Destination Showcase: British Columbia Bike Parks Road Trip, Part 1 - Whistler & Sun Peaks

Jul 18, 2019
by The Free Radicals  


BC BIKE PARKS ROAD TRIP
Whistler / Sun Peaks // Silver Star // Big White //
Kicking Horse // Fernie
Photography, Video and Words: The Free Radicals / Riding: The Free Radicals & Braedyn Kozman









Last December, Mark and I were surprised when we got a call from Andrew at Pinkbike. He was organizing a British Columbia wide Bike Parks tour for the following summer in partnership with Mountain Biking BC and he wanted US to produce the piece. I had just undergone the 11th surgery on my left wrist, and Mark had returned to Gatineau Centre-Ville Ouest to endure a harsh Eastern Canadian winter - so bikes were not on our radar at all. But once we received the trip details our mindsets changed as it was obvious that this was going to be the trip of the summer.

As the winter progressed and the trip crystalized, our excitement built to nearly uncontainable levels, and once spring rolled around we were chomping at the bit to get on the road. Mark and I both grew up watching Drop-In, and this trip was going to be the closest thing to living out our childhood dream of hanging out in that converted bus touring around BC to ride bikes.

Twelve-year-old me was so hyped on this crew, I would have given a year's allowance to spend a day on that bus riding with these guys
Twelve-year-old me was so hyped on this crew, I would have given a year's allowance to spend a day on that bus riding with these guys


Two weeks, 6 Bike Parks and thousands of vertical meters of descending is a recipe for good times. Add an RV full of beer, one stoked grom, a couple of downhill bikes and some new friends and you've got one hell of a road trip!


The Route



Over the next three weeks we are going to release one episode a week that will showcase two bike parks.

Part 1: Whistler & Sun Peaks
Part 2: Silver Star & Big White
Part 3: Kicking Horse & Fernie





Whistler Bike Park

For the first installment of the series we are kicking things off in our more-often-than-not summer home of Whistler. We indulge in the madness and excitement of opening weekend and then hang around until the re-designed Dirt Merchant and Creekside trails open. If you have never experienced opening weekend, also known as Whismas, it is a sight to behold by every mountain biker at least once in your life. The energy and excitement for mountain biking grips the village in a way that is only matched by Crankworx. Yet, unlike Crankworx, the trails are buff, the dirt is all-time, the lines are shorter and there are far fewer Chad’s and woo-girls crowding the village. Opening weekend is all about catching up with summer friends at the Fitz chair, riding A-Line until you can’t feel your hands, eating nachos at the GLC and washing it all down with a couple of jugs. Bonus points if you don’t change out of your riding kit before you go underground.


Day one of WBP this year was wet, VERY WET. This kept the fair weather folks out of sight and off the trails. The line for the bike wash was almost as long as the one for the lift and spraying down your friends was heavily encouraged.

Thankfully Day 2 was perfect weather. The lines at Fitz can get long if it is nice out, especially after 4:30 when all the local shredders get off work and the twilight pass kicks in. Get there early to maximize your laps and burn off your hangover sooner than later, with any luck you will be seeing straight by noon.


In contrast, the Creekside gondola is THE spot to avoid waiting in the village.


Mark, aka Sharky, carves a tight turn on the perfect dirt of Insomnia. The Creekside trails are affectionately referred to by locals as the Creekside gym because you get one hell of a workout going T2B.

Dusty's nachos are an important part of every healthy lunch break

Henry Fitzgerald of Norco Factory Racing is a trendy mofo, always look to him for the hottest new styles in mountain biking and haute couture. Finn Iles obviously got the blonde memo from him on opening weekend as Finn has been seen rocking ‘The Henry’ ever since. Mark Taylor has also been spotted with ‘The Henry’, apparently it's hot right now.


Nate Hills of @followcamfriday fame was out shaking shocks and smashing laps. The OG YouTube sensation loves A-Line and tequila. He made the big mistake of showing up to Whistler without riding pants and had to buy these ones in the village. Don’t make the same mistake as Nate, come prepared for the conditions, pants are strongly recommended.


Will scrubs a roller on Earth Circus. The Creekside flow trails opened last spring and have been a huge hit ever since. You're blowing it if you visit Whistler and don't ride Creekside.


Matty T models a free hat while demonstrating a perfect high-pour on the GLC patio.

Sharky keeps it low while Matty T boosts on one of the new Dirt Merchant jumps. The trail has been re-worked below the massive hip that was put in last season. Remember to pre-ride, re-ride, then freeride kids.


Another new Dirt Merchant feature is the step-down over Rippin’ Rutabaga. Riders can take a left down Rippin’ to avoid the new pro-line section of Dirt Merchant, or stay right for some added airtime.

Pizza is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to refuel mid-day when you are riding the bike park. Although the sesame crust of Fat Tony’s is nice, we feel there is more heft to the slices at Misty Mountain. With the upper village Tony’s closed for renovations, Misty wins the proximity to the lift battle.



Whistler Mountain Bike Park mountain biking trails


Our Favourite Whistler Laps

Mark
A-Line T2B
Kozman
Dirt Merchant
A-Line
Will
Dirt Merchant
Del Bocca Vista
A-Line







Sun Peaks Bike Park


After a wild time in Whistler we started our road trip, with a stop at Sun Peaks over the Canada Day long weekend. Despite all the traveling Mark and I have done in the last 4 years to race and ride bikes, neither of us had made it to Sun Peaks, nor had Braedyn. We were damn excited to check out the resort often touted as the rawest and gnarliest bike park in the province. As stoked as we were for the raw steeps of Sun Peaks, we were pleasantly surprised by the extensive range of their trail network. The trail crew has been hard at work to make Sun Peaks more intermediate friendly, and it shows with their construction of the new trail Canada Line. Sadly the wet weather meant this trail stayed closed during our time there, so we could only observe from afar.

Only a few hours drive from Whistler, over the scenic Duffy Lakes Road, the trip to Sun Peaks is an incredible way to kick off our road-trip. Driving this road hungover is not recommended.


We rolled into Sun Peaks on Friday afternoon and with the lifts staying open until 7pm we still had plenty of time to get geared up and smash some laps. An unseasonable rain storm blew in on our first ride up, but thankfully the Sun Peaks chairlift has bubbles to keep you warm and dry on your way up the hill. The bubbles will be getting tons of use this fall as Sun Peaks has extended their season this year, running the lifts Friday-Sunday 11am-6pm all September.

Sun Peaks offers some affordable boondock camping at the end of their parking lot with 24h access to the nicest, cleanest washrooms at the whole resort. Be sure to reserve ahead of time as it does appear to fill up on weekends.

Will wrestles with a DH casing tire for the first time since 2011. A couple cold ones are necessary to help keep the frustration levels down.

If camping isn't your style, there are lots of affordable accommodation options at the resort. We ended up spending the last night of our stay at Nancy Greene's Cahilty Hotel & Suites which gave us an opportunity to have much needed showers and wash off 3 days worth of mud.

Our resident flora and fauna expert, Dylan Sherrard, believes the unseasonable rains have brought the wild flowers out earlier than normal this year. However Will and Braedyn don’t bother to stop and smell em while warming up on Mach. This is definitely not your typical Whistler blue trail, the name says it all, this trail is flat out as fast as you dare.

On the rare occasion that it's wet at Sun Peaks, be sure to wash your bike very well after riding as the dirt quickly turns to an impossible to clean concrete once dry. Thankfully there are a number of bike wash stations around the resort. Kozman hoses down his Demo 29 after another tacky day of laps at Sun Peaks.

Steam Shovel is Sun Peak’s new jump line, it is loaded with fun features and killer turns. Kozman was nose bonking everything in sight.

The jumps on Steam Shovel progress in size nicely as you work your way down the trail, however coming from Whistler, the steeper lips take some getting used to. Kozman was feeling pretty comfortable by the 2nd day and managed to crack a few sideways.

Kozman spent about as much time in the air as he did on the ground while riding Steam shovel. He manages to lay it pretty flat while popping out of this berm on the upper section of trail.

Route 66 is a blue run with some wicked turns that snakes down the ski run under the chair.

We spent our final few hours at Sun Peaks stacking photos with Dylan Sherrard. Turns out he is pretty talented on both sides of the lens.


Sun Peaks Resort mountain biking trails


Our Favourite Sun Peaks Laps



Mark
Mach
Barn burner
Spicy Taco
Holy Rollers
Arm Pump
Kozman
Steam Shovel
Will
DH
Smitty's Steeps
Insanity One
Sweet One




Pinkbike would like to thank:
Sun Peaks
Whistler Bike Park
Mountain Biking BC



MENTIONS: @MountainBikingBC / @WhistlerMountainBikePark / @SunPeaksResort



46 Comments

  • + 21
 Guys you're driving straight past Panorama Bike Park near Invermere, come visit for a day or two. It's sick here.
  • + 3
 I was just about to say the same thing!
  • + 4
 Panorama is way better than Kicking Horse
  • + 3
 @robdonovan: Word. Kicking Horse is the most disappointing resort I've been to, definitely not up to par compared to everything else you guys have up there. Mt 7 on the other hand is sick AF.
  • + 13
 Disagree with the above 2 posts. Kicking horse is great, provided you like woodwork, rock slabs and can ride at a double black skill level. They have some amazingly well built trails there and very challenging terrain. Not your "standard" flowy/bermed-out bike park, but super fun!
  • + 4
 might as well lap swansee too
  • + 1
 seems like a good place to ask this: what is the best resort in BC for raw, steep tech? like RDS at whistler, or squamish (but with a chair).
  • + 1
 @jefe: I agree Mt 7 is sick, but Kicking Horse provides some goods if you know where to look. The BC Cup DH track Pioneer has some rowdy tech.
  • + 1
 @savagelake: Whistler is going to be the best bike park, regardless of what you're after. Outside of that I'd say Sunpeaks or possibly Kicking Horse for tech and SilverSar for flow.
  • + 1
 @plyawn: cool, thx. been to whistler and silver star. will check out the others next time.
  • + 2
 @savagelake: Haven’t been to all the bike parks, but there are tons of double black tech at sunpeaks and they are very gnarly.
  • + 3
 @savagelake: I think sun peaks is your best bet, DH into Hi octane to smitty’s steeps to insanity one is steeper and gnarlier than RDS or anything in Squamish.
  • + 1
 @FreeRadicals: awesome. thx, fellers!
  • + 1
 @jefe: yeah Mt 7 is great the non bike park trails in Golden are better than the park
  • + 9
 Sun Peaks is easily the most overlooked bike park in BC.
  • + 2
 HERE HERE
  • + 6
 So theres a bikepark in whistler? No way!

Thanks for the heads up pinkbike!
  • + 3
 I get that you can only get to so many places and have to pick and choose... but the hidden gem of BC = Mount Washington Bike Park!! They've done some amazing work and really upped the ante this year. Awesome stuff and super family friendly!!

Also home of the annual Steve Smith Memorial & BC Cup DH Final!!
  • + 1
 Hey do you guys have any tips for keeping your bikes from getting stolen? Like when you're at the resort and want to have lunch somewhere what do you do with you're bikes? I'm heading to sun peaks next week. I'm just asking because i've had my bike swiped from my carport and a friend of mine had their bikes (that were locked with cables)stollen from their truck.
  • + 1
 Honestly we were pretty reckless with our bikes on this trip, I guess we just got lucky. We camped in the rv lot at sun peaks and had our bikes locked to the rack while we slept. During the day our trail bikes were left locked there all day while we were riding and we still have em. I left my bike unlocked in fernie out of sight for several hours while I was in the hot tub one evening, also no issues.
  • + 1
 They should be running this road trip in the other direction. You start with the best bike park in the world and go downhill from there. I love Fernie but ending a tour of bike parks there is anticlimactic Skip the park and ride the other amazing trails..
  • + 1
 You obviously haven’t party trained down cats pyjamas or case closed to eville, or the bc cup dh track to bicycle thief to rumple. Nick and the boys at fernie are doing a killer job with the latest tracks.
  • + 1
 @FreeRadicals: except for the part where the timber side is closed this year and the pass price stayed the same
  • + 1
 I was just in Whistler for the first time last week. Fantastic trails and people, and sushi and breakfasts and coffee. The pizza though... is godamn terrible. I dunno who gives these Yelp reviews, but holy shit. Worse than a Celeste frozen pizza. I feel genuinely sad for anyone that has never been to the east coast of the United States and likes pizza... or THINKS this is what pizza is supposed to be like. I foreal feel bad for you. Other than that... thanks Whistler for the good times.
  • + 2
 You ever heard of Italy? That's a country in Europe and there, in the town of Napoli (Naples) Pizza was invented. That's the place for pizza!???????? i used to live in Italy and nowhere else pizza is as good as in Italy. I've been to the East Coast of the US and ...no comment. I genuinely feel sorry for everyone who likes pizza and hasn't tried a pizza italiana yet... ???????? Anyways, i didn't eat a pizza when i was in Whistler and judging by your comment, this was a good decision????
  • + 2
 Instead of "???" there should be laughing smileys.. Wink Big Grin
  • + 2
 @Mocope: Imagine if you took a slice of Kraft cheese, and used a Bic lighter to halfway melt it onto a piece of pita, then throw a pre-packaged slice of deli meat on top whole... that's pretty close.
  • + 1
 @Sweatypants: sounds like a human rights violation... Wink
  • + 3
 Yes the lips are steep at sun peaks. It’s nice. They like to go high in kamloops, fit in or f*ck off haha
  • + 2
 Finn lost a bet playing Unno b4 the first WC... No? I hope he didn't choose that shaggy slim shady mop. I watch to much YouTube!
  • + 2
 Awesome photo's! Hope to make it up there sometime soon. Those bubbles on the lift are a great idea too.
  • + 2
 Love these types of articles
  • + 2
 no pano??
  • + 2
 Yo Braedyn got style.
  • + 3
 For days.
  • + 1
 no close-ups of that GMC at Whistler?
  • + 1
 The fact that this is mostly all shot on film really makes me excited.
  • + 1
 Alright I gotta ask, why pants and not shorts?
  • + 7
 We went on a really big bike ride this spring, lost a bunch of weight so our shorts don't fit us anymore. Plus, when the trails are muddy, pants keep your knee pads and legs clean meaning we need to do less laundry, have fewer showers and can therefore spend more time drinking beer.
  • + 1
 i switched to pants this year. in addition to the above reasons, ur shins and calves are protected from pedal pins, etc.
  • + 1
 @savagelake: It's too late to save me for my shins, way too late.
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