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Downhill Fast

September 21, 2011

Whistler is of course best known as a ski resort, however it also has the world’s biggest purpose built downhill bike park. This makes Whistler almost as busy in the summer as it is in the winter.

I do lot of mountain biking but have never tried a proper downhill course before so I was really keen to give this a go.

We went to Summit Sports to rent bikes after being given a tip that they rented good bikes which were well maintained. We were given the option of different armour packages but caution won out over cash and we opted for full armour.

We headed over to the lifts to buy a lift pass each and then we were ready to go.  Every other chair on the lift had been converted to a bike chair which you loaded up to 4 bikes on and then got on the following normal chair.

The runs are graded into Green, Blue and Black. The Greens are pretty straightforward with banked curves, no jumps and are pretty cruisey. Anyway Sarah had never really done any mountain biking so we needed to start easy.

After a couple of green runs I was ready to up the ante so moved onto the Blues. This was more like it. What a blast. There are two types of runs at Whistler – the fast cruisey ones littered with jumps and with mostly banked corners to help you maintain the pace and the narrow, tight technical runs which take a whole load of skill.

I preferred the fast runs which had loads of jumps in them which you could hit at pace. It took a little while to learn that the jumps were always safe to hit and there would be space to land after them. I also did a few of the technical runs but sometimes they were a bit like hard work.

For my last run of the day I thought that I should try a black. Wow this is much harder. The key to success is to maintain your pace but that was my downfall. Coming up to a dropoff of about 1.5m I came into too tentatively. My front wheel dropped and when I hit the ground I went flying over the handlebars landing hard on my head, knee and hip. Thank god for the armour – because even with armour the fall still hurt. Without a proper helmet I would have been concussed. Good thing this was the last run of the day because it killed my confidence but I would really love to try it again.

I’ve upload a video to Youtube of one of the blue runs called “Crank It Up” – going into “Heart of Darkness” – I hope it gives a good idea of what it is like to bike one of the trails.

Crank It Up Video

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