Although I am a Whistler rookie I can truly say, without reservation, that this is one of the best places I’ve had the pleasure to experience in my 15 plus years of riding. With everything from world class downhill runs(of which I timidly sampled) to technical,pine shrouded single track, Whistler has everything a rider could want, and then some. I found myself in the much envied position on Thursday-our second day here-to experience the “and then some” that Whistler has to offer when I got invited on an industry heli drop ride with eleven other lucky individuals.
When I got notice Thursday morning that I was “being considered” for the trip, I felt the unbridled excitement and nerves I’d expect a minor league player experiences when he gets the last minute call up to play in the majors. Our crew, which included other marketing types like myself, Mountain Bike Magazine editor, Lou Mazzante, and media moguls, loaded our big hit bikes into the van and were whisked off to the Whistler Heli Pad where we signed our lives away. We were on a bit of a holding pattern due to the fact that the glacier we were to be dropped on was shrouded in a mass of swirling clouds. After a bit of anxious waiting- punctuated by the official helicopter emergency exit safety talk-the clouds cleared and our crew was shuttled, in groups of four, to the top of Rainbow Glacier. It was amazing, and somewhat disconcerting at the same time, to see 20 high end bikes(lassoed in two separate bundles)being plucked off the ground and ferried to the distant mountain top on the western horizon.
When we arrived at the top of the glacier our bikes were laid out in the snow and the rest of our crew was impatiently milling about with the same twitchy energy of race horses about to be loaded into the track corral. There was no warming up or get used to it period when it came to the bike or trail, as we immediately dropped into a fairly steep, rocky descent that had plenty of exposure. I was nervous, to say the least, but confident that my Marin Quad DH, with 250 mm of travel, could handle the terrain and compensate for its rider’s lack of skills.
We dropped in one by one, hearts in our throats, keenly focused on the rutted trail in front of us, elbows out, weight back, and smiles plastered across our faces. Steep sections of trail emptied into alpine meadows where we would regroup, high five and get the low down on the next section from one of our Bear Back Riding guides.
By the time we reached the bottom and the waiting shuttle van, we had been descending some of the most scenic, high alpine single track for over two hours. Forearms pumped, brake pads smoked, and ear to ear grins that couldn’t be slapped off our faces, we mingled at the van excitedly sharing our ride stories, wishing that we could do it again. If you ever find yourself in Whistler check out the world class DH runs, the technical wooded single track and, if you feel like really spoiling yourself, treat yourself to a heli drop ride…..you definitely won’t regret it.