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If you haven’t guessed already, I LOVE mountain biking. And I especially like the downhill version of the sport! I recently went to Whistler to check out their mountain bike park for the first time.
Its pretty cold up there now, but the park IS still open until October 15th. So if you are planning on checking it out before then, or want to get ready for next spring, here are my top tips for newbies!
STEP 1 – Have a downhill bike
All I had was a cross country/all mountain bike (XC/AM in mountain biking terms), and it was strongly suggested that I don’t ride it. Everyone said it could handle it, but I would have more fun and feel more comfortable on a downhill bike. So I borrowed a bike. Now, I only took the downhill bike, so I don’t have a direct comparison, but I do know how my bike feels in general. I was SO HAPPY I had the downhill (even if it was a bit big for me). I felt more safe and in control. I rolled smoothly over things that my bike definitely would not have tackled as well.
STEP 2 – Have the right gear
I saw a girl up there with a full face helmet, a breezy tank top and shorts. I REALLY hope she was sticking to the greenest runs possible! I also saw people who had so much more gear than I that I got a bit freaked out. I personally had a full face helmet, arm pads, knee pads and gloves. This is my recommended minimum for riding blue runs at Whistler. I didn’t have cause to need them, but I saw plenty of possible opportunities. If you are brave enough for the black runs, a neck guard and chest armour seem to be the norm. Mountain biking is fun, but be safe – right ladies?
STEP 3 – Have a guide
I went with a fellow female mountain biker that was experienced in the park. I highly recommend this (or hire a guide) for your first time there. The runs go from easy to very difficult, and although they are well marked, I wouldn’t have wanted to risk trying to figure them out on my own. Besides, who wants to spend time figuring out a route, when you could just be riding one?
STEP 4 – Do a late lunch
We were hungry, but thought we would get one more run in before lunch. Plus #1– The lift line was so short cause everyone else was eating. Plus #2 – We were plenty starving by then so lunch tasted extra great! Plus #3 – After only 2 more runs after lunch (albeit long ones), we were done for the day. Tired! I think this would have been the case either way, so we were glad to have gotten one extra run in that morning.
Speaking of lunch, I highly recommend the Garibaldi Lift Co. Not only is the food and service great, but its bike parking is really convenient. It’s also right next to the hill so you might get some lunchtime entertainment in the form of someone like ME carrying their bike down a rock drop. Hey, it snuck up on me!
STEP 5 – Get a downhill bike
This might sound like a repetition of Step 1, but its not. When I got home I raved so much about my trip and the bike that my husband scoured the Internet for a good used downhill bike. Days later I was the proud new owner of a Norco Shore 2! Yes, that’s the one proudly featured in the article image! Its just my size, its green and purple, and the decals…get this…are B-Movie monster movie posters! It was meant to be my bike! If you are looking for your own used bike, I recommend checking out PinkBike.com.
Now that the bike park is closing, what am I going to do with my new toy? Well I’m lucky enough to live on Burke Mountain, so as long as the weather isn’t too terrible, I can still go riding. It’s a lot harder to get to the top without a lift, but hey my blog is all about getting healthy right?