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WHISTLER BIKE PARK | AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY

How the other half live and why the other half of Whistler Bike Park matters.

DIRT ISSUE 128 – OCTOBER 2012

Words by Seb Kemp. Photos by Reuben Krabbe

Billy’s Epic, Anal Intruder, High Society, Cheap Thrills, No Girlie Man, Young Lust, Mandatory Suicide, Baby Snakes. These are some of the names that make up Whistler Bike Park’s network of amazing trails. But you might not have heard of them. That’s because there is much more to Whistler than the famed Bike Park.

The Whistler Bike Park is remarkable and if you travel from far and wide then it does seem madness to turn a blind eye to it. However, for a large number of local residents, visitors, and trail slicing ninjas that’s exactly what they do. You maybe surprised to hear that there are far more people in Whistler who do not ride the Bike Park and who prefer to ride the trails in the valley, and there are more trails in the valley than there are inside the Bike Park.

The Disneyland world of Whistler is far removed from the reality of Whistler (or at least the reality of what most people that call Whistler home appreciate). When you first come here you see the perfect streets, the ideal visitor convenience and the flawless model of tourism and consumerism, but spend a bit of time looking and you may see right up the skirt of this costume and into the real essence of Whistler. A place with history, character and depth. One aspect of that is the world of mountain biking beyond the Bike Park.

It’s not like this alternate universe is deliberately hidden either. The trails are certainly no secret because there are maps, guidebooks, and well publicized weekly races. More so, it isn’t a small masonic sect of mountain bikers that hold the key to the real treasures. Whistler is no guarded, trailhead hiding community. It is a very open and accepting community that welcomes newcomers and believes in mutual respect.

To understand why Whistler is Whistler it is pertinent to know the backstory to this fantasy town. In 1960 Whistler didn’t exist, all there was were a few shacks and lakeside lodges on Alta lake that housed mushroom chomping fur trappers and visiting city folk. The mountain that now bares the name Whistler was originally called London Mountain, but was changed when a focus group of semiologists agreed that London was not a good enough brand name. A bid to win the 1968 Winter Olympics pushed rapid development of the area but the original bid was unsuccessful and it took 50 years before an Olympic event was held on the sugared slopes of Whistler Mountain. In that time Whistler grew and grew, a second mountain was built from the ground up (Blackcomb) and eventually merged into the grand scheme of bright minds. Now Whistler is regarded as the premier ski destination in North America due to the size of its skiable terrain and the scale of amenities.>>

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