It’s been 15 years since my last (and first) visit to Whistler.
That trip was for snow. This trip was for dirt. Bike paarrrk!!
We got up super early two Saturdays ago, caught the first flight to Vancouver, grabbed some Tim Horton’s:
… hopped on a shuttle, and arrived at the village by 1 PM. It was early enough to gear up for an afternoon of riding, but it was sooo smokey from nearby wildfires I decided to save my lungs. Seriously, it was like we had landed in India all over again.
Getting to watch Joyride in person was magical. And holy crap, I knew the jumps were big from watching it online all these years, but in person they’re HUUUUUGE. Watching Nicholi Rogatkin and Brett Rheeder throw down flawless superhuman tricks on that course brought tears to my eyes. Or maybe it was the smoke.
Naw, it was Joyride.
After Joyride I went to check out my rental rig, a 2018 Norco Aurum Carbon. I gave it a once over and asked for the baby coil (because I weigh nothing) plus some fresh tires for the next day. They did even better and put fresh brake pads on as well. The bike felt great when I picked it up the next morning.
To the bike park! The Aurum was my first ride on a full downhill bike. The last time I made a jump that big it was from my cross country Anthem to the Giant Reign, back in 2010. I remembered finding the slacker head angle awkward to maneuver. This time, however, I felt right at home. The Aurum was cushy, stable, and confidence inspiring. Was it me, or the bike? Probably both.
I spent my first day getting used to the new rig, and to trail conditions at Whistler. It was late into a very dry season, and everything was bumpy and dusty. My hands hurt by the middle of the day. When I took my gloves off at lunch, I’d lost a layer of every callus.
Conditions aside, this bike was rad! At speed, I could pump the bike and launch over swaths of rocks. Randomly playing around resulted in accidental manuals. I felt like a pro.
On day two, I focused on riding more technical trails, working my way down random black diamonds. The beauty of a downhill bike is you can point it down super steep chunk and it magically delivers you to the bottom upright and intact. Yes, there’s skill involved, but way less than would be required on a bike with a different geometry.
In the afternoon, I visited a midmountain skills area and made a couple GoPro videos. When I analyzed them later I didn’t like my midair body position. I decided to work on fixing it the next day.
Aaron spent day three with me on the flow trails, airing it out Crank It Up, C-More (Butts), and A-Line over and over. By the end of the day I was clearing most of jumps on Crank It Up and C-More. Yaaasssss!!
We also chased the trail photographers that day (they post a schedule), because where else are you gonna have a professional photographer sitting around with a fill flash setup waiting for you to ride by? They did not disappoint.
My jump disappointed, though. Gotta work on my steeze!
Finally, pics or I didn’t Whistler! Here I am doing my best inukshuk impression: