After the massive trains, late nights, races stacked on races topped with movie premiers, layered with the thick heat and dust of summer, mixed drinks and sticky beer cups, heckler's rock, braking bumps and sheer chaos: we enter fall.
The smell of rain as fog gracefully slithers through the tree line. Rivers swell back to a normal depth, the dirt gets tacky, and the tourists flee with the first chilled wind. Once-bare bodies roaming the village are now layered in cozy sweaters as the leaves start to turn a plethora of colours bursting with saturation, as if the trees themselves are on fire. Auburns, gold's, rusts, and fiery oranges play against the deep evergreens of the forest and piercing blue, moody skies. Fires return to dry out damp gear, and the dust settles.
Perhaps considered the dullest time of year -not summer, yet not ski season- Fall is my kryptonite. To me, fall is a time for looking inwards; a time of reflection and relaxation. Fall is a breath of fresh air, far away from the start gate beeps and pressures to perform. I can go as slow as I want. Or as fast. With nothing dictating where to ride, when, how fast, or with whom, I relish the time I have alone. Only echoes of the chaos of Crankworx remain as I take the gondola up past Hecklers Rock, and up and up to Top of the World. I go here when I want perspective, when I want to feel small and vulnerable and enveloped by the sheer mass of the mountains around me. I’ve grown up here, with these views, yet every time I reach the top of Peak Chair, my breath shortens and goose bumps creep over my skin. It’s a magical place, and to have a trail descending from the Peak all the way down into the park again is, to me, the best gift the Whistler Mountain Bike Park has ever given.
To be able to wake up in Vancouver, grab my bike, drive up to Whistler, hop on a chair and end up in this Oasis in under 2 hours is something I’m grateful for. No shuttle runs, no city noise, no excuses, no banter. Just me and my bike. Together we escape everything, and the wild freedom that meets us in the alpine is a feeling I simply can’t explain. Riding alone connects me back to why I started riding in the first place. It’s not to win races, get free swag, or look cool. It’s the sounds of my tires biting into the fresh, dewy dirt. It’s the swish of the trees and the clatter of the shale as I barrel down my favourite trail. It’s Freedom. It’s stopping to catch my icy breath after the best trail in the world and taking in all the smells and sounds the mountains bring.
The Top of the World trail feels nothing like the bike park; it feels like a different planet altogether. Riding Top of the World all the way down into Function Junction is like teleporting through different worlds. As you descend, the trees, terrain, animals, and sounds all seamlessly transform as you enter and exit different elevation zones. The trail is my own beautiful escape. All I need is one run, and I feel like I can take on anything the city throws at me. Fall riding is my meditation. Don’t get me wrong, friends and parties are awesome, but everything needs balance, and Fall riding is where it’s at.Although Top of the World is now closed for the season, what is your favourite trail to ride in fall?Words by:
Micayla Gatto, North Vancouver resident, professional downhill mountain bike athlete, and artist.Photography by:
Laurence Crossman-Emms @Laurence-CE
taken September 13, 2015.About FALL LINES
A rider driven story series shining light into their moments at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. @WhistlerMountainBikePark