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to refuel mid-day when you are riding the bike park. Although the sesame crust of Fat Tony’s is nice, we feel there is more heft to the slices at Misty Mountain. With the upper village Tony’s closed for renovations, Misty wins the proximity to the lift battle.
Our Favourite Whistler Laps
Mark - A-Line (top to bottom)
Kozman - Dirt Merchant, A-Line
Will - Dirt Merchant, Del Bocca Vista, A-Line
Sun Peaks Bike Park
After a wild time in Whistler, we started our road trip, with a stop at Sun Peaks over the Canada Day long weekend. Despite all the travelling Mark and I have done in the last 4 years to race and ride bikes, neither of us had made it to Sun Peaks, nor had Braedyn. We were damn excited to check out the resort often touted as the rawest and gnarliest bike park in the province. As stoked as we were for the raw steeps of Sun Peaks, we were pleasantly surprised by the extensive range of their trail network. The trail crew has been hard at work to make Sun Peaks more intermediate friendly, and it shows with their construction of the new trail Canada Line. Sadly the wet weather meant this trail stayed closed during our time there, so we could only observe from afar.
Only a few hours drive from Whistler, over the scenic Duffy Lakes Road, the trip to Sun Peaks is an incredible way to kick off our road-trip. Driving this road hungover is not recommended.
We rolled into Sun Peaks on Friday afternoon and with the lifts staying open until 7pm we still had plenty of time to get geared up and smash some laps. An unseasonable rain storm blew in on our first ride up, but thankfully the Sun Peaks chairlift has bubbles to keep you warm and dry on your way up the hill. The bubbles will be getting tons of use this fall as Sun Peaks has extended their season this year, running the lifts Friday-Sunday 11am-6pm all September.
Sun Peaks offers some affordable boondock camping at the end of their parking lot with 24h access to the nicest, cleanest washrooms at the whole resort. Be sure to reserve ahead of time as it does appear to fill up on weekends.
Will wrestles with a DH casing tire for the first time since 2011. A couple cold ones are necessary to help keep the frustration levels down.
If camping isn't your style, there are lots of affordable accommodation options at the resort. We ended up spending the last night of our stay at Nancy Greene's Cahilty Hotel & Suites which gave us an opportunity to have much needed showers and wash off 3 days worth of mud.
Our resident flora and fauna expert, Dylan Sherrard, believes the unseasonable rains have brought the wild flowers out earlier than normal this year. However Will and Braedyn don’t bother to stop and smell em while warming up on Mach. This is definitely not your typical Whistler blue trail, the name says it all, this trail is flat out as fast as you dare.
On the rare occasion that it's wet at Sun Peaks, be sure to wash your bike very well after riding as the dirt quickly turns to an impossible to clean concrete once dry. Thankfully there are a number of bike wash stations around the resort. Kozman hoses down his Demo 29 after another tacky day of laps at Sun Peaks.
Steam Shovel is Sun Peak’s new jump line, it is loaded with fun features and killer turns. Kozman was nose bonking everything in sight.
The jumps on Steam Shovel progress in size nicely as you work your way down the trail, however coming from Whistler, the steeper lips take some getting used to. Kozman was feeling pretty comfortable by the 2nd day and managed to crack a few sideways.
Kozman spent about as much time in the air as he did on the ground while riding Steam shovel. He manages to lay it pretty flat while popping out of this berm on the upper section of trail.
Route 66 is a blue run with some wicked turns that snakes down the ski run under the chair.
We spent our final few hours at Sun Peaks stacking photos with Dylan Sherrard. Turns out he is pretty talented on both sides of the lens.