I used to sit there and listen to my friends talk about buying this big dollar part for their bike, or about the time they saw their own bone come jabbing out of their leg and think... How stupid are these guys? An expensive, dirty, dangerous hobby, with no tangible reward... on a damn pedal bike!Then I tried it.Sold!
I now see what the hype is all about. You can't place a dollar value on that kind of rush. Extreme sports? I've tried em all... from rock climbing to skydiving to clubbing in Surrey. None of them come close to downhill for the perspective on mortality it provides... balancing on a knife edge between glory and gory. Yes, I did crash hard, on Pirates something or other, about halfway down. I should have gone right, but I went left. Left like a fool.
Dropped straight onto the front tire, did one roll with the bike, and then a couple without. I was alright with it though, I don't think my first day would have been complete without any scrapes.
I found Whistler to be very receptive to new riders. Everybody we rode the chairlifts with had some story to tell, or special run to recommend. I would have to say my favourite trail of the day would have been A-line. Those steeply banked corners made it easy to power through the whole run. The jumps were cool as well, once I got the hang of it. The little training areas mid-mountain were really helpful, it was nice to have a chance to attempt jumps and drops in a more controlled environment before being faced with them on a trail.
I was riding a KHS
DH Team that was lent to me by my pals from the C-Team, it was equipped with some bad-ass big tires and Magura
Gustav brakes, also they were considerate enough to give me some Beastgear
arm and leg pads which saw a good amount of action. (The rental fee? A bottle of Jagermeister... done) Not being an expert, I have no frame of reference against which to rate the bike. I can only say that it worked perfectly for me. I didn't hit any obstacles that bottomed out the suspension, and was pleasantly surprised at the adeptness with which it sucked up bumps and rocks at higher speeds. The brakes worked wonderfully once I figured out how hard to pull the lever. A lesson to other first timers... brake modulation plays a major role in generating a smooth run. For the first portion of the day I was either in full lock or free-wheeling, with no middle ground. Figuring out the one finger braking really helped me get down the hill faster.
Another lesson... wear the freakin safety gear. I would have lost a lot of skin had I not been fully strapped up. (Thanks Jeff)
The day was capped off with an all too cliché trip to Starbucks. As I stood there, still buzzing with adrenalin, trying to hold myself up on Jell-O legs, I realized what I liked most about the day. The fact that these downhill folk were my type. Not the coven of bleach blond chicks in front of me waiting for their lattes and frappucinos and sugar daddies. The muddy, sweaty, bloody crew on the hill defining their lives by the limits they push, those were my people.