King of the Scene
What It Is: The unquestioned kingpin of British Columbia's mountain biking destinations, Whistler combines the world's number one lift-served bike park with a massive cross-country trail network that caters to all levels.
You Should Go If: You have ridden or simply are considering riding a mountain bike before you die. A mountain biker who's never ridden Whistler is a like a skier who's never ventured west of the Adirondacks. It's that good.
Don't Miss: Spending a least a day in the lift-served bike park. There are 120 miles of trails for all abilities, and you'll be amazed what a top-notch freeride bike, pads, and a helmet will do for your confidence. Don't be surprised if you're launching jumps and dropping off rocks by happy hour.
Local Knowledge: After a day in the park, take a cross-country spin on the Kill Me Thrill Me trail. This four-mile Whistler classic has everything from short, punchy climbs, to technical rock and bridge crossings, to spectacular views of the valley below and Coast Mountain Range in the distance. This is district's trail coordinator Grant Lamont's favorite ride.
Quotable: "Politically there is no stronger group in the valley than the mountain bikers," says Grant Lamont, the district's trail coordinator. "The fix is in. We have municipal hall filled with past [Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association] board members, and the current mayor and almost everyone on city council is a WORCA member now. People feel really strong about the riding here."
Shoptalk: The Whistler Village area has a handful of quality shops including Summit (www.summitsport.com; 604.932.6225), FanatykCo Ski and Cycle (www.fanatykco.com; 604.938.9455), and Whistler Bike Co. (www.bikecowhistler.com; 604.938.9511).
Crash Pad: Whistler has a 24,000-visitor capacity that includes 5800 hotel, condo and B&B rooms, plus 230 hostel beds and 172 campsites. Among the available rentals is a three-bedroom condo owned by former world four-cross mountain bike champion Brian Lopes. To see a full listing of lodging options go to http://www.tourismwhistler.com/www/accommodations/hotels.asp.
Getting There: From Vancouver International Airport, make the two-and-a-half-hour drive through the city and up the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Just don't forget to check the highway's construction schedule. There's a monumental upgrade underway ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics that will be contested in both Vancouver and Whistler.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication