From Dirt Issue 105 – November 2010
Words by Seb Kemp. Photos by Mattias Fredriksson.
Myself and others have been harping on for ages that Whistler is so much more than just the Bike Park. But now it’s time to express that it is much more than even the riding. The amount, the quality and the variety of trails keep me entertained, but it’s the friendships that keep me sustained. I keep returning to this place I call home for six months of each year, because of this and not just the riding. And I’m far from being the only one. Each summer a growing number of lads and lasses come from far and wide to live the life of bikes and bikes and bikes. It’s the dream of riding bikes that brings them here, but the reality is that there are deeper reasons that keep them here. Some people come for a visit and never leave. Some come to find something specific but end up learning something entirely different. Some come alone, some come with friends but everyone leaves with more.
Bikes are a big part of the life. It’s the vehicle that moves our spirit, the noble invention that enables us to be noble, the toy that feeds us more than our work does. The summer crowd who come for the season organize and juggle the fundamentals of their lives so that they correlate to the essential reason why they are here. Jobs are chosen not for their rate of pay and career prospects, but rather for having as little impact on riding time. Not many people can afford cars when there is a summer long never ending bike repair bill, and no one has a ginormous flat screen TV because the best entertainment is outside. Relationships can be short lived summer flings or a string of quick hook ups as everyone is constantly moving into and out of town. Accommodations are chosen for their proximity to the trail heads, having good storage for bikes, and for having low rent, often all at the expense of standards of living.
In fact all facets of standards of living are not judged by the usual measures. The real measure for standard of living in Whistler is judged by how much you smile and how much fun you have.
People uproot from their lives elsewhere to be in Whistler. Some make giant life changes, other have had their lives changed by one short visit to Whistler. Some are here for just one summer, some will be here forever more, either as a permanent fixture or a seasonal migratory bird.
Even if the dream is being actualized each day, there are sacrifices that are made. Being away from family, sometimes chronic credit card health, zero prospects or a future of Peter Pan-ism occasionally throw a rotting doubt into mind. It’s times like these that you have to get outside with friends to go sweat and laugh on your wheeled therapeutic device.
There are thousands of stories and tales, Mattias, Tom Grundy (check out the online videos) and myself grabbed just a few of them to give you a brief glimpse of living the dream. The following is five thousand words painted by Mattias and five pictures sung by myself.